Posting of 07 25 18: Softball to Bocce
Last time I spoke of an era coming to an end. Our softball days were over.
The tarp has been laid across the infield securing the many, many, memories of games past and the athletic and not so athletic feats accomplished on the field.
Like the time Gus P. was chasing a fly ball and felt his legs going out. In an attempt to break his fall he extended his arms and somehow the ball wound up in his glove for one of the greatest catches of all time. Or the time, yours truly, hit a tape measure shot that a marathon runner could have started and ended his race before the ball came down…..and I desperately made it to 3RD base where I required medical assistance. Or the time we came within one out of a double play!!
Now, the bats have been silenced, the leather gloves have been oiled and religiously taped to be stored away for future generations. and sadly, the roar of the crowd ( our wives and kids, who were forced to watch) are no longer echoing, our field …. Softball has come to an end., but we did go out in style.
Now, a new day has dawned, and we must find a new way to fill the gap, and get our competitive juices flowing again. We started a walking club…didn’t help….didn’t last. What could we do for excitement and be able to take out our aggressions on each other in a nice way, of course.
How about competitive “GIMP”….you know, where you fold over and under four strands of GIMP, in a geometric pattern and ultimately create a keychain or even a wallet….NO WAY!
How about TOPS….this is where you wind your top with your secret tension on the string and fire it at your opponent’s top in an attempt to strike it with a deadly blow ( A CHA-BE-BEE )…rendering his top DEAD. And you the
“CHABEBEE KING” also NO WAY
Then, there it was all along right under our noses. The pastime of all pastimes, the one game, we were bred for. The ultimate game for over the hill athletes.
That’s right, Bocce. The game that will separate, the good from the bad, and the best from the worst. So with everyone on the same page, we selected six teams, constructed elaborate scoring devices (thanks to Sammy V.) and went out to purchase Friends of the North End official league shirts (thanks to Tony G) which proudly displayed our logo.
We’ve been at it for eight years now and it keeps getting better. You see, you can play at your best without worrying about heating pads or ice packs after the games are over. Yes, the games are less physical and more mental.
You can be very opinionated about the opposing team or your own team for that matter. So, once you learn all the nuances and tolerate the minutia, you will have found the perfect game.
We celebrate each end of season with a banquet where the winning team is recognized. A good meal and a good time is had by all.
We even had a Father & Son tournament one year, and we were also featured on Channel 806 FOX Zip trip, which airs on Friday morning, in the summer ( more on these events at a later posting ). Like I said it just keeps getting better. So with all this said….here is my tribute to Bocce.
The Art of Peaceful War
Softball was our way to acquire territorial bragging rights, sort of King of the Hill
which we did with instinctive play avoiding at all cost taking a spill.
The competition remained strong as the years rolled by at an mazing rate
and our bodies would tell us, quit, the end was near, let’s not tempt faith
We realized our bat swings have slowed as did negotiating the bases
so it was decided to pack it in, give it up, before we all wind up in braces
Yes a sad day was indeed upon us, our manhood could not take the pain
give up our way of settling the score or walk forever with the aid of a cane
Alas, a new day was upon us which brought us a new way to compete
yes, again you can claim victory and scorn the souls of whom you defeat
The boys all seemed excited and lined up to answer the call
to engage in a new way of sport, this one is called “Bocce Ball “
To play the game of Bocce really requires no long winded resume
just be on time Sunday morning, drink your coffee and be sure your dues are paid
You don’t have to have a fast ball or being built mean and lean is not required
for most, if not all of our players, are semi or fully retired
The sun rose out of the east on our first Sunday of play,
and you could just sense we would make history by the end of the day
We picked six teams each consisting of four vintage warriors raring to go
yes, to dehumanize, humiliate, verbally debase, and criticize their new found foe
So now the time has come to face your enemy and deal with your fears
will you play well enough to be praised by your opponents who are your peers
Well let’s give it try and see what happens releasing the ball as you take aim
If you’re furthest from the pallino, and you lose points be prepared to take the blame
As the games progress, and the scores go back and forth, fun is surely at hand
this is when you decide being with your friends, nothing could be more grand
In between the shooting and measuring is the why we are really here
To talk, about our live together which we hold so dear
I know we all look forward to our Sunday morning fray
may we all stay strong and healthy to play yet another day
So as we leave the battlefield we realize we are all winners and men of pride
through all these years we’ve endured and enjoyed each other while standing side by side.
