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Remembering Arlington's Paul Tavilla, the World's Greatest Grape Catcher

The late Paul Tavilla, an Arlington, Mass., native and an owner of the P. Tavilla Company at the New England Produce Center in Chelsea, Mass., gained much attention back in the day as the Guinness Book of World Record's champ for catching grapes in his mouth.

In the early 1980s as a reporter at the Arlington Advocate in Arlington, Mass., I once had the honor of talking with this friendly, funny, caring man. The first topic of conversation centered, of course, on "Grapes thrown by hand and caught in mouth on level ground and high-rise buildings." I was truly impressed by this unusual feat, which led to Mr. Tavilla gaining national attention with guest appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Dinah Shore Show, Geraldo Rivera, Maury Povich and Live with Regis and Katie Lee. More importantly, his unique talent brought many smiles to charity events and hospital visits.

Paul landed in the record books several times including catching a grape in 1979 at ground level from 327 ft., 6 inches at Breeds Hill Rd. in East Boston, Mass., and, at the high rise level in 1988 from 788 ft. at the John Hancock Tower in Boston, Mass.

Mr. Tavilla died on Nov. 6, 2014. He seemed like a very nice man and although I only chatted with him once, I heard from so many "Arlingtonians" about his greatness as a person.  If you have any stories about Mr. Tavilla, please feel free to comment in the box below.

You can also read his fascinating, entertaining Grape Catcher web site for a detailed account of his accomplishments.

1 comment:

  1. In 1993 my family traveled from Arizona to Boston on vacation. I was a junior in high school at the time, and it was a wonderful experience to get to see the east coast. We met Mr. Tavilla when he was sitting at a nearby table as we had breakfast at our hotel. Realizing that we were from out of town, he struck up a conversation with us. He was so friendly and kind. During our conversation he mentioned that he was a Guinness World Record Holder. We were amazed! It was so fun to meet a "celebrity", especially someone who was so congenial.
    Imagine our surprise when, two weeks after returning home from our vacation, we received a package in the mail from Massachusetts. We opened it up and found four t-shirts silk-screened with a drawing of Mr. Tavilla in the moment he was catching a grape off of the John Hancock building. We were so delighted by this gift and will never forget Mr. Tavilla. -Amanda Bowling Souders


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