June 27, 2008

The Four Seasons’ Day Has Come

June 27th, 2008

Photos courtesy of Danielle Gaudio-Lalehzar.

By Charles Alexander, Jersey Boys Blog Correspondent

In the Township of Union, New Jersey, once stood a bowling alley that will live forever in the history of the Four Seasons and the memories of their fans. On Wednesday, June 25, 2008, at the Costco that stands on the site now, those memories were enshrined by the renaming of the adjacent street. A portion of West Chestnut Street is now Four Seasons Lane. On hand to unveil one of the new street signs and represent the original Four Seasons were five of their children: Darcel DeVito Collins, Danielle Gaudio-Lalehzar, Lisa Gaudio, Toni Valli and Robert Massi, who performed a reprise of his father’s most famous bass phrase: “Why don’t you come on.” Most touching was the presence of Nick’s widow Margie Massi, who met Nick as a teenager and was with him for about 60 years.

The very special guests attracted a large turnout of Four Seasons and Jersey Boys fans, local press and maybe a few curious Costco customers. Thanks to the store for graciously sponsoring the event.

Along with the street renaming, township officials proclaimed the day to be “Four Seasons Day” in Union as part of their bicentennial celebration, and the families of the Four Seasons were given plaques to commemorate the occasion.

The daughters brought greetings from their fathers. The funniest thing was when Toni Valli raised the question of whether a toll booth should be erected on Four Seasons Lane. Toni said the group needed more revenue. While Frankie’s daughter made the joke, I thought I could detect the wit of Bobby Businessman in that amusing bit of irony, at a time when five productions of Jersey Boys sell out every night.

Greetings were also read from Joe Long and Charlie Calello.

Audrey Rockman, a Jersey Boys Blog Correspondent, did a wonderful job of organizing the event, which was the brainstorm of James Petrecca, who owns Yesterday’s Treasures, a memorabilia shop (specializing in the Four Seasons and the Beatles) on Stuyvesant Avenue in Union, and Walt Gollender, a friend of the Four Lovers back in the beginning, and perhaps the world’s greatest expert on the Lovers and Seasons. Jerry Coppola, a personal friend of Tommy DeVito’s, did a fine job as Master of Ceremonies. Walt did his dead-on imitation of Frankie’s intro to “Walk Like a Man.” If only Walt had Bob Gaudio to write for him.

The guest most famous in his own right, Tom Austin, told stories of writing and performing with Gaudio. Tom touchingly recollected how he and his teenage buddy Bob met and decided to form their “own group,” the Royal Teens, and how the huge hit “Short Shorts” was born. One afternoon on the street, Tom and Bob noticed two girls wearing cutoffs that were so short, Bob and Tom both looked at each other and came up with the moniker “Short Shorts.” Bob and Tom wrote it as an instrumental, but a producer asked where the words were. Bob looked at Tom and said, “Let’s keep it simple” and they did: “Who wears short shorts? We wear short shorts. They’re such short shorts. We like short shorts.” That was it–and a monster song was created.

The Royal Teens toured with Bill Haley and the Comets, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, the Everly Brothers. But Tom soon was drafted, and that marked the end of the Royal Teens. Over 40 years later, Tom received an invitation from Bob to the opening night party of Jersey Boys. After not seeing each other in four decades, Tom and Bob hugged, and it was as if they’d seen each other yesterday.

Howard Tucker, another Jersey Boys Blog correspondent, introduced Frank Delle Donne, whose family owned the Four Seasons Play and Recreation Center, also known as Four Seasons Bowl, and Joe LaGregor, who managed the Center during its 30 years of operation, from 1958-1988. But perhaps the biggest applause was for Ann Egan, the cocktail waitress from opening night to closing night for all three decades.

