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June 21, 2013     Post-Gazette
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June 21, 2013
 

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POST-GAZETTE, JUNE 21,2013 Page13 e"J{ - by John Christoforo 00Babb00onno A Nostalgic Remembrance It was June of 1956. I had just graduated from Boston English High School and didn't know what I was go- ing to do beyond high school, Mr. Ray told me that I could work at the Seville Theater full-time for the summer doing maintenance in the mornings while keeping my ushering schedule intact. When we had time together, Dad would tell me of the doors that would open for me if I went to college. I wasn't interested because my clos- est friends were either work- ing or heading into the mili- tary. No one was interested in college. I pondered over my future confused with all of the information I had received from different sources. Babbononno told me to keep practicing the bass and be- come a full time musician. Nanna told me she knew a store owner who would give me a job. Dad pushed college and an army recruiter I knew tried to get me to join the military. When I vacil- lated, Babbononno changed his tune and told me to be- come a carpenter or furni- ture maker, a trade he did rather well in after coming to America. A friend called one morn- ing relaying the information that his father, a longshore- man, knew someone in the construction business who would put us to work. It seems that they were going to build a drive-in theater in East Boston, on Bennington Street across from the Won- derland T station. My friend told me that he was going to drive a bull dozer and I was going to handle a tractor and we were going to make a for- tune helping to build the drive-in theater. It seems that a 3 rd person was needed and I called a high school chum whom I "hung out" with and he made it a trio of construction workers that were going to work on the development of the drive-in and get rich. The next morning the three of us reported to the job site as instructed. When the contractor arrived, he intro- duced himself and told us what we were going to do. There was no mention of a bull dozer or a tractor in his conversation. Instead, he handed two of us picks and the 3  one a shovel and told us to start digging. Our fan- tasies were crushed as we dug up the soil and piled it where we were told to leave it, but the money we were to receive per hour sounded great and we began to follow the given instructions. By lunch time, my hands were sore in spite of wearing a pair of gloves. By quitting time, the palms of my hands had developed a combination of water-filled blisters and blood-filled blisters ... I was hurtin'. My two friends were in the same situation. Our soft hands were now blis- tered, sore and ready to call it quits. When I climbed the three flights of stairs to arrive at the top floor of 74 Eutaw Street, I could not hold onto the banister due to the pain and condition of my hands. Babbononno, in anticipation of my arrival, had a basin of warm salt water ready for me to soak my hands in. As I walked in the front door, he grabbed my right arm twisted it, looked at my hand and said in Italian, "Come soak your hands in brine." A few minutes later, Dad walked in, saw what I was doing and asked to see the palms of my hands. As I showed him the damage, I looked him in the eye and said, "You're right, it's time to head to college." He just smiled without saying a word. Within the next few days, I applied for entrance to Boston State College. I had not taken the SAT exams which most colleges required for consid- eration and knew that I wouldn't get in to any of them. Boston State (now part of U. Mass Boston) didn't require the Scholastic Apti- tude Tests. I was interviewed and accepted as an incom- ing freshman. Dad wanted me to go to college. Babbo- nonno wanted me to learn a trade, so, I compromised. I signed up to study industrial arts. This program would give me a bachelor's degree and prepare me to teach shop at either a middle school or high school level. Everybody seemed happy, but I had the entire summer in front of me and wanted a job that would put some money in my pocket. Dad made a political con- tact and I was told to report to the MDC Police station, then located in the middle of Revere Beach. I was inter- viewed and asked if I could swim. The interviewer gave me one of those rental bath- ing suits they used to have at the adjacent bathhouse, and after I was dressed for the water, walked me across the street to the beach and said, "OK, kid, swim." I did -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST --. THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 in spite of hating cold water. The next thing I knew, I was made into a lifeguard and told to report to the manager of the bathhouse at Consti- tution Beach the next morn- ing. I thanked the man and headed home, all the while asking myself where Consti- tution Beach was. When I asked Dad, Babbononno and an assortment of neighbors from Eutaw Street, no one had ever heard of Constitu- tion Beach. As I sat on my front steps pondering the problem, I saw two of Dad's friends walking by, Jimmy Leary and Johnny Sousa. I asked them the question no one seemed to be able to answer. Jimmy was the first to respond, "You've been play- ing handball on that beach since they built a handball court there." Johnny, a Bos- ton fireman, added, "Consti- tution Beach, to them, is Shay's Beach to us." The beach is the one located in Orient Heights in East Bos- ton. Everyone else knew the legal name except us East Bostonians ... to us, it was Shay's Beach. Bright and early the next morning, I reported there looking for the manager of the bathhouse. When I found him, he issued me an or- ange florescent bathing suit, a whistle to hang around my neck and an orange pith helmet. His next comment was, "You're now a lifeguard, so go out and save lives. For the next month, my hands healed as I walked along the beach in my lifeguard's uni- form, greeting people I had known most of my life. Dur- ing my breaks, I joined the crowd at the handball court, but couldn't play seeing that the palms of my hands were in various stages of healing. When August rolled around, Dad, Mom, Nanna