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October 18, 2013     Post-Gazette
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October 18, 2013

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POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 18, 2013 Page 13 Babb onno While driving home last Friday night, I was search- ing for the tail end of the Red Sox game and wound up lis- tening to part of the Michael Savage Show. Dr. Savage is a talk show host with very conservative views on life in America. I was just about to change the station when he started talking about the way things used to be and I decided to listen to his reminiscing about his youth. When he finished and began answering phone calls, I changed the station. I don't even remember what I lis- tened to from that point on as I began to think about a time long past when I was a child and Nanna, Babbo- nonno, Uncle Paul and his family, Uncle Gino, my folks and I all lived on Eutaw Street in East Boston and things were a bit different than they are today. Today, we shop in super- markets. Most of everything we buy is either canned, packaged or wrapped in styrofoam trays covered with transparent plastic. Even when we check out the fresh produce and select what we want, we rip off a plastic bag from a dispenser, spend five minutes trying to get the darn thing open and place our choices inside. Most liquids we buy are either contained in plastic or wax covered cardboard. When we reach the checkout line, the cashiers scans the bar codes to allow the computerized registers to itemize and add up our total cost and then a bagger places our purchases in plastic bags while we pay for the goods ... clean, effi- cient, quick and about as personal as talking to one of the statues on the Common- wealth Avenue mall. When I was a kid, half of the things Nanna or my mother would buy were pur- chased in front of our house from vendors who sold things from a horse and team or a truck. I my neighborhood, there were many such mer- chants who canvassed the streets with their wares. I remember a wagon that always stopped to allow my grandmother to inspect the fruit that was for sale. She would question the driver about his oranges, peaches, pears, apples, cherries and especially his grapes. If she purchased any of these, they were weighed on a scale hanging from the back of the wagon and then placed in paper bags. If she chose one of the man's watermelons, by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Nanna would yell for Babbo- nonno to come and carry it into the house, but not before the vendor cut a pyramid shaped piece for my grand- father to sample for sweet- ness. After this was done, the man would take his pen- cil from its position on his ear, put the tip of it on his tongue to wet the lead and then write down the itemize cost of each fruit on a note pad and add the whole thing up and show it to my grand- parents. Before they would pay, Babbononno would ask about the health of the man's horse, whose name my grandfather and every- one else in the neighborhood knew. After the bill was looked at, Nanna would twist the two brass knobs atop her little black leather change purse, open it and pull out the required amount. Once the bill was paid and pleasant- ries about families had been exchanged, the vendor would go on to the next customer, usually a neighbor from somewhere on the block. Later in the day, a black colored station wagon would cruise the neighborhood. The sign on the black windows would read Cushman Bak- ery. Italians didn't buy the Cushman bread as it was American style bread, some- thing we didn't eat. Nanna would look over the selection of pastry and maybe buy some cookies or an apple pie, something that satisfied Babbononno's sweet tooth. Once, when asked about the American bread, Babbononno answered by going back in the house and returning with a round loaf of Italian bread. He pounded his gigantic knuckles on the crust, ripped off a corner and handed it to the Cushman salesman and said, "Wadda you gutta is no breda; dissa no fall aparta in you handza oh droop down when you eat da slyza." Only the Americans in the neighborhood bought the American bread. Early the next morning, if you were not a sound sleeper, you might wake up to the sounds of glass tin- kling. It would he the milk man delivering glass bottles of milk and cream. I remem- ber the horse drawn milk trucks. They were shaped like the enclosed wagons used by the Amish people of Pennsylvania with the ex- ception that they were lined with metal. They were actu- ally large coolers. Later the horse drawn trucks were replaced with motorized ones. Nanna had a contract with the Shawmut Dairy which was located on Saratoga Street not too far from the Star of the Sea Church a few blocks beyond Day Square in East Boston. The milk was delivered in glass bottles with a visible amount of cream floating at the top, fill- ing the neck of the bottle. Later when milk became homogenized, this came to an end. Before homogeniza- tion existed, and it was win- ter time, by the time you brought the milk into the house, it might have begun to freeze and the expanding liquid would push a cylinder of cream out the top with the little cardboard stopper sit- ting atop the frozen cream. If you used coal, oil, kero- sene or range oil to heat your house, they might all come from the same com- pany who also delivered ice once or twice a week. The Newman Coal and Oil Company was the company