What a wonderful life! Just last year I re-found my two original Delicates singing group partners, Denise Ferri and Arleen Lanzotti (now Gonnella). Denise and I met in second grade and we both became friends with Arleen a bit later. Here we were three children in elementary school just wanting to be together every waking minute singing singing, singing and writing songs. At that time, I donít remember thinking of it as writing, we were just making up songs about the boys we liked and cars that we hoped to own when we were allowed to drive which of course was years off. You could tell what was on our minds and in our hearts just by checking out some of our songs. How about "Too Young to Date" (a lament to our fathers) or The Kiss, when you hear it you can detect lots of Paul Anka influences. In looking back, the old-fashioned neighborly care we received from so many in our hometown of Belleville New Jersey really made a difference.
Here are some of my special memories:
Our 5th grade teacher Miss Walsh (later Mrs. Arthur) was the first to put us together to sing for a school talent show.
A local woman, Honey Tortorello, who had fabulous taste and style helped us choose outfits once we began to appear in professional venues. She sold clothing from the basement of her home but it rivaled any fashionable boutique.
We wrote and sang songs at town events and for local dignitaries. I remember my mom waking me up saying quick call Dee and Lee mayor Padula won and they want you to sing it at city hall. Our parents were not pushy at all just very encouraging, although i have to admit my dad was not crazy about the idea of me being around so many boys when I was on stage. It sounds silly now but many people had a different mindset then.
Our parents took turns chaperoning us early on for not only local events but also later when we performed in NYC nightclubs since we were not of age to be near liquor. We even had to get special licenses. We also played huge New York theaters and went on tour with noted radio and TV celebs such as Clay Cole, Murray The K (later touting himself as the 5th Beatle), Cousin Brucie and Alan Freed. We were in shows with so many star performers and we learned so much.
One of the very first very exciting appearances was singing at the then famous Grossinger's in the New York Catskills when Jennie Grosssinger came around to all the tables asking everyone if they were well fed and happy. We opened for Alan King and Leslie Uggams. The talented Leslie Uggams was there too with her mother. We sang Andrews Sisters, McGuire Sisters and Everly Brothers songs, which old and young enjoyed.
Other than the fact that we each came from talented families in one way or another, a big motivating influence was Connie Francis. She came to live in Belleville and attended Belleville high school before us. I often wondered if Dr. Peck our 9th to 12th grade music teacher influenced Connie as much as I felt he did me. Even though my world of music was different from the beautiful recordings we listened to in his music appreciation class he was always most encouraging.
Eventually Dee, Lee and I went our separate ways two of us into other show business endeavors and one not, but this was our beginning and we have come full circle as life long friends. I hope you enjoy our memories and I want to thank Denise and her parents for keeping and treasuring all the memorabilia that she shares on our site.