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August 29, 2014     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 29, 2014 Page13 by John Chr0000toforo 00Babb?]nonno A Nostalgic Remembrance Back in the day during the summer, there was no such animal as air conditioning. We lived in a house that had wooden screens that were coated with DDT to keep out the mosquitoes. Maybe, just maybe, one of the screens had an electric fan in it to keep us cool, but that was it. Nanna used the cellar kitchen to cook in and we, more often than not, ate in the back yard. The table and chairs in the back yard had started out in the upstairs kitchen a generation earlier. When it got old, it became the kitchen set for the kitchen in the cellar, and the cellar kitchen set went out to the back yard. Whatever set that had been part of the back yard dcor, was sold to a junk man who would come to the house from Chelsea, pick it up with his horse and wagon, and then ride through the neighborhood yelling out, "Any old rags," with something else added on that no one could under- stand. Things didn't go to waste. Even the dishes and silverware used for the sum- mer dinners were those that had seen a better day. You might ask, "Why didn't they use paper dishes and plastic utensils?" Well, they cost money. Both Nanna and Bab- bononno coming from mod- est means knew how to cut corners. Bringing up their children during the Depres- sion of the '30s gave the next generation a sampling of how to cut corners, too. The one thing my family wasn't frugal on was food. They bought the best. But, back in the old neighbor- hood, there were no super- markets. More often than not, there were corner stores with some specializing in the products or produce they sold. Today we shop in super- markets and to examine a piece of meat or chicken, you have to look through a clear cellophane wrap to the con- tents lying in a styrofoam dish. During World War II, everything was rationed, and like all families, we had ratiordooks with stamps inside that determined how much of something you could buy. With several of us living as separate families under the same roof, things were a bit easier. Even Dad and my uncles had rationing to deal with where their cars were concerned. First of all, a few months after the war started, all auto man- ufacturers stopped making transportation for the civil- ian market. They all switched to war production. This meant that after the first few months of 1942, there were no new cars made. If you wanted to buy a car it had to be a used one. You couldn't buy new tires. They also were only manufactured for military vehicles. If you needed tires, you bought re- caps, retreads or just used tires. And, gasoline was rationed for all private vehicles. People who owned vehicles were issued stickers that were to be displayed in the right front corner of their car's windshield. The most common stickers had a black capital A right in the center. This entitled the owner to three gallons of gas per week. People who had to drive for a living which included the musicians in my family had stickers with capital B in the middle. This group of people was entitled to five gallons of gas per week. During the war, Dad taught at East Boston High School during the day and walked the two blocks from where we lived to where the school was located. My uncles used public transpor- tation, the Boston Elevated, today's MBTA. At night, they usually played with bands that worked the downtown Boston hotels, restaurants or nightclubs. Things weren't too bad as a result. At the beginning of the war, Dad played with a quintet at the Fife and Drum room of the Hotel Vendome on Commonwealth Ave. When he left that band, he joined a Latin American band that played on the roof level night club of the Bradford Hotel on Tremont Street. The distance wasn't that great and the Sumner Tun- nel was only fifteen cents each way. Come the week- end, Dad always had a little gas left over to take Mom and me for a short ride. As I said, everything was rationed and you shopped at specialty stores. On a given day, Nanna, Mom and I would head to the corner of Eutaw and Meridian Streets and take the trolley to Maverick Square where a slaughter house was located. Nanna and Morn would pick out the chickens they wanted (live chickens) and have them killed, prepared and then bagged. Nanna would put them in her black oilcloth shopping bag and we would head to Jefferies Point and one. of theakeries that existed. Nanna would buy Babbononno the round loaf of bread which is the only type he would eat. Morn would buy a sliced Scali loaf wrapped in white wax paper. From there it was a long walk to Bennington Street where Kennedy's Butter and Egg store was located. Once the purchases were made and the stamps given to the salesperson, we would walk to Brooks Street and start up the hill to where we lived. The John Sava grocery store was on the corner of Bennington and Brooks. Any canned goods that were needed could be bought there, and again the correct amount of stamps turned in. The next stop was Faber's Fish Market, where the catch of the day was displayed in the showcases surrounded by cracked ice. As we continued up the Brooks Street hill, there was a butcher shop on the cor- ner of Brooks and Princeton. Everyone called the place Brooks Brothers. A father and three sons owned the busi- ness and Nanna would buy her meats freshly cut in front of her. Again, ration stamps were given. The walk up the hill next included a stop at a green grocer on the cor- ner of Brooks and Trenton Streets. Mr. Bruno, an old timer would sell the ladies in my family the fruits and vegetables they needed for the next couple of days. He would always slip me a peach when no one was looking and Mom would give me a penny for a hand full of dried chi-chis that were housed in a silver colored machine that was an antique and fall- ing apart, but still worked. There would be one more stop at a store on the corner of Eutaw and Brooks, Cutliffs Variety, which later became Staffier's