Newspaper Archive of
Boston, Massachusetts
September 13, 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
September 13, 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,.SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 Page 1,'1 00Babb00onno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance I grew up in a family with a Depression mentality. I believe the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, and until World War II began, the generations in my fam- ily were deathly afraid of los- ing everything. I don't think they were alone, as millions of people in the U.S. felt the same way. Looking back, my family was fortunate. Babbononno and Grandpa Christoforo owned their own houses in East Boston. Babbononno had a day job and played music at night. Babbononno's oldest sons were musicians and always worked. My father became a musician and always worked. In spite of their cir- cumstances, they all feared the unknown aspects of the depression. One summer day when I was in my teens, Dad and I were sitting in Adirondack chairs sunning ourselves at the water's edge behind the summer cottage in Winthrop, Maine. The conversation gravi- tated to the 1930s when times were tough for so many millions of Americans. He said that my mother's fam- ily was better off than many, but confided that it wasn't as easy for his folks. Grandpa Christoforo was a day laborer and sometimes couldn't find work. The cul- mination of his problems meant that the family was often two steps ahead of the bill collectors. Dad didn't make excuses or apologies but concluded with, "That's just the way it was." The cottage was one of the major investments Dad and Mom would make. The other came a few years later with the purchase of their only home when the decision was made to move out of East Boston. Dad admitted that growing up during tough times makes a person con- servative where money is concerned. Fortunately I came along just as the Depression ended and never experienced the tough times of the '30s. My memory is capable of allow- ing me to remember the shortages and restrictions that accompanied home life during WWII, but I also knew that it was all for a good cause. Dad's early years taught him to be conserva- tive and never indulge in an extravagance. Even later in life, when he could indulge himself or the family, he was reluctant to spend money. Throughout his adult life, Dad owned cars. They were Plymouths, Fords or Chews, three brands that were called the "low priced three." The first one I remember was a '37 Plymouth which he bought used and kept until 1949. It was in such bad shape by "49" that the young man that bought it was pur- chasing it to race in a demo- lition derby and destroy it. Dad bought a new '49 Chevy to replace it. It was the first time in his life that he bought a new car. A '54 Chevy came next and the trend with the low priced three wasn't broken until 1958 when he and Uncle Nick bought twin Pontiacs. The one exception to this conser- vative thinking came in the mid 1960s when I convinced Dad to buy a Cadillac. When it was stolen two years later, he told Morn that it was God telling him he had been too extravagant. I on the other hand, de- cided to take chances in search of a better life. I did receive a work ethic from both sides of the family and went to work washing and waxing cars at age 10. At age 13, accepting a job as an usher at the Seville Theater in East Boston. I lied about my age and told the man- ager I was 16. At age 18, I became a professional mud sician but still kept the job at the Seville. I juggled these two jobs with going to school and indulging in my passion, baseball. When little invest- ment possibilities came my way, I tried my hand at be- ing an entrepreneur. Some- times I made money and sometimes, I fell flat on my face. Each time I got in- volved in a business trans- action, Babbononno and Dad would warn me about the things that could go wrong. With their Depression men- talities, they would never venture into what they al- ways considered a gamble. Unfortunately, when I made money, I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't know about investments, the stock mar- ket, real estate, so seeing I came from "inner city," the only way I could show my worth was being well dressed with an expensive car parked in front of the house. I was never the rebellious type but did rebel against the conservative thinking of the family by spending money on the luxuries of life including traveling and going first class when I headed to exotic locations. Dad just saved for a rainy day fearing the -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 return of the Depression that plagued the '30s. The '30s never returned and when Dad passed away in 1991, there was a bank ac- count left for Mom. By this point in time I was married with two kids and talked Mom into enjoying what Dad had left behind. She insisted that the money was for me to inherit. I told her that I didn't need it and every time we were to travel or vaca- tion, she was to come along and enjoy herself. She lis- tened to me and her later years were filled with travel, good restaurants, an abun- dance of designer clothes and a lot of happiness. Mom passed away in 2007. By then, the cottage in Maine was long gone, but I inher- ited the house in Belmont. I rented it from then on. I hated being a landlord but couldn't part with the prop- erty out of sentimentality. It was the first family