© Ronald P. Fuccillo 2016
As you well know while growing up in the North End, everyone “hung out on the corner.” Our corner ran from the St. Anthony’s school yard on North Bennet St.up to Carlo’s pool room on Hanover st.
Now, when I say corner, it’s where we met after school or dinner to socialize, talk of current events, plan future events, horse around or play stick ball, or a game we called “errors.”( more on errors, at a future date).
It had nothing to do with protecting “our turf or our gang.” We certainly were not to be confused with the Sharks or the Jets.
However, with that said, it brings to mind the fierce competitive nature each corner had. So when the NEAA,(NORTH END ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION) was founded, it provided all the corners the opportunity to compete and compete we did indeed! The NEAA is now in its 58th year of serving our beloved community and its many youngsters with a variety of worthwhile activities.
Several years after the NEAA was established a fraternal organization made up of present and former North Enders was formed. It was duly named the Friends Of The North End (FONE). This organization started on our corner and gradually grew to encompass all the other “corners” in the North End. FONE will be celebrating its 46th annual reunion on September 15, 2018.
Now the stage was set. Like I said earlier, North Enders all have an unmatched competitive nature. Consequently, in a very natural way,a rivalry formed between the adult members of the NEAA and FONE. Bragging rights were always at stake even after 50 years.
So, an annual softball game between the NEAA and FONE was planned at the battle field known as The North End Park. The same park where we as young men and women settled our differences in a “friendly” game of baseball, softball, basketball or football.
The two organizations carried on their annual softball games for many years till our ages collided with sound reasoning and it occurred to us that this game was definitely for younger warriors. So, a plan was conceived for both groups to have a swan song and go out big time and big it was…
A weekend was planned at the home of Major League Baseball in
Cooperstown, NY. We all enjoyed a great time together. We visited The Hall. We dined together and reminisced about a cherished boyhood before ending the weekend with THE GAME on Doubleday Field which would give the winning team THE BRAGGING RIGHTS ad infinitum!
Yes, we realize, at this point, the dynamics of the game are passing us by.
The mind may be willing, but the body...
So the stage is set. It will be our last highly competitive game, our swan song. Both teams are determined to go out as winners.
Truth of the matter is from these ashes the phoenix will rise again.... stay tuned.
Meanwhile, the following is my tribute to this solemn event.
“Whos’ on First”
bus left at nine on this bright september morn,
destined for Cooperstown where a new star was to be born.
The ride from beginning to end, was dull and extremely, boring,
we were forced to watch video of past games, where they NEAA, did all the scoring.
We checked into separate hotels and donned our uniform
then stood at attention posing for pictures taking by Dom. (Editor: Not our Web Meister)
Now we entered onto this fabled field readied for battle
When the grounds keeper yelled at us as if we were cattle.
The game was upon us as we took to the field.
prepared to bend, but not to yield.
The first inning ended, and we are having fun
but the score board read us FONE, zero, and them one.
The game was moving at a very brisk pace,
and though we were hitting, we could not cross home base.
The time was now to make our move,
inning six, was magic as we hit our grove.
We scored runs one, two, three and four,
now let us just hope we can close the door.
The top of the seventh and the game on the line
it was now or never to savor “their whiny, whines”.
To their credit they gave it their all,
running with desire when they hit the ball.
Could it be destiny, was the giant about to be gone,
yes, the time has come, to pass the baton.
AAH !! tried, as they did, they came up lame.
and now it was time to crown new Champs, at the HALL OF FAME.
So here is to you, EVIL EMPIRE-NEAA, have some patiences
We are here, and here to stay, the F.O.N.E. NATION.
September 21, 2010 5:40 PM
© Ronald P. Fuccillo 2010
I’d like to introduce myself, to your readers My name is Ron Fuccillo, and I am a former Northender. Excuse me, a former resident of the North End, a Northender, forever. Actually, I am a proud member of the FONE (Friends of the North End ).
I have been reading and enjoying , your blog, and would like to share some of my stories,
with you, and your followers.
My interest in poems or story telling, is to express my feelings towards holidays or special occasions, or even current day to day events, that would intrigue me.
I like to capture my minds picture, and relate it in a quick story or poem, to share with the world, in hope, that it brings some joy o happiness to whomever reads it. Over the years, I’ve covered a lot of topics, but for now, I would like to share my North End stories.
Enclosed, are three poems, about the North End. Two ae comical, and one serious, These three poems were introduced, at our annual FONE banquets, both in Florida and here at home. I do hope you enjoy.
