Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Remarkable Young Man Was He

If you remember where you were on November 22, 1963, you may also remember this song, from the Peter Pan collection, "Sing A Song Of Presidents". It went from George Washington all the way to John F. Kennedy.

Lyrics are below (including additional post 1962 bonus lyrics), so sing along -

John F. Kennedy

A remarkable young man is he

At age forty-three

Elected to the Presidency

He was born in 1917
The second child of nine
In the state of Massachusetts
In the city of Brookline

His granddad was a Mayor
His dad Ambassador
He graduated Harvard
Then gave service in the War

(repeat chorus)

As commander of the PT Boat
He got the Purple Heart
He was a combat hero
And he bravely did his part

He served his country proudly

And when the war was won

The hero of the Solomons

Went on to Washington.

(repeat chorus)

Then for three terms he served the House
Of Representatives
And after that a Senator
He gave all he could give

As Senator this Democrat
Worked harder than before
'Til he became the President
Number thirty four (oops)

(repeat chorus)

He liked to have his booty calls
With Marilyn Monroe
He shared her with his brother Bob,
And Ted had Mary Jo

And when Jackie was out of town
He used the White House pool
For skinny-dipping with the staff
While Caroline's at school

(repeat chorus)

He took a trip to Germany
The city of Berlin
He made a declaration
That started with "Ich Bin"

But when he finished his speech
The audience was droll
'Cause "Ich Bin Eine Berliner" means
"I am a jelly roll"

(repeat chorus)

He was shot in 1963
His brain was blown to bits
Lee Harvey got three shots off
But he only made two hits

Was there a second gunman
Behind the Grassy Knoll?
We don't know that but do know
In Jack's head there was a hole

(repeat chorus)
John F. Kennedy
A remarkable young man was he
At age forty three
Elected to the Presidency

Friday, May 17, 2013

Better To Be Half Italian Than Not Italian At All

When my Dad cleared the house so he could sell it, I took out of the attic all my grandparents' old stuff, photos, 8mm films, slides, newspaper clippings. I'm still in the process of going through everything. I was remembering my Uncle Joe, my grandfather's brother. For the hell of it I Googled his name and this came back:

Could this be OUR Uncle Joe? I posted the question on our Saltamach Facebook Group and learned that, yes, Joe Saltamach had published four songs.

My cousin Rosemarie surprised me by mailing me her copy of "Symbol Of Love", a song Uncle Joe wrote in 1946. One problem: I don't read music. To the rescue came Stella Crispo, a parishioner at my brother's former parish. Dave is a Catholic priest and now pastor at a parish in Haskell, NJ
The other day Fr. Dave sent to my sister and me Stella's piano and vocal rendition of "Symbol Of Love". 

I got to work, compiling some old Saltamach photos and video clips and put together a video to the music. The result is a "Once Upon A Time In America" type montage, the quintessential American story. Catherine Fonte and Giuseppe Saltalamacchia, my great grandparents,  arrived on the shores of the Hudson River at the turn of the 20th Century and settled in North Bergen, NJ. Great grandpa built the homestead out of stone with his bare hands.

Seeing these photos, set to music, reminded me how much fun it was growing up in an North Jersey Italian family. The Saltamaches were a fun loving group. Every family get-together was filled with great food, music and laughter.

My great grandparents came here with practically nothing and spawned a sprawling, prosperous family. I'm forever grateful for my rich Italian heritage.

So, here's our video, our Valentine to our wonderful forbears: