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Malden today, tomorrow and yesterday – Billy Nutile, 1929-2021

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  Malden High School, 1946 – William Nutile, 57 Oakland St: “A bashful, cute little Trade School scholar with a real sharp wave in his hair is Bill. Has a yen for a certain girl called ‘Cuddles!’ Has proven his ability as the Trade School’s senior class and Student Council secretary. Plans to become a cartoonist.”

  Billy Nutile passed away in 2021 at age 92 years lived. I never got a chance to say goodbye. I will miss his emails. I will miss his wit. I will miss his total recall of years gone by. I will miss his love of Malden and his personal playground growing up, Edgeworth. We never actually met but Billy ran the same streets of Edgeworth as I did as a child only 50 years earlier. Here’s a little something I published back a couple of years ago. Rest in peace, Billy.

  “Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to…” He hasn’t jumped off the Medford Street Bridge into the Malden River on a warm summer’s night in many decades. Probably hasn’t worn Chuck Taylors in just as long. Or picked up a freshly killed chicken for dinner at Freddy’s Market on Pearl Street lately. But in his heart (and mind’s eye) – Billy Nutile, who turned 90 years young this past January 15 and has called Maryland home for many years, has never strayed very far from his beloved hometown of Malden. Now residing in the birthplace of Tallulah Bankhead, Chestertown, Md., Billy graduated MHS the year after World War II ended, 1946. Like many youngsters over the years growing up in Malden/Edgeworth, he worked on and off for Freddie Spadafora at his restaurant when it was located at the corner of Highland Avenue and Medford Street opposite (the long gone) Timmy DiLea’s Drug Store. He trained as an upholsterer at the Warren Carpet Cleaning Company located on Commercial Street behind the Strand Theater, then as an apprentice ‘tin knocker’ at the Brunell Sheet Metal shop on Charles Street, long since torn down as part of the Charles Street Urban Renewal of the ’60s. Uncle Sam beckoned after high school: five years in the military as an M.P. with the U.S. Forces in Austria before discharging in Feb 1952. Billy married into Edgeworth royalty in 1954 with nuptials to Evelyn Ann Perry. Ms. Perry was the stepdaughter of Joseph Scibelli of the famous “Edgeworth Scibellis!” In 1966 – “following the money,” as they say – Billy was commandeered by Servomation Corporation in Baltimore, Md., and quickly became Vice President. In 1970, tired of “working for the man,” he started his own food service company in Annapolis and ran it until he sold in 1994. Billy retired far from his roots in Malden on a piece of property he purchased from a farmer and his daughter who owned 450 acres of farmland and a 250-acre Hanoverian horse farm located in Chestertown on the eastern shore of Maryland. Billy and his wife of 64 years recently sold their home and will be settling down in a condo on the western shore of Maryland, closer to their four sons.

  “About his high school picture from the ‘Maldonian’: ‘Cuddles’ was Billy’s nickname for classmate Camille Santoro who lived on Noble Street in the Linden area and who also graduated in ’46. He and close friend Larry (pronounced ‘Laurie’) Scibelli, both “pursued” her through high school. Divergent paths were taken by all. College, the military, careers and the passage of time separated these childhood pals. According to ‘sources’ Camille passed away ‘many years ago’ but not before achieving a modicum of success in Boston in ‘local radio and TV.’ Larry passed away at 86 years young in 2015 at his home on Marco Island in Naples, Fla. Most of Billy’s classmates have passed on. He also lost track of many classmates and Malden friends from back in the day but still has family in Malden. And has made a friend for life in me. I find his tales of ‘Malden Back in the Day’ priceless.

