It’s Bob Rotondi’s world, we just live in it. Let’s take a few moments out of our busy lives to take a stroll down Malden Memory Lane. It’s a glorious trip, a trip that is remembered fondly by those who took the original one but a trip that could be of equal joy to those amongst us that have recently chosen Malden as their home. The memory bank overflows – the past vivid – with each Maldonian capturing in their mind’s eye their own unique journey from their own unique corner of the world. God’s country: Malden, Mass. With each passing day we lose yet another voice of those whose (oral) histories need to be remembered. There are “8 million stories in the Naked City” with Richie Cremone, Dee Carter, Phil Longo, Neal Spadafora, Pete Trabucco, Jim Conway, Bill Mini, Hank Pitts, Brendan Duffy taking about 200 million stories with them when they left us.
With that said, I ain’t saying Bob Rotondi is ready to meet his maker – Bob is in it for the long haul (tough like one of those well-made Rawlings baseball gloves!). I’m just saying as a community we need to hear more from him – and more from men of a certain age – just like Bob (insert smiley face). I bring to you a wonderful communication from Bob. Bob is a loyal reader of this column, and I am always gobsmacked when I hear from him, whether it is to enlighten me (again) or to just let me know that I got it flat out wrong (again). He’s there for me. For that, I thank you, Sir. Let’s have at it:
“Pete, when Neal Anderson retired from the City Council, you wrote of the many years of public service he had accumulated. Many, many, years indeed. Truly one of Malden’s legends. An articulate, affable, giant of a man. To this day Malden’s first choice to emcee an event. But hark! I’m challenging the Honorable One in years of service. Right here, right now. Going back to the Jurassic Period (1969), Mayor [Walter] Kelliher appointed me to the Recreation Commission then I was re-appointed by Mayor [Jim] Conway. Mayor [Tom] Fallon followed. Then Conway again. Mayor [Ed] Lucey then re-appointed me followed by – the mayor with the sharpest elbows at the old YMCA – Richie ‘Ace’ Howard. In 1997, Mayor Howard appointed me to the Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors. Our current Mayor, Gary (“The Beast That Ate Pleasant Street” slayer) Christenson has re-appointed me ever since (now called the Redevelopment and Strategic Planning Board). These appointments, I must point out, were consecutive – 54 years. Chairman of the Recreation Board in 1969, my first year, was Clem Stefanilo. His son, ‘Red,’ worked for Malden’s DPW for many years. His grandson, Red’s son, played hockey for me on the old Malden Maroons. In 1969 Clem did double duty, as i believe he was in charge of the local draft board also. He served with many of Malden’s greatest residents over the years on both Recreation and Redevelopment Boards. So, so many. They all took great pride in the various projects that were completed over the years they served. As many did in those days. Sometimes it took years to get things done. But it got done. I wanted a giant clock in the Square. It took forever. When the Lincoln School was demolished to make way for park land, the plans continued to read Lincoln ‘PARK’. I kept on the board to call it Lincoln COMMON. It took maybe a year, but it stuck, and is now called, ‘Commons.’ I have cherished serving my hometown all these years. Sure, it’s changed. That’s to be expected. Over 50 years has allowed me to see several changes. I encourage more of Malden’s ‘tenants’ to become involved. Peter, your words get better with age. Just think how clever you’ll be when you hit 39………..”
It is said in “Malden Musings”…
- On June 4 (of 2022) there was a rededication ceremony at the corner of Ferry and Salem Streets held by Malden High School Class of 1988. The Class of ’88 unveiled a bronze plaque honoring the legacy of Assistant Principal John Benotti. The Class of ’88 was the first graduating class under Johnny B as Assistant Principal, who served alongside (my sister-in-law) Marguerite Gonsalves as Class Advisor. This duo served to shape the future of 414 class members “in a way the students continue to pay forward, 34 years after passing through the doors as graduates of the high school.” Congratulations to John and Marguerite. Well played, Class of ’88.
