“She’s the king of rock, there is none higher!
“Sucker MCs should call her sire!
“To burn her kingdom, you must use fire!
“She won’t stop rockin’ till she retires!”
Well, the time has come, Judy Brandano Sullivan aka the Queen B (I just made that nickname up) has called it a career after decades of dedicating her life to the good and welfare of Malden High School and the many, many generations of children who have walked through those hallowed front doors.
Judy married well, that is fact – both her and her adoring hubby Mike calling Edgeworth home for an eternity. In case ya didn’t know…Judy and her family go way back in Malden’s history and were vital contributors to Malden’s success over the years. That ain’t no bull! For newbies to Malden: Judy’s family literally built this city (not on rock n roll but hard work – Jefferson Starship lyric name drop). “Jumbo Brandano” was a legendary character from the early part of last century who, along with many other hard-working Italian immigrants, built the Malden infrastructure that we utilize today while laboring for the D.P.W. As a kid growing up in Edgeworth, I would hear Jumbo Brandano stories from old-timers in the neighborhood. By adulthood – in my mind’s eye – Jumbo had turned into “Big Bad John” – “six-foot-six and weighed two-forty-five, kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip.” For real! Much like the Spadaforas, Gennettis, Cagnos, Damianos, Maffeos, Pisaturos, Molinaris, Malatestas, Fermanos, Puleos and Angelos – the Brandanos and Malden’s good fortune have gone hand in hand. Families that made Malden their home; families that flourished and gave back to the city they loved, selflessly dedicating their lives for the betterment of the community in so many ways, all the way down to Judy (not Spadafora) Brandano Sullivan.
With that said, I asked former M.H.S. Principal Dana Brown to say a word or two about “Jude.” Jude worked in the office during the glory days that were the Dana Brown era. (Dana is so much more than “former M.H.S. Principal” – in many ways he was the backbone for many generations of Maldonians – I will continue my D.B. lovefest at a later date.) Take it away, Mr. Brown:
“It is an honor and pleasure to give you some thoughts about our friend Judy ‘Brandano’ Sullivan. We worked together for many years, and truth be told, for many of those years, it didn’t seem like a job because of Jude. We laughed a lot, and there were even some watery eyes along the way. We shared our family stories, and even some of the family secrets. It was an honor to have her at the desk right outside my office for many years.
“There is nothing, and I mean nothing more important to Judie than her family and she loved to talk about them in such great ways that we all felt we were part of that family. The holidays, the vacations in York, the grandkids…Judie was really at her best talking about the family stuff.
“Then there was her second family, the students, and staff at M.H.S. When I first worked for Judy at the high school… I mean when Judy and I worked together at M.H.S. she was working in the ‘Boyle House’ for Fred Feldman. The Boyle House students and teachers were hers! She protected them like a mother bear protects her cubs.
“When I convinced Judy to come downstairs after Mr. Feldman retired, her life, and mine, changed. Now she was responsible for the entire school, students, and staff! Our school really started to take off with her in the office. Adding the wonderful Mrs. Barbara ‘Babs’ Scibelli later added to the ‘Dream Team’ feel.
“Judy was the perfect fit; there were no ‘bad kids’ at M.H.S., just an occasional ‘fresh one’ who needed a snack, a stern talking to, or a friendly face. With staff, she was the ultimate resource. She seemingly knew where everything was, who had it, who took it, or where we could order one. Judy was all things to all students and staff; and she did it with a great, and underrated sense of humor!”
“Jude is one of the most trusted, loyal people I have ever worked with. There are so many things she’ll be remembered for, but I wonder if people knew how much time and effort she put in over and above her contracted hours. Her generosity was unmatched; kids didn’t go without all year but particularly during the holidays; yes, even the fresh ones. And year after year, M.H.S. conducts a flawless graduation because of her dedication and efforts.
“There are so many more things I could tell you…she was the right person at the right time for the Main Office of M.H.S. and in her official role as ‘Secretary to the High School Principal’; she will be missed!”
It is said in “Malden Musings”…
- One of the best terrestrial radio stations in the Boston area? WMEX out of Quincy, 1510 AM! Small example, on a pleasant mid-April afternoon: “Sherry”/The Four Seasons, “Ode to Billy Joe”/Jackie DeShannon, “Teach Your Children”/CSN&Y, “Imagine”/John Lennon, “Stairway to Heaven”/Led Zeppelin. Outta sight, man!
- My son-in-law Joe (Falzarano) took birthday boy Christian to Boda Borg for part of his week-long birthday celebration. First visit for both. They had a blast! Could not have been happier with their B.B. experience. They will be back along with many of Christian’s little friends. Boda Borg – thank you for calling Malden home!
- My first installment of ‘SeeClickFix Comic Ad-Libs” – April 12/Dead Animal 15-89 Canal Street/”dead rabbi on grass by La Marca Bakery.” Oh vey!
- Wonderful Albert Spadafora sighting recently! “Papa” was seen with his adorable grandson, future hoop star, five-year-old Giovanni, out and about getting some errands done. Albert looks great. His secret to his still boyish good looks? He married really well. Her name: “Saint Franny”!
As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character Columbo would say, “Just one more thing, sir” – My father, Solomon Levine, grew up hard on the streets of the old West End of Boston. A self-taught O.G., pops was born with what many today call street smarts. He may have actually written the book on street smarts. Employing these same street smarts when his five children came of age, his wisdom was a yardstick that each of us have successfully employed to this very day. Thank you, pops, for the courage of foresight and hindsight.
With that said, my dad wore his Star of David proudly right up until that day two years ago when he passed (Hopefully, his long-awaited and very much anticipated reunion with his father, Herschel, was realized.) A voracious reader, he had a saying after scanning the obituaries; noticing the passing of yet another “landsman,” he’d say to nobody in particular, “We lost another friend today.”
With that said, Zalick, we lost another friend today; rest in peace ‘Ben Ferencze, 103, Nuremberg prosecutor and “lawyer for humanity.”
Postscript 1: The elderly couple were bundled up for the early morning chill. They held hands tightly as they walked, embracing as if they were starry-eyed teenagers – releasing each other only to pull out a set of field glasses – a quick glance at yet another of the many varieties of birds that call Forestdale Cemetery home. They continued walking, hands clasped firmly as they slowly disappeared into the distance. An inspiration to behold.
Postscript 2: “A Hundred Years from Today” – Frank (Sinatra) popularized it – a fitting tribute to this happy, loving couple: “The moon is shining, and that’s a good sign. Cling to me closer and say you’ll be mine, Remember, darling, we won’t see it shine, a hundred years from today.”
Postscript 3: In an era where mediocrity is celebrated, empty suits and suit pants are elected and the average are rewarded and given acclaim, then there’s Judy Sullivan – the real deal – an influencer before such a dreadful word started to haunt us, before we started handing out the aforementioned acclaim like participation trophies. Then there’s Judy Sullivan, who in her role at M.H.S. touched the hearts and souls of generation after generation of children and staff alike. Not just by showing up but by putting the hard work in. Day after day. Year after year. There will be no Judy Sullivan walking through the doors at 77 Salem St. anytime soon. We are much poorer as a city for that. On your retirement, Judy, I’d like to speak for Malden just once and express a collective “Thank You and Mazel Tov.” Malden will keep you forever, Judy; from our hearts to yours, Jude, thank you for making a difference, both big and small.
—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.