He drove 3,000 miles to perform at Carroll Park where as a kid he would jump in the sprinkler to cool off.
Las Vegas crooner and John Jay HS grad Perfecto Mangual (’65) could have easily crossed the pond in as many miles, but instead traveled from his home in Oregon to Brooklyn’s third oldest park — fringed by Carroll, Court, President and Smith streets — where he played as a rambunctious 4-year-old, and where he now returned as a rockin’ senior to perform a charity concert with his school chums.
“I was tempted to jump in the sprinkler again,” laughed Mangual, who pulled up to the park with a trailer full of musical equipment he’d hauled all the way from Milwaukie.
The semi-retired singer and trumpeter coordinated the reunion performance with former Morgan Stanley Veep Pauly Bracco, Lou Maresca, “who lives overseas on Staten Island,” John Conti, Sal DeStefano, who played with the doo-wop band The Cascades, and Red Hook Slim, among others, to raise money for cystic fibrosis and autism, and to honor the memory of recently-departed friend and community stalwart Peter “Booby” Camiolo.
A large crowd clapped, sang and toe-trapped along as the loose-knit gaggle — whose members at one time or another were known as The Swinging Shepherds, Motion, Moon Dogs and Chazz — took to the mic for a string of popular and classics favorites, among them some sparkling numbers by Ol’ Blue Eyes.
“All of us at one time or another played with each other,” said Mangual, who grew up on Clinton Street and Fourth Avenue.
The guys, he said, honed their musical chops in and around the area -— first at P.S. 142, then at St. Mary Star of the Sea and later at John Jay, where they graduated to performing at church dances and Knights of Columbus halls.
A trip back home was the icing on the cake for the paizon, who headed straight to Defonte’s Sandwich Shop in Red Hook when he cruised into Brooklyn, yearning for a ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwich just the way they make it at the 88-year-old family-run lunch spot on Columbia Street,
“There’s no place in the country that compares to it,” he raved.