- Wasn’t that an outstanding piece of writing from Dave O’Brien bringing his mother Betty back to life in 1,300 words. You always amaze me, O’B.
- WMEX 1510 on the AM dial. Have you listened yet? What are you waiting for?! If you like “the greatest hits of all time,” you will love this station. Trust me on this one.
- I have been really good, haven’t mentioned Preacher Jack in at least six months. Insert smiley face. In 1981 Preacher Jack was touring solo on his second Rounder release, “3,000 Barrooms Later.” He’s doing a bunch of solo one-night stands in Toronto (Canada) accompanied by his (then) manager and (forever) spiritual adviser, his future wife, Jessie Filtrante. He’s sharing a stage with Ry Cooder for part of the tour. Cooder played at various times in his long and successful career with The Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart and bluegrass superstar Bill Munroe. Also, on that long ago tour traveling the same long, lonely byways and highways, but just the night before Jack’s gigs, was a young John Prine. Jack and Jessie would have coffee, smokes and “holy herb” with John when their paths would cross on their travails. An 11-minute video recently popped up on YouTube of a fresh-faced couple, Preacher Jack and Jessie, being interviewed on February 16, 1981, by “New Music Toronto TV.” The interviewer escorts Jack and Jessie into a coffee shop and asks a question or two before Jack goes into a familiar Preacher Jack filibuster. Classic Jasper Jack and the exasperated look on Jessie’s face, priceless!
- Happy birthday, Preacher Jack! Believe it or not Jasper Jack would have turned 81 on Abe Lincoln’s date of birth.
As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character Columbo would say, “Just one more thing, sir” – Damn! That went quick! It’s been almost nine years (October of 2014) since Maura Healey introduced herself to Maldonians. She visited Malden. I was invited along that morning. Here (somewhat encapsulated) is what I wrote back in ’14: “Ms. Healy spent some quality time in Malden with the Mayor and his staff on October 15th. I tagged along with a guy with some mad deep Malden roots, political consultant with serious chops, Michael Goldman. Political junkies and Maldonians of a certain age will recognize the name Michael Goldman but mostly he flies under the radar. Former Governor Deval Patrick, (the late, great) Teddy Kennedy, former Boston Mayor (current U.S. Secretary of Labor) Marty Walsh, and former Governor Mike Dukakis – you name a Democratic political goo goo muck in Massachusetts in the past 35 or so years and Mike has had a hand in their success. For somebody who has moved in the circles that Mike has moved in there is not a more down to earth person walking planet earth. Heck, even resident contrarian, and the scourge of all Massachusetts ‘moon bats’ the Heralds’ Howie Carr likes Mike! But I digress… Maura met with Mayor Christenson, Kathleen Manning-Hall, Maria Luise, Kevin Duffy, (then) Ward 2 Councilor Steve Ultrino, and State Senator Jason Lewis in the war room at City Hall and was briefed on all the good things happening in our fair city at that time in history. We took a walk down Pleasant Street and stopped at a couple of anchors of the Square in those days. First stop was “Oppa’s Kitchen & Bar” where we were greeted by the big boss, Tony. Next up was Mystic Station. I finally got to meet the new owner in person, Bryan Palazzola. Craft Beer heaven with surprise employee, straight outta Edgeworth, Karen Picardi behind the stick. After, we stood outside, took a few pictures, and wished Maura good luck. I found Maura to be down to earth with a firm handshake, looking directly into your eyes (and not over your shoulder).” Goes a long way with me when meeting a politician who wants my vote.
Postscript 1: Congratulations to you, Ms. Healey – Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts!
Postscript 2: Bob, I am sure I speak for many, my/our sincerest condolences on the loss of your sister Diane.
—Peter is a longtime Malden resident and a regular contributor to The Malden Advocate. He can be reached at PeteL39@aol.com for comments, compliments or criticisms.