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June 20, 2014     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, JUNE 20, 2014 Page13 00abbbJnonno i iiiiiii iiii ii iiii , Beginning in the spring of the year, Babbononno would refinish the tables and chairs that were used in the base- ment kitchen and the back- yard. The basement, or cellar as we called it back then, had a black soap stone sink, a stove {which had been in the upstairs kitchen years earlier) and an ice box which wound up in the cellar after a refrigerator took its place in the upstairs kitchen, also years earlier. There were cabinets and closets that Babbononno had built when they bought the house, and in the winter, they were filled with food in sealed mason jars, food like sun dried toma- toes in olive oil, mushrooms in salt water, tomatoes ready to be used for Sunday gravy, caponata, a Sicilian mix of olives, celery, tomato bits, a bunch of herbs and capers, and all of these soaking in thick olive oil from the island of Sicily. (We weren't Sicilian, but Nanna loved the recipe she received from a corn- mare from Palermo.) As I said, Babbononno would refinish the furniture that would grace both the cellar and the backyard. He would sand the chairs and table legs by hand. He was a finish carpenter and a furni- ture maker, but learned the trade back in the day before sanding machines or power tools were invented. Every- thing he did was by hand. Once the chairs and table legs were sanded, he would rub on a coat of stain to match the color of the wood, usually red maple. Following the inspection of the color, he would mix up a batch of shellac crystals in a double boiler or open a can of varnish already prepared and rub or paint them on the newly stained wood. When the finish was perfect, he would rub it with steel wool, clean everything off and give the furniture another coat. When everything was dry and to his satisfaction, he would wax the wood. He only had to check the tops of the tables, because they were made of metal with a pat- terned glaze finish on them that complimented the legs. The furniture destined for the backyard, had gone out there from the cellar when new furniture was bought for the upstairs kitchen and the kitchen set was moved to the cellar. My grandparents were humble southern Italians ... nothing went to waste. Beginning in May or June, depending on the outside by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance temperature, Nanna would begin to use the cellar- kitchen to cook in. Chances were, the only times we ate in the cellar were when an unexpected afternoon rain shower prevented us from eating in the backyard. Now, when I say backyard, I feel that I should describe the design. A large area sur- rounding the back of the house was cement with back stairs leading to the top floor. The outside table and chairs were set up under- neath the lower level of the stairs. Everyone would have enough room-to sit, but the afternoon sun wouldn't shine on the family or the food they were destined to eat. Beyond the cement area was the garden. Just as you walked into the garden, there were two old truck tires turned inside out with the top edge of the circle cut into a decorative pattern. Nanna planted flowers in the circu- lar openings. This was the only display of flowers. Babbo- nonno's attitude was, "If you can't eat it, don't grow it." This caused him to have fruit trees including his favorite, a fig tree. By the way, this was the house we lived in until Nanna had a heart attack and couldn't take care of it anymore. You may remember me mentioning the big house at 70 Eutaw Street in past stories. Well that was it. Nanna and Babbononno had moved there in the early 20s from their apartment on Orleans Street in the Jef- feries Point section of East Boston. There was more room and a big back yard for the Contini kids to play in. A generation later, I spent the first few years of my life there. As the days became longer, the weather got warmer and on a day in May or June (I've forgotten), Nanna and my mother began cooking on the cellar stove. Without saying anything, it was understood that dinner would be served in the backyard, unless it rained, and then we would find the cellar table set for dinner. It didn't rain. The outside table was set, and as the men arrived home, they would clean up and head for the backyard. Dad and my uncles would have tuxedo pants on and sport shirts. They were musicians and back in the day, musicians always dressed in tuxes at night. After dinner, they would don their starched shirts, or dickies and collars over their t-shirts for a real old fash- -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 i ioned formal look, and then their tux jackets with the white handkerchief placed in the top outside pocket at just the right height. After