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July 6, 2012

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POST-GAZETTE, JULY 6, 2012 Page 13 00Babb0000nonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Babbononno once told me, "In life, you are stuck with your relatives whether you like them or not, but paesani and friends, you pick them and keep them for life." I guess that this is true. As a matter of fact, the only rela- tives I really associate with are Uncle Gino and Aunt Ninna. Uncle Gino is my mother's youngest brother and the last remaining rela- tive from that generation in the family. I do have first cousins, but seldom see them. My closest relative is Ralph Pepe, a second cousin. Our families spend holidays together and many a Satur- day night. I have a bevy of first cousins, but, as I said, never see them. Two live out of state and the ones who are local have busy sched- ules that prevent us from associating together. Paesani, that's something different. I have a few close friends that I associate with on a continual basis. You might remember their names from former stories. We are all tied up with the Sons of Italy, the Order of the First Corps of Cadets and a few other organizations that are of interest to us: Dean Saluti, John Silva and Bill Hurley. This is sort of an in- ner circle. There are several other friends that I have from years of socializing, but these are the closest: Dean for 40 years and John and Bill for 30. Paesani to Nanna and Babbononno were fellow EmigrEs from Italy, people who came over at the same time and networked or people who were from the same town or provinces. Paesani for the American born generation were the friends we made from the neighborhoods we came from, East Boston, the North End, etc .... and they were not all Italian. Beginning in my generation, the Irish and Italians stopped fight- ing each other and began marrying each other. The fact is, because of the close proximity of our neighbor- hoods and the fact that we went to school together and belonged to the same church talking about, when I was in San Diego two weeks ago, I tied up with a friend from East Boston from the old days, Dr. John Penta. John and his lovely wife, Barbara, drove from Yorba Linda, a couple of hours north of San Diego to tie up with me and Paul Fitzgerald, the man who invited me to join him in that southwestern city. John and I first met when we both entered the Joseph H. Barnes Junior High School in the 74 grade. Both of us were in a college prep division and had many classes together. He was an ambitious kid from London Street and I from Eutaw Street. In spite of the distance between our neighborhoods, we became pals. As we were graduating from the 9 th grade three years later, we discovered that both of us were heading in town to go to high school, with Boston English High School as our choice. Again, we were in similar college prep programs and had a few classes together. When it was time to head to college, John choose Northeastern and I headed to Boston State and we drifted apart. What did keep us together as a group of friends that we developed over the years was an alumni association which was very strong where English High was con- cerned. After college, as a result of his involvement in cancer research at Johns Hopkins and other research facilities, we only saw each other at annual school get- togethers, or when members of our class hosted a dinner at some Boston restaurant. John was widowed a few years back, but one day ran into someone he had at- tended college with. Barbara, now his wife, and he lives in semi-retirement in south- ern California. I emailed him to let him know that I would be coming to the west coast in May and the day after I arrived, there they were, ready to show us the sites. Paul Fitzgerald, the man who invited me to join him at his annual convention, has had to attend a credit union convention, he has invited a relative or friend. This year, I was asked and carved out the time. When I told John, he and Barbara decided to show up and give us a tour of San Diego. On our second day there, Barbara chauffeured us from place to place while she and John explained where we were and the historical significance of each loca- tion. I had not seen San Diego since around 1970 and didn't recognize anything except the Hotel Coronado, a five star resort that has been a focal point in San Diego with tourists and vacation- ers for over a hundred years. When the tour was over, I asked if the hotel might be a good spot for lunch and all agreed that they would like to eat there. We sat on an outside deck overlooking the water and I made a com- ment that it didn't look like the cafeteria at English High where we ate lunch five days a week for three years in the mid 1950s. The food was excellent and the company was composed of chosen paesani. We didn't come from the old country, but chose each other as friends because of similar interests and mutual respect. This is a slight dif- ference from the concept of paesani the way our grand- fathers and grandmothers lived, but the strength of the friendships are just as strong, only conducted American style. Later in the day, when I was relaxing over a cocktail and a cigar, I began to think of the distance that sepa- rated us, 3,000 miles. If I made a comparison of the paesani of Nanna and Babbononno's day, there are similarities. When their friends moved out of the old neighborhood, it might have been to a city or town five or ten miles away: Medford, Melrose, Saugus, or may- be Lynnfield. Get-togethers were easy to maintain. Today, we move from state to state and sometimes to other countries and just memories of good times past parishes together, it pushed was a classmate of ours at keep us together. us together. English. For most of his As an example ... how Some of us were lucky career, he was the city far did we move from our par- enough to go to college and greeter at Boston City Hall, ents when the time came to met other young people with saying hi to everyone who go out on our own? I have one similar interests and this stopped by his desk to ask for son in New York (235 miles kept us in touch with one directions or the floor and away) and another in Zurich, another other through the room number of some stra- Switzerland, (4,000 miles years. The same might apply tegically located city official, away) and these are not to the work place, too. Since the passing of Paul's paesani, but sons. And so it As an example of what I'm wife, Pat, each year when he goes. Times change, but it is still great when old friends FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST--  can get together and remi- nisce about the old days, es- THE - pecially growing up with Ital- ian values. GOD BLESS  AMERICA DIAMONDS ESTATE JEWELRY Bought & Sold MUSIC FOR ALL Jewelers Exch. Bldg. OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 Jim (617) 263-7766 j Photo of Champions John F. Kennedy with Ted Williams and Eddie Pellagrini of the Boston Red Sox, and Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park, Boston, April 1946. (PhOo' from the Kennedy Library) NEAD Gets Boston R.O.C.K.S Summer Grant For the sixth consecutive year, North End Against Drugs has been awarded a Boston R.O.C.K.S to help provide sum- mer programming for the children of the North End/Water- front neighborhoods. "We are thankful to Mayor Menino for continuing to support our youth," stated NEAD President John Romano. The program will consist of Arts and Crafts at the Mirabella Pool on Thursdays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm starting on July 12, 2012. There will also be Sports Night on the following four nights: July 6, 13, 19 and August i0, 2012. Jeremy Sarzana will run the Sports Night this year. Sports Night will take place at the Polcari Playground/ Nazzaro Center rain or shine from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Jeremy will organize various sporting games for boys and lirls ages 6 to 16. K3  Fully Insured Lic #017936 hanical Heating & Air Conditioning Sales, Service & Installation Ken Shallow 617.593.6211 00.,oooo M. Appraisals J. Sales & Rentals Real Estate 376 North Street * Boston, MA 02113 (617) 523-2100 Fax (617) 523-3530 7365421 98 1 54869372 298137456 315786924 872493615 649,215783 923651847 467'928531 58'1374269