  “Here is another fascinating look into Malden’s past from the man with supernatural memory recall. Take it away, Billy:

  “Part 1 of 2: ‘Peter, the other day when I wrote to you, I got to thinking, again, about those growing up years during the war. I’m not sure I didn’t write to you about this before but…what the heck! I was 11 years old when, on December 7, 1941, I was with my grandmother, two uncles and two aunts, squished into an old ‘tin lizzy’ as they use to call old cars back then, delivering Christmas presents to relatives up in the New Hampshire area. At the last house we visited, only my Uncle Al went in to drop off the gifts. Everyone was tired by then and it was snowing quite a bit with a long way to get home. When Uncle Al came out, he told everyone he had just heard on the radio that the country was at war with Japan. Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack earlier that day. I remember a lot of discussion about this at first, then grandma and my Aunt Florence started crying and soon, dead silence. Or very hushed tones from the men all the rest of the way home. As a youngster, I had no idea how my life was going to change over the next few years. Growing up in the early years of the 2nd World War life was a special experience by itself along with the other everyday happenings. Such as the time I had scarlet fever and the house on Oakland Street was ‘quarantined.’ A big red sign was posted on the front door, and no one was allowed in or out except the doctor, a visiting nurse, my uncle, and my mother who could go to work. Later because of the war, in school, we practiced evacuating out into the hallways at Beebe Jr. High by sitting against the walls on the floor. I guess in the teachers’ naiveté that was how to handle a potential air raid in the early years. I remember being fingerprinted. A questionable effort at best. But this was all new. Everyone was caught with their ‘pants down’ you might say. Everyone! I remember we all said daily prayers for the men in the services. Back then, you ‘prayed’ in school. We prayed for President Roosevelt too and ‘patriotism’ was accepted as a matter of fact. Everyone was proud to be an American and to do all they could for the war effort. I mean, everyone! There was no left or right. No Democrat or Republican. We were all Americans on just one quest. Me and my classmates bought ‘Savings Stamps’ and mounted them in booklets which when full would represent $18.75, the cost of a $25 ‘War Bond.’ I went to ‘Bond Rallies’ in Malden Square where movie actors came to help the war effort by drumming up ‘War Bond’ sales. But the newest phenomenon, the ‘air raid drills’ and the excitement – the loud, shrieking noise of the alarms. Which later became an everyday occurrence when the fire department took them over after the war for the 9 o’clock curfew alerting the teenagers to get home and off the streets. Your heartbeat would start to race always wondering if this one is real. It didn’t take long for us kids to figure out when one was due though. During the summer, when we would go to Revere Beach, we would see big military boats laying anchor offshore with more and more of them being added each day until there would be a ‘blackout air raid drill’ one night. The next day we would see that all the ships had left the harbor on their way overseas, in convoy. Soon we could get to predict a new black out air raid drill coming ourselves. President Roosevelt used to have ‘Fireside Chats’ on the radio, which everyone tuned in to listen. Everyone believed what the President told them, and everyone loved President Roosevelt. I sacrificed for the war effort along with all my friends and neighbors and lived with rationing. After food rationing took place, you needed ration books to buy a pair of new shoes at Thom McCanns, to buy meat at Freddy Brandano’s on Pearl Street, and for butter and sugar and I think gasoline was rationed at like maybe three gallons a week. I helped grow ‘Victory Gardens.’ Food was in such demand for the armed forces it left a shortage in the markets. I also remember how we collected scrap iron in bins the city erected. When full the city workers would come and empty them, donating the scrap metal to the war effort. I recall the ‘Brown Outs’ where all the streetlights had bonnets put on them, so the light shown only directly down to the street. The automobiles had the top half of the headlights painted black to keep the lights low and the factory windows at Converse Rubber and other factories were all painted black. This was called a ‘Brown Out.’ Then there were the ‘Black Outs’ when they would have air raids. The Air Raid Wardens would make sure lights were out in all the houses or at least could not be seen from the street. I learned then that the glow of a cigarette could be seen from the air by enemy bombers. Seems like there was always at least one plane flying overhead in the rays of the search lights during these air raid drills. Practicing, I guess. I remember how the girls couldn’t get ‘nylon stockings.’ All the nylon was being used to build parachutes. How they painted a line up the back of their leg to look like a seam over the leg paint giving the impression of stockings. Teen age clubs became popular during the war with the big bands playing the newest pop songs then but are the classics of today. I used to go dancing with most of my friends at least three times a week. We worked on and perfected our ‘jitterbug.’ To be continued…”

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