You know you’re getting old when…a young pup like State Rep. Steve Ultrino is saving up for retirement. Steve and his family have called Edgeworth home, like forever. Stone cold Edgeworth! When every basement had a wine press. When a freshly killed chicken was steps away at Columbia Food Store or Freddy’s Market. When every backyard exploded in the summer with tomatoes, basil, hot peppers and fig trees. The Ultrinos were part of that large Italian population that made Edgeworth the best “Little Italy” this side of the North End of Boston. Steve has always fought the good fight. That ain’t no lie. Steve walks the walk: from his Saint Peter’s altar boy days to his lifelong love with the Saint Rocco Feast to his first run for office (Ward 2 Councillor) when he stomped his opponent senseless, 3-1, right up to his current gig as a state rep. Steve is 100 percent invested in his friends and family, his neighborhood, his hometown, and to his unwavering faith. Steve is the real deal. I asked Steve 20 hard-hitting questions. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer. Here is a very small glimpse in the life of a very good friend of ours, Steve Ultrino:
- My full name is… Steven Rocco Ultrino.
- I am currently… A State Representative. I also lecture at Suffolk University and Salem State on occasion. Over the last five years or so, I have been licensed as a real estate agent.
- I am saving up for… Future retirement, and/or helping family if needed.
- My home is in… Malden. I never left my family home on Adams Street, except being born at the Malden Hospital.
- I love people who… Like to laugh and are caring/kind towards others.
- Something I say a lot is… “At least they don’t smoke.” It is actually funnier in Italian (Almeno Non Fumano) as it was meant to say, “things could be worse.” You could tell I was brought up by older Italians.
- I consider myself to be… A caring person.
- I need to have… Purpose in life.
- My favorite movie of all time is… Pete’s Dragon with Mickey Rooney (childhood); Patch Adams with Robin Williams (adult).
- My all-time role model is… My parents and grandparents.
- I respect people who… Are good to others.
- The best thing anyone has ever said to me is… “Be humble; nobody cares what your title is.”
- I am happy when… I am around friends and family.
- I find YouTube videos of the late comedian (former Edgeworth resident) John Pinette funny/hilarious.
- I am named after my paternal grandfather: Rocco Steven Ultrino.
- I have no kids.
- The farthest I’ve ever been from home is… Italy.
- My special talents are… I never really thought of that. Just enjoy working and being in the community. I always liked being in school though.
- I have no pets.
- I played sports as a youngster at Callahan Park, Devir Park, Little Pearl, Amerige Park, Green Street Park, Pine Banks Park, Ferryway Green and Roosevelt Park to name just a few.
It is said in Malden today, tomorrow and yesterday…
- In memory of Elizabeth (Christie)… Clarence to George in “It’s A Wonderful Life” – “Strange, isn’t it? Each (wo)man’s life touches so many other lives. When (s)he isn’t around, (s)he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t (s)he?”
- I am so happy Albert Spadafora is being inducted into the Malden High School Alumni Hall of Fame. That’s what I’m talking about! Albert should have been an inaugural member, but the Alumni Committee eventually figured it out. Papa graduated in 1964! Papa turned 75 recently! Not that 75 is old but let me tell you, there is not another 75-year-old in the world like Albert Spadafora. Albert is not a self-promoter. Albert does not need a pat on the back. Malden will never know just how generous Albert has been over the decades – or the Spadaforas as a family – a great man who I proudly call a friend. Congratulations, Albert.
Franny, how does it feel to be married to a Hall of Famer? Insert smiley face
Ten musings from the immensely creative pen of the late John O’Brien, whose wit and wisdom endeared him to generations of Malden High School students, Maldonians and faculty at MHS. Here are 10 of my favorite witticisms from his iconic “Musings” columns:
- “A Russian napkin is a Soviet serviette.”
- “Ex-streakers are overbearing.”
- “In a conservative book-store, the customer is always right.”
- “A crab apple a day keeps the psychiatrist away.”
