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October 11, 2013     Post-Gazette
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October 11, 2013

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POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 11,2013 Page 13 JY'anna 00abb00lnonno 00yjo000000i00,o00oro A Nostalgic Remembrance i i Babbononno was a mem- ber of the Sons of Italy in the North End, later East Bos- ton. Back then, America could be a hostile environ- ment for the newcomers from Europe, especially those from the Mediterra- nean countries. Members of local lodges would meet at designated homes, restau- rants or banquet halls to hold their meetings until they could afford to buy or build facilities that would give the members a perma- nent location. It was during World War II and it was Babbononno's turn to host the bi-weekly or monthly meeting (I'm not sure) at 70 Eutaw Street. I was probably four or five years old and was playing with my toys in Nanna's kitchen when Babbononno called the meeting to order. His generation conducted everything in Italian as all of the members were born in Italy and a few didn't speak English. Babbononno did study English once he settled in Boston, but unfortunately, he was among the group that had difficulty overcom- ing the pronunciation of English words. I've often heard the term broken English when people refer to some of those old folks. I, lovingly;:aecdged my- grand father of speaking "frac- tured" English. It was beyond broken. At times, during my young life, Babbononno would try to speak English to me, but it would get to the point where I would ask him to switch to Italian due to the fact that I had no idea what he was trying to say. Anyway, back to his home- based Sons of Italy meeting ... I remember the conver- sation turning to the war after the formalities were completed. It seems that just about everyone had sons fighting in either Europe or Asia. Unlike Babbononno who had been in American over forty years, many of his lodge members were rela- tive new comers to America. You might think that their allegiances would be with Italy. They were proud to be Americans and even prouder that their sons were fighting for this country, even if it meant against the land of their birth. When it became Babbononno's turn, he would talk about Uncles Nick and Gino who were in uniform. I even remember him ex- pressing the feeling that it seemed like Italian Ameri- can servicemen were looked at under a microscope to see if their allegiances were really with America. Today, I know that that first gen- eration of Italian Americans didn't look to Italy with the same love that was ex- pressed by their parents. They were Americans and were patriots when it came to American causes. After the war, my father and uncles became success- ful in their chosen pro- fessions. Uncle Paul was in the printing business during the day and played music at night. Uncle Nick ran for of- fice in the musicians' union and wound up as the vice president for over 25 years. Dad left the big bands when the war started and became a teacher in the Boston Schools. At night he worked locally either in night clubs or with society bands that entertained in Boston. They never really had time for organizations like the Sons of Italy. I once asked Dad why he didn't belong to the local lodge, seeing their location was just around the corner from where we lived. He philosophized that Babbononno's generation needed the support and strength of the organization t'o' sui'iWe',' btit !ffiiags' 'had changed for people with Ital- ian names. I know that they networked with the OSIA as most of their functions fea- tured music played by mu- sicians whose last names ended in vowels. Even though they didn't join in, they didn't stray far from their roots. As a young man, I could have cared less. I had so many things going on in my life that a fraternal organization was the last thing on my mind. By the time I was in my late teens, I was attending college, working part-time at the Seville Theater and had be- come a professional musi- cian. A few local musicians and I did play for the monthly dances at the long-gone East Boston OSIA lodge that was on Trenton Street. We were all third generation, but I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Fast forwarding to the recent past, when I met Loretta, she was living in the North End, and once we were married brought me from the Anglo or American world back to my Italian roots. In Happy Columbus Day -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 spite of being away from the neighborhoods of my youth, most of my closest friends were of Italian ori- gin. Early on, I traveled the world with Sal Meli. I met Dean Saluti in the early 1970s and we became close friends. We both were work- ing on our doctorates at Boston University and be- came inseparable. We "hung out" together, double dated and when we both married, were in each other's wed- ding parties. In the last 1980s, Dean joined the brand new Greater Boston Renaissance Lodge of the Sons of Italy. Climbing the ladder of positions, he soon became the president. With him at the helm, this lodge has become a "one of a kind" throughout the country. Of course, he made sure I became involved and I did. It later led me to state office positions. Today, the Renaissance Lodge has one of the largest memberships in the U.S. Most of our members are professionals, business own- ers and every day folks who just