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June 16, 2017

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POST-GAZEI-rE, JUNE 16, 2017 PAGE 13. n n a c Babb?]nonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Last weekend, Loretta and I attended the high school graduation of Mathew DeVito, grandson of close friends Dick and Elleen DeVito, As we sat facing Weston Town Hall wait- ing for the speeches to end, I could see how nervous and excited some of the kids were. It was fascinating. I knew that Mathew had chosen Norwich University to attend this com- ing fall, and I was as proud of him as if he was my own grandson. As we sat through the speeches, my mind drifted back to June, 1956. I sat with my English High School class- mates in front of the stage at Jordan Hall on Huntington Av- enue in Boston's Back Bay. I kept looking over my shoul- der, searching for my parents to enter and seat themselves along with the parents of the other 300 and something se- niors. When they finally en- tered, Nanna and Babbononno were with them. This made me smile and feel assured that my family was there. Wow, that was 61 years agol I can't be- lieve it. I hadn't made plans to attend any colleges. I had not taken the SAT exams, a re- quirement for kids heading to college. Most of my street cor- ner pals were working at me- nial jobs, but having spending money in their pockets made them seem quite mature and independent. I thought that maybe I could find a fulltime job or ask Mr. Ray, the manag- er of the Seville Theater (where I worked part-time), if he could use me full-time. Dad had father-and-son talks with me on many occasions during my senior year. Most of them were centered on me be- ing the first in the immediate family to go to college. I listened half-heartedly and just kept nodding as he spoke. I was in a college-bound program at English, and as a consequence, didn't have any preparation to enter one of the trades. As of that day of graduation, I hadn't any plans as to what to do next. That night, a close friend who was graduating from East Bos- ton High School called to tell me that his father had secured jobs for us working on construction. A drive-in theater was going to be built in the Orient Heights section of East Boston and we were hired by the construction company that was to excavate the property. My friend told me that he was going to drive a bulldozer and I was going to drive a tractor and we were go- ing to make $15.00 an hour. I was delighted, but when I told this to Dad, he just shook his head. The next morning, we re- ported to the job site at the designated time and waited for our new boss to show up. When he did, he handed my friend a pick and me a shovel and told us to start digging. The $15.00 an hour turned out to be wrong, too. I believe we were to earn that amount, but per day, not per hour. When I returned home at the end of the work day, the palms of my hands were covered with blood blisters and my back was as sore as it's ever been. Babbononno filled a basin with warm water and salt and made me soak my pain-rid- den hands in the m/x. It was soothing, but really didn't help much. Just then, Dad walked in and saw what was going on. He asked what had happened. I pulled my hands out of the salt water to show him and he nodded without saying a word. I spoke first, "Dad, you were right. I'm going to college and work with my brain, not my hands." Dad smiled, nodded and walked away. The next day, Dad called a friend, the dean at Boston State College (now U. Mass. Boston), and when he got off the phone, he told me that I had an inter- view with the man at 9:00 am the next morning. The next day, wearing a conservative suit and tie, I headed to the comer of Huntington and Longwood Av- enues where the college was then located. The administra- tion building was filled with young people who evidently were incoming freshmen, and just as confused as I was. After asking a security guard where the dean's office was, I headed there, walked in, asked for the dean and gave my name. I was ushered right in and a man about Dad's age intro- duced himself to me saying, "Hi, I'm Dean Reagan; you must be John's son." We chat- ted for a few minutes and then he pulled a document from a manila folder. It was my high school transcript. He looked it over, and with a stem face said, "Not that good, but passable." He then handed me a packet and told me to sit in his outer office, follow all the directions, and then leave it with his secre- tary when I was done. He then handed me a pencil and wished me good luck. When I seated myself in his outer office, I discovered why he wished me good luck--it was the college's entrance exam. I spent the next hour or so following the direc- tions that would assist me in completing the application and entrance exam. When I had finished, I handed everything to the dean's secre- tary who just said, %Vell be in -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS touch." On the wLy home, I won- dered what I wa= getting myself into. I headed toward home and stopped at the eville Theater. My Ray wonde d why I was there so early, as I was working that night but it was still after- noon. I told him about the events of the morning and he just cleared his throat and walked away. As he turned away, I could see that he was smiling, and I wondered why. I worked that night and dis- cussed the events of the day with Dave Turner, the stage manager and a close friend. He was so happy to hear that I was interested in going to college. When I got home that night, I found a note on the kitchen table. Evidently Dean Reagan called for me, and see- ing I wasn't thereleft a message with Dad. I was t) report to the North Building of the college the next morning and fill out all of the paperwork that was nec- essary for each entering fresh- man. I had evidently passed the test and the interview. The next day, I arr/ved at the college and joirL