By Peter Levine
MHS Hall of Fame athlete Jenelle DeVits and her adorable daughter, Penelope, took a break while preparing the grease pole.
When Penelope’s mom and San Rocco Grease Pole co-organizer Jenelle DeVits speaks, I listen: “As an Edgeworth kid, I remember walking down to Pearl St. as fast as I could to get a good spot for the grease pole every year. Even as teenager, my friends and I would pull up to the fence early, and then start cheering the climbers on like it was the playoffs, game 7. It was a yearly ritual for as long as I can remember. I’ve watched some amazing Maldonians come together as a team to get the salami and cheese atop the grease pole. The last few years, I’ve witnessed the hard work and dedication of some long-time Edgeworth guys bring this tradition back – Andy Rigano, Nick Gizzi, Joey and Jay Hurley, Tim Kelly, etc. A few years ago, I was honored to join them on the team, when, for the first time, the Edgeworth ladies stepped up to help get them to the top. We watched Gina Spadafora Hurley, Anna Rigano, and others come out of the crowd. We witnessed top tier specialist Rebecca Krigman prove that climbing the grease pole is an equal opportunity risk!
“Last year was extremely special, as the climb to honor Chris Rigano brought our neighborhood together like never before. This year, I was glad to help bring the grease pole back and work with Rebecca, Nick, and Andy to get it up and recruit climbers. I even got Andy to pull a ‘Tom Brady’ and come out of his so-called retirement to climb. This year, we climbed to beat cancer. We climbed for Tim Kelly. As our team assembled though, we realized we were short a few bodies, so we started recruiting from the crowd. It was great. We watched several Maldonians step up and join the team. Eventually, we even had Billy Spadafora out there!
“The best part, though… after an hour or so of watching us struggle to get that fourth tier, Marina Rigano Cox and Gina Spadafora Hurley changed, taped up, and gave us the last boost we needed to get to the bag. It was something else watching Gina’s son Joey climb on top of her shoulders to grab it – talk about an Edgeworth family!
“A lot of people do not appreciate the hard work and time commitment it takes to make the grease pole happen every year, so I want to thank my wife, fellow Maldonian Kimberly Gillette, for holding down the fort at home so I could help make this happen. My 14-month-old daughter, a fourth generation Edgeworth kid, experienced her first St. Rocco’s Feast this year. She loved the music, the people, and the dancing, but I hope one day she is covered in grease helping her friends get to the top. Viva San Rocco!”
“Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Maldonian from border to border, coast to coast, and all ships at sea. Let’s go to press…”
- The streets surrounding the Festa were in primo shape as DPW Director Bobby Knox and his band of merry men at the DPW spent many hours lovingly weed whacking, pruning and generally making sure the hood was ready for its closeup. Thank you, Bobby. Thank you, Mayor Christenson. Thank you to the hardest working men in showbiz, the Malden DPW! Especially you, Nicky Longo (Edgeworth’s own).
- They made their debut on the gritty streets of Edgeworth some 55 or so years ago. The gang gathered once again this year at the 92nd Annual San Rock Festa to reclaim their sacred turf. Dickie “The King of King Neptune” Santo, Mario Russo, Marco DiScipio, David Zinetti, Joe “Bag of Donuts” Pagliccia, Dommy “Boo Boo” Bucci, Billy “Smegs” Smeglin and Vinnie “The Wizard” Pagliccia staked claim in front of the Food Stand and greeted one another like the long-lost comrades-in-arms that they are – a touch of gray here and there but all looked marvelous. Next year on Pearl, my paisans! Stay well.
- Shout-out to Steve Savio and Sea Breeze on an outstanding performance Sunday afternoon at the Festa, flawlessly performing the timeless classics many of us grew up with. Frank, Jerry Vale, Ray Price – Steve nailed them all! I just love this band. Reminds me of Sunday mornings growing up. Brings me back to my mother in our kitchen preparing Sunday dinner; Lou Monte, Sergio Franchi and Dino playing in the background. Terrific band, great memories!
