Vito Maida has his rightful seat the table of the all-time greats in Chelsea High School sports history.
Now 89 years old and living in Tewksbury with his wife, Lucy, Maida has nothing but positive memories of his days wearing the CHS football uniform.
Maida attended the Mary C. Burke and the Carter School, but it was at Chelsea High School where he became a legend.
“I actually began playing football for the Carter Junior High School team and we were undefeated in the city,” recalled Maida.
At Chelsea High, the 5-foot-9-inch, 180-pound Maida became the starting guard on offense and the noseguard on defense and played every minute of every game.
“We beat Everett, 13-12, in my sophomore year,” recalled Maida. “We were 5-5 in my junior year.
And then came 1944 and perhaps the greatest season of all time for the Red Devils. On a squad stacked with greats like Paul “Choc” Glazer, John Glowacki, Nate Finklestein, Abe Garnick, Buster Saladino, Sonny Finnigan, Al Generazzo, and Johnny Houghton, Chelsea defeated Class A teams Bedford, Arlington, Malden, and ultimately shared the Class B state championship with Saugus.
“Nate was a quiet guy but boy, was he tough,” said Maida. “I used to call him the fifth man in the other team’s backfield. Nate was an All-Scholastic and he went on to play at Villanova. Nate and Choc were the ends on offense. Choc had great hands and he helped the offensive line with his blocking. And Choc was an even better basketball player.”
Maida remembers teaming with Abe Garnick on the Red Devils’ big and powerful offensive line. “Off the field you wouldn’t think that Abe was tough. He was mild mannered but when he stepped on the field he was an incredible lineman. Abe and I used to double-team people and knock them out of the stadium.”
Glowacki was the team’s strong-armed, accurate throwing quarterback while Sonny Finnigan and Buster Saladino were the tough, hard-nosed running backs.
Maida, who was one of the captains in the 1944 season, had sensed the Red Devils would accomplish something special after Chelsea dominated bigger schools in preseason scrimmages. The Red Devils finished with a 9-1 record, its lone blemish coming at the hands of Saugus.
Following that historic season, Maida was selected to play in the first Suburban-North Shore all-star game at Manning Bowl in Lynn. “There were 20,000 fans at the game,” said Maida.
But Maida still had another chapter to write in his football career. After serving a 19-month stint in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Indiana during World War II, Maida matriculated at Coburn Prep School in Waterville, Maine, where his football team had an undefeated season.
Maida, who had previously earned a scholarship to Brown University before leaving for the war, decided to attend Northeastern University. He excelled in four years of college football and earned a degree in Business Administration in 1952. He was inducted in to the Northeastern University Athletic Hall of Fame for his excellence in football in 2006.
Maida enjoyed a successful career in business working for Star Market as the electronic data processing and systems manager. He later became the comptroller for Star Market and continued his career as an administrator at other companies. He retired in 1991.
Maida and his wife, Lucy, have been married 67 years. They had five children, Richard, 64, triplets Robert, Thomas, and Paul, who are 59 years old, and a daughter, Ann Marie, who passed away at the age of 36 in 1988.
The son of Bruno Maida, a World War I veteran, and Lucy Maida, Vito remembers his father’s grocery store in Mill Hill. He looks back at his days growing up in Chelsea as the “best time of my life.”
“My father had a grocery store on Eastern Avenue called B. Maida’s Market,” he said. “My brother, the latr Dante Maida, who was a captain with Joe Bevere of the 1949 Chelsea team, later opened a transmission shop right next door. Chelsea was a close-knit community and you got to know everyone of every ethnicity – Jewish, Polish, Irish, Italian. We used to tease each other all the time. Those were great days. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I still get back to Chelsea occasionally and it’s changed a lot but it will always be the hometown I loved.”
As you would expect, Vito Maida entered the was the Chelsea High School Hall of Fame and was inducted alongside two of his teammates, Nate Finklestein and Paul “Choc” Glazer.
It was a fitting tribute to Vito Maida – a man who excelled on the gridiron and was a sportsman on and off the field.