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October 26, 2012     Post-Gazette
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October 26, 2012
 

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POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 26, 2012 Page 13 00N'anna 00abb00onno Time to change the subject. I've brought you up to date about the family and it's time to return to the past. It was October of 1950 and Halloween was coming. I belonged to the Boy Scouts at the St. John Portuguese Church on Saratoga Street, not too far from Day Square. The scoutmaster, Fred Marino, told us at a meeting that he would like to have a costume party at the next meeting due to the fact that it coincided with Halloween. The heads of our scout troop each spoke about the re- quirements for the coming party. We listened to the as- sistant scout masters Pete Bartolo and Tony Abbatessa expound on what Mr. Marino had said and then broke into our patrols to discuss the matter. I was a member of the Panther Patrol which was proven by the arm patch on the shirt part of my green uniform. John DiNocolantonio was the leader of our pack and we members of the pack discussed our plans with him. On the way home, I wondered what I could put together for a costume. Back then, you didn't buy a costume at Tar- get, Walmart, TJ Maxx or Marshalls. You improvised. When I got home, Babbo- nonno and Nanna were in the kitchen and I told them about the plans for the party. Nanna offered to find an old sheet and make me a ghost out- fit. Then, in Italian, Babbo- nonno mentioned what had happened on the night of January 17 of that year. He told me the story of how a group of robbers held up the Brinks depository at 600 Commercial Street in Boston's North End. He added that they got over $1.2 million in cash, $1.5 mil- lion in checks and money or- ders and a stack of invest- ment securities. He made sure I knew that it was the largest robbery in the history of the United States up to that point. If you subtract the pyra- mid schemes of Charles Ponzi and Etnie MadQffJrom. ttLe, mix, I think the B-inks Jol - is still, number one. Babbononno had read about the robbery in all of the Bos- ton daily papers and the two Italian papers he was ad- dicted to I1 Progresso and La Gazzetto_ (the Post-Gazette) He f JOHN by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance was fascinated with the re- ports that came in at least once per week. Here it was ten months later and no one had been caught. I thanked Babbononno for the informa- tion and then asked what it had to do with a Boy Scout Hal- loween party. He responded with, "Jenny, we goin' a make-a you up ah be one ova da gangstaz. Dissa be you cos- tume-a foh da Boy Scoutza." Nanna yelled, "Michele, tu sei pazzo." (Michael, you're crazy) Me, I loved the idea. For the next week, we plannedmy..get- up for the forthcoming party. Babbononno, at 4' 11", was my height. He supplied the pants which were the right length but very large in the waist. A belt took care of that problem. He had an old white shirt that had seen bet- ter days and Nanna dyed it black. Dad gave me an old white tie and Morn came up with a small grey vest from one of my uncle's long-aban- doned suits. Babbononno made holes in the shirt col- lar and gave me a collar pin to place under the knot of the tie. He came up with an old fedora with a large brim and I traded a school chum some- thing for a shoulder holster and a toy gun. I put fifty cents together, headed to a half price store that was next to Lenny's Spa on  Meridian Street and bought a rubber mask and a rubber cigar stub that I could clench between my teeth with about an inch sticking out from the slit I cut in the mouth area. The mask was that of a bum or hobo. The nose portion was crooked and the face looked like it needed a shave and the eyebrows definitely needed a trim. I would even- tually do some work on the mask to make it look even more sinister, but that was later in the week. The owner of the store wanted 75 cents for the two items, 50 cents for the mask and 25 for the cigar stub. I mentioned how many times I had shopped in his store and all of the things I had bought aI,then added, "Sir, I only ha}e 50 cents for every- thing." My bargaining skills won out and I got both items for the 50 cents. One more thing was needed. I found an old book bag I had used to carry my junk in for school. It was like jJ iii a brief case and I added on a piece of cardboard to the front panel of the carrier. On the cardboard was printed in large letters, "Brinks/' Nanna found a pair of old white gloves that no one was using and that completed the costume. The afternoon of the party arrived and I slowly and meticulously dressed in the pieces that had been put together for my costume. I was going to walk to the party, which was held at the church hall-several blocks )dway from EutaStreet; b.t agad was heading out to play a function with his band and offered me a ride. As I entered the hall, everyone stared at me. Many of the kids had parents, broth- ers and sisters accompany- ing them and I said hello to all I saw. Well there was music and food for us. Someone had brought records and we listened to the hits of 1950s: "Rag Mop" by the Ames Brothers, "Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy" by Red Foley, "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd A Baked A Cake" by Eileen Barton, "Mona Lisa" by Nat King Cole and "Good Night Irene" by Gordon Jenkins. A young girl who had a crush on me asked me to dance; I only danced once with her. She had more hair on her legs than I did. I was more interested in the food as I hadn't eaten supper spending the dinner hour dressing myself for the party. As the party began winding down, Mr. Marino announced that they were going to have a contest with prizes going to the best three costumes. Pete Interbartolo from my Panther Patrol came over and whis- pered in my ear, "You ain't gonna win." I was undaunted and paraded around floor of the hall showing off my cos- tume, occasionally taking out my gun, which happened to be a water pistol. I don't have