Newspaper Archive of
Boston, Massachusetts
August 16, 2013     Post-Gazette
PAGE 13     (13 of 16 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 13     (13 of 16 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
August 16, 2013

Newspaper Archive of Post-Gazette produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2018. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

POST,GAZETTE, AUGUST 16, 2013 Page 13 /(( t Christoforo 00abb00nonno by John A Nostalgic Remembrance Last week, I was talking about a trip to the Domini- can Republic. I didn't recog- nize much as the capital city, the small towns and the roads to get to and fro had changed. Everything was modern, new buildings, new developments, modern multi-lane highways and bill- boards with David Ortiz in his Red Sox uniform and other Dominican ball players in the majors advertising things Dominican. The first time I landed in the Dominican Republic things were different, acci- dental and almost fatal. In the spring of 1966, I headed for Puerto Rico for a week to study Spanish through "Finch College of New York." I found an ad in a magazine for the airfare from New York, an entire week's stay at the Puerto Rico Sheraton, participation in the Spanish course and a few other amenities for $299. I showed the article to Babbononno and he wanted to go with me. Of course he couldn't. He was in his 90s and in need of assistance at every turn. I told Sal Meli about the package and he jumped at it. Sal and I grew up to- gether in East Boston and since around 1960, had been traveling around the world together. The 4 th of July weekend was when we headed for New York and a San Juan bound flight. Many of the passen- gers were part of the Finch College group and we made fast friends with the people we would be living and study- ing with. The flight was un- eventful and we checked in at the Sheraton close to din- ner time. Later that evening, we checked out the lounge and the main show room. There was a Jamaican folk singer in the lounge and a show band in the main room. I introduced myself to the band leader of the show band his name was Keith Phillips from Nashville. Sal told Keith that I was a bass player of note from Boston and they asked me to sit in for the next show. I knew the tunes that they played during the show and it was fun. After we finished, Keith asked if I was available for the summer. It seems that his bass player was having domestic prob- lems and wanted to go home to straighten them out. I only had occasional bookings during that summer, knew I could get a substitute to cover me and said yes to Keith. This meant that I could stay in Puerto Rico for the summer and get paid for it. I'll tell the story of my stay in Puerto Rico at a later date, but I want to get back to the happenings in Dominican Republic. Part way through the summer, we were told to take a week off with pay. A Latin group, famous on the island, was coming in for that period of time. The Jamaican folk singer told us that there was a blind Latin folk singer named Jose Feliciano who would be play- ing in the side lounge at the same time we had the week off and the Jamaican was told the same thing ... don't work, but get paid. The next day, at breakfast, the folk singer told us that his brother was flying in to pick him up to go island hopping. His brother had his own small plane and flew tourists throughout the Caribbean to their island destinations. He asked if any of us would like to go island hopping for the week. We would share the cost of the fuel and land- ing fees equally and probably see some of the islands we had never been to. Sal and I were the only ones interested and we awaited the arrival of the singer's brother. We, for the next few days, did exactly that, island hopped. We didn't listen to a radio, watch TV nor look at a newspaper. We just flew from island to island. When we returned to San Juan, there was a message for the pilot from a friend in Port-o- Prince, Haiti. He was invited to a party. He responded to the message, asked us if we would like to attend and logged a flight plan once we said yes and it was off to Haiti. The island of Hispaniola is divided into two countries. Haiti occupies the western 1/3 of the island and the Dominican Republic the other 2/3s. To fly to Haiti, we had to fly over the Dominican Republic. The pilot logged in the flight plan and we headed west from Puerto Rico into Dominican airspace. Once over the Dominican Repub- lic the headwinds were so strong, the fuel gages rapidly headed toward empty. As a result, the pilot contacted the control tower in Santo Domingo to ask for landing instructions. An American voice responded with a thick southern accent and told us we couldn't land. The pilot, with his Jamaican accent, told him that we had to land -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 or crash due to the fuel prob- lem. There was a pause and another American voice (northern accent) came on and told us to lower our land- ing gear and wait for a fighter escort. Within a minute, two World War II P51 Mustangs with Dominican insignias on their