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August 5, 2011

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POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 5, 2011 Page13 00Babb'00onno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Last week I was talking about a bunch of us having a backyard barbecue. When I was a kid, the men on our block on Eutaw Street would plan a gathering at the house next door to ours, 76 Eutaw Street. I believe it was owned by a man named Mando Sinabaldi. Mando, Dad and Ralph Manfredonia, the landlord of our house at 74, sat down one night and planned a middle of the week shindig that would include the families who were close. Everyone would chip in and they would consider the cost of steaks, sausages, potato salad, corn on the cob, salad, dessert and beer and wine. If the cost per family was approved by the head of each clan, the preliminaries would begin. Let's see, there would be Morn and Dad, Mando Sinabaldi, his wife Reenie, Ralph and Grace Man- fredonia, Joe Balabona and his wife, Danny and Rose Gallo, Bert and Mary Marotta, Sal and Angie Romano, Libby and Ann Annise, Nanna and Babbononno, some of the Pedro family from across the street and all us kids. With the youngsters included, it brought the total to well over thirty people. This wasn't planned to be a block party, just the closest families on our block of Eutaw Street. If anyone is reading this that was part of that crowd and not mentioned, please for- give me. Most of us kids were ten or twelve years old around then, and I've long since lost touch with all of them. My closest friends, John Man- fredonia and Bob Romano, are long gone. I'm aware of where the rest of the Man- fredonia family is due to maintaining contact to some degree. I have no idea what became of the rest of the children of the families men- tioned above, but we were there for that back yard bar- becue and several others that took place in the warm weather. At least once per summer, Babbononno and Zi'Antonio Ceruolo would plan a cookout for our families. Zi'Antonio was Nanna's old- est brother and Babbononno's best friend. Usually, the cookout would take place in a central location, the picnic area at Mystic Lake. Many of the family still lived in East Boston and the North End, but the rest resided in Medford, Revere and Saugus. Dad would reserve a barbe- cue pit and a picnic bench or two as was necessary, and the invitations would be sent out via phone calls or by vis- iting the families. Now, American cookouts are a tradition in the United States, but we did it Italian style. Dad was always the cook (I think he missed his calling. He was as good a cook as he was a musician.). He would figure out how many steaks, pounds of sausages, chunks of lamb and slabs of pork ribs were necessary to feed the number of relatives who had said yes to the invite. Each of the ladies were given lists of things they would have to make or buy that accompanied the meat, and the rest of the men would consider how much beer, wine and hard liquor would be necessary. Above and beyond this, the women of our extended family would cook. As an example, Nanna might make ravioli and gravy. Zi'Antonio's wife, my Great Aunt Zi'Mariuccia, would make cutlets and veg- etables, Morn would bring the fixings for a salad and an antipasto. Others would be assigned things to bring, like pastries, pots, pans and eat- ing utensils. Of course, Zi'Antonio would have sev- eral gallons of his home- made wine, both red and white. A cousin-in-law of my mother's, A1 Beatrice, would be in charge of the hard stuff and the soda for the kids. The anticipation would build up as the picnic day approached, with everyone praying to St. Anthony for good weather. Our side was usually well represented. Two out of three of Mom's brothers would be there with their kids. Zi'Antonio and Zi' Mariuccia had nine children and only two or three would join us with their children. Nanna's sis- ters and their husbands would show up but usually not with their adult children, just alone. I would await my two cousins, Anthony and Ralph Pepe. They were about my age, and although 2 na cousins, were my closest relatives at that time. As soon as they arrived with their parents, all thoughts of a picnic would leave us, as Mystic Lake was a few yards away, and there was a pub- lic beach. With Anthony and Ralph's older sister, Lulu, watching over us, we would head for the water and not come out until an adult would drag us back to a pic- nic bench because the food was ready. While we were splashing at the water's edge, Dad and one or two of the adults would cook the meats that were supposed to be the main sources of food for the bar- becue. Once the steaks, sau- sages, chunks of lamb and pork ribs were ready, the pic- nic tables were covered by red and white checkered oil cloth table cloths. Place set- tings were already situated for seated dining and serv- ing dishes filled with ravioli, gravy, salad, vegetables, cold cuts and cheeses lined the center of the tables. They often had to be moved to make room for the serving dish filled with sizzling meats just off the grill. Even though this was a cookout, there were no hot dog or burger buns. The bread was Italian and it, too, was on the table within reach of the adult population. The family would