- “Bikinis: you have to draw the line somewhere.”
- “When she brought the T.V. Guide to bed, I knew our prime time was dead.”
- “Well, Bud, wiser men than you drink beer.”
- “Carson for the vulgar, Paar for the coarse.”
- “Only a chump chomps like a chimp, champ.”
- “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, oil gotta spill, I gotta cry.”
“This is the end, beautiful friend, this is the end, my only friend, the end” – Devir Park is in the news again (and it ain’t all bad this time – insert smiley face). The ole ballyard is due for a complete makeover in the near future. I literally grew up in that green sanctuary on the Fells: my second home. Devir Park memories, I have a few… I mixed it up recently, had my Sunday morning cup of Donut Villa coffee with my Globe and Malden Advocate at Devir Park instead of the Forestdale Cemetery. I parked adjacent to the big-league diamond.
In days of yore this end of Devir was not a parking lot. Foul balls off the bats of America Legion or Augustine Athletics hitters would land harmlessly on the green behind the home team’s stone bench. The big-league diamond is basically gone in 2022. Jack from Sunrise Postal and his friends use it for cricket these days. Years ago, massive muck and mire holes would form on the infield. Some of the best “mud bowls” were on that infield diamond. I remember Angelo Nardone sending DPW crews to the park after a hard rain. They would spend hours trying to get the infield in game shape. Many big Inter City League contests were played in the ’70’s on that field: standing room only crowds, 15-20 deep most nights. After the DPW left, Stevie Ring would stop by and spend time on the field getting it just right, the way his ace pitcher Dave “Athlete of the Decade” Caiazzo liked it. The shade tree in right field still looms large. I, Annette Magistro, Mike Scibelli, Jay Gramolini, Patty Colangeli, Ricky DiPietro, Frankie Levine, Beth Sampson, Rose Ann Tomasello, Paul Figelski, Jimmy & Jerry Damiano and Greg Lucey spent many a warm summer afternoon under that tree playing whist.
The Bandstand is Devir Park folklore now, but at one time it was the center of the universe for many youngsters. Too many Bandstand memories to recall, not many fit for print in a family newspaper (insert smiley face?), though one of my fondest memories was of showing up late at night at the park (early 1970s), plugging in an old black and white TV then lighting up an old hibachi for midnight barbecue – Johnny Carson, Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert or Jimmy Cagney movies preferred.
Bruce Field consisted of crabgrass and weeds. It had no concession stand but was surrounded by the ugliest green wooden fence you ever did see. During the Saint Rocco Feast the infield was used for earth shattering fireworks. Unheard of today. The trees that were planted as saplings on the Emerald Street side (in front of the Durso, McCarthy, Petrangelo, McFarland, and Guerin houses) sometime in the early 1970s have matured and have really enhanced the beauty of the park. The basketball court was located where the tennis courts are currently located. I had many battles on those courts with the sharp elbows of Dave Angelo. Two full courts and if memory serves me correctly two tennis courts – most of the time in full use.
There was a wading pool just about where the basketball court meets the children’s playground today. A circular asphalt hole in the ground with a metal pipe jutting up the middle – water gushing out of said pole at about 150 mph, leaving bruises noticeable for weeks. Our park instructors (Tom Powers, Ed “Porky” Garrant, Perry Verge, Donna Angelo, Cliff Cioffi) would sweep up the broken glass on the asphalt, then (John) Monte would go down that musty old cellar under the Bandstand and turn the water on – a lifesaver on many hot summer days. There seemed to be so many hot summer days back when we were youngsters. Air-conditioning was not nearly as ubiquitous as it is now. Few cars had it, fewer homes could afford it. Pools? That was for the rich kids in the hicks of Wilmington!
My Devir Park days may be in the rearview mirror, but I am excited and extremely happy that my old ballpark is getting a much-needed revamping. Thank you, Ward 2 Councilor Paul “Hoss” Condon, Jenelle DeVits and the many city officials who are making this a reality.