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POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 9, 2013 Page 13 I BabbiYnonno I [ ................................. ANostalgzcRemembrance Last week we were away. My wife teaches with a woman named Maria who is originally from the Domini- can Republic. Maria and her husband, Manny, head home each summer and we re- ceived an invite to join them this August. Before I ac- cepted, we had dinner with Maria and Manny and I hit it off with both. On the way home I told Loretta that she had made an excellent choice befriending Maria and that I liked the way Manny spoke. As a result, we accepted the invitation. I have written a couple of stories about spending time in the Dominican Republic with my old friend, Sal Meli, from East Boston, but the events I wrote about hap- pened over 40 years ago. As an example, we flew into the revolution of 1966 and lived to tell about it. Four years later, another friend and I wandered into a voodoo ceremony one night and lived to tell about it. I thought my luck had run out as far as the Dominican Republic was concerned, and I haven't been back there since. When we landed at the Santo Domingo International Airport, it looked as modern as any I've seen elsewhere in the world. The last time I was there, the airport was at a different location and there was only one runway to land on. As we walked toward customs, we saw two people jumping up and down waiving at us. It was Maria and Manny. When we finally cleared customs, they guided us to their car and the fairy- tale began. I didn't know what to expect and didn't recog- nize anything. Time had changed in my 40 something year absence. We drove for about an hour and finally stopped at a gated community entrance. Once inside, I was impressed with the size of the houses or should I say, estates that we passed. We finally stopped at the parking lot for their complex and we entered a three bedroom, three bath- room domicile. The house- keeper, anticipating our ar- rival, had lunch on the table. After lunch, we unpacked and headed for the just out- side the door swimming pool and hot tub. Later, Manny and Maria took us on a sightseeing tour of the local area. Once out of their complex, I could see the differences. Most of the locals lived in tiny houses with no electricity and running water. Apartment buildings we passed had just the bare necessities for survival. Manny added in something I already knew; about 97% of the population lived marginally. The 3% they were part of owned everything. Just as an example, after dinner that evening, they decided to introduce us to friends of theirs. The living room of the home we entered had 40 foot ceilings and you could have played football in that living room. For the next couple of days, we toured the country- side as Manny wanted me to see how things had changed since the last time I was there. One thing that I was aware of was the amount of billboards advertising things Dominican and the center figure of each was David Ortiz in his Red Sox uniform. He's from that island and as much of a hero there as he is in Boston. The next morning, the housekeeper had breakfast on the table when we got up. Our hosts had another tour planned and we headed for the capital city of Santo Domingo. Like the parts of the island I had already seen, things had changed. New neighborhoods, new public buildings, new hotels and everything written in both Spanish and English. Both Manny and Maria had told us to bring a change of clothes with us and later in the day, I discovered why. We were going to stay at their down- town penthouse condo for the night. Manny mentioned that, after dinner, some of their friends were going to drop over to meet us. But before that was to happen, Manny wanted to bring me to the Ambajador Hotel to see the changes and to show me how they had redecorated the casino inside. I knew that there was an ulterior motive to his intention and once in the casino, he had to try his luck. He didn't have any ... neither did I. Once we were back at the penthouse, the expected friends dropped by and Maria served cheese and crackers with the drinks Manny came up with. The man was a local lawyer and his wife a presidential advisor. To honor us, she had pro- grammed a private tour(in English due to Loretta only speaking English) of the -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 White House, their capital (which was actually pink). The next day, after breakfast, prepared by the in-town housekeeper, we headed for the capital and the tour. It was conducted by a Japanese Dominican young lady who spoke perfect English with- out a Spanish accent. Follow- ing the tour the woman who had invited us to the capital showed up and apologized for not having time to spend with us due to meetings. As we left, she presented me with a package of DVDs that illustrated the history of her country. On the way back to the country estate, Manny made a detour to Boca Chica and the Hotel Hamaca, the last place I had visited over 40 years earlier. I didn't recog- nize anything. The last time I was there the hotel existed on the beach and across the street was a small restau- rant, a hair dressing parlor, the local police station and a grocery store. The whole area had grown into an international resort destina- tion and was all ultra mod- ern. Once we were back at the country estate, friends of theirs began dropping by to meet us, something I didn't expect. The only unfor- tunate part for Loretta was that few of them spoke English. Actually, most of the men did, but not the women. Maria translated for my wife, and all was well. The next day was Saturday and I insisted on taking Manny and Maria out to dinner to a fancy Spanish restaurant. While dining on the best paella money could buy, a local cat wandered into the open air establish- ment and insisted on sitting on my feet. That night, Manny and I sat out at the pool where I enjoyed a Cuban cigar and a local dog insisted on staying next to me. After scratching his head for a while, I couldn't get rid