“Hello Maldonia, Chris Moro here – “Keeper of the Linden USA Flame”! Last August I was over at the Italian American Citizens’ Club taking in the evening bocce action. It was there that “Malden Musings” author Peter (Levine) told me that my first installment, “Tales of Linden USA,” was going to appear in the upcoming Advocate.This news of my quest to have “Linden USA” recognized was, indeed, very exciting. Then on the following Friday (September 2) I’m over at “The Dew” on Eastern Avenue having a cup of joe and picking up The Advocate. Funny thing, that song “Black Coffee in Bed” keeps playing in my head. Love that Squeeze song! Well, anyways…there on page 3, in actual print, was my introduction to “Tales of Linden USA.” Wow! It finally happened. A good day indeed! That same night I see Peter at the I.A.C.C., I go over to him – no verbal assault this time – I say, “Pete, you came through! You are a man of your word!” Bravo! It was time to celebrate – old school – with a couple of “musty’s” – Ballantine Ale and Budweiser (not Lite) “Half & Half” as they called in days of yore. It’s an old friends’ father’s concoction of sorts – try it, it’s good!
Anyways, there we are chewing the fat; the Sox are getting crushed again (shocker!); then I start telling Peter about a conversation I was having with a mutual friend of ours over at another fine watering hole around the corner (HIBO’s). This gentleman needs no introduction – but I must! One of Maldonia’s finest – (retired) Peace Officer, “Secretary of the Brotherhood,” the man who “makes the devil run home screaming for his mama” – the one and only Mr. Kevin Killian aka “Spike Dodge” (inside joke). I’ll explain later. I was telling Kevin about my quest to have “Linden USA” recognized. Kev stops me mid-sentence and says, “Hey Chris, you’re not going to believe this, but back in the day I was at this bed and breakfast in Connecticut, at an old Victorian house.” He goes on to tell me that he was in this big room that doubled as a game room and a sitting library waiting his turn at a game of pool.
He gets to looking around this odd room and comes upon this book titled “Linden on the Saugus Branch” by Elliot Paul – whom I hereby christen the “Original Linden Knight!” This gentleman grew up in “Linden USA” at the turn of the century (early 1900s). How ironic – it took Kevin to be at this B&B in Parts Unknown CT of all places for me to learn of Mr. Paul! A head scratcher, for sure. I say to him, man I’ve got to get my hands on that book. And I did! As it turns out, this book is rare. The Maldonia Library has it in first edition. Thing is, “You cannot check it out, you have to stay here and read it,” says a stern – but friendly – library attendant. As it turns out, after further inspection of this book I had purchased on Amazon, I notice it is in “photo stat quality” of the original print. Once again, I found this odd. But true. As I get into the first chapter, the author goes on to tell his story of growing up in God’s country, “Linden USA.” I’m loving it!
In his early days as a youth, even way back when, “Mother Maldonia” considered “Linden USA” as the “neglected stepchild of Maldonia.” Imagine my curiosity at this phrase. I always remembered it as the “redheaded stepchild” – I can say this without prejudice; I have a brother named Tom, my twin! Yes Maldonia, there are two of us roaming around out there! By the way, he’s the good twin.
This book by Elliot Paul – penned way back in 1947 – writing of his days growing up in “Linden USA”; that’s over 100 (expletive deleted) years ago! Playing on the same streets as yours truly! Exploring the same marshes! Stomping on the same crabgrass strewn open spaces! Oh, what a glorious playland, “Linden USA” – Rodney Dangerfield of Maldonia. Yes indeed, no respect!
Well, my fellow Maldonians, that all changes now! I originally planned on penning three excerpts. But as a famous football coach once said, “I reserve the right to change my mind.” Since my article appeared in The Advocate, I’ve been approached by several “Linden Knights” asking if they could also contribute to my quest – so all voices from Linden can be heard. They rambled and stammered on about how they also had great stories and memories of their time spent growing up on the mean streets of “Linden USA.” As it’s turning out, my quest has turned out to be a bona fide crusade.