and Babbononno were head- ing for our cottage in Maine. Dad had booked in the Blue Hills County Fair which used to take place on Maine's coast and when they packed up the car, the trunk in- cluded, not only the para- phernalia necessary for a cottage vacation, but Dad's tuba, tuxedo and his music stands. When I was able to get someone to cover me, I, too, headed for Maine. As the summer came to a close and Labor Day was just around the corner, I was ready to turn in my orange bathing suit, whistle and pith helmet. Out of curios- ity, I called the two friends who reported to the construc- tion site with me in June. I was curious as to what they were going to do that fall. One said that he was head- ing for Northeastern Univer- sity and the other to a hair- dressing academy. Their hands, like mine had healed over the summer and we were ready for post high school action. We all had learned a lesson that spared us more pain and sent us in other directions. Socially Scene (Continued to the first 25 people who call to reserve a space. PIG ROAST: Sunday, July 14 th at 6:00 pm. This exciting outdoor pork-a-thon features a traditional pig roast with all the fixin's plus selected beers and wines. LOBSTAH BAKE: Sunday, August 11 th at 6:00 pm. New Englanders know that this feast always includes our favorite crustacean, plus local corn, potatoes, clams, hot dogs, watermelon and more. You should act fast seating is already limited. DUELING CHEFS OF DORCHESTER: Sunday, September 8 th at 6:00 pm. This exciting competition pits the kitchen teams of Ashmont Grill and Tavolo (Ashmont Grill's sister res- taurant) against each other in an end-of-the-season pa- tio party chock full of local farm fare, meats, fish, pasta, homey desserts, wine and beer. Summer fun with quality cuisine; wine and outdoor seating, sign me up! These dinners sound like a great evening to enjoy with that special someone. ASHMONT GRILL is located 555 Talbot Avenue, Dorchester and can be contacted at 617-825- 4300. For further informa- tion on these events or their current menu visit ww w. as hmontgriU, com. A Tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City .... Gaslight Brasserie South from Page 9) End, Boston is The Aquitaine Group's classic neighbor- hood Parisian brasserie. Gaslight offers guests French brasserie cuisine of impec- cable quality and improbable value in an informal, old- world-is-new-again setting. With its hand crafted Pari- sian zinc bar, reclaimed wood floors, mosaic tiles, beamed wood ceilings, nico- tine stained walls and antique mirrors, Gaslight's decor is warm and inviting. Seating guests in an eclectic mix of bar, caf tables, communal tables, booths and banquettes, Gas- light will be open seven days a week serving lunch, din- ner, late night "Supper" and brunch on the weekends. Gaslight diners can choose from a large selection of classic French brasserie cuisine prepared by Chef de Cuisine Christopher Robins. Gaslight will offer an all French wine list with over 20 wines by the glass, I/2 carafe and carafe with additional 60 selections on its reserve wine list. Suit- able for all occasions and for all times of the day and week, Gaslight courts all who appreciate a great time. Gaslight Brasserie is lo- cated 560 Harrison Avenue, Boston and can be reached at 617-422-0224 to book reservations. You can visit www.gaslight560.com for details on the menu and hours of operation. Independence Week 2013 Kickoff at Christopher Columbus Park The Friends of Christopher Columbus Park (FOCCP) continues its tradition of celebrating Independence Week in the Park with a series of fun and family events. These events will be anchored by the Park's second annual Independence Day Celebration, this year to be held on Saturday, June 29 th from 10:45 am to 3:00 pro. This free celebration invites kids of all ages to decorate their bikes, scooters, strollers and themselves for an 11:00 am parade through the Park. Other entertainment through the day will include visits by Big Joe the Storyteller and T-Bone, a fire truck, marionettes, a magician and a musical perfor- mance by the North End Music & Performing Arts Center. Laura Benvenuto, co-chair of the June 29 th Independence Day event, spoke about how this event came together. "The Friends of Christopher Columbus Park group works hard to fund and organize enjoyable events in the Park like our Independence Day celebration. To encourage year-round activity at our Park, we also fund and sponsor other events throughout the year, including the Winter Trellis lighting, the Columbus Day celebration, Sunday Free Movie nights, and others. We are proud to have the support of responsible and generous corporate sponsors for this event. Thank you to Al Dente Restaurant, Boston Pushcart, Benevento's, Elite Boston Landmark Realty, Joe's American Bar & Grill, Marriott Long Wharf and Sunstone Hotel Investors. We also thank our membership whose yearly contributions help fund this and other events." There are two other special Independence Week events before and after our June 29 th Independence Day Celebra- tion. On Saturday, June 22 "d, the FOCCP and the North End/Waterfront Health & Beauty Alliance (NEWHBA) host the Park's first annual Health & Beauty Expo which will run from 8:00 am to 8:00 pro. The Expo will feature free exercise classes, health & beauty tables and live music starting at 3:00 pm. On Sunday, June 30  the North End Music & Performing Arts Center fNEMPAC) presents a fully staged opera production of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm. Conductor Tiffany Chang and Stage Director Brent Wilson will present this special performance in Italian with English subtitles. The Friends of Christopher Columbus Park (FOCCP) is an all-volunteer non-profit organization comprised of North End and Waterfront residents and businesses whose pur- pose is to further the restoration, protection, preservation, care, enhancement, improvement, and maintenance of the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. The FOCCP works closely with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation De- partment to keep the Park clean and well maintained, and with other city and state organizations to improve the Park to enrich the lives of both residents and visitors to Boston.