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July 1, 2016     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZE'I'rE, JULY 1, 2016 PAGE 13 a/2na Babb onno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Last week I left off with Sal picked up speed and headed and north toward Salerno. Meli and I leaving Catanzaro, off. The only thing I knew about Calabria, and heading back to Once we were back in Reg- Salemo was the American in- Reggio, the city on the toe of gio, we found the Autostrada, vasion there during WWII, and Italy. Our intent was to head the main highway that headed the only reason I knew about north to Naples to intercept two north on Italy's west coast, that was the fact that Dad had friends from Medford, Jose (pro- and began to make our way to a good friend who survived the nounced "ho-sa3e') and Franny Naples. En route we became assault. Tony Spalzzino was Encalada. They were heading to hungry and decided to stop at a part of the 54 Army, led by Gen- Cassino to visit Franny's family, city called Cosenza. I had heard eral Mark Clark. The Germans and we were invited. Sal and I the name before, but it was just knew that they were coming, wanted to time our arrival by in passing, and we decided to and in spite of our battleships heading north at a leisurely explore a bit before dinner, and cruisers leveling the first pace and see the sights along What I discovered was fascin- few streets on the waterfront, the way. ating. First, it was the burial the Nazis were waiting for them, The highway that connects place of Aleric, one of the Ger- and we suffered thousands of Reggio and Catanzaro goes manic leaders who overthrewcasualties in a battle that lasted through the mountains of Ca- Rome in the late four hundreds, almost two weeks. Dad's friend, labria, and was only two lanes and helped bring on the Dark Tony, was one of the few men in wide, without a guard rail. Sal Ages. We next discovered that his squad who survived. couldn't drive a standard shift, the city had been occupied or When we arrived in Salerno, I so all the dirty work was left up controlled by the Greeks, Span- noticed that the first ten blocks to me. As we ascended into the ish, French, Moors, Scandina- or so, heading in from the Calabrian mountains, I made vians, and who knows who else waterfront, were composed of sure that I drove slowly and in their history. By visiting all new modem buildings. Beyond carefully. There weren't any of the sites indicated by a lo- these in distance, the architec- problems until we were about cal cop, we learned a lot about ture was medieval. We checked halfway back to Reggio. I drove southern Italian history, and into a hotel for the night and the mountain road in second actually worked up a couple of went on a sightseeing tour the gear and watched the edge of ravenous appetites, next day, and much of what we the road as if my life depended On our way back to the mainexperienced dealt with the war. on it (it did). Just as we were piazza, we ran into the same After we checked in, Idecided about halfway there and were at cop. This time we asked himto call home. It was late after- the highest point in the moun- for a trattoria or restaurant noon Italian time and around tains, a thunderstorm decided he would eat in. He pointed to noon back home. When I called, to present itself. The problem one across the piazza and we Babbononno answered. I had to was, we weren't driving under headed there, but not before outline everything we did and it; we were driving through it, inviting the cop to join us if describe the places we stopped right through the middle of it. he felt like taking a break. He at. After listening for a while, The sky turned black around thanked us but didn't know if he asked if we were in Spain, us. My headlights and fog lights it would be possible. He gave us because nothing I mentioned helped a little, but we had prob- the name of the owner and his was familiar to him. My answer lems. The wind was so strong, own name as a reference. Once didn't agree with him. I told him the rain fell sideways. Thethun- seated in the open-air restau- that he had left Italy in 1896 der and lightning didn't help rant, the waiter, a kid about and things had changed. He the situation. The lightning flew ten years old, handed us the started swearing and handed across the windshield sideways menus. A note at the top said, the phone to my mother. She and the thunder was so loud, "Coperto 750 lire." This was agreed that his memory of Italy it was deafening. Sal, acting as the cover charge and included, stopped advancing the day he my co-pilot, made sure I didn't for the equivalent of fifty cents, left there, and his remem- get too close to the edge. But as a loaf of bread and a liter of brances' were of the 1800s, the storm worsened, it became homemade wine. not the 1900s. I then told my darker and windier, a situation We ordered veal, eggplant mother that we were heading to which caused the rear end of and pasta, all homemade, and Naples where we would pick up my FIAT to drift sideways. I it was a feast. As we toured Jose and his wife, Franny. She was scared and barely crawled Italy that summer, I discovered told me that Dad's band was along the road. Just then, I why there are or were so few playing at the Blue Hills County spotted flashing red lights in foreign restaurants there. Their Fair in Maine and they would be front of me, no more than ten Italian food, no matter where heading there within a couple or twenty feet ahead. I stepped you headed, was better thanof days. Dad wasn't home, so I on the clutch, jammed the shift