Babbononno had take care of his needs. When the con- tract was made, they gave Nanna a sign to put in her living room window indicat- ing what they should deliver on a particular day. Some people still used ice boxes back then. We had a refrig- erator in the kitchen, but the ice box it replaced was never discarded. Babbo- nonno kept it in the cellar and kept his wine and beer in it chilled to his liking. Today, people drink wine at room temperature and it always tasted like it has been warmed. Babbononno's wine was what he called room temperature, about 50 degrees, a more pleasant tasting liquid if you ask me. Once a week, a horse and team would come up the Eutaw Street hill. The driver would yell out, "Any old rags or junk?" People would stop him and show what they had that they wanted to get rid of and they would be paid a few cents for their scraps. At the end of the day, these wagons would return to the junk yards in Chelsea and unloaded, with the scraps placed in piles according to what they were made of: old clothes in one area, metals in another. During the warm evenings of the spring and summer, an ice cream truck would wander the neighborhood. The ringing of its bells indi- cated what it was and we kids would run out to greet it with either a nickel for a Fudgesicle or Popsicle or a dime for a chocolate covered -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 ice cream. If you remember any of these things, repeat after me, "God Bless America." Socially Scene (Continued from Page 11) 14 season and will be on the Symphony Hall stage through October 26th. Mark-Anthony Turnage's Speranza, which the com- poser calls "upbeat, extrovert and optimistic." Harding led the premiere of his compa- triot's piece with the London Symphony Orchestra in Feb- ruary 2013. Mahler's hour- long song-symphony Das Lied von der Erde ("The Song of the Earth") is a group of wide-ranging settings of Chinese poetry translated into German; the composer responds with music tinged by Eastern exoticism. Now in its 133r~ season, the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave its inaugural concert in 1881, realizing the dream of its founder, the Civil War veteran/businessman/phi- lanthropist Henry Lee Hig- ginson, who envisioned a great and permanent or- chestra in his hometown of Boston. Today the BSO reaches millions of lis- teners, not only through its concert performances in Boston and at Tanglewood. SNL Star in New England .... Jim Breuer returns to Fox Theater on November 9th presented by Comix at Foxwoods. Foxwoods and Fox Theater will welcome back one of Comedy Central's "100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time," Jim Breuer, for one performance on Saturday, November 9th at 8:00 p.m. For further information you can call 860-312:5050 or www. comixatfoxwoods, com. This hilarious and always crossing the line comedian will be on stage for one night only November 9th at 8:00 pm in Foxwoods Resort Casino located at 350 Trolley Line Boulevard in Mashantucket, CT. Tickets are available at ww w. comixatfoxwoods, corn; by calling the Foxwoods Box Office at 800-200-2882. Also for more on Jim, please visit It's Time for a Little Wine .... Wine Riot Boston on October 25th-26th at Park Plaza Castlet Hey Boston, can you be- lieve the Wine Riots have been going for five years. This year is host to the 21st Wine Riot on home turf in Boston. They have tons of new and different wineries from the spring event so English Conductor Daniel Harding will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra on October 24th. (Photo courtesy of while it's the same o1' Wine Riot you know and love, you can come and taste entirely new wines. This is one event you won't want to miss. This event is by far a good time and one that Socially Scene attended last year. The Park Plaza Castle is located at 50 Arlington Street,-Boston and you can visit www.secondglass.cora for more information and to purchase tickets. A Tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City .... As I begin to attend more events I notice that the larger ones seem to host their own restaurant and the Symphony is on the list. Craving a little Prokofiev, Hungry for some Haydn, Peckish for Pops? The mu- sical lineup guarantees to satisfy all tastes. And when purchasing your tickets, consider pre-concert, pri: fixe buffet dining at Sym- phony car4 the perfect over- ture to an evening of world class music. Don't miss a single note. Arrive early and relax over food and drink w~thout the curtain-time rush. You're already here just seconds away from you" seat, amidst the gorgeou; surroundings of histori~ Symphony Hall. Symphon: Caf4 is open 5:30 pm unti concert time for all evenin~ Boston Symphony concerts and lunch from 11:00 an prior to Friday-afternoon con certs. For reservation online just visit keel in mind all orders must be placed 72 hours prior to per- formance date. You can als0 contact Boston Gourmet at 617-638-9328 for phone orders or questions. 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. This newspaper reserves the right to edit letters for style, grammar and taste and to limit the number of letters published from any one person or organization. Deadline for submission is-12:00 noon on the Monday prior to the Friday on which the writer wishes to have the material published. Submission by the deadline does not guarantee publication. Send letter to: Pamela Donnaruma, Editor, The Post-Gazette, P.O. Box 130135, Boston, MA 02113