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Latin Beat

After the heavy rain of last Saturday, Hubby was back out in the yard harvesting his tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes in the white five-gallon buckets, are turning red very quickly. We are eating them at lunch and at dinner. We refused, however, to put them in our cereal. Even though the “store-bought” tomatoes look as nice as ours do, they do not taste half so good as ours.

Because of budget constraints, this year’s series of Dorothy Curran’s Wednesday Evening Concerts on City Hall Plaza were limited to only four. The first concert was held on Wed., July 22. It was “Latin Beat” Night, featuring Eguie Castrillo and his Orchestra and the Hachey Machete Dance Company. The Spotlight on Youth would feature Ashley Makailah and the Band from the Berklee College of Music. Our school bus from the Atlantic Bus Company came right on time to St. Brendan’s Church, where a good-sized crowd was waiting. We also stopped at Keystone and picked up a few more people. We were the first bus into City Hall and so we were first in the line-up of buses. Angelo Picardi, once again, served as host for the evening. He invited everyone to visit the North End during the upcoming weekend for the Feast of St. Joseph. The Air Force Band of Liberty would be there. There would even be Mass on Sunday at 11 a.m.

Commissioner Toni Pollack also welcomed everyone to the first concert of the season. Eliza Greenberg, head of the City’s Elderly Affairs Dept., came to the microphone and said a few words. She then went throughout the audience, welcoming the seniors to the plaza. We also saw our friend from the Parks Department, Diane Kerrissey, greeting members of the audience closer to the stage. Jose Masso, a wonderful drummer, served as the emcee for the Latin program. The orchestra began playing Latin music, the first song being Let’s Stay Together. They also played some of the music of Tito Puente, the King of Latin Music. They even played the favorite song of the late Michael Jackson, Smile. The song was from Charlie Chaplin’s movie Modern Times and was played at Michael Jackson’s memorial service. Angelo also mentioned that the dancers were from the Hyde Square area of Jamaica Plain.

I am sorry that I did not attend the second City Hall Plaza concert on the evening on July 29. My knee was still sore from all the hours that I had spent in planes on our Virginia trip the previous weekend. The U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty was performing that evening, featuring Jane Monheit, and the Berklee College of Music’s Berklee City Music Preparatory Academy Ensemble. Hubby, daughter Sue, and our friend Eileen Burke enjoyed the evening out.

The following Wednesday, Aug. 5, was Disco Night, sponsored by Laborers’ Union Local 22. Since I love disco music, I was really looking forward to this evening. The band Stardust would be featured. Host Angelo Picardi, first of all, invited all the audience to come to the Feast of Madonna Della Cava’s festivities in the North End the upcoming weekend. Mayor Tom Menino then said a few words. Angelo introduced the “Spotlight on Youth’ performers, the Berklee City Music All-Stars, with Katie Barnes, from Berklee College of Music.

Thank goodness daughter Sue was along this evening. I knew the music to most of the songs but Sue knew their titles. Stardust opened with the song, Shake your Groove Thing. The dance floor was instantly crowded with people. The rest of us were swinging and swaying in our seats. There were even a few dancers close to where we were seated at the outer edge of City Hall Plaza. Then there were more wonderful songs: Boogie, Oogie, Oogie, Sorry I Lost It, Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel, Disco Inferno, Get Down Tonight, and That’s the Way I Like It (one of my favorites). Daughter Sue told me that many of these songs are part of the sing-a-long at the end of the movie Shrek.

There were more songs before the band Stardust took a break: Wishing on a Star, Boogie Wonderland, and Ladies’ Night. The final song was YMCA. Almost everyone in the audience was doing the hand movements to that song. The hand movement to the letter “M” causes me problems and I stop trying to make the other letters.