My end of the North End
Last year, and the year before, I listened to people speak on growing up in “their section” of the
North End. It was nice to reminisce, as they spoke with pride, of their neighborhoods. So now as
I Speak of landmarks, some are still there and some are gone,
But they will always remain in our hearts and minds, where they belong.
Lets take a walk down memory lane
Starting with the churches, were we practice our religions
or the roof tops and fire escapes, were we house our pet pigeons
Italian coffee shops for your fix of Latte, or cappuccino,or espresso black as ink
or drug stores, for medicine, or their famous Tamarindo drink.
Variety stores to pick up your smoking treats
and pastries stores to delight in their sweets
A couple of banks, for our financial needs
and a jewelry shop, for our baubles and beads
We had a music shop for your listening pleasures
and a fine furniture store, with your decorating treasures
back to the music store, where you could buy ammunition
and if you shot someone, DEAD, we even had a mortician.
We had a Veterans club, where your allegiance you’d pledge
or a bowling alley, for fun, and to take of the edge.
Restaurants abound, where ever you looked,
or grocery shops, were your mother shopped, when she cooked.
A department store stood proud and sold everything, but golf carts
I believe this was the beginning of nationwide Walmart.
We even had florists and a post office too
and a machine to x-ray your feet, before you put on a shoe.
Now as I come to the end, let me say
Our end of Hanover is really a gateway.
It opens us up to a fruit and vegetable mecca, such a treat
this area, with its push carts, is known simple as Cross street.
Where you heard the cries of pizza, cawidi cawada,
and shoppanin bag, tena cents.
Now if that’s not enough it leads to Filenes and Jordans, Wow, what a pair.
and the p’est d resistance the world renown Scollay Square
© Ronald P. Fuccillo 2014
Our North End & Now & Then
We boost about our upbringing, in a close knit neighborhood,
praising our surroundings, and how we had it so good.
Now to explain how good we had it, read on, and you will understand,
how our Italian heritage, made this land, Oh… so very grand.
We lived on the cusp, the cutting edge of evolution,
when a problem, would arise, we met it head on, with a solution.
yes , a resourceful people, are we, to continually, forge ahead,
while making, lives better, as we built our new homestead.
I would like to compare, our early days, to our way of life now,
to illustrate, our man made conveniences, and showoff our Italian, know how.
When you reach the end of this verbal demonstration, you can then decide,
how, we stayed ahead of the curve, and why we lived and live, with such pride.
In todays, world, you push a button, and ’’siri” or ” google” are at your service,
when way back when, you attempted change, which made everyone nervous.
So here we are, let us compare yesterday to today, as we reminisce,
and you will see, how resourceful we were, yes men and woman of true grit.
NOW most conviences of man today, are activated, via off/on switches, or voice response,
THEN we, answered the call, to satisfy our needs, yes, like true pioneering… men of the Renaissance.
So, here to follow, is just a short list of how it is today (now), and how it was yesterday(then) :
(now), to refresh a room, you plug in a perfumed receptacle, into the wall, no lie……that’s for real,
(then), my mother, cut up and orange, lemon or lime, and atop the stove, she put the peel.
(now), you swim in your backyard pool, surrounded, with a sculptured landscape
(then), you sat by two tomato plants, and basinicola, while sunning on your fire escape.
(now), from the washer to the dryer, off and on , PRESTO, your out the door in your clean Calvin Klien.
(then), from the washer to ringer, you passed twice, then to dry, out the window & on the clothe line.
(now), the wall plug & switches, are every four feet, with dimmers, GFI, and circuit breakers for lamps.
(then), one plug in each room, with 6 ports, to accommodate all your needs, with one fuse of 15 amps.
(now), to communicate, news, via the internet, with the world, we use windows…. version ten.
(then), to keep abreast of the news, we opened the windows in the kitchen, living room or the den.
(now), we use the plastic credit, to satisfies our spending needs, from day to day.
(then), we used IOU credit, at all local merchants, which we satisfied, weekly, when dad got his pay.
(now), to heat our home, at the desired temperature, we simply set the thermostat.
(then), you cozied up to the kitchen stove, and if cold enough, donned your gloves and hat.
(now), conversely, to keep cool, in your home, its all done with controls, and the wave of your hand.
(then), when the temp was up, you sat by dad, for he was the one sitting in front of the fan.
I could go on, well maybe next year, and continue this NOW & THEN, for you see, this list is endless
but, I don’t want to wear out my welcome, it looks like you may be becoming restless.
