It’s about time Malden High School 1972 alumni John “C.J.” Lopresti was honored for a lifetime committed to the sport he loved so much and dominated for so long. At the 16th annual Massachusetts Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame banquet at 5:30 p.m. April 7 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, John will be inducted for his stellar wrestling career, his amazing coaching record, and last but not least, his lifetime spent mentoring the many youngsters — in Malden and beyond — who were lucky enough to have John in their lives.

John was another one of those stone cold Malden guys who never forgot where he came from and always gave back — he and his whole family. John was a stand-up guy with many friends whose philosophy — whether teaching, coaching or as a wrestling official — was always to try to instill in young people a sense of hard work, persistence, professionalism and a “healthy respect” for the sport of wrestling. He liked to lead by example. He’d try to highlight the relevance of the sport to life and the notion that what makes you a champion on the wrestling mat will also help you succeed in today’s world.

City of Malden Communication Director Ron Cochran wrestled for John and had these words to say about him: “Coach Lopresti was compassionate about everything except when you are sucking gas during a wrestling practice and looking for sympathy. Seriously though, he set me up for a lifetime of having fitness be at the core of my health. I still draw on the discipline I learned under him when I am trying to keep myself in shape or do anything strenuous. We learned that when your brain wants you to quit and when you should quit are two very different things. Easily my most influential coach. His induction is well deserved for a life dedicated to the sport.”

City of Malden Public Facilities Director Eric Rubin also wrestled for John, he was kind enough to add these words about C.J.:

“CJ was not only a coach and mentor, but truly an inspiration to me and my team. I can remember coming into the wrestling room and there he would be at the front of the room ready to get the best out of all of us for the next 2 plus hours. Just when you thought practice was almost over ready to break he would push you for five more, four more, three more, two more. His encouragement and coaching style made it hard to not want to give him your best every day. CJ would always tell us that wrestling is not only a great sport but it will also provide life lessons that you will never forget. He would reference that final “2 Minutes” and to never give up. There would often be the “Malden Greats” (his former wrestlers) from the past who he would recruit to come back to show us a thing or two. This was all due to the kind of coach CJ Lopresti was. When you think of him the words that come to mind are dedication, commitment, hardworking and respect. Although he had his own family at home he was teacher, mentor, coach, and most of all friend to his entire family in the oval room in the first floor at MHS we called the ‘wrestling room.’”

Check out some of the familiar Malden guys John coached in high school who went on to have college wrestling success: Dom Sardo, most of the O’Boyle clan — Danny, Johnny and Brian, Eddie Wilcox, Dave Russo, Dave Ford, Mike Lopresti, Aaron McCarthy and Chris Carribino, to name just a few.

Checkout some of the names of the youth of Malden that went on to coach at the high school level or beyond that C.J. mentored: Danny Della Gatta, Andrew Briatico, Anthony “Nephew of Peter Levine” Scibelli, Jeff Carroll, Benny Talbot, Johnny “Eck” Eccelston, Donny Boyce Jr. and Sr., Dan “Son of George” Ford, Dave O’Brien, Johnny “Rapid John” Rafuse, Guy Prescott and the O’Boyle clan to name a few.

Check out some of the names of the sectional champions that John coached in high school: Malden Public Facilities Department Director Eric Rubin, Danny “Son of George” Ford, again the O’Boyle clan, Dave Ollis, Jimmy “Hacksaw” Reynolds, Dave “Mr. Entertainer” Russo, Danny “Son of Tony” Della Gatta, Darren Smith, Billy Wingerter and Derek Henry, to name just a few.

John had the magic touch. His time spent as head coach or assistant coach produced three state champs, 15 state place winners, 16 sectional champs, 16 athletes who went on to wrestle at the college level and 29 who became coaches.

I personally have been lucky enough to call John friend for many years now. A fierce competitor whether on the baseball diamond, football field or the wrestling mat he was somebody I looked up to growing up and remember him as a class act and the “gentle giant” that he was. Congrats, C.J., on your induction!

