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December 16, 2016     Post-Gazette
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December 16, 2016
 

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POST-GAZE'n'E, DECEMBER 16, 2016 PAGE 9 l abb onno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance When I was a kid, I belonged cians and worked day and night to the Trinity Neighborhood during the Christmas season. House located at 406 Meridian When I thought about it, there Street in the Eagle Hill section was only one person left to ask- of East Boston. Back in 1847, -Babbononno. it was built as the home of a My grandfather, by this point man named Noah Sturtevant. In in his life, was fully retired and 1917, it came under the control at night, could often be found of Boston's Trinity Church and at one of the store-front social became what used to be called clubs he belonged to. When I "a settlement house." By 1966, asked him if he would like to it became part of the East Bos- be the family representative and ton Social Centers and is now accompany me to the Trinity a home for people in need. In Christmas party, he shocked 1981, it became a Boston land- me by saying that he would. mark, and in 1992, it was listed On the night of the 23rd, both on the National Registry of His- he and I dressed with our spit- toric Places. Anyway, I belonged shined shoes, starched dress to it as a kid, and I learned how shirts, hand-painted ties, and to box, dance, make airplane heavy wintercoats, and headed models, and play basketball, down the Eutaw Street hill to The place was run by a wom- Meridian Street, and then up an named Ms. Orr (I never knew the hill again to the Trinity her first name), and long time Neighborhood House located East Boston activist and old at the top of the hill. When we friend, Dr. Edith DeAngelis. arrived, we were greeted by Ms. Back then, we were divided by Orr, and while we kids warmed sex and we boys came under up, our family members were the tutelage of J.J. Dana, from given a tour of the building. whom I learned to box and play When Babbononno returned, he basketball. Prior to J.J., there whispered to me, "This place is was a man named Mr. Dudley well-made, good construction." in charge of the activities for the Once back in the main room of boys, but he left in the late '40s the first floor, we were invited and Mr. Dana replaced him. to help ourselves to cake and I learned quite a lot grow- punch. I remember the cake ing up at the Trinity House that year being orange in color and loved every minute of it. and taste. The punch was red It was less than a five-minute in color and tasted like liquid walk from our block of Eutaw sugar. Both were too much for Street and I was there several me, but Babbononno had a afternoons and two nights each sweet tooth and had seconds week. As I mentioned, we were or thirds, if I'm not mistaken. separated from the girls in When everyone was filled with almost everything except danc- the cake and punch, Ms. Orr ing, and on Tuesday nights, I would have us all sit down on learned how to square dance the folding chairs which were and the fine points of ballroom now set up theater style in that dancing. This was the compro- main room, and she would mise I made with Mom. She stand in front of everyone wait- wanted to see me groomed as ing for the place to quiet down. a little gentleman and dancing Finally, when everyone took the was part of the image she had hint and became still, they saw in mind. So, on that night of the that she had a book under her week, sports and model making arm. When there was finally were put on a back burner, absolute silence, Ms. Orr began My first year as a member of to flip the pages until she came the Trinity House was coming to the section she wanted. The to an end and one night, while book was the New Testament I was on the lower floor tak- and the part she searched for ing a boxing lesson, someone was the Gospel according to came from Ms. Orr's office and St. Luke. It was the Christian reminded us that the Trin- biblical account of the birth of ity House was going to hold a Jesus and she would read it to Christmas party the following her children and their families week on December the 23rd and with a young Edie DeAngelis we and our families were all standing at her side. invited. Of course, when I had I had heard the Gospel ac- first heard about this event, I cordingto St. Luke at my church forgot to tell my mother. I knew (Sacred Heart) ever since I could that by this pohnt in time, no remember, but the wording one would be able to go with was a little different than the me. Mom and Nanna would be ones spoken by Ms. Orr. Out preparing for our family din- of curiosity, I ask Dad the next ners, which would take place day. He told me that there was on Christmas Eve and Christ- a difference in the Christian mas Day, and I knew that my bibles, "Son, we use the Douay father and uncles were out of Bible which is Catholic. Most the picture, as they were musi- Protestants use the King James -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR:ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 Version and the story of Je- sus, the way you heard it, was probably from that King James edition. I didn't know that there was a difference, but I liked the story of the birth of Jesus from both books. When the religious end of things was concluded, Ms. Orr would read two other Christ- mas stories, one a poem and the other a narrative. The first was the poem The Night Before Christmas. It was written by Clement Clarke Moore in New York in 1822, and was originally called "A Visit from