A Walk Along Broadway in 1954 by Tony Lucca

The buildings and homes rekindle memories …

A while ago, I shared my early childhood memories of a nostalgic walk along Knight Street in the beloved Federal Hill neighborhood. That walk also brought back memories of my regular Saturday morning trip to downtown Providence for my clarinet lessons with Mr. Piacetelli.

I leave my Andrews Street house for the short walk to Broadway and come to McAlpine Hospital on the corner just across the street from Betty Lou’s Beauty Salon. Usually, I take a right and go to the bus stop on the corner of Courtland and Broadway where the Armenian Church, St. Vartanantz is located, but today I have enough time to forego the bus and take a leisurely walk to my lesson.

I turn left at the hospital and pass Tramonti Auto Sales and Knight’s Liquor. I wave to Angelo who is unloading cases of beer. Across the street is Dr. Valentino’s office where a few years earlier I had my tonsils removed. Across from his office is the D’Andrea Pharmacy, where unlike a lot of other drug stores, this one also served ice cream sodas. I pass the Gattone Funeral Home and come to the Uptown Theatre where on most Saturday afternoons, and for only 25 cents, I can watch my cowboy heroes and Flash Gordon serial cliffhangers come to life. As I pass, I say Hi! to Jack who is always on duty in the lobby.

I reach the corner of Broadway and Vinton and glance over at Giso Brothers, one of several sponsors of Federal Hill Little League. Further down is Dr. Maiello’s office who is everyone’s doctor. Then I come to the Aurora Club on the corner of Sutton Street and just past that is the De Pasquale’s pharmacy.

After the Uptown I see the Italo-American Club next to the Texaco Gas Station. Continuing down Broadway, I pass Masello’s Brother Barber’s Supplies and Dr. Migliaccio (who would successfully remove my ruptured appendix in 1964.)

Now I am almost downtown and pass the Broadway Press where the Italian Echo is printed. Just past that is Mulry Chevrolet where my dad in another few years will buy a brand new Chevy. On the next corner is Engle Tire and across the street another tire store, Broadway Tire Sales.

My last stop is the Southern Belle Dinner operated by my friend Tommy Caramonte’s dad Joseph. It’s located exactly over where Rt. 95 will pass.

Finally I reach La Salle Square and after I go by the fire and police station next to the library, I have a short walk to Mr. Piacetelli’s studio where despite his great teaching skills did not result in any semblance of a musical career for yours truly.

But those Saturday mornings supplied me with a wealth of wonderful memories of growing up in Federal Hill.

By | 2018-10-12T14:05:23+00:00 November 1st, 2018|Federal Hill|18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Peter Voccio JR. November 1, 2018 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Tony, nice to take the walk with you. As an adult I drove by many of the places you mentioned. Engle tire, years back our family bought many tires there, Poppa Joe the founder and his sons Melvin and Bobby always polite and friendly and good tires.
    Tony,how is Mom doing?

    • Ed November 1, 2018 at 3:45 pm - Reply

      Tony, I will let you answer Peter.

    • Tony lucca November 4, 2018 at 12:52 am - Reply

      Mom is doing great. 101st birthday a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for asking

  2. William Aquilante November 1, 2018 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    Don’t forget Tony Goodrich before you get to LaSalle Square and to your right the street where the Hanley Brewing Co operated.

    • Ed November 2, 2018 at 5:22 am - Reply

      Thanks, Bill.

  3. Peter Voccio JR. November 5, 2018 at 12:43 am - Reply

    Tony, pleased to hear your Mom is doing well. Give her a hug from all of us. What a wonderful son you are Tony. God Bless!

  4. John Ruggiano November 5, 2018 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    I must have seen you at Joe Piacitelli’s studio since he was my teacher of clarinet also. Are you still playing?

    • Ed November 5, 2018 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Ah, kindred spirits. Thanks, John.

    • Tony Lucca November 7, 2018 at 4:57 pm - Reply

      No. I only played for a couple of years. Didn’t have the discipline to continue. My uncle Americo Gravino played the clarinet and saxophone and tried to encourage me but I just didn’t have the interest.

      • Ed November 7, 2018 at 5:36 pm - Reply

        Time to pick it up, Tony. After all, you resumed your writing. Why not the clarinet?

  5. Geri DiMasi November 5, 2018 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    It was such a delight taking that walk along Broadway with you. Although I did not grow up in the Providence area, reading Ed’s blog has made me envious of all of you who did. Those descriptions of your old neighborhoods with all those Italian names painted a picture of a wholesome growing up at a more innocent time. Tony, I admire your ability to remember all those details. You gave such a complete picture of the area where you grew up. Thanks for giving me the pleasure of taking that walk with you.

    • Ed November 5, 2018 at 3:08 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Geri. Tony, Geri and her sister, Joanne Petito (she has commented on Geri’s post), are friends we met on a tour to the national parks last May. Geri lives in Manhattan. She has contributed to my blog. http://www.edwrites.com/stories-of-the-1940s-and-1950s/pop-tunes-of-the-40s-and-50s-by-geri-dimasi/

    • Tony Lucca November 7, 2018 at 5:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks for those kind words. Yes, growing up in Federal Hill was as close to a perfect childhood that anyone can imagine. Of course we all took it for granted as kids, but if I had a time machine, I would set it for some day in the summer in the mid-fifties.

  6. Andree Wells November 5, 2018 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    A wonderful “memory walk”! The refurbished theater has served many purposes with memories of my Classical Pianist sister, Annette, performing there with her spouse, Lucien. The owner’s sister is one of my life long friends, she a graduate of Central High and I, Classical High ’54….we both are Pembroke graduates. The tire shop I often accompanied my dad for replacement of tires……while you had clarinet lessons, I took weekly Thursday trips to the Monday Morning Musical Club quarters for violin lessons with Beatrice Ball Battey (my second mother during my adolescence). Like you, the Health Care World called me with a long Career in Nursing. Thank you for the memories. (is the Nardolillo Funeral Home still on Broadway?….Grace was a Nursing friend and her physician brother shared his premed time with me in the RI Hospital Emergency Room early ’60. He and I share the same wedding anniversary of 9/10/1966 where we met again in the RI marriage licensing waiting room. All good memories……

    • Ed November 5, 2018 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      Thank you for this remarkable recollection, Andree, and for the personal touches. I’m sure Tony will love it.
      Nardolillo’s is no longer on Broadway. Now in Cranston.
      Questions …
      Where did you work?
      Who is Grace’s brother?
      Where are you now?

  7. Judith Queen November 6, 2018 at 5:01 am - Reply

    Dear Ed, I only arrived in Providence in 1964, but, come to think of it that’s still a lot of history we share. I had five piano teachers who all quit teaching me saying the money wasn’t worth it…

    • Ed November 6, 2018 at 11:58 am - Reply

      Just five? Funny

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