anything anyone else could of- told Morn to say hello for me and into first gear, and slowed to fer. Just when our dessert and then calm Babbononno down. I the same speed as the object coffee arrived, so did the cop we told her to say to him that it was in front of me, a giant sized had befriended. We offered him 1972 in Italy, not 1872. FIAT eighteen-wheeler. Stay- a glass of wine, but he settled I won't tell you what happened ing about six or seven feet for coffee. Sal asked if he would that night (this is a family col- behind the truck and moving like espresso or cappuccino, umn), but the next morning, we at the same speed, we made The cop looked at him with a were back on the road to Naples. it down the mountain with no curious expression on his face. I followed the signs to the Naples further problems. By the time He then said, and I translate, Intemational Airport and ar- we reached the bottom of the "A Sicilian should know better, rived in front of the terminal mountain, the sun was out and Italians don't drink cappuccino that housed Alitalia just as my everything was dry. You would after 11:00 am, just the tour- friends were walking to the curb. never have known that a storm ists." So, it was three espressos We wedged them into the back had existed minutes earlier, with pieces of lemon peel. When seat along with their suitcases The truck driver sensed that we left Cosenza, the cop gave and we headed to the main part he had protected us on the us his name and number in of the city ... to be continued ... way down the mountain case we got back there, and we and gave a wave to us as he headed back to the Autostrada GOD BLESS AMERICA -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 ParkArts Children's Workshops RETURNS JULY 5 The Boston Parks and Recreation Department's annual ParkARTS program, sponsored by Holly and David Bruce, is pleased to announce the return of its series of children's arts workshops giving kids the opportunity to express their creativity while working on fun projects with local artists. From East Boston to West Roxbury, children ages three to ten can enjoy painting, mask and jewelry making, treasure creations, and more, at the Artists in Residence Workshops held from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon in parks across the city. Participation is free and all materials are provided, but young children must be accompanied by an adult. Groups of six or more must make prior arrangements by calling the Boston Parks De- partment at 617-635-4505. Now in its 20 year, ParkARTS brings a wide range of cultural offerings to city parks. In addition, the New England Aquarium will bring its travel- ing tide pool exhibit to six locations, and the Marionette Puppet Show series will return in July and August at 11:00 am at various children's workshops. See Boston's parks come alive with these whimsical puppet shows that will delight the child in everyone. Experience the unique charm of Rosalita's Puppets, featuring mari- onettes made by professional actor-puppeteer CharlotteAnne Dore. Children are able to cool off this summer at Splash Dance Parties in July and August at parks across Boston. Children can play in the park's water spray features, while listening to festive music, playing games, and trying tasty treats provided for all families to enjoy. ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE WORKSHOPS DATES AND LOCATIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS: Tuesdays: July 54, 124, & 194, Rogers Park Allston/Brighton, Town Field, Dorchester July 264, August 2nd, ~ 94, Ringgold Park, South End, Martin Playground, Dorchester Wednesdal~s: July 64, 134, & 20TM, Sweeney Playground, South Boston, Gertrude Howes Playground, Roxbury July 274, August 3rd, & 104, Iacono Playground, Hyde Park, McKinney Playground, Allston/Brighton Thursdays: July 74, 144, & 21st, Doherty Playground, Charlestown, Healy Playground, Roslindale July 28th, August 4th, & 11th, Ramsay Park, Roxbury, Christopher Columbus Park, North End Fridags: July 84, 154, 22"d, East Boston Memorial Park, East Boston, Mozart Street Playground, Jamaica Plain July 294, August 54, & 124, Almont Park, Mattapan, Hynes Playground, West Roxbury THE NEW ENGLAND AQUARIUM at I0:00 am: Tuesday, July 12th, Town Field, Dorchester Wednesday, July 20th, Gertrude I-Iowes Playground, Roxbury Friday, July 22nd, Mozart Street Playground, Jamaica Plain Thursday, July 28th, Ramsay Park, Roxbury Tuesday, August 94, Martin Playground, Dorchester Friday, August 124, Almont Park, Mattapan ROSALITA'S PUPPETS MARIONETTE PERFORMANCES at 11:00 am: Wednesday, July 6th, Gertrude Howes Playground, Roxbury Thursday, July 14th, Nealy Playground, Roslindale Wednesday, July 20th, Sweeney Playground, South Boston Wednesday, August 3r~, laeono Playground, Hyde Park Thursday, August 44, Ramsay Park, Roxbury Thursday, August 11th, Christopher Columbus Park, North End SPLASH DANCE PARTIES at 12:00 noon: Friday, July 84, Mozart Street Playground, Jamaica Plain Friday, July 154, East Boston Memorial Park, East Boston Thursday, July 2 1st, Doherty Playground, Charlestown Friday, July 29t~, Hynes Playground, West Roxbury Friday, August 54, Almont Park, Mattapan For information on this and other ParkARTS programs, please call the Boston Parks and Recreation Department at 617-635- 4505, visit www.facebook.com/bostonparksdepartment or www. cityofboston.gov/ parks or follow @BostonParksDept. On Sale Now! THE NORTH END Where It All Began The Way It Was by Fred Langone SALE PRICE $19.95 Plus Shipping & Handling 5 Prince On Site at The Post-Gazette Street, North End, Boston, MA