Aging along with Aerosmith

Ranger Rich

| August 06, 2009
Tosches (R) and Bresciani with bluefish, 1971.
Tosches (R) and Bresciani with bluefish, 1971.
- Courtesy Rich Tosches
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The golden rays of dusk had grudgingly given way to the darkness and Joe Perry's guitar began to wail and Steven Tyler screeched and Aerosmith came to life last weekend in Colorado. I glanced to my left and my old friend smiled. And then we went back. Way back.

"Those guys came to my house," he said, nodding toward the stage at the Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre in Englewood where Tyler and guitar god Perry and Aerosmith disturbed the night. "They needed an extension cord. Johnny gave them the green one he used for our Christmas lights."

Here you might be thinking my friend is a nut. And frankly, you'd be right.

His name is Rob Bresciani, and he and I have laughed and behaved like idiots for 40 years now.

His father — that would be Johnny — regularly referred to us as "goddamn fools" and "stupid bastards" and neither of us has any doubt whatsoever that Johnny was right. (Last Saturday night, when I couldn't figure out how to use the cellphone camera I've had for two years, my friend looked at me for a moment and said, "You're just stupid!" and I blew a $9.50 beer out of my nose.)

Rob has lived in Boulder for three decades, but a long time ago we grew up — OK, we lived — in the tiny Massachusetts town of Hopedale, southwest of Boston. There were about 62 people in our high school graduating classes of 1972 and 1973. (Rob is a year older than me but, to be honest, he doesn't look it. He looks about 10 years older than me.)

In 1970 we'd climb the creaky oak stairs to the second-floor meeting room in the Hopedale Town Hall, and we would pay 50 cents each and for two hours we'd listen to a new band called Aerosmith. No kidding.

Perry is a few years older than Rob and me. Perry's sister, Anne-Marie, was in Rob's class and was a good friend. My sister, Linda, was Joe's classmate. She tells of the day in our Catholic church when Joe burst from the confessional booth with the priest yelling and chasing him. No one ever found out what that was all about. I think that's a shame.

And maybe I forgot to mention that Joe Perry's mother, Mary, who now lives in a big house in Florida, was our gym teacher. I swear I am not kidding about any of this. You can look it up. We had Joe Perry and Steven Tyler and the rest of the band.

We had Aerosmith!

They played together for the first time ever in November 1970, just up the road from Hopedale in the high school gymnasium of the adjoining and equally cosmopolitan town of Mendon (motto: "Mooooo!").

That winter they played in Hopedale a lot in the old granite Town Hall, just above the town clerk's office where I'd buy my fishing license each spring. At Aerosmith's first Hopedale appearance, in January 1971, Rob (16) and I (15) leaned against the stage, looking cool in our enormous bell-bottom trousers. During the second song Rob turned and above the roar shouted, "These guys are pretty good."

We still laugh about that.

A few months later there'd be a high school dance in Hopedale. Rob was in charge and asked Anne-Marie Perry if she had any, uh, ideas about entertainment. She sighed and said she'd ask her brother and, well, Aerosmith agreed to play at our dance. For $200.

On the morning of the big event, Tyler and Perry knocked on Rob's door at the end of Pierce Street.

"They were setting up the speakers in the gym and needed an extension cord," Rob said. His dad handed it over and that night Aerosmith made the gymnasium shake — with the Bresciani family's Christmas light connector snaked across the makeshift stage.

So last Saturday, some 38 years later, we stood with our wives — both named Susie, and how weird is that? — as Aerosmith pounded the night. The best friend I've ever had stood for three hours with a big grin on his face, pausing occasionally to insult me.

His dad, Johnny, died several years ago. Rob thought about that, too. Near the end of the concert he turned and shouted to me above the madness.

"Until he died, whenever anyone would mention Joe Perry or Aerosmith," Rob said, "Johnny would say, 'Those bastards. They still owe me an extension cord.'"

Old buddies reunite to see Aerosmith.
Old buddies reunite to see Aerosmith.
- Courtesy Rich Tosches


Comments (14)

Showing 1-14 of 14

I love it.
Everyone has to come from some where.

Posted by Boomer49 on 08/07/2009 at 9:24 AM

And we can claim both Joe Perry AND Rich Tosches!!!

Buster and Kathi (Mendykowski) Wright, Hopedale, MA

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Posted by Buster Wright on 09/06/2009 at 5:38 PM

A great article Rich. We happened to be looking up Joe Perry, while watching tonights Green Bay game - I know, there is seemingly no connection - and just happened upon this article. We had lots of laughs, about the article at our house, and I sent the link off to my brother Rob (who's wife is also named Susan, though not Susie).
Thanks for the memories, although I was not at the concerts at the town hall, since I was only 11 yrs old at the time, but indeed Mary was my gym teacher and field hockey coach !!
Susie Biggs, Northampton MA (formerly Hopedale)

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Posted by Susan Biggs on 01/05/2013 at 7:52 PM

Thank you for bringing back some great memories. Those were the good ole days! Great article. I miss the town and the people!

