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September 30, 2011     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 Page 13 by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance When I was a young boy, occasionally Dad would bring us to Revere Beach for the day. He would pack us up in his old '37 Plymouth, and we would head out. My father loved the beach, but working day and night, he didn't have much time to enjoy the things he liked to do. On this particular day, he invited Nanna and Babbononno to come along. They weren't the beach type, but for some reason, never to be known, Babbononno was enthusias- tic about going, and Nanna packed a lunch for us to take along. When we arrived at the beach, Dad lucked out and found a parking space right away, and within min- utes, he was spreading out a giant sized army blanket for all to sit on. It was at that point that Nanna discovered that no one had taken the basket filled with her food. Dad told her not to worry, because when it was time to eat, there was a Joe and Nemo restaurant across the street, and lunch would be on him. What made me think back about this outing was an email I received from an old friend, Manny Gonsalves. Manny, like yours truly, is an alumnus of English High, and I was on a couple of his reunion committees a while back. Manny's email de- tailed the history of Joe and Nemo restaurants, which at one time were in many lo- cations in or near Boston. Actually, they weren't res- taurants. They were hot dog stands, and I'm sorry, Nathan's of Coney Island and New York City, you couldn't hold a candle to the Joe and Nemo hot dogs. Dad, Babbononno and I basked in the sun, but Nanna and Mom had to cover up as they had very light skin and burned easily. We romped in and out of the water, playing in the waves, which at times can be pretty good at Revere Beach. Be- fore you knew it, it was time to eat, and Dad and I headed across the street to where the amusements were and the little stand that said Joe and Nemo's above it. When it was Dad's turn to order, I heard him talk to the man behind the counter in code, "I would like twelve dogs, all around and no ends, plus five Cokes." The only thing I un- derstood was Cokes, but the counterman understood and began the task he agreed to. He opened a steamer, brought out twelve hot dog rolls, laced the inside bottom with chopped up onions, streamed some green relish across them, opened an- other steamer, dropped a hot dog atop each mix and then lathered the top of the dogs with mustard. I watched in fascination. The Coke came out of a machine and cups were filled and covered. Dad carried the dogs and I the sodas as we retraced our steps and headed back to the blanket where Morn, Nanna and Babbononno waited in anticipation. Neither Nanna nor Babbononno had ever eaten Joe and Nemo dogs. My grandfather sniffed at the lunch that was handed to him, shrugged and took a bite. The next thing I heard from him was "Oooh, questo buono." (Oh, this is good.) Nanna just nodded and ate. Each of us (five people) had two dogs each and there were two left, seeing Dad bought a dozen. Everybody looked at each other and Dad took the hint. He gave the two dogs to Nanna and Babbononno, said "Come on" to me, and we headed back across the street and returned with three more hot dogs, all around and no ends. He, Mom and I consumed our third helping of Joe and Nemo dogs, and, at that point, Mom came out with what a mother would nor- mally say considering the location and the circum- stance. "You can't go in the water for an hour after you eat, or you will get a cramp and drown!" I counted the minutes. As the years passed, I discovered several Joe and Nemo stands located throughout Boston. After ordering a dog at one of them as a young adult, I learned what "no ends" meant. The buns were baked in a slab with the two end ones hav- ing a crust. The center ones had no crust, and "no ends" meant a bun from the inside of the bunch. Of course, "all around" meant onion, relish and mustard as the garnishes. When I was in my late teens, I became a profes- sional musician, and when I booked a job, I used two lo- cal musicians, Tony Poto on piano, and Rocky Freni on drums. Tony was the only one with a car, but that Sat- urday, he told us his car was in the shop for repairs. Rocky's father offered to drive us to work and pick us up with his Packard station -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 wagon. The car had enough room for the four of us, my bass violin, Rocky's drums and Tony's music. The job went well if I remember correctly, and Rocky's father was outside at midnight, as planned. While driving us home, he yelled out, "I'm hungry, would anyone like to stop for some 'nightmares?'" When I asked what he meant, he said, "'Nightmares' .,. Joe and Nemo hot dogs." We all agreed, and Mr. Freni headed