Page 12 - JAN 2024
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              Page 12
By William nieman
In the mid 20th century, Americans were charmed by the humor and rich baritone of Dean Martin. He had been part of the comic duo of Lewis and Martin. Later in his career, he was a member of the “Rat Pack,” which included Frank Sinatra. His charm was such that he could make a hit song out of the notion that love was like the “moon hitting one’s eye like a big pizza pie” (that’s amore). Perhaps the song was a testament to his ethnicity for his real name was not Dean Martin, it was Dino Paul Crocetti. Like the real Dean Martin, who lives in Bris- tol, New Hampshire, his life was extraordinary and not without tragedy. However, the reader can google that story anytime. The real Dean Martin’s story, re- vealed as I visited with him, is not well known. The episodes in that story follow.
Bristol’s Dean Martin was born in Elliot Hospital in Man- chester on January 16, 1952, fourteen miles from his home- town of Amherst. His parents,
January 2024
 Frank and Cynthia, maintained a dairy farm in that commu- nity. Amherst was just north of Milford and bordered Baboosic Lake. Dean was the Martin’s second child. The first child, a girl named Sharon, had been born three years before Dean.
As youngsters, Sharon and Dean shared farm chores with their parents, tasks that often began at 5:30 AM. Interrupted sleep notwithstanding, both chil- dren loved the farm, feeding and milking the cows, cleaning the barn, baling hay, and watching Tippy, the family’s Border Col- lie, herd the cows. They traveled with their mom, Cynthia (nick- named “Chicken”), when she delivered eggs from the extensive flock of laying hens. She taught the children frugality and sales- manship, selling cracked eggs at half price! Both Dean and Sharon would be driving tractors as preadolescents. It was a skill they would employ competitively in years to come.
As a teenager, Dean longed
to play baseball on the Milford
High School team (Amherst
teens went to Milford High.). Still, the need to earn money meant after-school time would be spent working at the local A&P. As a teenager enamored bycars;hehadtoputinalotof time earning $1.80 an hour to buy the coveted vehicles. At age 16, his first “set of wheels” was a 1957 Chevy purchased from his sister for $100. Shortly there- after, that “deal” enabled him to upgrade to a sporty Chevy SS 1964 convertible. Perhaps Dean bought the flashy car to help him overcome his shyness and his reticence to date local girls. He didn’t go to parties or school dances. Social life was limited to interacting with 4H youngsters
as he and his sister showed their prize-winning Holsteins and Ayrshires at country fairs around New Hampshire.
Dean’s bashfulness would end when a coworker fixed him up on a blind date in 1974. The girl was Susan Lamontagne. She was a pretty brown-eyed brunette, five feet tall and slen- der. Apparently, she liked Dean as much as his sporty car. Dean, for his part, was smitten. They began what would be a long courtship.
The couple’s togetherness was conspicuous and interrupted only once, briefly. Dean’s unre- quited desire to play baseball was rekindled when he discovered a book promoting a baseball school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The promotion intimated that its students often found success in professional baseball. With his fi- ancee’s blessing, Dean quit work and went South following his dream. He had reason to believe that he might make the pros. Although never playing base-
ball competitively, he had spent years developing a secret pitch, a “knuckle curve”. However, the Fort Lauderdale experience was a disaster. The novice would be no Dizzy Dean. (Dizzy Dean was a renowned preacher inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.) His secret pitch was an offering for multiple home runs. Dean sent a message to Susan, letting her know he would be coming home.
Dean and Susan married in April of 1975. Dean, who had left A&P, worked briefly at Bragdon farm in Amherst. The newlyweds would soon move to Danbury, New Hamp- shire, where they would live temporarily with Dean’s par- ents and work on Frank Mar- tin’s farm. Two years later, they moved into their own house, a century-old “fixer-upper” in Danbury on Railroad Drive, not far from the Smith River. There, Dean and Susan settled
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The Real Dean Martin
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