Then a wonderful interim band took over during the break. I think it might have been Ray Cavicchio’s Orchestra. They were equally as wonderful as the musicians in the featured orchestra Stardust. This orchestra began with the Electric Slide. The dance floor was packed once again. The orchestra followed with Run Around Sue, Why Must I Be a Teenager In Love, Build Me Up, Buttercup, I Can’t Help Myself, Dancing in the Streets, Love Shack, and Twist and Shout. They continued their long interim performance with three of the Beatles’ songs: I Wanna Hold Your Hand, She Loves You, and I Saw Her Standing There. The next was a song made famous by the Beach Boys (a favorite of ours), Surfin’ USA. That was a great one to dance to. Then we listened to Wipe Out, Mony, Mony, I Got a Feeling That Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night, and finally I Feel Good (I Got You) as the interim band concluded its segment.

The Stardust band returned and began the second half of their program with Ain’t No Stopping Us Now. This song was followed by Car Wash, Bad Girls, Me and Mrs. Jones, with Charles Clark, To Be Real, Living in America, Le Freak, Rapper’s Delight, and Good Time. The band finished with, appropriately enough, the great disco song from Donna Summer, Last Dance. As the audience left City Hall Plaza, quite a few people were doing a few dance steps. It was a wonderful evening. The final concert of this year’s Wednesday Evening Concerts will be in next week’s paper.

A little more on Fr. George’s Birthday Cookout on Sunday, Aug. 9: Mayor Tom Menino joined us for quite a while that afternoon. Dorchester liaison, Lauren Smyth, her friend Ryan Woods, and her cousin Colin Kennedy accompanied him. Colin, by the way, was getting ready to attend High Point University in North Carolina. They were all amazed at how nice the field behind the church was. They were also shocked at how many people attended the celebration. The mayor went around greeting many of those in attendance. We longtime parishioners were also delighted to see Fr. James Rafferty at the celebration. Fr. Jim assisted at St. Christopher’s in the early 70s. (I think his assignment in those years was as the chaplain of UMass/Boston.) He is now pastor of St. Paul’s Parish in Hingham.

St. Brendan’s Seniors are offering a day trip to the lovely town of Rockport on Fri., Sept. 25, leaving St. Brendan’s about 10 a.m. The cost is $15 per person. It is worth that much just to be able to take photos of Motif #1, which is only a stone’s throw from the place where the bus stops to let visitors off. There are quite a few little restaurants within a few blocks of the bus stop. When Hubby and I go, we eat lunch first and then spend the rest of the afternoon visiting all the unique little gift shops along Bearskin Neck. There are a couple of ice cream shops and several candy shops. (You won’t go hungry.) It is a wonderful way to spend an early fall day. Call Eileen at 617-929-1176 if interested.

I was so sorry to hear of the death of a longtime friend, Fr. James Larner, on Aug. 24. My friends Alice McDonald and Mary Cobb first introduced me to Fr. Larner and we would see each other often. He must have read my column because the first thing he would say to me was, “How are the World’s Greatest Grandchildren?” He grew up in Neponset, and knew many of the residents. Sometimes Hubby, Sue, and I would attend the 7 a.m. Mass at St. Gregory’s. We were always so pleased when we saw that Fr. Larner was to be the celebrant of the Mass. Sometimes we saw him at Gerard’s. The last time I saw him was at Gerard’s when Hubby, daughters Sue and Jeanne, and I were enjoying a very early breakfast on Mother’s Day.

Hubby drove pal Eileen Burke and me to St. Ann’s Church where Fr. Larner was lying in repose last Thursday. We met our friends Rita (McKinnon) Gillespie and Mary Reilly, who were just coming out of the church. We chatted about Fr. Larner and how we will miss him. As we climbed the church stairs, we saw more friends, Tom and Donna Finnegan and Janet Shaughnessy. As Eileen and I entered the vestibule, we were greeted by one of the ushers, Jim Sullivan from the O’Connor Funeral Home, which handled the funeral arrangements. We proceeded down the aisle and paid our respects to Fr. Jim. Then we went over to Father’s nieces and nephews, who were sitting to the left of the casket. We both told them how much we liked Fr. Jim. He was such a good person. They were pleased that the Reporter had a front-page story on Fr. Jim. As Eileen and I were leaving St. Ann’s, we met Mary Grassa O’Neill and chatted with her. Mary is now Secretary of Education and superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Boston. We also spoke about Fr. Larner with her. He touched so many people. He will indeed be missed.

I loved this thought from Mother Teresa: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”