‘Godfather’ Slays ‘em at Senior Center

by Jay Hobson

Entertainer Joe “Godfather” Beddia

As part of the Salem Senior Center’s week-long fifth anniversary celebration at the Sally Sweet Way location, entertainer Joe “Godfather” Beddia put on a phenomenal two-hour show on Monday.

Introduced as being “back by popular demand” the introduction was no trite show-biz hype, but actually true.  Beddia had performed his show twice before for the center and had been so well received that he was asked to return.

“I saw Joe last year and he was very good, so I wanted to see him again.”  Audience member Gaye Bergeron said.

Beddia made his entrance to the theme from the Godfather movies in a tuxedo and in the character of “Godfather” Vito Corleone.  Beddia bears a striking resemblance to Marlon Brando as the famous character.

“I used to work as a bartender at the Flamingo and Capri resorts in Las Vegas and the Frolics at Salisbury beach in the 50s and he’s as good as any Vegas comedian.”  Audience member John Gagne said.

When Beddia asked the audience if anyone had seen the show before, 75 percent of the audience raised their hands.

In addition to his Marlon Brando impersonation, Beddia gave convincing Jimmy Durante, Carol Channing, George Burns, Ray Charles, Rodney Dangerfield, and George Carlin impersonations.

The multi-talented performer gave the audience a taste of his abilities with drums, guitar, and clarinet.  The haunting clarinet song Stranger on the Shore by Acker Bilke drew an audible gasp of recognition from the appreciative audience.  A sing-along of That’s Amoré had all of the almost 100-member audience singing and smiling.

Beddia closed his show with a rendition of America in honor of the country’s men and women in uniform serving in Iraq and around the world.

Beddia and his wife, who usually runs the audio for him during his show, divide their time between New England and Florida.

“My father was a musician.  He’s gone now, but I know he’s in every audience,” Beddia said.

The young Beddia got his start at an early age and was in garage and rock bands in junior high school.  “I started with impersonations.  Durante, Channing and the others and one day while shaving I looked in the mirror (he sticks out his chin and mimics the exaggerated thrust of chin and downward facial muscles) and I said I know that face from somewhere.  A movie.  Then it came to me.  It was Brando!  I’ve been doing the Godfather in my act ever since.  As I’ve aged, I’ve grown into the face,” Beddia said.

Beddia has about six more shows in New England before he heads down to Orlando, Florida, on September1 to attend the Sunburst Look-a-Like convention that draws celebrity look-a-likes from around the world.  In addition to his show, Beddia is a member of the Entertainers Network, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Beddia originally hails from Boston and now lives part of the year in The Villages, Florida, and Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Field of Dreams Concert

by Robyn Hatch

Bob Holmes - bass, Dan Genest - guitar, Leo Muise - keyboard, Skip Zogopoulos - drums.

If you missed this outside concert on July 26, you missed an incredible, safe family night.  The Wayback Machine played 60s music that left everyone dancing and remembering the “golden oldie days.”

The musicians; Bob Holmes on bass, Dan Genest on guitar, Leo Muiei on keyboard and Skip Zogopoulos on drums, played outstanding sets that entertained the adults to the youngest kids.  This was an event complete with ice creams, beverages, and a play area for youngsters.

In case you are unaware of Field of Dreams on Geremonty Drive in Salem, this was an individual’s dream brought to reality when members of the community raised funds to build a park on 7.5 acres of land, deeded to the Town of Salem.

The playground was designed by Robert Leathers, who took input from children at the elementary, middle, and high schools.  Their input expanded the playground to include a stage, volleyball, and hiking trails.

The Army Corps of Engineers blasted to make way for the playground and other structures.  Thousands of volunteer manpower hours constructed the Field of Dreams as it is today, with thousands of dollars raised for supplies.

The park is still funded and primarily maintained by volunteers.  If you enjoy helping, consider donating time, funds, and materials or services to the Field of Dreams (Recreation Department - 890-2140).  The Field of Dreams is well worth it.

What’s Hidden in the Stonehenge Stones?  See For Yourself

by Judy Wakefield

Sacrificial Table

The temperature soared on the July afternoon, and Sherri Drouin had the perfect cool-off space.  The Connecticut mom and the rest of her family had rented a house on Big Island Pond.  Sandals and flip-flops were the perfect walking shoes - until daughter Karissa Barstis announced she had a great idea.  She’s studying archaeology in college and remembered a professor talking about nearby America’s Stonehenge on Haverhill Road in North Salem.  It’s an amazing maze of archaeological artifacts and Barstis wanted to check it out.

“I didn’t even bring sneakers so I’m doing this in sandals,” Drouin laughed.  “But she wanted to see this, so here we are.”  Barstis’ footwear was much more practical as the two-some ventured along the self-guided walking nature trail to check out those amazing artifacts.

America’s Stonehenge is a New Hampshire mystery as no one is quite sure who made the artifacts excavated at the site.  Artifacts range from stone tools to 18th and 19th century housewares to manacles that may have been removed from slaves who used the site as a stop on the Underground Railroad in the 1830s and 1840s.

South Facing Chamber Cave.

What is known is that America’s Stonehenge is like the Stonehenge in England, and was built by ancient peoples well versed in astronomy and stone construction.

Dubbed “Mystery Hill Caves” when it opened in 1958, the name changed in 1982 to better reflect the true functions of the site, according to Patricia and Dennis Stone, who currently operate America’s Stonehenge.  Their tour guide map lists over 30 artifacts worth taking notice of.  And, the site’s astronomical alignment is also noteworthy.  First of all, it’s accurate.  It was and still can be used to determine specific solar and lunar events of the year, like summer solstice and fall equinox.

Other tour highlights include:

  • The Oracle chamber is a collection of remains that include a secret bed and speaking tube.  Words spoken through this stone-lined tube exit under the sacrificial table outside the chamber and give the impression that the table is talking - hence the term “oracle.”
  • The astronomical viewing platform lets visitors view large stones that astronomically align for winter and summer solstice sunrise and sunset.
  • The Sacrificial Table is a 4.5 ton grooved slab that is believed to have been used for ceremonial sacrifices.
  • Alpacas look like llamas but are members of the Camelid family.  There are eight of them housed here, including the newest family member - Barney.  He was born last year.  Alpacas were domesticated about 5,000 years ago in South America, as their wool is used to make expensive sweaters and blankets.

Summer Solstice Marker.

Research of the site artifacts continues as archaeologists hope to find some answers to the complex geology questions at the site.  It’s a mystery worth investigating as archeology students of today, including Karissa Barstis, continue to be intrigued.

“This is just a great place and you have to wonder who built it,” she said.  The answers may be forever hidden in stone.

Check it out!  America’s Stonehenge, 105 Haverhill Road, North Salem, open year-round, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admission is 4 p.m.), admission:  $9.50; $8.50 seniors; $6.50 ages 6 - 12; 5 and under free, 893-8300; info@stonehengeusa.com.

Baby Alpaca, Barney, born on site.

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