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June 17, 2016     Post-Gazette
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June 17, 2016

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POST-GAZE'i-rE, JUNE 17, 2016 PAGE 13 =~ ~-,~ "=~ ............... I~~~ ~T" b ]no n no by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance East Boston Museum representatives Fran Riley, Theresa Malionek and Diane Modica present John Christoforo with a token of appreciation for his presentation. Before I resume my story about the trip to Italy back in the day, I want to let you know about an event that happened on Tuesday June 7th. Before I returned from Florida this spring, I was contacted by two ladies from the East Boston Museum and Historical Society. Theresa Malichek and Fran Ippolito Riley identified them- selves and told me about the society and museum. When I returned home, we three met for coffee and they continued their explanation of who and what the organization is and asked if I would be their first guest speaker for a lecture series that was forthcoming. It seems that my 25-year storyline of Nanna and Babbononnno convinced them that I should be contacted and recruited for the kickoff. I listened to the two ladies who were delightful in describ- ing what has happened in East Boston since I lived there. What convinced me to say "Yes," was the fact that they gave me a picture of the front of the Seville Theater, something I've been hunting for over the years. I put together a series of things to talk about, reminiscing about my old home town in the '40s and '50s. A couple of weeks ago, one of my best friends, John Silva, and I headed to Maverick Square to check out the museum on Liverpool Street. I hadn't seen the neighborhood in many years and had heard that most of it had been torn down and rebuilt. When we got there, the only thing that looked familiar was the Most Holy Redeemer Church. I remembered going there attending father and son Masses when Dad belonged to the Knights of Columbus. Other than the church, everything else had been rebuilt. We checked out the museum building at 31 Liverpool Street, and then headed to Javeli's for lunch. My two new lady friends advertised the event in the Post-Gazette, the East Boston John Christoforo surrounded by old friends Joe Carter and Stephen Scapicchio. -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 Times and Free Press, as well as the Winthrop and Revere weeklies. When I told Dean Saluti about what was going to happen, he sent out notifica- tions of the event to the Sons of Italy, October is Italian Heritage Month, the Pirandello Lyceum, the Dante Alighieri Society, and the Order of the First Corps of Cadets, all organizations we are affiliated with. My wife, Loretta drove me to the location on the afternoon of the 7% We were soon joined by my two new lady friends Theresa and Fran, as well as John Silva and Stephanie Da- Rosa. Minutes later, my oldest son, John, walked in, followed by Dean Saluti, his wife Mar- gie Cahn, and retired General Joseph Carter. A friend, Bill Strachman, had left his car at my house and rode the rest of the way with Loretta and me, and he was surprised" that my inner circle of friends all showed up early. Just then, Ed Ligon and his wife Barbara entered the meeting room and my inner circle was just about complete. An hour or two earlier, my son, Michael, called to wish me luck. He was in New York filming a commercial and couldn't make it home. Within minutes, I spot- ted Sal and Jil Giuliano, Lino and Enza Rullo, Post-Gazette publisher Pam Donnaruma, Louie Graffeo, Attorney Diane Modica, and Buddy Mangini, all old friends from all things political and Italian. I couldn't begin on time be- cause of the way things evolved. I thought, maybe 20 or 30 people would show up above and beyond my closest friends, but I was wrong. The next thing I realized was that there wasn't even any standing room left. People came from all over and after I began and mentioned places long gone, heads were nodding in remembrance. Basi- cally, I talked about growing up Italian in East Boston and most of the people identified with my stories because each typified their own experiences. I was about half way through and stopped my story to intro- duce a late arrival, our newest state senator, Joseph Boncore, a young man I have known since he was a child, whose father, Phil, I've admired since our friendship began decades Loved Ones The Post-Gazette accepts memorials throughout the year. Please call 617.227-8929 East Boston Chamber 2"d Vice President Buddy Mangini, 1"t Vice President Thorn De Paulo and President Marisa Di Pietro congratulate John Christoforo on his many achievements. -ago. Just as I finished, my two new lady friends, Theresa and Fran, presented me with gifts they had put together, pictures and memorabilia from East Boston. Diane Modica and Dean Saluti presented me with cita- tions from the state house and Boston City Hail. For one of the few times in my adult life, I was speechless. I never realized that this col- umn had the effect on people that was demonstrated by the folks who gave me a standing ovation. It also humbled me, almost to the point of tears. Af- ter 50 years, I had come home and received a loving welcome, and it made me feel like I had never left. Before we broke up and went separate ways, I an- nounced that East Boston, was a state of mind for me and my successes in life were, in part, due to where I came from and what the neighborhood and my family taught me in those formative years. It took me about an hour to exit the meeting room due to folks wanting to shake my hand or have a picture taken with me. There were many who remem- bered some of the long gone places I mentioned and some of the people I spoke about and they wanted me to know that all was not forgotten with time. When we left, we didn't head home. Dean Saluti had seen to that. We headed to the back room of Santarpio's, probably the best pizza restaurant ever, if my opinion counts. Almost all of my inner circle of friends joined us and, believe it or not, I was almost too excited to eat. When all was said and done, Loretta drove and I guess I just sat there in the front seat next to her kind of silent. She asked me why I was. so quiet. I didn't answer, but silently said to myself, "There were a few people who couldn't make it tonight: Nanna, Babbononno, Morn and Dad ... but I bet they were up there somewhere just listening and reminiscing." Before I call it quits for this week, I need a favor from all of you. You might remember me mentioning my mother's young- est brother, Lou (Gino) Contini. Well, he turned 99 last week, and is the last living offspring of Nanna and Babbononno, Jenny and Mike Contini. Uncle Gino isn't doing well as of late and I was hoping some of my readers might say a little prayer for him. I would appreci- ate this and be indebted to you for volunteering. I'm almost out of space and promise to return to the story of that 1972 trip to Italy next week. So, until therb may GOD BLESS AMERICA ICHAEL 500 Canterbury Street Boston, MA 02131 617.524.1036 The Respectful Way,, Serving the Italian Community for Over 100 Years! f Boston Harborside Home Joseph A. Langone 580 Commercial St. - Boston, MA 02109 617-536-4110 Augustave M. Sabia, Jr. Trevor Slauenwhite Frederick J. Wobrock Dino C. Manca Courtney A. Fitzgibbons M A'Service Family Affiliate of AFFS/Service Corporation International 206 Winter St., Fall River, MA 02720 Telephone 508-676-2454 J _~ar