dress- ing, they were ready to head to work. At this point in time, Uncle Paul was playing with a Dixieland band, Uncle Nick with a society band at the Copley Plaza, and Dad with the Jimmy McHale band at the Fife and Drum Room at the Hotel Vendome on Commonwealth Ave., near Dartmouth Street. Once in a while, the men had a night off. It was usually a Monday and there was no rush. Nanna would put out an antipasto, followed by soup, which pre- ceded some type of macaroni, which was followed by meat, vegetables, and a garden salad. Later, dessert con- sisted or fruit and nuts. Babbononno would have bought a loaf of Italian bread, the round type, I don't know what they called it, but God forbid, Nanna would have it sliced. This is something Babbononno would do with a very sharp knife. During all of this, glasses of wine would be ever-present, homemade wine, that is. It was consid- ered an "infamnia" to buy wine when local friends made better wine than those com- mercial companies. During the meal, the men would discuss the happenings of the day. Uncle Paul worked for a printing company, Uncle Nick was the vice president of the Boston Musicians Union and Dad was new to the Boston Public Schools, and they all had stories about the goings on where their jobs were concerned. The one thing they had in common, including Babbononno, was the music business they were all in at night. When the al fresco dinner was concluded, all the men would light up cigars and Babbononno would pour everyone another glass of wine, providing it was one of those occasions when they weren't playing that night. Everyone would lean back and just relax as the sun slowly began to set in the west. When the women headed inside to do the dishes in the cellar sink, one of the men would move a cellar radio next to an open window and they would listen to the news of the day and then discuss the happenings in Europe and Asia. Once in a while, we now sit out in the backyard on a warm spring day. If we're lucky, our sons and their ladies will join us and we will chow down on something cooked on the barbecue. If no one feels like cooking or we are expecting more com- pany, take out from one of the local restaurants is the logical option. It ain't the same as the old days at Nanna and Babbononno's place ... and besides, I'm now the "old man" of the crowd. GOD BLESS AMERICA Ken Fallin (Continued from Page 9) Fellini York. We try to get them either into foster homes or into a shelter that doesn't kill. I like drawing dogs too. I don't get to do that much in my pay work. I think they are such characters." After my conversation with this very warm and talented man I feel it is never too late to pursue your dream. It wasn't easy for Ken, but he persisted and we are all the better for having him shar- ing his art with us. I hope you will now feel you know the man behind those won- derful doodles you see in so many publications. Originals and prints of all Ken's work are for sale in- cluding his work for the Wall Street Journal. The day we spoke, he had earlier been on the phone with Patrick Stewart who was buying a copy of the wonderful piece he did for Playbill of "Waiting For Godot" that starred Stewart and lan McKellan. You can contact Ken through his website at kenfaUinartist, com. Breakers Back to Winning Ways by Chris Brookes It was a pleasing night for the Boston Breakers at Harvard Stadium last Wednesday as they came away with a 2-0 win over the Washington Spirit. Goals came from Katie Schoepfer and Courtney Jones as the Breakers got their third win of the current National Women's Soccer League season. Boston was out for the win against the Spirit that had beaten them 3-2 at Harvard just ten days earlier. The Breakers were without U.S. National Team midfielders Heather O'Reilly and Kristie Mewis, also England forward Lianne Sanderson, due to international call-ups. Boston's Schoepfer in the 42 nd minute, put away Mollie Pathman's cross finishing low past Chantel Jones. Less than two minutes later Nkem Ezurike took a shot on goal, and after Chantel denied her she diverted it into the path of Courtney Jones. Jones slammed the loose ball into the goal to put Boston into a commanding 2-0 lead. The win against 3rd-placed Washington will be the last time the Breakers are at home until Sunday, August 3 rd versus Western New York Flash. To purchase your tickets visit www. breakerstickets.com or call 617-945-1704. Boston Harborside Home Joseph A. Langone 580 Commercial St. - Boston, MA 02109 617-536-4110 www.bostonharborsidehome.com Augustave M. Sabia, Jr. Trevor Slauenwhite Frederick J. Wobrock Dino C. Manca Courtney A. F itzgibbons A Service Family Affiliate of AFFS/Service Corporation International 206 Winter St., Fall River, MA 02720 Telephone 508-676-2454 For/nfo on adwtislng  the Post-Gazette, call 617-227-8929.