St. Nicho- las." This poem actually made Santa Claus synonymous with Christmas in the United States. A bit of trivia: Christmas didn't become a national holiday in this country until 1870, but that's, a story for another day. The last of the readings was the story Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. In 1898, an eight- year-old New Yorker named Virginia O~anlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun asking about the existence of Santa Claus. A seasoned editorial writer named Francis Church responded by assuring Virginia that there truly was a Santa. Since then, the story has become an American classic. It has been translated into dozens of languages and developed into a movie and TV format. When she was finished with the read- ing, Ms Orr thanked everyone for coming to the Trinity House Christmas party and bid them a good night. On the way home, Bab- bononno commented on what he called the sentimentality of Christmas the way it was ex- pressed by an American. I kind of smirked, not knowing that I would experience the same par- ty format on the following two Christmases and enjoy them just as much. The next day was Christmas Eve, and we returned to being Italian. I kind of liked it both ways, and still do. GOD BLESS AMERICA i DIAMONDS 1 ROLF-.X ESTATE JEWELRY Bought & Sold Jewelers Exch. Bldg. Jim (617) 263-7766 Loved Ones The Post-Gazette accepts memorials throughout the year. Please call 61 7-227-8929 The time has come, the walrus said, TO TALK OF MANY THINGS of shoes and ships and sealing wax of cabbages and kings by Sal Giarratani LOWERING THE and smiled. I then mentioned CITY SPEED LIMIT to him that Santa Clause was a Members of the Boston City pretty short guy this year. I then Council are moving forward asked if he knew why. He said with the idea of lowering the NO and I told him the Roslin- speed limit on city streets to dale Main Streets Program 25 miles per hour. The current waited too long before ordering speed limit is 30 miles per hour. him for this event and all they The City says it will make our had left on the shelf were small streets safer for all. Santa's. The only thing I see are bicy- Don't try and explain this clists zooming past motorists to your kids. Just tell them, going at a higher speed and Santa's trying to lose some body probably through the red light mass. up ahead that made you stop. KNOW HOW YOU KNOW REMEMBERING YOU'RE OLD? DECEMBER 7, 1941 Do you know the difference Over in the City of Quincy, between a crew-cut and a whif- the 75th observation of the fie? If you do, you're off~cially December 7, 1941, surprise old. Here's an extra bonus ques- attack at Pearl Harbor was tion if you went to parochial commemorated on Sunday, school back in the day when December 4th, on the podium those schools were filled with of the World War II Memorial nuns. What was a D.A. hair- at Mr. Wollaston Cemetery. The cut? They were banned from ceremony was sponsored by the classrooms. Quincy Veterans Council and IIAVE YOU SEEN THOSE coordinated by Past Council NEW WIDER BIKE PATHS? Commander Larry Norton. Once I have spotted some recently, again, a large crowd turned out over by Staniford Street and to honor thosewho died at Pearl the Lindemann Center, and Harbor. Veterans, as usual, over on Commercial Street by turned out in large numbers, the ballpark and Coast Guard Nothing new for the most Pa- Base. There are two bike lanes triotic City in America, as noted going in opposite directions. It recently by the U.S. House of took away a lane of travel going Representatives. north on Commercial Street and EAST BOSTON it's backing up traffic all the DOCUMENTARY time now. RELEASED AT ZUMIX SCHETTINO APPOINTED A documentary by film-maker EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF Lucus La Battagiia, in the mak- EAST BOSTON FOUNDATION ing for many years, was finally East Boston Attorney Lorene released and premiered at Zu- Schettino has been serving as mix on December 1 lth. The film interim executive director of Destination: East Boston traces the East Boston Foundation the roots of the community's since Attorney Richard Lynds battles with Massport expan- stepped down earlier this year. sion in the 1960s up to today. The Foundation's board made Check it out, Those who the appointment permanent viewed it loved it and said it was two weeks ago. Kudos to Lorene a very accurate depiction of this Schettino! sadly ongoing struggle between CAROL BUREETT the community and MassPort. COMING TO BOSTON SANTA COMES IN SMALL Actress Carol Burnett is com- PACKAGES, TOO ing to Boston's Boch Center A couple of weeks back when Wang Theatre for an evening of it was still November, Santa laughter and reflection on April Claus arrived in Roslindale 8th. For more information, visit Square to light up the Christ- www.bochcenter.org, or call mas tree in Adams Park. While 800-982-2787. I was listening to the kids from Sacred Heart School sing QUOTE TO NOTE Christmas songs, I noticed how "In case you missed it, John tiny Santa looked. Remember Forbes Kerry went before some that old movie Honey, I Shrunk women's group in Washington the Kids? I was thinking in my and said q am not going quietly head, "Who shrunk Santa?" into the night.' Quietly, loudly, I turned to the Monsignor, the nobody cares how you go, 'Live- parish pastor and told him that shot,'just as long as you go." Santa Claus comes earlier and -- Howie Carr, earlier every year. He nodded Boston Herald, December 4th On Sale Now! THE NORTH END Where It All Began The Way It Was by Fred Langone SALE PRICE $19.95 Plus Shipping & Handling 5 On Site at The Post-Gazette Prince Street, North End, Boston, MA