If you would like to pay homage to this outstanding Maldonian you can make contact with the following for ticket information: Phil Gormley at 617-877-1725 or philgormley@aol.com; visit https://ma-nwhof.ticketleap.com; or contact Rene Canezin at 617-721-9697 or NWHOF.MA@gmail.com.

 

It is said in Malden Musings...

• Nancy B. (Gennetti) Cagno. Aug. 3, 1932 through Feb. 18, 2018. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Lisa Gennetti Lipani’s eulogy to her beloved Aunt Nancy was powerfully written and included this Maya Angelou line. I already knew she was “thoughtful, generous, kind, loving, patient, beautiful, smart, funny, classy and genuine” but I did not know she was a “horrible singer.” Thank you for sharing this with us, Lisa.

• I want to personally express my gratitude to Mayor Gary Christenson for honoring Holocaust survivor Israel Arbeiter at the 2018 State of the City address this past Feb. 17. You continue to amaze, Mr. Mayor. Thank you.

• Malden Musings “Breakfast Pick of the Week”: The “Hungry Man’s Special” at Robert’s Restaurant on Broadway. Who says I don’t venture out of Edgeworth?! If you like friendly neighborhood hangouts with awesome food and wicked good waitresses (thank you, Stacey) then this hidden Malden treasure is definitely your place.

• Who else misses Jerry’s Army and Navy?

• Here’s hoping that Paul “Papa” McKinnon gets well soon! We miss that great smile of yours “Twinks!”

• Malden High School Class of 1975’s All Scholastic football star (and underrated hoopster) Jack Freker recently turned the big 6-0. Hard to believe but true, although Jack is another 1975 MHS grad that has aged extremely well over the many years. On Facebook, he thanked his many friends and family members the same way he has always conducted himself, with much class and humility: “Hello all, many thanks to my family and friends for the fabulous birthday greetings! I’m truly humbled and blessed. At 60, there’s a lot of self reflection going on...beginning with “how the heck did I get here so fast”...”how do I plan to spend the rest of my life” to “I am so fortunate to have lived my life with so many great people” with each one having some type of impact and influence on my life, whether in the classroom, the field, the gym, campus, the workplace, holidays, through friendships, friends of friends, great conversations and of course unforgettable family experiences and celebrations. Thanks all for touching my heart and soul and playing a role in helping me reach this stage in life (albeit advanced...I know). Now with that said...I’m all in for the next fantastic 40 years!!! Here we go!......You with me??” I am, Freck!

• Anybody check out the clothes and shoes at Edson Fashions in Malden Square lately? Who says you can’t find cool clothes in the Square anymore?

• I am throwing this one out there — the “ghost sign” for Black’s Furniture that has survived the many years of New England/Malden winters on the side of the old Granada Theater — now home to Malden City Hall — we need to save that! Calling all Malden artists/activists who want to take this task on.

• Still the best kept secret in Malden and one of Mayor Christenson’s favorite haunts, Prisco’s Pasta Market Cafe on Ferry Street. This hidden jewel is owned and operated by Prisco Mancaniello, brother of Bruno, Pablo and Libby, who is straight out of Edgeworth, Malden boy his whole life. Go out and support locally owned restaurants, they don’t get much more local and better than the Pasta Market. Jimmy “Stinger” Cahill and his wife the “Fabulous Judy” strongly suggests the lasagna. By the way, Prisco’s brother Bruno had a deadly jumper and Pablo was impossible to move out of the paint.

• Please forgive me for the many omissions in my last column of loved ones that will be missed this St. Rocco Feast. My apologies — so many names, too many to remember at my old age. I will throw a few more out there that recently came to mind (thank you, Barbara). We cannot forget Ruthie Vona, Laura Damiano, Frank and Eleanor Molinari, Olga and Mugsy Ruggiero and Yola Chicurelli. More to come.

