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October 5, 2012     Post-Gazette
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October 5, 2012

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POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 5, 2012 Page 13 Jabb' onnO No t.,xic Last week, I was talking about returning home from Hollywood, California. Dad had taken over the lead of my band at a Waltham supper club called Piety Corner Gardens. I had startedworking at Piety Corner a couple of years earlier, playing on weekends for the dancers and dinner patrons who frequented the nightclub portion of the complex which included a dining room, a function room, a night club and a blues bar. The owner, Steve Santamaria, often had local acts of entertainment which I had to back musically twice a night as there were two shows per night on the weekends. After I returned, Dad turned the quartet over to me and Mr. Santamaria changed the ad in the Record American (a long-gone Boston nightly tabloid-sized newspaper). His advertise- ment listed the entertainers appearing that particular week and included the blurb: "Just back from Holly- wood, the Johnny Christy Trio." The group was a quar- tet, but I wasn't going to argue the point. I was well- paid and treated like part of the family. One night the unthinkable happened. Steve Santamaria asked his son to close up as he wasn't feeling well. After his son locked up, he headed home and fell asleep at the wheel. I don't remember what he hit, but he was killed instantly. His father was never the same. He changed the format for the night club. He took us off the weekend schedule, can- celled the singers, dancers and comedians and hired the KopyKats, a musical group that entertained and played dance music. He asked me to switch to Monday, Tues- day and Wednesday nights and just play dance music. Those were the quietest nights of the week for musi- cians so we were glad to accept the changes. This allowed us to work indepen- dently for other people on the weekends and not lose touch with other band leaders and musicians. Those next few months were difficult for Steve. As an example, I would be playing the last tune of a set and a waitress would come on the stage and whisper, turn the stage over to the intermission pianist and head for the office. The first time this happened, I didn't know what to expect. I entered the office, was told to sit down and was poured a scotch on the rocks. Mr. Santamaria would then talk about his son and begin to cry. From then on, this scenario repeated itself at least one of the three weeknights I was there. Mr. Santamaria was never the same after his son was killed. Within the year, Piety Corner Gardens would close for good. Today there is a public storage complex on that same spot. Last week I mentioned that, after my return from Hollywood, I went on the road with a Motown group that happened to be passing through Boston minus a bass player. This was just before I returned to Piety Corner Gardens. The group was called the Uniques and I agreed to play with them that summer with the stipu- lation that I would leave when the Labor Day week- end arrived. I had been invited to the Cape for Labor Day and took the offer. I drove from Caribou, Maine, to Belmont, unpacked my stage clothes, repacked my Cape Cod clothes and headed south. The friend who had invited me was waiting and we went out for a late night dinner. When we returned to the cottage he had rented, he showed me my bedroom as I couldn't keep my eyes open. I was awakened an hour or two later by a loud muffler. I jumped out of bed, looked out the window and saw a gray Jaguar two seater with about five people squashed into it. When they were all inside, I, with one eye open, was introduced to the group. The driver was Dean Saluti. Dean and I hit it off right away. He, at that point in time, was working at the Kenmore Club in Boston's Kenmore Square. He was a bartender at Lucifer's, the busiest of the three night clubs in the complex. He was also a graduate student at Boston University, working on a doctorate. He had an apartment on Bay State Road and the job at the Kenmore Club paid for his tuition and the apartment. We became fast friends ing music, modeling and acting, he tried to convince me that I should return to school for a doctorate, see- ing I already had obtained a bachelors and two master's degrees somewhere along the line. When the weekend was over, we all headed back to Boston. I began another year teaching at Hyde Park High School and playing at Piety Corner Gardens on the first three nights of the week. I let several band leaders know I was back and easily found weekend work. This meant I was going to continue to be as busy as usual. That winter, Babbononno passed away just as he reached his 98th birthday. Not long after, Mr. Santa- maria closed Piety Corner Gardens for the last time. After the death of his son he wasn't the same and, in reality, didn't care about the business any longer. When all was said and done, I called Dean Saluti. I hadn't spoken to him since that Labor Day week- end during which time he tried to convince me I should return to school for a doctorate. As a result of that call, Dean and I met for dinner and when I expressed inter- est in applying to Boston University for entrance to a doctoral program he outlined what I should get myself in. I followed his suggestions, called the people he men- tioned, took one of the nec- essary exams to get in and became a thirty-something college student. With beginning a new educational adventure that winter, I cut back on playing music, accepting jobs only on weekend nights. During the week, I taught school and then headed to class at B.U. I undertook a new and demanding schedule which meant that something had to be put on a back burner ... and that was Hollywood. The TV shows I had acted in were now out of production and into re-runs. Bob Blasser and I remained partners in the production end of things but, as a performer, he was doing comedy bit parts for several shows, nothing more elevated than that. I thought it out and knew that I had made the right choice for the future. There was one negative Editorial (Continued from Page 3) Republican opponent Mitt Romney to be an almost dead-heat. Why? Our foreign policy is in a shambles. Our embassy was just attacked. Four Americans killed. One of them our ambassador. Our Marines apparently yet to arrive at that embassy in Libya. Yet the president still looks good in the polls? Doesn't anybody care about all of this? What does it take to get the mainstream me- dia to look like anything but Cuban-style government media? If George W. Bush was president right now with everything I described going on, you can bet the media and the Democrats would be all over the guy. Our presi- dent is a Democrat and he gets a pass time and time again. Oh, and don't get me started about the economy and the joblessness and the lack of hope that things will improve anytime too soon. EAST BOSTON SATELLITE OFFICE NOW OPEN MARIE MATARESE 35 Bennington Street, East Boston 617.227.8929 TUES. 10:00 A.M. - 3.00 P.M. THURS. 11:00 A.M.- 2:00 P.M. ACCEPTING ADVERTISEMENTS General Advertisements * Sales and Rentals Memorials Legals ADVERTISING WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE N END TING 5 PRINCE STREET* NORTH END * BOSTON, MA 02113 Owned and operated by Pamela Donnaruma, Publisher, P0st-Gazette Quality Printing for all your Commercial and Personal Needs I Stationery, Business Cards Menus- Flyers ] Program Books Wedding andParty Invitations ! AnnounCements *Business Forms and Documents m COMPETITIVE PRICES -- LETTERS POLICY The Post-Gazette invites its readers to submit Letters to the Editor. Letters should be typed, double-spaced and must include the writer's name, address and telephone number. Anonymous letters are not accepted for publication. Due to space considerations, we request that letters not exceed two double-spaced, type:written pages. "Mr. Santamaria wants to that weekend and as I point in the entire mix. * This newspaper reserves the right to edit letters for style, grammar see you in the office when explained my complex ca- Boston schools began their and taste and to limit the number of letters published from any one you take your break." I would reer of teaching school, play- court ordered busing and the person or organization. problems began. South Deadline for submission is 12:00 noon on the Monday prior to the ~p E~ Bstn High Schl was the Friday on which the writer wishes to have the material published. R scene of rioting, but they Submission by the deadline does not guarantee publication. only had about 200 to 300 I THE students who attended class Send letter to: Pamela Donnaruma, Editor, ~~l~~l~j~@ ~thedUringparkfighting.Hightheschool.I b oycOttwas atwe Hydehadand The Post-Gazette, P.O. Box 130135, Boston, MA 02113 the same problems with about 1200 students involved. Southie got all of ~t~:~ : ~i t~:: the publicity, but we had [ MUSIC FORALL worse problems. To be ...... (2~:2~d~S;.78t.,641~.~,~ continued ..; GOD BLESS 'AtOfI~RI(2~"-'- ' -':".'::': :: :' '