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“Spotlight on Pete Caso”

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  It’s Pete Caso’s world, we just live in it (I know that is showing signs of age, one last time, I promise). A lifelong resident of Watts Street, Pete started his journey as a social media influencer as part of the Facebook group “Malden, back in the day” – but quickly outgrew that site. He decided to start his own page where he could express himself without fear of wandering outside the rules of group engagement. Bam, Bang, Boom! Over 6,000 “friends” later, he has become an overnight sensation and the unofficial “ambassador” of all good things within Malden city limits (and the guy you want your picture taken with if you’re running for office – insert smiley face?). From ribbon-cutting ceremonies (it is said Pete would go to the opening of an envelope – that’s a joke, son) to doing battle with the many trolls/goblins who inhabit the dark corners of the Internet to being the first in line to help a neighbor (or damsel) in distress – Pete grinds it out day after day. His each “good morning,” each dinner menu proclamation, each Malden insider breaking news is met with enthusiastic responses and many huzzahs from fanatical devotees. The gift that keeps on giving – Pete was gracious enough to take time out to answer 20 questions for both the zealots who hang on every word and the curious Maldonians who need to know. He’s Pete Caso, and you’re not! Channel your inner Pistol Pete – enjoy:

  1. My full name is…Peter Caso.
  2. I am currently…working at the D.P.W. and coordinating a Facebook page.
  3. I am saving up to…see my (late) dad’s house in Italy for retirement.
  4. My home is in… Malden, Ma.
  5. I love people who…love my “All About Malden” Facebook page.
  6. Something I say a lot is… “pistachios.”
  7. I consider myself to be…a legend.
  8. I need to be…more aggressive.
  9. My favorite movie of all time is…“Grease.”
  10. My all-time role model is…my father.
  11. I respect people who…respect Malden.
  12. The best thing anyone has ever said to me is…that I am a goodwill ambassador for Malden.
  13. I am happy when…I am watching wrestling in honor of my late father.
  14. I find (Big Bang Theory) funny/hilarious.
  15. I am named after…my father.
  16. I have (zero) kids.
  17. The farthest I’ve ever been from home is…Athens, Greece.
  18. My special talents are…as a teenager I was the hacky sack champ.
  19. I have (zero) pets.
  20. I played sports as a youngster at Little Pearl, Devir Park, and Hockey Town in Saugus.

  Time for a trip back in Sherman and Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine – as the old song goes, “It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home.” As you’ve probably noticed, once in a while I stop and figuratively touch the green, green grass of home. Some say obsessively. At least when it comes to Edgeworth. Here we touch the green, green grass of our collective Malden home with a look back at 1973 and a letter to the editor with Malden historical value. The Malden Sun-Times, 1973, a “Letter to the Editor”:

  “The elimination by a knockout of Joe Sideri, a leading Malden heavyweight boxer in one round at the Golden Gloves Nationals in Lowell, was a setback and a surprise. Sideri was riding it high in the amateur boxing ranks when he was defeated. But his future is rosy; he’s still young and coming.

  “Perhaps the greatest figure in the amateur ring of years past was Neddo Flanagan, who was a coming figure in boxing circles – as Joe Sideri. Neddo came from Malden around World War 1 time, went through the Golden Gloves as an amateur, and as a heavyweight fighter of 200 pounds, he went on into the professional ranks and scored about 14 knockouts in 16 fights. He then joined Buckley’s camp, boxing out of Kelly’s Gym in Boston and, in 1924, fought a sizzling battle with Hambone Kelly, a sensational South Boston boxer at Wonderland Park. On July 4th, he met with an accident and the fight was stopped in three rounds at Revere Beach.

  “Neddo was the older brother of Phil Flanagan, who was a topnotcher in the 160-pound class. Neddo had fought Jim Maloney and lost in five rounds at Braves Field in 1922 while in Buckley’s camp. He was killed in his prime at the Pick Wick Club disaster in 1925. [My note: The Pick Wick disaster is a fascinating story].

