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September 19, 2014     Post-Gazette
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September 19, 2014

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POST-GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 Page13 abb onno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Recently, someone asked me about my love for old cars and I reminisced with the man for an hour, reflecting on the cars of the '40s, '50s and '60s. I remembered the great times owning and driv- ing those beautiful Ameri- can tanks, many of which are no longer in production due to the foreign influence. In my conversation, there was no mention of flooded carburetors and hard start- ing episodes. There was no mention of bias ply tires and all too frequent flats. There was no mention of body rust due to our climate here in the northeast. And of course, there was no mention of the poor mileage of 8, 10, or 12 miles per gallon of gas. We tend to forget the bad aspects of the past and speak only about the great times and machines of our youth. The aspect of transporta- tion is generational. As an example, Babbononno was born in 1875, before the birth of mechanized ve- hicles. As a result, he didn't understand the new inven- tion which showed up when he was in his 20s. He didn't understand the invention and therefore feared it. He never drove and had a battle with every car he attempted to enter. As an example, take the following happening as an indication. One Satur- day when I was about 12 years old, he said to me, "Jenny, you a bringa me a la cassa di Zi'Antonio, a gedda summa vino." The translation of his Engliano is, Johnny, bring me to Uncle Tony's house to pick up some wine." My com- ment was, "Babbononno, I don't drive, I'm too young. Ask Dad if he can take you." Dad had nothing to do that morning and agreed to bring my grandfather to his brother-in-law's house to pick up a couple of gallons of wine. At that point in time, Dad had what was left of a 37 Plymouth he had bought used in 1938, right after I was born. It was now 1949, and the car was on its last legs or wheels, whichever. We headed out to the car with Babbononno carrying empty whiskey bottles in old paper bags and Nanna follow- ing him with two empty gal- lon jugs. The bottles were placed in the back seat. Me and Babbononno attempted to enter the right front seat. First, he didn't bend down enough to enter, knocked his fedora off with it landing on Nanna's feet. He grabbed his head which he hit on the roof line and let a barrage of profanity ring into the air in both English and Ital- ian. Nanna picked up his hat, straightened out the brim and placed it on her husband's head. You could tell that she was ready to break out in laughter, but didn't dare. Once inside, Babbononno slammed the door hard enough to shatter the shatter proof glass of the window. My father grumbled something that was undistin- guishable. As we pulled away from the house on Eutaw Street in East Boston, Babbononno held onto the door handle so hard that his right hand be- gan to tum red. Dad stopped the car trying to tell him about what could happen if he lifted the handle while he was driving. My grandfather then grabbed the arm rest and repeated the squeeze. Dad was satisfied and we headed toward Meridian Street and then left toward Central Square. When we reached Maverick Square, Dad had to turn left to head toward Jefferies Point and the house of my great Uncle, Zi'Antonio Ceruolo. What Dad didn't see was where Babbononno's hands were. He had let go of the arm rest and was squeezing the daylights out of the door handle once again. As Dad tried to negotiate a left turn with one hand on the floor shift and the other out the window to indicate a left turn, Babbononno liked the door handle and the door opened, pulling him out of the car. Now at Maverick Square, two main streets, Meridian and Chelsea run north to south opening into the square parallel to each other. Dad pulled his left arm in from the open win- dow, grabbed the steering wheel with it and reached over and grabbed my exiting grandfather with his right hand. Instead of a 90 degree left turn, the car made a U turn from Meridian Street to Chelsea Street as Dad tried to pull his father-in-law back in the car. Near the corner of Chelsea and Mav- erick Square was a funeral Parlor owned by the Rapino family. There must have been a wake or a funeral in progress as people were on the sidewalk in front of the establishment. Unfortunately, the car was, well, sort of out of con- trol and it climbed the side- walk scattering all of the people in front of Rapino's. Dad pulled hard on Babbo- nonno's jacket yanking him back in the car and allowing the car door to slam closed. He then maneuvered the car off the sidewalk, and made a U turn to head back to Maverick Square. En route, he received a few choice words and a few un- friendly hand gestures from the crowd he had scattered. We finally made it to Zi'Antonio's house. Dad and I had to carry Babbo-nonno's empty bottles to the second floor as Babbononno was shaking and had to hold on to the banister with both hands. We explained the events of the moming to my great uncle and his blind son, John, who was in the kitchen with him. Zi'Antonio rifled a water glass with wine and gave it to my grandfa- ther. He immediately downed it as if it was water. Within minutes he finally calmed down. Each subsequent glass of wine was from a dif- ferent vintage and he felt that he had to rinse the glass before the next vintage was poured in. Each time he got up to head to the sink, he bumped into his blind nephew, John. This hap- pened three or four times and finally, in a state of ex- asperation, John yelled out in