It’s time to dance

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thomas a. boscoThomas A. Bosco says he has been in a nursing home a dozen times in the past 15 years, recuperating from operations. “I have had every part replaced,” he said, “my shoulders, my hips, my knees, my ankles… I have osteoritis.”

The operations have failed to slow down the 70-year-old businessman, who is on a mission to hold a reunion of boppers that appeared on dance parties televised some 55 years ago on Channel 12.

The owner of Wild Wood Nurseries & Garden Center in East Greenwich and Premium Apartment Living, which has properties in Rhode Island and Florida – worked as a regular dancer on the Jack Spector Show and Dave Sennett Dance Parties and has a burning desire to produce a reunion program. He also wants to pay tribute to hosts Spector, Sennett and Paul James – WPRO TV’s “personality disc jockeys.” During that time, Channel 12 had the call letters of WPRO; now they are WPRI.

While he was trying to bolster his computer skills by surfing the Internet, Bosco came across an item about an anniversary show that aired a few years ago to celebrate the classic American Bandstand program hosted for years by Dick Clark.

“I figured if Dick Clark could have an anniversary show, then I could have one,” Bosco said. “I approached tom boscoChannel 12 and was told it would be the perfect production. …We don’t have that moral family entertainment we once had. We don’t have those record hops. I am interested in bringing back an American Bandstand type of show.”     

Bosco said WPRI is interested in the concept, and that owners of a nursing and rehabilitation facility in Rhode Island have agreed to sponsor the production. Contacts at Channel 12 and the long-term care facility could not be reached for comment.

Don Gillis of Cranston, 73, also danced on the shows, and is working with Bosco on the reunion “because of how nice the hosts were when we were on the Dance Party and how nice it was to be on the shows,” he said.

Bosco said his motivation is to satisfy the wistful yearning he and his peers have for the good old days. “I don’t want any money. I want to see it become reality for the seniors,” he said.

Bosco has placed newspaper advertisements that announce and explain the reunion and ask fellow former dancers to contact him if they are interested in attending. (One such ad is on page 2 of this edition of Senior Digest). About 20 people have replied, and Bosco expects more will respond.      

Inspired by watching the popular dancing duo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Bosco said his late uncle, Carl Bosco, taught him how to trip the light fantastic, which they did at venues such as both Peppermint Lounge locations in Boston and New York City. Bosco paid for “an incredible wardrobe” for dancing with money earned by shining shoes and mowing lawns.

Bosco became a Dance Party regular as well as a producer that selected other young men and women for shows. As a cast member, Bosco met “every conceivable rock ‘n’ roll star that sang on the Dance Party, including Ann-Margret, who he dated a few times. After an argument with his girlfriend, Bosco left Dance Party and entered the U.S. Marines.

salute to seniors 2014In 1969 while attending the University of Rhode Island, Bosco started a landscape company. He eventually graduated from the Hall Drafting Institute and became a state certified landscape architect, he said. Bosco is also a certified arborist and has a nurseryman’s license, he added.  

With the seeds planted, Bosco is confident his “Lawrence Welk-type doo wop show” is going to happen.

Editor’s note: Salute to Seniors is a feature aimed at celebrating the many significant contributions and accomplishments of men and women age 50 and beyond. Salute to Seniors is sponsored by the Bankers Life and Casualty Company regional office in Warwick and “Senior Digest,” online To nominate someone for a salute, send the person’s name, address, telephone number and reason for nomination to Senior Digest, 36 French Drive, Seekonk, Mass., 02771, or to Bankers Life can be reached at (401) 732-5213.

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