Life in the Ville by Jimmy Del Ponte
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Oh Boy, another birthday! As my mother used to say, “What’s the alternative?” I say, keep them coming! I am happy to report that I have never felt happier or healthier. And as the title of this column states, I have spent my life in the Ville!
60 of my 61 years have been in Somerville, except for one year living in California, and one year in Florida and probably around three years at other Somerville addresses. I have grown up with most of my fellow classmates from Somerville High School’s class of 1971.
One of the many things I love about living here is the fact that I still see lots of those classmates. I just borrowed a 1971 yearbook and had fun looking through it. As I said, I still bump into many of those kids at Home Depot, in traffic, and even in other states. I say kids because that’s how I feel. It’s like my body aged but my mind didn’t. I still feel like a 16-year-old kid at heart. Maybe it’s because my youngest son is just shy of 17? Maybe it’s because I am lucky to have a job that allows me to work with kids? Maybe it’s because I am still just that immature child in a grown up body. I don’t know. I do know that I am in a very good place. I also know that it could all change in a nanosecond so I am going to enjoy it while I can.
I picked my son up the other day from his job at the Somerville Theatre. I looked around the lobby amidst the wonderful smell of fresh popcorn and reflected for a second. How blessed am I to be able to merely walk into a building and be bombarded with so many memories. My dad worked at the theater and so did I. Dad was an usher there around 1935 and me around 1969. The movies of dad’s tenure were Mutiny on The Bounty and The Bride of Frankenstein. Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy were being shown when I was shining the flashlight up in the balcony. A plethora of remembrances in one location. I really appreciate that gift. My daily routine also brings me by other former job locations, such as Lyndell’s Bakery, and places that used to house businesses like Woolworths and my old newspaper delivery office.
I have been walking up the stairs of the same house in Somerville since 1961. The number of families that were there when we moved in are dwindling and every couple of years another one of their houses are sold. Happily, two of my childhood friends who were already on the street when we came are still there. All are Somerville High grads and musicians like me.
I have seen many mayors, aldermen, school committee people, teachers, cops, firemen, and city workers come and go (just this morning I drove by my friend, former Engine 7 firefighter Joe Galvin’s house and stopped for 5 seconds just to say hi. That’s Somerville to me). Today I am lucky to work with some of the best!
Can you believe that I have walked or driven down my street at least 20,000 times in my lifetime? And the longer I live in Somerville the more I like it. I am also lucky to be working with Somerville’s Swinging singing Seniors, also known as The Moonlighters. I get to be the kid of that group and love laughing and singing with them. We have become close friends.
So as I turn 61 in Somerville, I am still loving this city. I will try to maintain the excitement I had when I was 16. I am blessed to be directing Somerville’s Project STAR, and The Sunsetters. I’m enjoying helping to get my second kid ready for college in the fall, and watching my granddaughter grow. Son # 2 will be a junior this year. I even still enjoy writing this column and I hope you enjoy reading it. Stay tuned because if anything changes you will be the first ones to hear it! (I’m just dying to go off on a tirade!!) But for now, every time I wake up I say to myself, “Cool … I get to do it again!!”