Howard once again acknowledged James Petrecca, the event coordinator, with a quick story of how Howard and Jim met. Seems Howard bid on an eBay Four Seasons item that Jim listed. Howard noted, “Well, I lost the bid, but made a great friend, and Jim invited me to his store, Yesterday’s Treasures, where I really hit the jackpot.” Jim can be reached at [email protected]

I read greetings from the UK Four Seasons Appreciation Society, which seemed to impress the crowd. “They don’t have fan clubs over in England,” I said, “They have appreciation societies.” I also mentioned that the four daughters of the Four Seasons could be heard, as children on a playground, on a 1968 record, “Saturday’s Father,” which appeared on the 1969 album Genuine Imitation Life Gazette.

A special guest in the audience was Dennis Diken, drummer of the Smithereens and the author of the terrific lead essay in the Jersey Beat box set of Four Seasons music.

All in all, the day was a total success, bigger and better than I imagined it could be. My highest compliments to Audrey, who brought me into this great event, and Howard, who supplied many of the observations in this story, and Jim and Walt and all the organizers. The admirers of the Four Seasons and Jersey Boys are just too good to be true. And the Township of Union, New Jersey, is pretty cool too.

9 Comments »

  1. Charles,

    You have written an eloquent article describing another touching event in the Four Seasons phenomenon which continues today through each fantastic performance of Jersey Boys. Thank you for the article. I felt like
    I was there through the your wonderful tribute.

    IE

    Comment by irene eizen — June 27, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  2. That’s so cool! If I ever get to visit NJ, I’ll DEFINITELY check out Four Seasons Lane!

    Comment by Beth L. — June 27, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

  3. charles, it WAS a great day wasnt it? im very happy that all the work of the last 3 months paid off. it started with me going to the town asst.admin ron manzella and he got the ball rolling, then ted kobran (community event planner)helped me along the way with plans for the event, walt gollender was working day to day with me, contacting the media and making flyers to promote the event, i got audrey involved with the program after walt and i picked the front and back covers, audrey wrote page three and helped out with the rest of the program. audrey worked up to the last minute working on the program and its got to be one of the best ive ever seen…she is great to have on your team when you want something done right……….danielle kept in touch with me throughout the whole process and helped us put together the guests. also the promo work on xm radio which was extensive. we were also advertised on wcbs-fm and wor 710 am (joey reynolds show) and bloomberg 1130 am quite a bit! the star ledger has us in the day of the event statewide and on thurs in the union county version with a large picture of the jersy girls…..(page 27)… the town did a great job on the streetsigns (which total seven including 3 major intersections on west chestnut st (four seasons lane) the sections are well traveled) the town gave my store (yesterdays treasures) the sign that was unveiled at the event which will be there for all to see and take pictures with at the bus tours or anytime. costco and dennis dingivan (mgr) helped quite a bit throughout the event planning. and in the near future there will be a surprise on those grounds again for all us four seasons/jersey boys fans. thanks to everyone for their support and making my dream come to a reality.

    Comment by jim petrecca — June 27, 2008 @ 11:58 pm

  4. Charles, that was a beautiful article. Thank you so much for sharing the activities. It means so much to those of us who could not make it up there to see the family and the dedication ceremony. You are awesome!

    Comment by Lenora Antunes — June 28, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

  5. Great write up, Charles!! Definetely the next best thing to being there. Sounds like a wonderful day all around, and so nice that Frankie, Bob, Tommy, and Nick’s children were there. As Gyp says, they take care of family. We like that!!

    XO, Pam

    Comment by Pamela — June 28, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

  6. Great to finally see a pic of the Four Seasons bowling alley sign…and Audrey, you look smashing!

    Comment by Gary — June 28, 2008 @ 8:40 pm

  7. Jim, you did a great job of creating this vision and implementing it. I witnessed first-hand how much time, money and effort you and Walt put into it over the months. The hard work paid off- big! It was a pleasure working with you.

    Comment by Audrey — June 28, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

  8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr2fKa2d2xE

    Comment by jim petrecca — June 29, 2008 @ 11:56 pm

  9. Thanks to everyone for the nice comments. You make writing for Jersey Boys Blog as much fun as a night at Jersey Boys. Allbest, Charles

    Comment by Charles Alexander — June 30, 2008 @ 9:49 am

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