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Bridgeville's Octogenarian Club enjoys an annual event, with a twist

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The Octogenarian Club deviated from its regular routine this month and met for lunch at Sammy's Pin High Pub at Hickory Heights Golf Club, instead of brunch at Bob Evans.

This is becoming an annual event for us, one that we all enjoy.

“Sammy,” of course, is Sam Depe III, owner and manager of the golf club. Our first visit to the club was for a surprise 80th birthday party for Don Toney three summers ago. I'm glad Don suggested we continue this tradition.

Don, Sam Capozzoli, Lou Kwasniewski, Dick Rothermund, and I are the remnants of a group of eight members of BHS Class of 1949 who began having brunch together about 15 years ago. Ray Fagan, Don Schullek, and Jack McGrogan are no longer with us. We miss Dick in the summer when he is at his summer home at Van Buren Point, near Dunkirk, N.Y.

Fortunately, his absence is filled by the arrival of another ‘49er, John Rosa. John lives in Arizona, but returns to Bridgeville each summer to see his friends and relatives here. It is always a pleasure to see him and to get his perspective on the problems of the world that we attempt to resolve.

The Octogenarian Club also has associate members, younger guys yet to achieve the maturity of eight decades. We welcome the attendance of Dale Deblander, Russell Kovach, and my brother Joe. Russ mentioned this time that he soon will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of his moving to Lafayette Street, where Joe, Dale, and I lived when we were young. I was pleased to hear him say that neighborhood kids still play together on the street; recently a group played street hockey in front of his house, with a gang from Elm Street as opponents.

Regular readers of this column will be aware of Sam Depe and his remarkable story – rehabilitation following a disastrous automobile accident, and the acquisition and transformation of Hickory Heights into a vibrant, viable golf club. It is always a pleasure to meet Sam; his optimistic outlook on life makes the term “handicapped” seem absurd.

Standing on the deck of the clubhouse and looking out over the golf course, it was easy for us to wish we were all 50 years younger and preparing to tee off in a game of “skins.” Turning back the calendar wouldn't have worked; in 1963, this was the top of a ridge with nothing but woods and farm land in sight. Ed Weise and I hiked up Coal Pit Run to its source in the 1940s, and that's how I remember this area.

We eavesdropped on an interesting conversation between Sam Depe and Sam Capozzoli. Sam Depe remembered Mrs. Capozzoli making pizza for the whole neighborhood when he was a young boy, and everyone thinking she should go into the restaurant business. This, years before pizza shops became popular.

Don Toney and Sam Capozzoli had stopped at the Bridgeville History Center on the way to lunch and were quite complimentary regarding the exhibit on Bridgeville schools. We have agreed to help put together a future exhibit focusing specifically on Bridgeville area sports teams and individuals. This generated a lot of suggestions regarding things and persons to be included. We are interested in feedback from readers of this column regarding this subject, especially people with things they would like to loan the society for such an exhibit.

Lou Kwasniewski had to leave the gathering a few minutes early. Some of their children were coming that afternoon to help him and his wife celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary the next day. Even for an octogenarian, a 60th anniversary is impressive.

Next time, we will revert back to our normal schedule — first and third Wednesdays at 10 a.m. at Bob Evans. Anyone wanting to join us is welcome. Just look for several tables pushed together in the back corner and a group of guys who appear to be on leave from a rest home.

My personal love affair with the Bob Evans restaurant chain has been strained since they replaced their photographs of old days in Bridgeville with a collection of nondescript bucolic scenes. When I complained, I was told this was a corporate decision, aimed at pleasing a younger clientele. Too bad, I enjoyed visiting their restaurants in other locations and examining their historical photos.

The good news is that they donated the pictures to the Bridgeville Area Historical Society. I wonder what happened to the ones at the Bob Evans in Zanesville; I always admired their picture of the old “Y” bridge.

John Oyler is a columnist for Trib Total Media. He can be reacxhed at 412-343-1652 or joylerpa@comcast.net.

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