- So nice to see the Carducci family gathered in their yard on Pearl Street as they have for the past 50 or so years, matriarch Esther (Carducci) still frying the dough at 97! Very fortunate to still have their mom around. I spotted Pat Mallon, Jimmy (Cooch) and Merlen, Andy Curran, George DeCandia and many more of the Cooch Yard regulars (Eddie Thompson, where were you?).
- At San Rock 2022 you were missed, big time: Frank and Eleanor Molinari, Jimmy Palermo, Eddie and Pete Trabucco, “Sal” Trioli Sr., Carmela DiSerio, Steve Bouley, Brian Powers, Hank Pitts, Richie Cremone, Fran Tomasello, Steve DiGiacomo, Jack Pinkham, Phil Longo, John and Mary Gamby, Lucille Spadafora, Jimmy Damiano and his mom Laura, Nancy Cagno, Joey Moreno, Ruth Vona, Phyllis DeDonato, Marie Conserva and Tony and Joan Pisaturo.
- Speaking of Billy Smeglin, he is still playing baseball (pitching effectively, from what I hear, at age 63) in the over 45 Boston Amateur Baseball League. I like to tell people that as an 11-year-old teammate of mine on the Twins in Little League at Bruce Field, I taught him everything he knows about the art of pitching. In truth, Billy was a natural from a very young age. Congrats, Billy, great seeing you.
- Thank you, once again, to my main man with the pecan tan, the incomparable Johnny “Franklin’s Caretaker” Spadafora and his partner in crime, Anthony Spadafora, for their hard work, dedication and passion for this event. Johnny and Anthony just make “stuff” happen. Whatever needs to get done, they get it done! No questions asked. The whole Spadafora family, actually – they got skin in the game so it’s personal for them. Don’t believe the hype? Check out the plaque at “SSGT Albert Spadafora Memorial Square” near Pearl and Emerald Streets.
- The grease pole event is “outtasight” and would not be the grease pole without a yard to place it in. We love ya, Raj (of New York Pizza in Malden Square fame) and hope that you forgive us (once again) for not being as neat as we possibly could this year. Next San Rock Festa we’ll perfect it! Thanks again!
- Gary “The People’s Mayor” Christenson is such a good fit on San Rock weekend. He gets it and he goes with the flow. He has many friends down in Ward 2, and the mutual love and respect shown on this special weekend is self-evident. He turns “Mayor Gary” off for three days and simply enjoys (and understands) this long-held tradition. Understanding the tradition is vital. Can’t be faked. When he leads the Procession on Sunday afternoon, it is genuine. When he shakes a hand, or gives a hug, it is from the heart. He wears his “Edgeworth Pride” unabashedly all weekend long for all to see. Thank you, sir, for your continued support.
- The Pisaturos, D’Orlandos and extended family came out for the Procession on Sunday. It was an emotional moment, but the sadness quickly turned to happiness as the family understood that they are not alone, that we go forward with Tony and Joan not to be forgotten. May their memories be a blessing.
- Special thank you to IACC President Billy Settemio for opening the Club to one and all! His generosity and hospitality during the San Rock weekend, off the charts! Your kindness and the Club’s beneficence are unmatched in Malden.
As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character “Columbo” would say “Just one more thing, sir” – pausing at hallowed Malden ground (Russell and Whitman) at Private First Class Kevin Robert “KC” Crowe’s memorial stone during the Sunday afternoon Procession; always an emotional experience for those of us who escort the Saint. This “Son of Edgeworth” grew up across the street from the memorial and took great pleasure in the Saint Rocco tradition. Kevin lost his life in battle on June 5, 1969, during the Vietnam conflict. His family still resides in the neighborhood, lovingly maintaining the memorial erected for him. It is very important to continue to remember one of our own – PFC Kevin “KC” Crowe. Never to be forgotten as long as there is a Malden; KC always in our thoughts.