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September 27, 2013     Post-Gazette
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September 27, 2013

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POST.AZETTE, SEPTEMBER 27, 2013 Page 13 00Babb'00onno i ii One thing Babbononno was always keen on was image. He knew what the stereotype was like for Italian men when it came to the Ameri- can perspective. As a result, he was clean shaven and al- ways dressed like a gentle- man. His shoes, well you could see your reflection on the spit-shined toes. When he went out, he dressed in a suit with a starched collared white dress shirt, a conservative silk tie, a pocket handker- chief for show, a gray fedora and in cold weather, a single or double breasted overcoat with kid skin gloves. He was sharp. Growing up in his pres- ence, I succumbed to his method of dressing with a knowledge that "one picture was worth a thousand words." I guess it worked for me on several occasions. The first time I was aware of a need to dress for business was when I was 13 years old. I had been hanging around the Seville Theater during the summer of 1952 hoping to get a job as an usher. When a vacancy occurred, I was asked to meet with the manager and assis- tant manager in a private session in the office they shared. Babbononno made sure that my one suit was pressed with sharp creases on the pant legs, my shirt had a stiff collar, my tie was tied properly and my shoes were Shined. Added to this was his insistence that my black curly hair be neat and trimmed. He did the trimming himself with a pair of barber scissors and a fine tooth comb. When he thought my image was businesslike, he sent me on my way to meet with the theater managers. When I walked into the the- ater, the man at the door asked me my name, called it in to the office on an inter- com that was next to his station and then asked me politely to go to the office. The direction to the office was added in, just in case. Mr. Ray, the manager had seen me around helping out earlier that month and intro- duced me to the assistant manager, a Mr. James Wall, "Mr. Wall, this is Joseph Christopher, a young man who would like a job as an usher." I replied, "How do you do, sir, I am John Christoforo, and am interested in work- ing part time as an usher. I knew that if I corrected Mr. Ray, I would never get the job and also knew that by in- troducing myself, the correc- tion would be made. Both men .... - ,imG, by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance ii were dressed with suits and ties and gave me the once over. I was questioned as to what school I attended, what my interests were and why I wanted a job as an usher. I answered their questions, I guess to their satisfaction, because I was told to report to the head us.her for a uniform fitting. Mr. Wall added in, "Oh, by the way, the job only pays minimum wage." At that time, the minimum was 55 cents per hour. Within a couple of weeks, the mini- mum would jump to a whapping 62-V2 cents per hour which would allow me to become rich!!! I accepted the job and left the office to report to the head usher and pick out a uniform. That was Au- gust of 1952 and I stayed with Mr. Ray and the Seville through 1962 ... ten years. The second time my ap- pearance helped me was when I decided on a high school. I wanted to go to East Boston High School. We lived right around the corner from the school and most of my neighborhood friends would be heading there. Dad, who by then was in administra- tion after having taught at Eastie, gave me these alter- natives, Boston Latin, Boston English or DEATH! I had a relative who attended Latin. He was the type who wore ear muffs in the summer and I didn't want to be associated with him. Death was too per- manent, and so English won out. To attend Lain, students were and are still required to take an entrance exam. I refused. English interviewed each prospective student and I dressed once again for the occasion. Bill Stuart, their famous football coach, was the interviewer and after examining my appearance, questioned me as if I had already been accepted. The same thing would hap- pen four years later. I was graduating from English and Dad, knowing I didn't know what I wanted to do, again gave me three choices: col- lege, the military or DEATH!II I knew that I would have to go into the service at some point, and death once again seemed too permanent, so I said yes to college. The thing was, I had not taken the SAT exams, a necessity for most colleges. I was not prompted to take them due to the atti- tude of one of the guidance counselors at the high school. The one I was assigned to had the attitude that all Chinese should work in restaurants, all blacks should shine shoes, -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 all Irish should be long shore men and all Italians should sell things from push carts. I refused to play into his preju- dices and went on my merry way. When Dad gave me the ultimatum, I contacted Bos- ton State College, but it was too late to take any entrance exams. I was told to come to their Huntington Avenue campus and dressed for the occasion just as I had done for the English High inter- view. Again, Babbononno su- pervised, but before I left the house, Nanna spritzed me with a cologne that Uncle Nick had left behind. The interview was between me and a Professor Herbert Reagan. I guess I must have made the necessary impres- sion, because before the interview was concluded, I was told what the tuition was, what activity fees were, where I could sign up for my classes and where the