• Always a pleasure to chat with Malden Teen Enrichment Center Coordinator Cathy Macmullin. I followed Cathy Mac’s sports career at MHS and believe me, she could play with the best of them. A class act who is doing a fine job at the Enrichment Center, by the way.

• Extreme’s front-man via Highland Avenue and Amerige Park in Malden, Gary Cherone, is working on a musical project with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. Stay tuned for details.

• “This is Ronny Hogan’s world and we just live in it...” Speaking of Ronny Hogan and the newly created City of Malden Parking Department, I gotta give the guy props for his memory recall. Anybody who can recite, word for word I might add, Sugarhill Gang’s “Rappers Delight” is really special in my book.

• Barry Crimmins helped put Boston and the Ding Ho Restaurant on the comedy map back in the day. A “key founding figure” as the Boston Globe put it, Barry passed away Feb. 27 at age 64 after a lifetime of fighting the good fight. A fearless stand up comedian and extraordinary man with a heart of gold many of today’s biggest funnymen owe a debt of gratitude to this giant.

• Who else misses Brenda Duffy?

• Happy belated 50th birthday to the hardest working man in show biz, our Honorable Mayor Gary Christenson. A man in constant motion — as I sat at Dunkin’ Donuts in the Square on the Sunday morning of his big day with local personality Dave Russo, we witnessed first hand his dedication to the job he loves so much. Gary bid us a good morning before he slipped off to the office to no doubt tie up a few loose ends that needed his attention. I could not have put it any better than Malden’s own Adam Weldai now the assistant principal in the Chelsea Public School system with his Facebook post: “Happy 50th birthday Mayor! Malden benefits from your heart, work ethic and compassionate leadership every day.”

• “These things are good...” — the new face of Malden Square, Ward 6 Councilor Dave Camell and my neighbors on Seaview Avenu, the Walkers.

• Malden’s first micro-brewery, Idle Hands on Commercial Street, now has an outdoor patio. Bring on live entertainment in Malden on a beautiful summer night! If you need help finding local entertainers, let me know. Malden has plenty who would love to work Commercial Street.

• Who else misses the 99 Restaurant in Malden Square?

• Thank you to longtime readers of this column Jackie Bello, Nancy Ward, Luke Phaneuf, Charlie MacGregor, Arthur Boyles Jr., John Marsinelli Sr., Harvey Nadler, Danny Siraco, Barbara Walsh-Murphy and the many others that have reached out to me in the recent past. I really appreciate your kind words.

• Ran into MHS class of 1987 football great Dan Jones in Super Duper Stop and Shop recently. Tom’s youngster spent three seasons with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and looks as though he could suit up today.

• “I miss the old city hall building aka ‘The Beast That Ate Pleasant Street’” said nobody!

• Keep this one secret — the rumor galloping up and down Pleasant Street is that city of Malden Parking Department Director Ronny Hogan and his newly hired supervisor Ernie Ardolino will be participating in their first triathlons this summer. “The Hoganator” has enlisted Super of Cemeteries Jimmy Cahill to help him train for the event. Jimmy is quoted as saying that Ronny’s “steady diet of Diet Coke’s will give him the edge he needs to be competitive this summer.” Ernie’s not so sure about that regiment.

• I am overjoyed that the powers that be kept the façade to the old Malden Masonic Building on Pleasant Street. Looks fab! We can’t afford to lose any more of our past.

• Who else misses Maher’s Café on Medford Street?

• Want a great burger? Cornucopia in Malden Square serves one of the best! Tell Neal you read about his burgers in Malden Musings.

• Same deal at Mystic Station — great burgers, but here you can wash it down with one of their tasty craft beers.

• Jackson Suites on Jackson Street — from ballroom dancing on Saturday nights with Kevin Tully to Malden’s brand new state of the art Parking Department. “For the times they are a changin’.”