of him. I guess I was accepted, not only by the locals, but by their pets, too. The next day was Sunday and Father's Day in the Dominican Republic. Maria told us to pack up our bath- ing suits as we had been invited to a Father's Day cookout at the home of a doc- tor friend. When we arrived at his home, I needed a map to find my way around. There were several ser- vants to wait on us hand and foot and when I asked Manny ff they were hired just for the day, he told me that they were part of the staff that was there 24/7. I was impressed as I sat in a hot tub with the owner of the home, sipping aged rum while I puffed on a Cuban stogie as we awaited the barbecue to begin. I was in over my head but loved every minute of it and I'll continue with the story next week. GOD BLESS AMERICA Socially Scene (Continued rities and notable figures of the time. John Glenn, the Ist American to orbit the Earth, requested Cherubini to create the "Orbit Dress" for his wife. The Chandler Burlap Company commis- sioned a burlap dress to which she responded with a pink burlap cocktail dress, which was photographed for Life Magazine. Rose Cherubini (while raising two sons) mounted several fashion shows around the Boston area including mul- tiple shows at the famous Blinstrub's Nightclub. Her work was also pic- tured and featured in ar- ticles including the Boston Globe, the Quincy Sun, The Boston Traveller (then known as the Boston Her- ald), the Patriot Ledger and The Hellenic Chronicle among others. Her work touched many women and the generations that fol- lowed. In order to design a wedding gown, she was -al- lowed access to the union of families. These intimate public moments her work was a part of, attests to her cultural contribution as an Italian American woman. Her designs were worn to major cultural and social events where high society, politics and business met, but also to the most popular nightclubs and dance halls where the moment's best musicians amongst other creative and colorful char- acters resided. Rose Cherubini's works, prized family possessions, are still worn by daughters and granddaughters to only the most special of events. In addition to the exhibition there will be a catalog devel- oped with photos by Julian Cherubini and a text by Nicole Cherubini. The gallery presentation was all I imagined it could be and more. The timeless pieces on display, the thrill to meet Rose herself and the glitterati in attendance were enough to keep me excited for months. The gal- lery will be open during the month of August: Thursdays through Saturdays 11:00 am-6:00 pm, Sundays 12:00 pm-5:00 pm, and by appoint- ment. The Samson Gallery is located 450 Harrison Av- enue/29 Thayer Street, Boston; you can reach them at 617-357-7177 or visit www.samsonprojects.com for more details. Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf .... Will be on stage at the Improv Asylum for a spe- cial presentation September 2nd, 8th and 9% For over a decade, a group of dedicated individuals have banded together to bring quality community the- ater to the North End. From romantic comedy (Samuel Taylor's Sabrina Fair} to mur- der mystery (Tim Kelly's Don't be Afraid of the Dark) to family drama (Ernest Thompson's On Golden Pond), your friends and neighbors have been enter- taining you at the North End's Improv Asylum. In the past, these showcases have been produced with the as- from Page 9) sistance of the North End Music Performing Arts Cen- ter (NEMPAC). This September, Adequate Productions is going out on its own to produce Edward Albee's award winning drama, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Other than the checkbook, nothing has changed. The cast is still led by our own Laurie D'Elia, local mother, daugh- ter and community leader. The show is still run by Director Lauren B. Nelson, local mother and public ser- vant. The Improv Asylum continues to provide com- fortable, inviting accommo- dations with a cash bar. One of the great rewards of communit5 theater is how much entertainment can be producel for a relatively small ammnt of money. Every ticke holder will take more valuefrom the experi- ence than the cost of the ticket. And for just a little bit more, ~rery donor will receive thesatisfaction and recognition of being an arts patron in ~ddition to being entertained by a funny and moving stoy, performed by experienceddramatic actors. Participang donors may receive ticl2ts, advertising space or mer recognition depending a the size of the donation. 'heir Indiegogo fund-raisin goal has been set in anticpation of other revenues, ke sales of ad- vertising an tickets. If they do not reac the fundraising goal, the ca,' and crew of the show will Kite up for it out of their owJpockets. This is thir 7~ major pro- duction toether and the cast is thrled to have an opportunity ) put on another great show More than any other comlent, audience members al constantly tell- ing the cas how surprised and delightd they are that the product)n is so profes- sional. "Thi is not the type of work I xpected to see from a connunity theater group," is a'efrain they hear over and er, each time they bring anew show to the stage. But they ".an't do it with- out the heb of our donors, friends and neighbors. They hope you will join them for this next let of their journey. Together, y)u can continue to bring li~e theater to the North End.And remember, they don't do this for the money and neither should you. Any anount will make it easier for them to produce a great slow, but there are other ways you can help. Tell your fgends, neighbors and co-wor~ers to come out and enjoy tae show. If those friends, neghbors and co- workers wmt to infuse the program wih funds, all the better. In fact, use the Indiegogo mare tool, just to make it ea;ier. Mostly, h)wever, they en- courage yol to gather your friends, neghbors and co- workers (n~ children under 13 ) and come on down to the Improv Asylum, grab a bucket of wine or beer from the bar, find your seat and hold on to it, because it will be a bumpy ride. Visit www.indiegogo.com for more details.