Grocery. Before the Staffier brothers bought the place from old man Cutliff, the store was stocked with the needs for the Americans in the neigh- borhood. When it became Italian after the Staffier brothers took over, Nanna and Morn could buy Italian cold cuts and cheeses, plus anything else they forgot to get on their journey. There was always someone on the corner who Nanna would speak to and give a nickel to. He was the local invest- ment specialist whom Nanna and many others would visit to play the number for the day. The payback for a lot- tery number win was about seven dollars a cent and Nanna always had a number to play. She actually hit a few times. No one ever told her that this man was a bookie and playing the num- ber was illegal. Once we were back in the house, all the purchases of the day were put away and Nanna and my mother would do some accounting to see what they spent and how many stamps were used and what was left over. This is the way we lived through World War II. The best part of the story is that everyone in the family that was in uniform came home alive. GOD BLESS AMERICA. For information about advertising in the Post-Gazette, call 617-227-8929. * Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) The 1967 film classic "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" directed by Stanley Kramer will hit the Huntington Stage on September 5  and continue through October 8 h. (Photo by embc.edu) more than 250 years of American architectural and social development. What a better way to bring in the fall than with wine in the glorious Newport Man- sions September 19  through September 21 st. Seminar tick- ets can be purchased via phone at 401-847-1000 ext. 140, Monday through Friday. Seminar tickets are not available online. A Grand Tasting ticket is required along with a seminar ticket for admission to Saturday and Sunday seminars. For more info and to purchase tickets for the 2014 Newport Man- sions Wine & Food Festival, visit www.NewportMansions WineAndFood.org. End of Summer Fashion Show ... Wrap up the summer with a night of stunning fash- ions and signature drinks on September 10 t at the Inter- continental Boston. Set on breathtaking Fort Point Channel, guests can enjoy an informal fashion show featuring the designs from Denise Hajjar as she highlights the best of sum- mer 2014 and gives an exclu- sive sneak peak of her Fall Collection! The night will be featuring music by Denise LaCarubba of Vibeology Innovative audio and the event is complimen- tary to the public, but space is limited. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from the full RumBa Menu. Following the show, enjoy an exclusive shopping party in The Champagne Lounge at RumBa, featuring show and sale clothing, as well as fabu- lous bags and accessories from the Denise HajJar Bou- tique. To thank all for com- ing Denise has asked you enjoy 15% off purchases made during thenlght of the show. End your summer right and set the date for Wednesday, September 10 th from 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm at the Interconti- nental Boston, 510 Atlantic Avenue, Boston. You can reach the store for more information at Denise HajJar Boutique 617-266-2296. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner ... Will take the Huntington Theatre Stage on September 5 t and run through October 5 a 2014. Huntington Theatre Com- pany announces that Julia Duffy, Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox, and Boston favorite Will Lyman will join Malcolm-Jamal Warner in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Adapted for the stage from the William Rose's Academy Award-winning screenplay by Todd Kreidler (Holler If Ya Hear Me) on Broadway, August Wilson's longtime drama- turge) and directed by David Esbjornson (All My Sons) at the Huntington and Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway). "David Esbjornson brings a striking contemporary per- spective to classics that al- low us to experience them in new and unexpected ways," says Huntington Artistic Di- rector Peter DuBois. "After David's astonishing produc- tion of All My Sons at the Hun- tington in 2010, I can't wait for him to return and reveal the emotional and social im- mediacy of the ideas raised by this landmark film." Hear from DuBois about the pro- d u c t i o n athuntingtontheatre.org / peter-guess-who. In Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, a young, idealistic, and very much in love Joanna surprises her liberal, white parents when she brings John, her African-American fianc home to meet them. When John's parents also arrive for dinner, both sets of parents must confront their own unexpected reactions and concerns for their chil- dren as their beliefs are put to the test. When the movie premiered in 1967, it pushed a private conversation about interracial marriage into the public sphere. Kreidler's fresh adaptation captures a moment in America's past while reflecting on the cur- rent state of race relations in America. Esbjornson directed Warner in the role made fa- mous by Sidney Poitier in a recent production at Arena Stage (Washington, DC) that The Washington Post called, "so dam appealing with mas- terly direction. Malcom Jamal Warner has matured into a solid leading man." The Washingtonian called it, "RI- otously funny. Warner doesn't disappoint, hls pres- ence is forceful onstage." And Mary/and Theatre Guide called it, "lh-uly uplifting. A delight- fully funny, wonderfully acted evening of theatre that should not be missed." Guess Who's Coming to Dinner has a solid cast filled with local favorites and the longtime loved, Malcolm- Jamal Warner. The Hunting- ton Theatre always puts on a great show and this one will have you begging to see the next. You can catch this all- star cast on stage from Sep- tember 5 t through October 5 t at the Huntington Theatre located at 264 Huntington Ave, Boston. You may pur- chase tickets at the box office or by calling 617-266-0800. You can also more about this and upcoming performances at www.huntingtontheatre.org.