begin with the cheeses, cold cuts, marinated mushrooms, mar- inated artichoke hearts, olives, hot peppers and chunks of bread. Zi'Antonio would fill everyone's glass with wine to help wash down the food. The next course was the pasta, then the meats that Dad had cooked accom- panied by vegetables and later salad. We kids would wolf down our food as fast as we could and attempt to return to the lake. It was then when we would hear the famous saying, "You kids can't go in the water for an hour after eating, or you'll get stomach cramps and drown just like your cousin." We would obey, but we never found out who this cousin was that drowned by not obey- ing his mother. After everyone had eaten and downed the wine, beer and soda that was available, the men would decide to engage in a sports activity. Most traditional American picnics find the games of baseball or softball an enter- taining follow up to eating and drinking, but we were Italian. Out would come the set of Bocce balls, and an imaginary court would be outlined. Teams would be picked, and the men, with gallons of wine, would play Bocce. Of course, the women would clean up. They were Italian, and that was their job (Don't tell my wife I said that.) Late in the afternoon, everyone, except us kids, would be tired and blankets might be spread out for relaxing in a horizontal posi- tion. For those not prone to an afternoon siesta, they would bring out the decks of cards. Italian card games of Scopa, Briscola and Sette Belle would be played by the older men. If Dad or my uncles played cards, Whist or Hearts were their fancy. The ladies would sit on the benches and gossip. We kids would anticipate the end of the hour following eating, so we could return to splash- ing in the waters of Mystic Lake. When it was time to leave, everyone would pick up their belongings and say goodbye to one another. This would take an hour due to hugs and kisses that accompa- nied the exit salutations. We kids would be dried off and stuffed into the back- seats of our fathers' cars. Within five minutes, we would be asleep. The same could be said of Babbononno and his generation. For them, it was too much wine. That's the way it was, and I loved every minute. GOD BLESS AMERICA. The Socially Set (Continued from Page 91 John Morrison, left, and Bob Carlson are pictured with the Civil War 20 th Massachusetts Regiment pistol that Carlson has loaned to the "Torn in Two" exhibit from his collection. winter to complete the final stages of construction and preservation work in order to prepare for the opening of the new Renzo Piano- designed wing and the re- stored Tapestry Room. The brief closure period will begin on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 and will end on Thursday, Janu- ary 19, 2012 when the museum opens its new wing to the public. "We are fortunate to have remained open for the ma- jority of the construction schedule with the least amount of impact on the public during this period. We now need this time to put the important finishing touches on the spaces and to prepare for our opening celebrations in January. We look forward to the unveiling of the new wing and refreshed Palace galleries and welcoming the public back to the Gardner," said Anne Hawley, Director of the museum. During the closed period, museum staff will move visitor amenities into the new wing, install three opening exhibitions and complete preservation and (Photo by Roger Farrington) conservation work in the historic galleries including the completion of its decade- long upgrade of lighting and restoration of the Tapestry Room. Modeled after a 15 th- century Venetian palazzo with an interior court- yard garden, the Gardner Museum houses a collection of fine art spanning 30 cen- turies and featuring Titian, Rembrandt, Botticelli, and Sargent, as well as changing contemporary and historic exhibitions, classical con- certs, lectures and special events. The museum will open its new wing designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano in January 2012. For more info, visit www. building Enjoy! (Be sure to visit Hilda Morrill's gardening Website, In addition to events covered and reported by the columnist, "The Socially Set" is compiled from various other sources such as news and press re- leases, PRNewswire services, etc.) Secure Communities (Continued from Page 2) arrested is suspected of being in this country unlawfully. As for the Dream Act legislation supported by mostly Liberals and Demo- crats, it is only a back door amnesty program for illegals. When the cost of tuition is keeping many U.S. citizens or legal aliens out of higher education, why be so concerned with those brought into this country illegally as young children or even infants? I'm not that concerned about undocu- mented students going on to college but don't expect the U.S taxpayers to sub- sidize your dreams of a col- lege education. Back nearly 20 years ago the federal courts mandated border states to allow the illegal immigrant communities full access to public school classrooms. I am not for keeping children uneducated but America must first ensure opportlanities for higher edu- cation for US born children as our first priority. THE FEDERAL works i t.h e consum e r t preveni fraud an d de cepi on' I =og WWW F00CiG0V ;; I WWW.BOSTONPOSTGAZETTE.COM