dialect, "Zi' Michele, chi e ciggado, tu o me?" (Uncle Mike, who is blind, you or me?) Well, when we headed home, Babbononno was feel- ing no pain, and this time, he sat in the back seat and held onto the strap that hung from the vertical post that separated the door and the right rear window. When we arrived at Eutaw Street, Dad and I had to carry the bottles of wine into the house as my grandfather was three sheets to the wind, but calmed due to the effects of the wine. We said nothing to Nanna except that Babbo- nonno needed a nap which was indicated by the look on his face. When he was out of site, she said, briaggone (big drunk) under her breath and went off to continue her chores. The next day was Sunday and the entire family sat at Nanna and Babbononno's dinner table for the tradi- tional weekend dinner. Dad, in English told my uncles the story of the day before of Babbononno almost exiting his old Plymouth the hard way. Their bodies bounced up and down as Dad spoke, but they didn't dare laugh out loud, a sign that Dad was telling the story of Babbo- nonno's adventure. Well, Nanna and Babbo- nonno are gone and so are my folks and all my uncles except Uncle Gino, the youngest of my mother's sib- lings (he's 96). The old Ply- mouth was traded a few months later for a new Chevy. They don't even make Plymouths any more. The one thing that is still around are my collected memories of what happened between my grandfather and Dad's old car. GOD BLESS AMERICA For information 617-227-8929. Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) "Women of the Night." Ms. Behar has recently appeared on 30 Rock, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List, One Life to Live, SOAPnet's Relative Madness, All My Children, and Real Time with Bill Maher. Ms. Behar has also been a frequent sub- stitute host for Larry King on Larry King Live on CNN. Behar was chosen by TV Guide as a "Personality of the Year" nominee for the Third Annual "IV Guide Awards in January of 1991. Boston block Saturday, October 18th for a night of comedy! The show will start at 7:00 pm. For more infor- mation on the show visit or call 617-248-9800. New Orleans Burlesque: Fleur de Tease ... The Beat HOtel in Harvard Square pre- sents a Night of Burlesque Inspired by the Big Easy. On Tuesday, Septem- ber 23rd the Beat H6tel, lo- cated in Cambridge's Har- vard Square, will be trans- formed into the Big Easy dur- ing its first ever "New Orleans Burlesque: Fleur de Tease" from 8:30 pm to 12:00 am featuring drink and dinner specials from Chef Ignacio Lopez, live music from The Brian Tho- mas New Orleans Band and a spicy burlesque show. Three of NYC's top bur- lesque performers will twist and twirl their tassels in homage to the storied his- tory of New Orleans bur- lesque, once a hot-spot for superstar entertainers per- forming at legendary clubs in the French Quarter. The great residents of the Big Easy who once invented jazz used that same creativ- ity to produce a vibrant burlesque scene that has remained ever present in the city since the 1940's. The sultry show will feature three tempting, teasing and tantalizing ladies including New York City's Calamity Chang. This "Asian Sexa- tion" is a talented burlesque performer as well as the co- producer of the world's only Asian Burlesque Spectacu- lar show in NYC. Joining her onstage is "The Go-Go Pussycat" Bettina May, a former Suicide Girl who has been performing nationally for the past six years. The Maine Attraction will entice the audience with her dance-inspired "Burlesque Fusion." The ladies will per- form to the explosive sounds of The Brian Thomas New Orleans Band. Boston-based trombonist, Thomas is one of the most sought after musicians in the country playing music ranging from jazz to funk. While enjoying the show, Comedic great Joy Behar will hit the Hub on October 18th for a one night performance at The Wilbur Theater. (Photo by guests can feed their appe- tite with specials from Ignacio Lopez, which will be served in addition to the regular menu. Put on your dancing shoes and get ready for a show. For more information visit, or call 617-499-0001. A Tasty Treat on the Go ... Greater Boston Chef Takes Cooking on the Road with 4th Annual Culinary Bike Tour, Bikes & Bites. Chef Paul Turano of Tryst Restaurant located north of Boston in Arlington has partnered with Quad Cycles, Ferns Country Store and Wil- son Farm for his 4th annual culinary bike tour. On Sun- day, October 5~ those with a passion for food and adven- ture will experience the fla- vors of fall on Tryst's Fourth Annual Culinary Bike Tour! This one-day excursion will highlight the best of lo- cal flavors, as riders embark on a 22-mile bike ride, mak- ing stops at local food and wine purveyors including Ferns Country Store in Carlisle, Wilson Farm in Lexington and finally Tryst in Arlington. The tour starts at 11:00 am at Quad Cycles, located on Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington, MA. Quad Cycles Ambassador Jen Zeuli will lead the group to their first stop, Ferns Country Store in Carlisle, for a wine tasting and small bites. Riders will then head to Wilson Farm in Lexington, where they will tour the farm and stop at the farm stand before heading back to Arlington where they end their journey with a two-course dinner at Tryst Restaurant. This all-inclusive, 22-mile culinary bike tour is a unique experience and guests are encouraged to bring their own bicycles and equipment. Bike equipment and rentals from Quad Bicycle are available. RSVP is mandatory and can be made by purchasing tickets at www.culinarybike 500 Canterbury Street Boston, MA 02131 617.524.1036 ICHAEL C E M E T E RY C RE MATO RY The Respectful Serving the Italian Community for Over 100 Years! #