I and my fellow “Linden Knights” are on a mission: to pick up that torch that was lit so many years ago by the “Original Keeper of the Linden Flame” – Elliot Paul. And run with it. To borrow a line from a classic movie (“Field of Dreams”) – “go the distance!” “So, it shall be me” (Ten Bears) you know the movie (hint: Outlaw Josey Wales)! Please feel free to reach out to me with your memories. I am Chris Moro. I am easily found… “at the darkness on the edge of town.” The Springsteen song? Cuz Linden is at the far corner of Malden? A play on words? Never mind…insert smiley face.
Valentine’s Day is upon us! To the love of my life, my (soon to be) three-year-old granddaughter Lana, on her special Valentine’s Day birthday: an intriguing playlist that will surely delight the loved one in your life – the Jewish Journal’s Dan Epstein’s top 10 list of Jew(ish) Valentine’s Day songs:
1. “Happy Together” – The Turtles
2. “This Guy’s in Love with You” – Herb Alpert
3. “And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” – Neil Diamond
4. “This Magic Moment” – Jay and The Americans
5. “Ecstasy” – the Raspberries
6. “Love Gun” – Kiss
7. “I Want You Around” – the Ramones
8. “Eternal Flame” – The Bangles
9. “There is no Greater Love” – Amy Winehouse
10. “Matzoh Balls” – Slim (Gaillard) & Slam (my fave of the bunch)
Remembering four no longer with us….
- Madeline Wong (along with beloved husband William) was the cofounder/owner of the (fabulous) Kowloon Restaurant on Route 1 in Saugus. She passed at age 95 in November of last year, leaving behind a legacy not soon to be matched. Not only for the joy her restaurant brought into thousands of people’s lives (possibly millions at this point), but most importantly – for her six children, 15 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. Her obituary read that “Madeline leaves behind a legacy of caring and love which will inspire generations to come.” Absolutely nothing better than that!
- Did you know that late singer Olivia Newton-John’s grandfather – Max Born – is a Jewish Nobel Laureate and one of the founders of quantum mechanics?
- Been 11 years now since world-renowned “Grandmaster” Richie Byrnes passed away at 62 years young. Michael’s big brother owned Byrne’s Tang Soo Do Karate Studios in Malden. “Superstar Richie Byrnes” served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam Era and was personally trained by international wrestling superstar Walter “Killer” Kowalski.
- “The Killer” (1926-2008) and his wife Theresa could be found faithfully sitting at a window booth at the old Ferrari’s Restaurant on Eastern Avenue (later home to Jack’s Ristorante) most afternoons enjoying the fine Italian cuisine offered there. The 6′ 7″, 280-pound “Killer” would greet you like a long-lost friend and hand you one of his (facsimile) signed 5″ x 7″ photos, of which I have many.
As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character ‘Columbo’ would say, “Just one more thing, sir” – “Malden Musings” menschs for January 2023, please approach the front of the stage… Doncha just love how some Maldonians (without hesitation) step up to the plate and donate their valuable time for a good and worthy cause!? It’s easy to donate money. Try getting people off their comfortable recliners as they sit idly on their “tookus”! Try getting them away from their precious YouTube TV (why is everybody looking at me?!). Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora (Saint Debbie’s hubby) and the most famous Levine of them all – Assistant to the Principal at Malden High School, Barbara Scibelli – spent a recent chilly Saturday night at the Malden Warming Center on Eastern Avenue giving back to the community they love so much and to the less fortunate in Malden that we ignore too much. Both will probably give me a verbal spanking for revealing this. Here goes anyway, they deserve the kudos! Both lead from the heart. Spending time helping others is not a photo op or Facebook post “like” for either one. Not a “me, me, me” or “I, I, I” moment as we witness time to time from some in the community. Both told me they enjoyed every minute of the night. Both say they’ll be back. For this, we thank you… morally, ethically, spiritually, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably. Wait, those are lyrics from the Wizard of Oz. Well, you get the idea. Thank you, Barbara and Craig.
—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 criticisms.