  “Getting back to Sideri and amateur boxing, certain stars dominate the divisions. I recall around 1935 entering a novice class as a 175-pound fighter with not many fights. My adversary, Jake Eagle, defeated me in the semi-finals at the B.A.A. Clubhouse on Exeter Street in Boston. Nothing sensational about that but less than two weeks later Eagle turned pro and was knocked out in two rounds by Dick Maloney, Jim’s youngest brother, at the [Boston] Arena. Here was a clear-cut case of a professional fighter boxing as a novice and amateur.

“George J MacDonald Salem Street – Malden.”

  As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character Columbo would say, “Just one more thing, sir” – who says I ignore every part of Malden except Edgeworth?! Well, for the most part that is true, but I am changing that right now. Here’s another little story with plenty of meat (no potatoes) about Malden’s “red headed stepchild,” Linden on the Saugus Branch, by my newest Facebook friend, Scott Millikan:

  “Growing up in Linden during the ’60’s – ’70’s where Linden School Principal, Bill Dempsey, a WWII veteran loved and cared about each and every student regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, economic background, or religion was an amazing experience and I have nothing but gratitude and positive memories about those carefree days growing up in Malden.

  “As a young lad growing up in Lynn until my family moved to Malden in the summer of ’67 these were the guys I looked up to: Mr. Bill Dempsey. Malden YMCA Director Ken Butler. Mr. “Malden Babe Ruth League” Bob Rotondi. Malden High School (Class of 1965) outstanding track star – Bob Bruen. Tom Dempsey – Malden Catholic High School (Class of 1966 who placed 3rd in the 1965 New England H.S. Cross Country Championships). The great Dan Moynihan from Malden Catholic – Class of 1969 who won the 1968 – New England High School Cross Country Championships and the 1969 Two Mile in the New England Championships and became only the 2nd Massachusetts’s high school runner to break 9 minutes for the 2 miles. Greater Boston Track Club Pioneer / Founder, Billy Squires. Four-time Boston Marathon winner as well as the G.O.A.T. American Marathoner, Billy Rodgers who was living in Melrose in 1975 when i started to train/run twice a day. Also, high school greats like Art Dulong from Randolph, Alberto Salazar from Wayland, and the great Eric Hulst from California. I also admired Yaz, Namath, Jim Ryun, Ted Williams, Orr, and Russell. At the top of my list is my biological dad who was the G.O.A.T. high school basketball player to graduate from Salem High School (1958) and he had the distinction of receiving the first full basketball scholarship that Northeastern ever offered in 1958.

  “The G.O.A.T. all-around high school athlete to come out of Malden (in my opinion) was Neil Hurley who was a 1966 Malden Catholic graduate. Richie Cullen was also part of that class and was a football star for that great 1965 Malden Catholic squad, All-American in football, and the star of the 1965 Malden Catholic State Champions – and he was a Massachusetts all-scholastic athlete in football, hockey, and baseball.

  “1965 was the year that the greatest Malden High School ‘miler,’ Bob Bruen graduated. Bruen won the New England High School Mile in 4:12 and smashed the old record of 4:15 by 3 seconds. It was only one week earlier that Bruen ran a 4:14 mile in the Massachusetts all-state high school track & field championship and smashed the old record of 4:16 for the mile. Bob Bruen finished off his incredible Malden High School track career by finishing 2nd to the great Jim Ryun in the National High School Track & Field Championship meet in Sacramento, California with an amazing time of 4:08.”

  Postscript: Speaking of the living legend Peter Caso (not Bruno Sammartino) – I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge somebody who I feel has been forgotten during Pistol’s meteoric rise to fame (if not fortune): one David Milliken, whose presence as a “social media influencer” has been overshadowed these past few years by the Pistol. David and Pete started their journey together years ago as “partners in crime,” so to speak. Walking, talking and posting together all things to do with the celebrated streets of Malden – mostly on the “Malden, back in the day” Facebook page. Pete followed his gut and went solo about three years ago, creating his own destiny, but Dave stayed behind to carry on what they had started together. Since Pete’s departure Dave’s posts on MBITD have entertained as well as informed Maldonians who yearn for a look at yesterday Malden and the simpler lives we led. Pistol’s vision was moving forward, informing Maldonians on present day issues near and dear to those trying to navigate these complex times we live in. They both do a stellar job. Thank you, David, thank you, Pete, for your devotion to the good and welfare of the city we all love.

—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 complaints.

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