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Summer Days

“Sing a song of summer days,
Leafy nooks and shady ways.
Nodding roses, apples red,
Clover like a carpet spread.”

Hubby and I have both an apple and a pear tree in our backyard. Their fruits have already started to fall onto the ground before they ripened. Even our small tomatoes fall to the ground. Our yard workers were able to tackle the forsythia bushes last week and the yard looks so much neater without their tall branches.

On Wed., Aug. 7, quite a few of us seniors were sitting on the steps of St. Brendan Church waiting for the bus to take us in town to the Wednesday Evening Concert on City Hall Plaza. We were there so long that some of our neighbors spotted us. The traffic was terrible that evening because of some horrific traffic tie-ups earlier in the afternoon. The bus driver even got lost. In spite of being late, we were one of the first buses of seniors to make it to City Hall Plaza. This evening looked to be a terrific one, with Michael Dutra singing just like Sinatra.

We were welcomed by Dorchester’s own Ron Della Chiesa, who was the master of ceremonies for the evening. He introduced Emily Shea, who is the City’s Elderly Affairs commissioner. Toni Pollak, the Parks Department commissioner, then announced that Mayor Menino would be attending the concert. We looked toward Congress Street and saw the mayor and his lovely wife Angela walking up the brick pathway to the stage. When he was introduced, there was a long and loud round of applause for him. Ron then presented the mayor with a wonderful photo of his good friend Tony Bennett. (I wish I had been sitting closer so I could have seen it.) Each person attending the concert was given a ticket for the raffle. One was for a basket of different kinds of coffee, given by New England Coffee, one of the sponsors of the concert. Other prizes were tickets to rides on the Swan Boats.

Then Ron began introducing the music for the evening, played by the Strictly Sinatra Orchestra. The orchestra began with “In the Mood.” Ron then mentioned that he has a five-hour radio show each Sunday evening on WPLM, (“Easy 99.1 FM”). He introduced the performer for the evening, Michael Dutra, who sounds so much like Sinatra. Michael began with “Come Fly With Me,” a well-known Sinatra hit, followed by “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” and “Nice and Easy.” He then went into “Summer Wind,” “All Or Nothing at All,” and “The Best Is Yet to Come.”

Ron proceeded to introduce a song that became very important in 1969, “Fly Me to the Moon,” because the astronauts landed on the moon that year. Michael sang that one beautifully. He then sang “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “In the Still of the Night.” Michael then sang his theme song, “Luck be a Lady.”
Ron returned to the microphone and said that US Sen. Ed Markey, Suffolk District Attorney and candidate for mayor Dan Conley, City Councillor and candidate for mayor Ayanna Presley, and City Council candidate Marty Keough were in the audience that evening. He praised the music of Sinatra and mentioned that Frank had passed away on May 14, 1998. Michael and Sinatra, by the way, share the same birthday, Dec. 12. Michael told us that he grew up in Seekonk, Mass., and then he said “Go, Red Sox,” which led into “Sweet Caroline,” which had everyone on the plaza singing and moving their arms to the music. Michael then proceeded to sing a few more Sinatra hits: “That’s Life,” “Maybe This Time,” and “Mack, the Knife.”

Ron then returned to the microphone and introduced his agent, Paul Schlosberg, of Everett. I have spoken with Paul several times and enjoyed him very much. The calls were at the time of Ron’s 75th birthday celebration last February. Ron then asked Michael to sing his last songs of the evening. (He had sung for almost two full hours.) Michael then sang “My Way,” which everyone sang along with him. Finally, he led us all in the national anthem. There were several additional songs from Michael as we were walking toward the bus. It was a wonderful evening. We thoroughly enjoyed his voice because he sounds so much like Sinatra. We were even moving our shoulders as we sat on the bus, singing Sinatra’s hits in our heads.

I was saddened by the death of my long-time friend Barbara (Rocci) Tankle on Aug. 8. Many years ago, Barbara and I formed a strong bond because we were born almost on the same date in the same year. I was born on Sept. 18 and Barbara on Sept. 21. We were never famous but the gal who was born between us, on Sept. 20, certainly was, and is: Sophia Loren! Barbara and I kidded each other that God saved everything good for her. I used to see Barbara at various civic meetings when she worked for the City of Boston. She and her husband Ben made the flowers for our daughter Jeanne’s wedding. I can remember them coming into our home with their beautiful flowers the morning of the wedding. They made daughter Sue, the maid of honor, an artificial wreath for her hair. It looked very much like the bridesmaids’ wreaths because Sue is allergic to most fresh flowers. My cousin Carolyn also worked in Ben’s flower shop, the Neponset Florist. I saw Ben and Barbara very recently at Dr. Boinay’s office and I kidded Barbara then about Sophia. I was amazed to read that she and Ben were married 60 years. Our entire family sends our sympathy to Ben and to their children: Lynda Atkinson and husband Stanley, Steve and his wife Carla, Bruce, Larry, Michael and wife Maria, Roukie Rocci, and the late Alan Rocci. Barbara was so proud that she was one of the founders of the Neponset Health Center.

The other evening I walked out into the kitchen and heard Dan Rea on his “Nightside” program speaking with one of his callers who was asking about Jordan Rich, who is on WBZ on Saturday evening. From what I heard, it seems that Jordan is on a temporary leave of absence from the station because his wife Wendy is now in hospice care. Years ago, I met Jordan when I was invited to St. Brendan School by Sister Bridget Haas from the Boston Home. I found out later that Wendy was having surgery that day. How Jordan stayed focused on taping the school children’s voices while he was waiting for a phone call from the hospital when Wendy had her first surgery, I’ll never know. We noticed that Deb Lawler was doing some of Jordan’s segments over this past weekend. We send our prayers to Wendy and to Jordan. I think I heard Dan say that their son is beginning college right now. We send our prayers to the Jordan children, also.

On Sunday evening, I received a call from my friend Joan, from church. She spent Sunday afternoon at the Kennedy Library at a forum where the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs (Aug. 28, 1963) was to be discussed. Joan had been part of the march on that day. When she arrived at the library, she discovered that those who had been in Washington for the event were invited to sit in a roped-off area of the library. Later in the afternoon, the marchers were asked to stand to be recognized.

Joan told me that she remembers boarding a bus about midnight in Boston and eating breakfast at a church in the Washington area the following morning. She doesn’t remember anything after that except for the march and the speakers (that was the day that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I have a dream” speech). Joan said that she was delighted to relive that day at the library. She remarked on how nice the Kennedy staff was to all the people attending this 50th anniversary commemoration.

Last Sunday, Hubby and I joined daughter Sue at niece Terri’s apartment in Attleboro. About two weeks ago, Sue had driven out to Colorado with Terri, some of her belongings, and her two cats. Terri was moving into a mom-in-law apartment at her son Jeffrey’s new home to help care for Jeff and Sammi’s three kids. The rest of Terri’s belongings, which had been packed by movers for the trek across the country, finally arrived last week. There were some things that did not make it into the initial shipment and the movers had to come back to pack them, so Sue went out last Friday to open the apartment for the movers. There were some things that Terri didn’t want to take, like her wooden microwave hutch. A very nice man had moved across from her within the past month so she offered some of the furniture to him. Hubby helped him roll the hutch across to his apartment. There are some things still at the apartment, like Christmas decorations, so Hubby will take those things to “Morgie” some day this week. Terri’s apartment was very nice and we had some wonderful parties and dinners there. We are sorry to lose Terri to Colorado, but her grandchildren need her.

Here is a wise thought from St. Francis de Sales: “Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”