to tell you what I did to some of my friends, including Peter, from that point on. When it was over, the announcements were made and I heard Mr. Mareno yell, "The prize for the best costume goes to Johnny Christoforo." I truthfully don't remember what the prize was, but as we were cleaning up the hall, someone said, "There was a little guy stand- ing near the door who looked like George Burns." I turned to look, and there was Babbononno hiding behind the door. (He did look a little like George Burns!) When he saw people staring at him, he tipped his hat and yelled, "Buona sera," and went outside to wait for his grandson. The next day, I was the talk 'of the gang that attended the Barnes Middle School. That was 62 years ago, and I wish I could remember what I won as a prize. By the way, my birth- day was on Sunday the 2P t. I tumed 73 years old. Maybe by the time I'm 90, I'll retire. GOD BLESS AMERICA Socially Scene (Continued ter a journey over the Ber- muda Triangle, some say it simply sank itself to hell. The only thing you can count, on is that you are sure to leave with a terror of your own. You can risk your soul on Thursday-Sunday from 6:30-9:30 pm until Octo- ber 31 st when the ship will yet again set sail. You can find it at 739 Washington Street, Quincy, MA. For more on this scare scene visit www.hauntedship.com or call 617-474-7900. With all going on in the area for this Halloween holi- day there is still great "Arts Around Town" for all who need a nice night out. CHICAGO comes to Bos- ton .... With two cities so rich in culture the Broadway hit CHICAGO is a reason to get out to the theatre. Christie Brinkley, one of the world's most well-known super- models, will make her highly anticipated Boston debut in CHICAGO. Catch her star- ring with Llohn O'Hurley as Billy Flynn for a limited six show extravaganza at the from Page 9) Giti Wang Theatre Novem- ber i st through the 4% There's never been a bet- ter time to see CHICAGO, Broadway's smash hit. It's a story of sin, corruption and all that jazz, CHICAGO has ev- erything you could want in a musical. It has one of a kind knockout dancing tied into a heart pounding tale and one showstopper after another. With a legendary book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, CHICAGO is the winner of six 1997 Tony Awards including Best Musi- cal Revival and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Cast Recording. Whether you're looking for your first Broad- way musical or are a regular on the scene, you want to experience the show live on stage like you've never seen it before. CHICAGO always delivers. You can catch CHICAGO the Musical at the Wang Theater. For information on this short-lived show you can visit www.citicenter.org or call 617-482-9393. Boston a Great Bet for Federal Investing Dollars (Continued from Page 7) tial of federal investment dollars, the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) recently reached a major milestone in successfully spending" down $40 million in compet- itive ARRA grants. The re- sults are an award-winning redevelopment at the Old Colony public housing devel- opment in South Boston, ultra-green rehabs at hous- ing developments in Jamaica Plain and the South End and green, healthy, affordable housing for residents. As of March 2012, ARRA-funded BHA projects accounted for the creation of nearly 600 full-time jobs. Using approximately $4 million in federal funding, another project currently underway with the BHA is a comprehensive services center for frail elders at its Amory Street Elderly/Dis- abled Development. Operated by Upham's Corner Health Center's Elder Service Plan, the full-service center will allow frail elders and people with disabilities over the age of 55 to remain living inde- pendently in the community, rather than in a nursing home. In addition, BHA will modify one additional floor of the existing Amory Street development for clients that will benefit from on-site 24- hour care and services. Ser- vices to residents will include primary care, specialty care, prescription drugs, home health services, rehabilita- tive services, respite care and transportation assis- tance. These services, as well as medical monitoring and treatments, structured activities and exercise will be provided at  ) charge to residents. ACHIEVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY Launched in August 2010 with recovery funds, the Renew Boston Energy Effi- ciency Program served low- to middle-income residents, who historically have had a low rate of participation in energy efficiency programs, as well as small neigh- borhood businesses. In resi- dential households, ARRA funds led to more than 8,000 comprehensive energz au- dits and 1,700 no-cost home insulation services installed, resulting in more than $2 million in savings annu- ally for residents. Overall home insulation installa- tions have quadrupled in 2012, and for small busi- nesses, ARRA dollars funded no-cost energy efficiency services for 700 small businesses, saving them $650,000 annually. SUPPORTING COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT For 10 years, Foodie's Urban Market has served the South End community from their store on Washington Street. Known for both a di= verse selection of grocery items and an unwavering commitment to the local community, Foodie's recently completed construction on a previously vacant 8,500- square-foot storefront in South Boston, with the help of a $50,000 ARRA-funded small business loan through our office of business devel- opment. Construction is complete and I'm excited to join owners for a grand opening next month. Upon opening, Foodie's will create 40 new jobs for the neighbor- hood. From children to seniors, public housing tenants to community health profes- sionals and construction workers to neighborhood en- trepreneurs, recovery dollars have put shovels in the ground, people back to work, and improved the lives of countless individuals and families across Boston. To- gether, we've shown the na- tion what extraordinary progress can be made by combining a local, results- oriented agenda with federal aid.