wings came out of the sun and were at each of our wings. We were given landing instructions and didn't dare do anything out of the ordinary as each of those P51s had eight wing mounted 50 caliber machine guns that could have converted us into a cloud within seconds. Once on the ground, we were told where to stop and once we did, a Jeep came out of a hangar with a uniformed Dominican soldier behind the wheel and an American Marine major next to him. When I heard the major's voice, I recognized it as the" southern accent we had heard when we called the control tower. He looked over our flight plan, checked our credentials and chewed us out for what we did. The Jamaicans were scared to death, but being an Ameri- can, I wasn't going to be in- timidated. The major called someone on a walkie-talkie and soon another Jeep ar- rived, this time with a ma- rine colonel in the front seat. He turned out to be the man with the northern accent. He also checked our credentials and flight plan and then asked us if we knew what we had done. I did the talking again, saying we were island hopping for a few days and didn't know what was going on. He believed me and bluntly said, "You flew into a revolution. We were called in from the naval base at Key West to help out and that's what we're doing." As I said, the colonel believed us. We were refueled, compli- ments of the United States Marine Corps. We were taken into a hangar and fed sand- wiches and coffee, compli- ments of the United States Marine Corps. When we left, we were given a fighter es- cort (same two planes) to the Haitian border compliments of the United States Marine Corps. I don't remember any- thing about our stay in Haiti, but when we left, we flew back to Puerto Rico over open water, not over Dominican air space. It was a longer trip, but a heck of a lot safer. Once back at the Shera- ton, everyone was worried because the story of the Dominican revolution was everywhere on the news. Well, the pilot headed back to Jamaica, his brother went back to the lounge next to the hotel's main show room and I stayed for the summer playing with the Keith Phillips Orchestra in that show room and had a story about our ordeal to tell to anyone who was willing to listen, especially my father and Babbononno. GOD BLESS AMERICA Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Local North End artist Lauren Coulson's painting Infinty will be on display at Boston University through August 24 th. (Photo with. My intention while cre- ating Infinity was to poke the viewer to ask themselves "What is this space that I am experiencing?" and the an- swer is ever changing, with an infinite number of pos- sible answers, where noth- ing is true yet everything is permitted. Lauren's work and others will be in show at Boston University through August 24 th at Boston University's Gallery located at 808 Com- monwealth Avenue, Boston. If you are looking for more information contact boston youngcontemporaries@gmaiL oom. A Tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City .... Brother's Kouzina has the best homemade Greek food in Boston. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner to satisfy your desire for classic Greek food. From their simple dishes to ex- courtesy of Lauren Coulson) quisite dinners, diners will experience the true tastes of Greece. Eatl Drinkl Dance the Greek Dance! At Club Kouzina, were the party is always hot. Every Saturday night they have a live band from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am. The band plays a lot of popular Greeks hits from a variety of Greek music. In front of the band there is a dance floor which every- one is welcome to dance on. If you're looking to practice your Greek dancing their dance floor is the place to do it. Whether you're an expert or just beginning to learn how to Greek dance, the dance floor is welcome to all. Brother's Kouzina is lo- cated at 25 Newbury Street, Peabody and you can call 978-535-9297 for reserva- tions or visit www.brothers for more details. Hoops & Hockey (Continued from Page 16) seen several players move on over the course of the summer. Those who want to get an in-person look at Brown on the bench will have to wait a while, however. While the Celtics and 76ers will play a neutral site preseason game in Newark, Delaware on October 11 , Philadelphia doesn't come to the Garden until the 2014 portion of the schedule. The 76ers will play on the parquet for the first time on January 29 th and make a second appearance on April 4% The Celtics also play them twice on the road--in Phila- delphia on February 5  and April 14% By that time we'll know a lot more about both of these rookie head coaches than we do today. What went right, what went wrong and if either of them will be con- tinuing on to the 2014 NBA playoffs. K3  Fully Insured Lic #017936" Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning Sales, Service & Installation Ken Shallow 617.593.6211 POST-GAZETTE EAST BOSTON SATELLITE OFFICE Is NOW OPEN MARIE MATARESE 35 Bennington Street, East Boston 617.227.8929 TUES. 10:00 A.M. - 3.00 P.M. THURS. 11:00 A.M.- 2:00 P.M.