The North End has always had more than its share of characters, unique individuals who stood out from the crowd and charted their own course through life. That’s one of the reasons living here was so interesting. One of my personal favorites is Rosaria DiFinizio, a lovely and talented lady who grew up on Battery Street and who is still a friend. This brief essay, and the videos that follow, are a tribute to her.
Rosaria is one of those fortunate individuals who has a gift for romance languages. She is fluent in Italian, French and Spanish and had a long career as a high school language teacher. Even though she could speak several languages her true love was music and singing her passion. Her idol was the France chanteuse Edith Piaf and after graduating from Emmanuel College she traveled extensively throughout Europe and was a street singer in Paris, Madrid and Barcelona. For several years she lived la vie boheme and upon returning to Boston she started writing little vignettes portraying life in the North End when she was a child. She collected these stories into a play and recruited local North Enders as actors. Rosaria called her play My Corner of Boston and she presented it at least twice in Hubbard Hall at the North End Union on Parmenter St. to sellout audiences.
In 1990, I had just purchased a video camera and fortunately decided to record those plays. I recently had them digitized and Matt Conti has graciously allowed me to share them on this NorthEndWaterfront.com. He will publish one act per week over the next couple of months.
North Enders of my generation are going to love seeing these skits because they will bring back memories of what our little world was like back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. New North Enders will also enjoy seeing what their neighborhood was like fifty years ago.
The first skit is about haggling with market men at the Haymarket on Saturdays. A generation ago the produce market extended all the way from Blackstone St. down Salem to Prince St. and the market men were all Italian. Today, haggling is still going on but the languages are very different.
I filmed two performances one in 1990 and the other in 1993. I recognize some of the actors but I need help identifying them so please, write in and let me know who they are.
I hope you enjoy “My Corner of Boston” written, produced and directed by the wonderful Rosaria DiFinizio. I think I’m the only one who recorded these plays and they offer a unique glimpse into North End life of fifty years ago. I’m happy to share them with all the people who read NorthEndWaterfront.com.
Nicholas Dello Russo is a lifelong North Ender and columnist. Often using vintage photographs, Nick tells the stories of growing up in the North End along with its culture and traditions. It was a time when the apartments were so small that residents were always on the streets enjoying “Life on the Corner.” Read more of Nick’s columns.