• Congrats to Malden girl Gail (Giordano) Infurna, a Malden High 1974 grad, who was sworn in recently as Mayor of Melrose to fulfill last two years of Rob Dolan’s term. Rob left to become Lynnfield Town Administrator. Gail was elected by the Board of Aldermen and is the first women to hold the job as Mayor of Melrose. Congresswomen Katherine Clark spoke on this historic occasion. Gail was a Ward 5 Alderman for 20 years so she knows her way around the city of Melrose.

• One of the tallest Alderman’s in the history of Melrose Ward 3 Alderman Frank Wright was a proud supporter of his fellow Malden High grad, although Frank is a mere child being a 1977 grad of MHS. Frank was a Y regular back in the day and believe me, it was not easy to get a shot off with 6-foot-7-inch Frank on the basketball court.

• Oh, and by the way Frank’s grandfather, Nathaniel Wright, was Malden Recreation Director during the Depression.

• Thank you to Gail’s little brother Bobby for the heads up!

• Gotta give a shout out to departing Mayor Dolan, one of the good ones.

• Who else is looking forward to the Malden Summer Concert Series? This year we’ll have back some of your favorites back as well as a couple of newcomers. Details to follow...

• Please help support Malden Overcoming Addiction’s second annual #TogetherWeCan comedy night fundraiser at 6 p.m. May 3 at the Malden Irish American Club at 177 West St.. Tickets are $25, which will get you good music, great food, silent auctions, wicked good raffles and more. Tickets are available at http://bit.ly/moacomedy. All of the proceeds from this fundraiser will go directly to support the work of MOA.

• Who else misses Sparks?!

• “Danger Will Robinson!” Travel Pierce Street going towards Salem at your own risk.

• Happy birthday to my precious grandchild, 8-year-old Christian Joseph Falzarano! The joy you continue to bring into my life cannot possibly be expressed in words.

• Next time you use the Jackson Street Garage, be sure to say hello to a couple of longtime Malden guys, hard-working LAZ employees Peter Healy and Mike McCarthy.

• Nominations for the 2018 Malden High School Alumni Hall of Fame are being reviewed as you read this article. I hope all Maldonians took some time to send in a worthy Maldonian to the committee for consideration. People like Malden Historical Society Activist Barbara Tolstrup, former Mayor “Gentleman” Jim Conway, John Bionelli, Mass State Trooper Tommy Quinn, Charlie Farren, Norman “Spirit in the sky” Greenbaum and Dom Fermano, to name just a scant few that could be possibly recognized.

• Who else misses Harry Mehos prowling the sidelines at Macdonald Stadium?

• Raise your hand if you’re psyched with the direction the Square is taking — raising my hand right now. More quality restaurants than I have ever seen in my lifetime with more to come as the construction finishes up in the very near future. The makeover the Dowling Building is undergoing right now as well as the new LED lighting downtown is transforming the Square into a place we can all be very proud of. The days of dollar stores are finally winding down for Maldonians (“not that there is anything wrong with dollar stores”)!

• But I would really like to see another Army and Navy store come back to the Square! Remember when we had two?

• Who else misses seeing Ernie Ardolino Sr. sitting at his designated table at Donut Villa?

• Keep up the great work, U.S. Senator Ed Markey. Comforting to know that we have a voice of reason representing us in the U.S. Senate — straight out of Townsend Street.

 

As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character Columbo would say, “Just one more thing sir”:

Okay, Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, he of MHS Class of 1977, killed it once again. The beautifully written March 2 ode to a childhood best friend’s dad — Tony D’Angelo — was another example of his amazing writing skills. “So long, gentle gardener” is a must read and would enter my Writing Hall of Fame — if there was a Writing Hall of Fame — for the last two paragraphs alone. I would depart a happy Maldonian if I could write anything as close as these in my life: “I like to think that Heaven is a place of our own choosing, that we get to decide where we spend eternity, in a place that makes us happiest and brings us peace. And so I picture Tony D’Angelo, forever in the place where I first saw him, his garden, checking his tomatoes, humming and singing snippets of “Volare” softly to himself, wondering what his Ida is cooking for dinner. That, for him, is paradise.”