So my last comparison, is the telephone, probably, the one item that is most versatile.
this device, alone, has completely changed, mans, womans, boys and girls…..total lifestyle.
(now), we use the phone, be it land or cell, to take pictures, send texts, why even start our cars.
To check on the weather, local or international news, or the latest trash on movie stars.
Why we even watch sporting events, or listen to a comics routine, or our favorite tunes.
We are so up to date, with how the stars align in the sky, and what phase is the moon.
We can group talk, and text, we can filter calls and not answer, if we so desire.
We can shop, track, & even pay for any product, from pots & pans, to shoes, why even car tires.
we are amazed, and confused, as to the many, many apps available, to us, the older generation
but, thanks, to our brilliant grandchildren, uploading, or is it downloading, whatever, it is,
they eliminate, the frustration.
Here are just a few :
Email, Gmail, Tweeter, Tweet, Facebook, Facetime, Smartphone, Blog, Skype, Yammer, Chatter,
Hip Chat, Basecamp, Backpack, Campfire, Send Hub, Instagram, Snap chat, Yahoo, Streaming,
Oh …… of course, and most important of all……
YES….…We can make a phone call.
(then), other than using the phone as a paper weigh, or watching superman change, in the phone booth, Down the hall……… and
YES……of course, We could also, make a call.
One last point, I’d like to make….
NOW you can talk, together, to other parties, at the same time.
THEN You, could only talk, if no other parties were on the line.
In closing, I’m proud to say, how resourceful, were we, in facing our problems head on.
and solving them, with our brains and with our brawn.
For you see…
The North End spirit lives in us, as we proudly share, our life triumphs, and stories
May we always bask, in its eternal and great glories.
RON FUCCILLO ©
OUR NORTH END
I’m so proud to be here, with lifelong friends, celebrating, FONE North & South.
Now, let me share with you my feelings, of what I think, it is all about.
I say, that it is the time for us to brag out loud, so let us all toot our horn
As we talk about, our home town, the place where we were born.
The North End of Boston borders is shaped, geographically
but its true character and charm is defined, demographically.
Yes Boston’s North End has a long history of housing immigrants
While each group left their mark, doing due diligence.
From the English, to the Jewish to the Irish they settled
where, street to street, from their wagons, their wares they would peddle.
A new colony, in a new world, was breathing new life
working hard to succeed and conquer their strife.
Time marched on, as one century, then two had gone by,
here come the Paesanos, the new tenants, who will, this area, occupy.
A whole new dynamic, to the North End, was about to unfold
when this new wave of Italians moved in, proud and bold.
The streets, had a glow, as store fronts, started to appear
maintaining their traditions, they held so dear.
The aromas, of home cooking, wafted through the air.
Smells that stay with us, as if we were still there.
Now the Italians, who were the new kids on the block
learned, quickly, this was a great country, but it’s not going to be a cake walk.
So they rolled up their sleeves, and ventured out of their safe haven
to join, work, and fit in with the Americanas, YES, they were brazen.
Into this small and powerful hamlet, our ancestors from Italy, they came
To start a new life, for themselves, yes that was their solemn claim
They each had a story, to leave their homeland, full of hope and desire
making a new home, in this new land, set their hearts on fire.
Just think, for a moment how brave, were these souls
To pick up and go….know not where, amazing, how bold.
Most of us here today, are the proud grandchildren, Our founders, descendants
so let’s always, revere them, as we gather each year, in attendance.
Life was not easy, it was a struggle our parents & grandparents endured
while their only desire, was their family’s futures, would be ensured.
Fighting the language barrier, and undo prejudice, they worked, long days and nights,
keeping the fires of their dreams, burning, as their guiding light.
It was a struggle, for most, but quitters, our clan was not,
so on and on, day by day, and side by side, our ancestors fought.
Till one sunny day, when all their hardships, they would transcend
as a new landmark, was born, and proudly proclaimed, Boston Italian North End.
Now, here we are, all descendants of this small, but fabled land,
with pride, knowing our families, all leant a hand.
While side by side, with others, their knowledge, traditions and dreams, they shared,
yes we are defined, as loving people, for whom each other, we truly care.
My story, is now coming to an end, at least for this year
so, we all can talk about our days as Northenders, which we hold so dear.
Let me close, by saying, long live the FONE, back home, here, and everywhere
for as the world has learned, we are a loving people, who truly, truly, care.
© Ronald P. Fuccillo 2015