Trish Farrar Kay-formerly of Hopedale, Ma.

Posted by Trish Farrar Kay on 01/06/2013 at 7:22 AM

I can remember the concert at the town hall. It was 50 cents and we got our hand stamped. I even remember the outfit I wore. I took the bus to Shoppers World just to get an outfit for that special night. I always tell people about Mary Perry being my gym teacher and coach for many years. Not sure if they believe me. Those were the good old days.

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Posted by Debra Heron Heaney on 01/06/2013 at 8:16 AM

Thanks for the article. You have validated what I have been telling my children for years - they never believed me. Glad to see Rob is still a Boston sports fan with his Red Sox shirt on.

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Posted by Betty Jane King on 01/06/2013 at 8:33 AM

Great article!!!! It brings back so many wonderful memories in a wonderful town. Everyone is loving the article as it is being passed around facebook. People can never believe the stories when I tell them, especially that Joe Perry's mom was my gym teacher.
Keep on writing.
Mary DeLorey

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Posted by mjj on 01/06/2013 at 11:15 AM

Enjoyed the article Richard! :) Definitely made me laugh!....I'll add to the lore- not only was Mrs. Perry our gym teacher, I'm pretty sure Joe Perry's dad was my parents' accountant! :) Gotta love the Hopedale memories.

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Posted by Mary Larkin on 01/06/2013 at 5:29 PM

We wanted them to play at our junior prom but somebody wimped out. We could see them at Lakeview Ball Room in Mendonfor $2.50.
Gary Smith Nipmuc Class of '73

Posted by Gary Smith on 01/07/2013 at 12:59 PM

That was fun to read. My sons just shake their heads when I tell them Joe Perry grew up in my home town, his sister was in my class and his mother was the gym teacher.

Charlie Dennett

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Posted by Charles Dennett on 01/07/2013 at 5:56 PM

I loved this article ! We all have our great Hopedale memories and don't forget that my brother David was the drummer for Aerosmith at the time! (before Joey Kramer). I ought to know because I helped my brother lug his drums onto the stage for setup and with the help of my BFF at the time Kathy Weaver. We even spent time back stage feeding Steve Tyler water between breaks! Our hands shook so much passing him the cup of water. What a riot! Thanks for keeping this one close to us all. David stays in touch with them and
he is written about in one of their books. My kids love hearing about it, too.
Dyan Carchio-Harpest Parkland, FL

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Posted by Dyan Harpest on 01/07/2013 at 6:01 PM

Ahhh... so many of us Hopedale natives have this little "claim to fame." I can add to my story, besides the fact (like others) that Mary Perry (Joe's mom) was my gym teacher and also played bridge with my mom, that the Perrys lived down the street from where I grew up and that I on a few ocasions babysat for Joe and his sister Ann Marie. Of course I like to throw in the fact that I was mostly there for Ann Marie since I'm just a couple years older than Joe. :). I still remember him sitting in one of the living room chairs just quietly strumming his guitar. Who knew?!!

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Posted by Marcia Falzone on 01/28/2013 at 11:43 AM

Nice story Rich ... we all remember them playing at the town hall .... walking back home you could still hear them (quite distinctly) at the pond. Mary Perry had a reel-to-reel tape (is that what they were called) in her office so she could listen to the music he sent her; she also told us stories of him dating Judy Carne from Rowen and Martin's Laugh-In. I work in a high school and I'm always telling the kids about Joe, Mary and Anne-Marie Perry. We sure did live a charmed life in Hopedale; a little bit of it remains (Clark Tournaments for sure). Ann (Johnson) Kampersal '73

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Posted by Ann Johnson Kampersal on 01/29/2013 at 6:45 AM

Thanks for the great story Rich, I still claim Aerosmith as my claim to fame! They played at our high school ring dance. I would really love to reconnect with Ann Marie since we were good friends. Before building their first house on Mill Street they lived on the other side of Bancroft Park from me and we played all the time. This article just brought back so many great memories. Remember the Draper and fire whistles, 7 AM, 12 noon and 3:30 PM? You could look up where a fire was by counting the whistles, or if you had a snow day, the whistles would blow, I think at 7:15 am. Sue (Miller) Pastorini '72

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Posted by Sue Pastorini on 02/01/2013 at 2:31 PM
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