book- store was located. I assumed I was accepted. It was con- firmed by letter a few days later, and that September, I entered college as a fresh- man. Again, I think the way I was dressed had as much to do with my acceptance as what I said during the interview. Throughout the years, I have , always thought of Babbononno's concept of image when I've been in- volved in business or any- thing where education was concerned. When I lecture today, I am still in a suit and tie, even thought the ma- jority of my contemporaries wear casual clothing: chinos, sneakers and sport shirts. On one occasion, a professor I had seen around the college campus stopped me and asked who I was trying to im- press by the way I looked. Glancing at the man, I was disgusted with the image he portrayed to students. He was wearing old jeans, a wrinkled dress shirt with the tails hanging out and sneakers that were filthy. Evidently, he had confronted other profes- sors and they had cowered from him in fear. He was the local faculty bully. I looked him in the eye, and said, "You have a nerve; the way you're dressed, you make the jani- tor look good, and he has to clean toilets. You should be ashamed of yourself portray- ing this image to young people who are impressionable and look to us for direction." He backed away from me feeling threatened. The dean heard about the incident and I was called in for a meeting. When I explained the details of the circumstance, she said, "Good, he deserved it," and let the situation drop. Since then the man has not confronted me nor any other faculty mem- ber and all is well on campus. Dressing for the occasion has always worked for me and I thank Babbononno for mak- ing me aware that an image is extremely important in life if you want to get ahead. GOD BLESS AMERICA * Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) Berklee Jazz Fest time has come again and it not only brings some of the top acts to the city but also gives the college students a chance to strut their stuff. (Photo courtesy of singing and sound explora- tion, playing rhythm instru- ments, and creating, listen- ing, and responding to music. The outdoor celebration also features a variety of vendor booths offering foods 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 be organized from the Discover Roxbury booth at the festival. The one of a kind and a hit for the city; The Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival takes place on Saturday September 28 th from noon to 6:00 pro. on Columbus Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and Burke Street in Boston's, South End. The outdoor per- formances are open to the public free of charge. You can check out www.beantown for updates and a full schedule of events. Longwood Symphony Or- chestra .... Continues for another performance, this is still off the Esplanade and into New England Conserva- tory's Jordan Hall on Satur- day, October 5 a at 8:00 pm. Music Director Ronald Feld- man and the LSO open the season with classics by Sibelius and Brahms and a world premiere by Boston- based composer Andrew List. Internationally renowned vio- linist Miriam Fried joins the orchestra as soloist for Brahms' beloved Violin Con- certo. This concert benefits Women of Means, a volunteer physician organization that has been providing free health care to homeless, low- income, and battered women and their families in the greater Boston area since 1999. Women of Means gives some of our community's most challenged citizens the "means" toward improved health and self-advocacy. Established in 1982, the LSO is a distinctive organization in Boston's cultural land- scape recognized for its musical quality, innovative programming and unique model of community engage- ment. Positioned at the cross- roads of the arts and the sci- ences, the orchestra's mem- bership is composed prima- rily of healthcare profession- als, including doctors, medi- cal students, research scien- tists, nurses, therapists, and other caregivers. The LSO's 31 st season marks the sec- ond year of the orchestra's relationship with conductor Ronald Feldman, who was appointed Music Director in 2012. The LSO's subscription series features four world- renowned instrumental solo- ists: violinist Miriam Fried, bassoonist Judith LeClair, pianist David Deveau, and cellist Cicely Parnas. This is the first of four performances at the New England Conserv- atory's Jordan. Hall and each concert benefits a health-re- lated, nonprofit "Community Partner" and features an internationally renowned in- strumental soloist. The hall is located 30 Gainsborough St. and can be reached at 617-585-1260. For more de- tails, visit www.longwood A Tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City .... I usually pick out a top- rated restaurant to include, but I came across a unique addition to the city through some research! The Cafe Esplanade is nestled in the trees along the shore of the Charles River. Anthem as- sumed ownership, renovated and reopened the doors in July 2013.The cafe is open all fall! The Esplanade offers brunch, lunch or dinner in the cafe's outdoor, river view seating. Cafe Esplanade of- fers significant variety on its menu. From fresh lobster rolls to Panini's to elegant desserts, this cafe satisfies all your senses during your time at the Esplanade. Card Esplanade is located on the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path and can be found on their Facebook page for more information. K3  Fully Insured Lic #017936 Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning Sales. Service & Installation Ken Shallow 617.593.6211 kenskjs @