home after East Boston and I sub- consciously felt that I owed it to Morn and Dad to keep it. This summer, my tenants moved out and I decided to put the house on the mar- ket. It lasted one day and was sold. Loretta and I talked it over and decided to buy a retreat in Florida. We both love the warm weather and I thought it was time to maybe step back and smell the roses. We purchased a house in an over 55 community that I was familiar with in the city of Delray Beach. Both of us like the location due to the fact that Uncle Nick and Aunt Dorothy lived in Delray Beach until they passed away. Maybe we will become snow birds and head to the new place between New Years and Easter. I don't think I could ever live there permanently. The kids are in the north, John in Boston and Mike in New York and my best friends and my involvements in all things Italian are here locally. If Babbononno was alive, he would inspect the new place and say in fractured English, "You craza, havin' two houza, bigga waste a you money, stupido." Dad might think the same thing if he were alive, but not express it to me, but again, depres- sion mentalities ran in my family. Anyway, I am looking for- ward to a new venture in life. When we finally add in the furniture and are able to stay in Florida for a bit, I want to hang around in a pair of shorts, a T shirt that says something and a pair of dock siders, and be considered over dressed for the occasion. GOD BLESS AMERICA Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) The Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival takes place September 28 th and is not only a full day of music but hands on for all ages. (Photo courtesy of turing vibraphonist Warren Wolf; and the Matt Savage Quartet featuring sax great Bobby Watson. Highlights include Meshell Ndegeocello; Will Calhoun Trio, led by the Grammy Award-winning alumnus and drummer of the band Living Colour; and Robin McKelle & the Flytones. Faculty and students also play a major role, with per- formances by faculty artists Lawrence "Larry" Watson & the Workforce, The Bell Affair, Matt Jenson & the Liquid Revolution, and Rick DiMuzio Quintet; and stu- dents including Berklee Glo- bal Jazz Ambassadors featur- ing Adam Cruz, Jazz Revela- tion Records artist the Simon Moullier Quartet, Giorgi Mikadze Group, the Berklee P-Funk Ensemble and the Berklee City Music All Stars Big Band Jazz Ensemble. Street performers Marcus Santos & Bloco AfroBrazil will perform throughout the afternoon. Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival also presents tick- eted concerts during the weekend of the festival: On Friday, September 27 th and Saturday, September 28 th Gary Burton's 70 th Birthday Tour stops at Scullers Jazz Club for performances at 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm each night by the New Gary Burton Quartet featuring Julian Lage, Scott Colley and Antonio Sanchez. Visit for more information. On Sunday, September 29 a instrumental jazz, funk and world music collective Snarky Puppy perform at the Berklee Performance Center at 8:00 pm. Visit for more information. Berklee College of Music, for the fourth year, is the proud recipient of a grant from the National En- dowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival and its theme. In awarding the prestigious Art Works grant to Berklee, the NEA cited the festival as a celebration of Boston's diversity as re- flected in the attendees, music, food and crafts. An educational program about the importance of mentor- ship in jazz is being planned. "The next generation of creative musicians is quite strong and, having stood on the shoulders of their predecessors, are now hope- fully prepared for unlimited boundaries. How exciting to witness and be a part of this process," said Terri Lyne Carrington, Grammy Award- winning drummer, com- poser, Berklee professor and Artistic Director for the festival. "Mentoring has al- ways been an important part of the continuance and ad- vancement of jazz, so we are proud to recognize mentor- mentee relationships this year." The Natixis Family Park will transform Carter Play- ground on Columbus Avenue with activities including inflatables, face painting and an instrument petting zoo staffed by Berklee profes- sionals. The park also hosts KidsJam, an interactive pro- gram led by Berklee's Music Education Department, in- troducing young children to a variety of musical activi- ties, including singing and sound exploration, playing rhythm instruments and creating, listening and re- sponding to music. The out- door celebration also fea- tures a variety of vendor booths offering food and crafts from all over the world. Discover Roxbury's High Notes of Jazz Roxbury Walk is offering tours throughout the day for a nominal fee, exploring the area around the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival. The site was once the epicenter of music, food and nightlife for Boston's jazz community during the 1930s through 1950s. Tours will organize from the Dis- cover Roxbury booth at the festival. The Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival is Boston's big- gest block party and one of those events not to be missed! Saturday, Septem- ber 28 th from noon to 6:00 pm on Columbus Avenue be- tween Massachusetts Av- enue and Burke Street in Boston's South End is the place to be. The outdoor per- formances are open to the public free of charge. You can check for updates and a full sched- ule of events.