want to enjoy them- selves, Italian style. Many of the people are not Italian. The lodge has a large num- ber of people who have no Italian blood. Let's see, our Sbciai'members are Irish, Spanish, Chinese, African American, Jewish and an assortment of Heinz 57 who just like hanging out with US. Seeing that both Dean and I are old car enthusiasts, many of our newer mem- bers are old car owners and we have developed a broth- erhood within the Renais- sance Lodge. In fact Dean, who loves European antique cars, has brought in several members from the car clubs that fancy British, Italian and German cars. Some of our events reflect these new members and the showing of their cars. Just recently, we had a day at the Myopia Polo Club. Dozens of cars were lined up for view- ing and we were treated to a buffet dinner, aged wines and good cigars. During the year, we tie in with other Sons of Italy lodges and help them cele- berate their special events. We've even gone beyond Italian organizations and join in with other clubs that wish to include us. We've come a long way over the years ... MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA Here For information about advertising in the Post-Gazette, c 617-227-8929, Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) The Power of Duff takes to the Huntington Stage October 11 th. (Photo courtesy of ketplace that are good for people, animals, and the environment. It is a chance to taste free samples of a great array of delicious, natural vegetarian foods, talk to food producers from all over the country and locally, learn abottt the lat- est veg products, and shop for special "show priced" bargains. Book and cookbook pub- lishers, educational exhibits on protecting animals and the earth, and a children's activity center will round out the day. The Festival offers a stellar lineup of top national speakers and chefs. They will bring cutting edge nutrition information as well as the how-to's of deli- cious plant-based eating in presentations that are lively and often hilarious as well. Our chefs will teach mouth- watering dishes and share kitchen tips and cooking techniques. What a better way to spend your weekend than to EAT and eat healthy. The Boston Vegetarian Food Fes- tival takes place Saturday, October 26 th from 11:00 am - 6:00 pm and Sunday, Octo- ber 27 th I0:00 am - 4:00 pm at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center located 1350 Tremont Street, Boston. You can visit www.Boston /foodfest for more details. Boston Winter Film Fes- tival .... On Thursday, Octo- ber 17 t" and Friday, Octo- ber 18 th, Theatre 1 at Revere Hotel will host Boston's second annual winter film festival. This two-night festival showcases 16 of the world's best ski and snowboard films, including award-win- ning and award-nominated films from Level 1 Produc- tions, Stept Productions, Nike Snow-boarding, Video- grass Productions, 4bi9 Media, Legs of Steel, Think Thank Films, Transworld Snowboarding, and Jake Blauvelt's "Naturally." Each attendee will receive a two-for-one lift ticket to both Jay Peak and Mount Snow resorts, two drink tickets courtesy of Deep Eddy Vodka and Sapporo, and a raffle ticket for a chance to win ski and snowboard gear and other prizes. VIP pass holders will receive ex- clusive gifts and priority seating. A silent auction will ben- efit "Ellen's Heart & Soul," a nonprofit organization for breast cancer awareness. There will be nightly after parties .will be hosted on site featuring live music and DJs. The winter film festival is a great way to anticipate the soon to be snowy fun. Thurs- day, October 17 th beginning at 7:30 pm and Friday, Octo- ber 18 th at 7:00 pm are the films show times in Theatre 1. The Boston at Revere Hotel Boston Com- mon is located at 200 Stuart St. For more information or tickets visit The Power of Duff .... October 11 th through Novem- ber 16 th at the Huntington Theater. In The Power of Duff, Roch- ester news anchor Charlie Duff shocks his co-anchor, boss and colleague as he con- cludes the newscast with a spontaneous prayer rather than his usual send-off the night after his father dies. Yearning for connec- tion, Charlie continues his nightly prayers despite man- agement's initial protesta- tions, rapidly becoming a popular and controversial figure to an ever expanding audience. Yet, in spite of the strengthening bond Charlie feels with the subjects of his prayers and his viewers, he struggles to connect with his ex-wife and estranged teen- age son. David Wilson Barnes plays Charlie Duff, a burnt-out local newscaster who trans- forms first his community and then himself when he begins praying on-air in the Huntington Theatre Com- pany's new production of Stephen Belber's moving new drama The Power of Duff. Amy Pietz ("The Office," "Caroline in the City") plays DufFs ex-wife Lisa, and Jen- nifer Westfeldt plays Sue, Charlie's co-anchor, in the production helmed by Hun- tington Artistic Director Peter DuBois. Performances begin on October 1 lth at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Power of Duff is produced in association with New York Stage and Film and Vassar's Powerhouse Theater. This hilarious and tragic comedy takes to the stage on Friday, October 11 th with scheduled show times until November 16 th. The Hun- tington Theatre Calderwood Pavilion is located at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston. For more informa- tion on tickets and times you can visit www.huntington or call 617-266- 0800.