for Revere Beach. It was a cold winter's night, and at that hour, the Joe and Nemo stand was the only place open. They had a spe- cial, seeing as it was winter: three hot dogs for a quarter. No, this is not a misprint. The special was three hot dogs for twenty-five cents. When it was my turn to or- der, I told the man behind the counter what I wanted. "Three dogs all around and no ends." Mr. Freni yelled out, "So, you know. That's good!" From Manny's email, I dis- covered the history of Joe and Nemo's. Joe Merlino, a first generation Italian American, owned a barber shop on Stoddard Street, just across Howard Street and the Old Howard Theater, America's first burlesque house. His friend, Izzy Shenker, sold hot dogs just outside his shop from a steam kettle. Tiring of barbering, Joe bought a bar room located next to the bar- ber shop and invited Izzy to move inside. When Izzy re- tired, Joe brought in Tony Caloggero, who had worked for him in the barber shop, to take Izzy's place. Tony's nickname was Nemo, and the two men decided to name the business after themselves. And so, Joe and Nemo's was born. When prohibition hit, the two men had to close the bar. To make up for lost busi- ness, they opened a Joe and Nemo's on Stoddard Street near the entrance of the Old Howard. They were rather successful and opened sev- eral other small hot dog stands in other parts of the city. After the repeal of pro- hibition, Joe and Nemo applied for and got the first liquor license issued in Boston. Like most empires, Joe and Nemo's rose to great heights and then fell. The last one I remember was located on Bowdoin Street, just around the corner from Boston's Government Cen- ter, the location that once had been part of the infa- mous Scollay Square. The Old Howard closed in 1953 and then burned down a while later. The West End was torn down as well as Scollay Square, beginning a decade later, and soon, Joe and Nemo's became part of the folklore of Boston's good old days. GOD BLESS AMERICA The Socially Set (Continued from Page 9) Cat Ehlen, left, and Molly Campbell enjoy the Christofle Champagne Reception. Sinatra in 1949. Carol plans to open her show with this tune which has been performed by such singers as Tony Bennett, Blossom Dearie, Abbey Lincoln, Wesla Whitfield, John Pizzarelli and many others. In 2007, Carol was the opening act for Herb Reed and the Platters as well as legendary comedian, Pat Cooper. Carol has also ap- peared on "Chronicle" as part of their "My Boston" show as well as "Sunday with Liz Walker" on WBZ-TV. She has been a regularly featured guest of WBZ-Radio 1030 host, Jordan RIch, for several years. Carol has traveled the world as a highly in-demand cruise ship en- tertainer as well. In fact, she has performed on more than 35 cruises. "Carol has an innate abil- ity to deliver a song with the best of them. Carol, you're just too marvelous for wordsF says our friend Ron Della Chiesa. ....... The "14 th Annual Feed the Hungry Gala" takes place on Wednesday, November 30, from 6:00 pm- 10:30 pm at Vincent's Night- club at Lombardo's, 6 Billings Street, in Randolph. All pro- ceeds will benefit Interfaith Social Services, a Quincy- based, non-profit organiza- tion that helps feed, clothe and support disadvantaged families and individuals throughout the South Shore. The evening will feature fine wine and delectable dessert tastings from high quality wine manufacturers (Photo by Roger Farrington) and South Shore dessert retailers, as well as hearty hors d'oeuvres provided by Lombardo's noted chefs. The festivities will include both silent and live auctions featuring great hotel, dining and shopping experiences, sports memorabilia and prize packages for the whole family, as well as interactive raffles, drawings and sur- prise giveaways. Entertainment will be pro- vided by "DJ Steve" and the evening will include guest speakers and a tribute to an ISS honoree. Interfaith Social Services was founded in 1947 with a mission to "strengthen fam- ily life and offer assistance to anyone in need" in South Shore towns. Last year, ISS' programs helped more than 30,000 local residents and distributed more than 430,000 pounds of food to hungry families and indi- viduals. Tickets may be purchased on line at www.interfaith socialservices.org and will not be sold at the door. For more information, contact Rick Doane, Executive Director, at rdoane@interfaithsocials ervices.org or by phone at 617-773-6203. Enjoy! (Be sure to visit Hilda Morrill's gardening website, www.bostongardens.com. In addition to events covered and reported by the columnist, "The Socially Set" is compiled from various other sources such as news and press re- leases, PRNewswire services, etc.) K 3  Fully Insured Lic #017936 Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning Sales, Service & Installation Ken Shallow 617.593.6211 kenskjs@aol.com