Picked up pieces while counting down the days until San Rock 2023…
- Cuteness, going forward, thy name; the “Food Stand Gals”! Gianna Spadafora, Carmella Spadafora, Rylee Walker, Kayla Sullivan and Grace Damico brought cuteness and class to a whole new level this year as they took complete control of the hungry San Rock masses. The girls were a shy bunch though, only allowing me to snap 375 pictures of them during the weekend. The Saint Rock tradition continues with the next generation! Thank you, young ladies, for that.
- My sources tell me that former Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis was responsible for the new “Saint Rocco Way” street signs that adorn poles on Pearl at Emerald Street and Oakland during San Rock weekend. A great parting gift to Malden, Chief. Thank you.
- Speaking of Chief Molis, it is said that yours truly (Well, I’m the only one saying it, but what the heck) took the first picture of Chief in civies in the past 42 years! Kevin looking rested and relaxed as he hung out with longtime friend Brian Crowe.
- Best picture of the weekend (besides the Food Stand Gals) was the one snapped of former Mayor Ed Lucey, Dave Caiazzo (1970’s Malden Evening News Athlete of the Decade) and Suffolk Square’s Bobby Bellmer. All three looked marvelous and were having the best of times!
- His name is Peter Giuliano and on San Rock weekend he is a rock star! The success of the Feast cannot happen unless Peter shows face. Thank you, sir.
- Here’s a plug for our sound guy for the weekend, Mark Glunts, from Fastlane Productions Audio Visual & Event Services. He did an incredible job for us, as he does every year, and has the coolest moss you have ever seen! I cannot say enough good things about Mark (and his moss) so contact him at 978-667-8399 or 617-448-8577 or www.FastlaneProductions.net if you are looking for the best!
- The white, red and green tricolor “rumble strip” that now runs on Pearl Street from Thacher to Oakland was a pleasant surprise when it showed up a week or two before the Festa – such a wonderful and thoughtful addition to the neighborhood and the weekend.
- They said it could never happen! That the creature comforts of older age had made him too comfortable. That and having an awesome significant other (Hi Jen!) placed him in permanent Grease Pole climbing retirement. But while young Billy Spadafora Jr. was compelled (some say pressured) by his peers to join in the fray, I could hear him mutter to himself, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” Yes, Billy Spadafora Jr. made like Superman, found a phone booth to change in (Youngsters out there, ask your parents what a phone booth is) and switched uniforms to make that final push up the pole into San Rock glory and history! Great seeing you come out of retirement, Billy! You made your pops proud (once again).
- Congratulations to the fearless women of the grease pole. De’anna DeMayo, Rebecca Krigman, Gina Spadafora-Hurley and Jenelle DeVits (to name a few) got right down into the greasy, messy fray and did an amazing job working so seamlessly with the guys giving them the adrenaline lift they needed as the day wore on! And, of course, they did; they are Edgeworth women! Ably assisted and mentored, of course, by longtime “Queen of Edgeworth” Debbie “Nice” Esposito.
- I single out the women of the Grease Pole specifically because in days of old when we in Edgeworth weren’t as enlightened as we are today, it was frowned upon to even suggest a female climb the pole. If not for the women of Edgeworth, truth be told, there would be no GP today. These are the best of times!
- Anthony Spadafora is another San Rocco rock star, and I get the pleasure to walk with him during the Procession every year – a wonderful man, father and friend.
As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character “Columbo” would say “Just one more thing, sir” – I wrote the following words shortly after the Feast wrapped up, before the news hit that Alice had passed on. Strong. Dignified. Principled. Beautiful. Alice was all this, and more:
“On Sunday during the annual San Rock Fest we stopped in front of Alice Spadafora’s home. It’s part of the tradition. The First Lady of Edgeworth, Alice Spadafora, was not on her front porch last year when the Procession passed by. We were overjoyed that Lady Alice greeted us this year as the Saint rolled up into her driveway. We all jockeyed for position to say hello and get in that special ‘Kodak Moment.’ Alice and her family are part of the rich history of Malden and especially Edgeworth. It felt really good that we got to see her, and that she got to see us.”
Postscript 1: On Thursday morning, August 25, Gina Spadafora-Hurley broke the news first: Her beloved “Nana” had passed away the night before. It could not have been easy. She posted a beautiful tribute on Facebook which immediately drew hundreds of responses: “During the night we lost our amazing Nana, Alice Spadafora. She would have been 96 in just 8 days. Nana was still living on her own, cooking her homemade meals and still calling us to come pick up her homemade sauce and pizza. We surely will miss all those yummy meals made with nothing but pure love and homemade ingredients. We will never forget our summers down at the Cape house, our Saturday mandatory lunches at the ‘bar,’ and her fried dough. Oh yeah, and how she snuck us scratchies under the table. We will miss all her hand outs of chocolate kisses even if she stuffed them in our kids’ pockets and they ended up in the wash machine. She poured her heart and soul making Anthony’s of Malden the place it is today. Nana Alice raised millions of dollars over the year to donate to St. Jude. She was truly passionate about helping everyone but especially children. I know she is up in heaven playing unlimited slot machines and cursing that she didn’t spend her free play of $300 at Encore. We know she will continue to watch every single Red Sox game and yell at anyone who gets in her way. She lived an incredible life with tons of people who truly loved her. We will certainly miss her.”
Postscript 2: The Sunday afternoon Procession of the Saint through the streets of Edgeworth is always a highlight of the weekend. The Saint starts/stops and accepts donations from pilgrims lining the streets (Thank you, Basil Rigano) or residents standing in front of their homes (Thank you, Mike and Susan Jotki), then proceeds forward. Sadly, the Procession, which at one time escorted down many, many streets, is down to a scant few these days. But the ones remaining make it all worthwhile.
Postscript 3: Flashback! A special stop in 2020 was in front of Alice Spadafora’s home on Emerald Street. Alice and the whole Spadafora family provide refreshments and sandwiches (The turkey slider was extra yummy!) for those accompanying the Saint and for the marching band. Alice was awarded a St. Rocco tribute (a miniature San Rock statue) by the committee for her generosity and commitment to the Feast and to the neighborhood throughout her life. Looked like her whole family was gathered in the yard. Those who doubt the future of the Feast, rest assured there are still enough Spadaforas in the neighborhood (and in Malden) to guarantee this Feast survives at least another 92 years.
Postscript 4: Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora; husband, father and loving grandson on his grandmother Alice’s recent birthday: “When I think of my grandmother almost reaching her 96th birthday I feel eternally grateful for the simple priority she gave to us as children; being grounded in love of family and friends. Instilled in us at a very early age. She embodies what it means to advance in years gracefully. She remains bright, inquisitive, concerned about others and open to friendship. She is for us, the rock, for which we lean so heavily on through the good and bad in life. For this, we love you beyond words. Many more years of sunshine and happiness Nana.”
Postscript 5: Alice sat on her porch this year (2022) and was greeted reverentially by old and new friends alike. Our fear: that this might be our last opportunity to be in her presence. Rest peacefully, dear lady. To her family, an old Jewish prayer: “As long as we live, they too will live; for they are now a part of us; as we remember them.” More on Alice in two weeks.