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Readers share their stories about 'the good old days'

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

It has been much too long since I devoted a column to feedback from readers; let's hope I don't forget anyone. Most of the recent comments have been related to the sports exhibit on display at the Bridgeville History Center, which we described in a recent column.

Thanks to Lois Ludwick, the exhibit now boasts an impressive folder of clippings from a scrapbook kept while Craig Ludwick was an All-American swimmer at Chartiers Valley High School. One of the benefits of the Chartiers Valley jointure was its excellent pool and the opportunity it provided local athletes to compete in swimming. Craig's achievements include record-setting state championships in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle and placing first nationally among high school swimmers in 1,000- and 1,650-yard freestyle events at the AAU Senior National Championships at Harvard in 1981.

In addition, through the good offices of Nancy Pesavento LaSota, the exhibit now has two photographs, a team portrait and a “starting lineup” photo that were loaned to the historical society by Florence LaSota. They are of one of Coach Neil Brown's last teams, probably the 1940 team. The donor has identified three players in the photo of the starting lineup – back Frank Yurchey, right end John Pesavento and center Ed LaSota. We think Perry Hackley and Smiles Perkins are two of the other backfield men. We hope that someone familiar with that era will confirm the year of the photos and will identify other players.

Mike Shuck called us regarding our references to his uncle, Buff Donelli, whom the 1925 Yearbook called “Bridgeville's Red Grange.” Shuck played on South Fayette's 1964 championship team and believes that he scored the very last touchdown on the old football field before it was torn down. I wonder who scored the first one?

Georgia Abraham, who lives in the Washington, D.C. area, emailed us to inquire if the exhibit was available online. We responded that, although the historical society has a website that would be an excellent tool for making things like the exhibit posters available online, we lack a webmaster, someone capable of maintaining it properly. I did send her the file for the poster dealing with high school sports in the mid-1920s; her father, Mike, is featured as quarterback of the football team. She reads the column on “,” which are archived there in the Neighborhoods section.

Mike Carrozza called with some questions about the 1910 to 1920 “Bridgeville Remembered” column. He is compiling information regarding his career as a railroader and was looking for a set of the Sanborn Insurance maps that were mentioned in the column.

Jim Fry, who lives in Florida, commented on the column dealing with our ride on the historic railroad in Indiana. He, too, is a railfan; recently he donated an impressive collection of railroad books, videos and pictures to the historical society. We hope to get them catalogued quickly so they can be the centerpiece of a permanent railroad exhibit in the caboose at the history center.

The most impressive bit of feedback was a letter from Hank McMahon in Tucson, Ariz. Norm Erbrecht mails our columns to Hank regularly. The mention of Sam David prompted Hank to report that Sam had been unsuccessful trying to teach him how to shoot the basketball from one end of the gym up between the rafters and into the hoop at the other end. He hoped that our consideration of candidates for a sports hall of fame would include members of John Graham's track and field teams in the late 1930s.

Hank said that if there were a hall of fame for teachers he would nominate Dr. Colton, Joseph Ferree, Dorothy Jones, Trula Holman and Jane Patton. He remembers the younger male teachers going off to war and laments the loss of several classmates and close friends during World War II. Hank has a neighbor named Ernie Fazio who lived on McLaughlin Run Road for 17 years. They shared memories of the Bigi family and of caddying at St. Clair Country Club.

Hank closed his letter with references to”the old days,” including listening to “Moonlight Serenade” and “Allegheny Moon” on the radio. I wish he were able to visit the center while the sports exhibit is on display. The poster for the 1942 Champions includes a newspaper photo of a running back and the caption “McMahon, of Bridgeville, scoring his team's second touchdown against Leetsdale.”

It is rewarding for me to hear from our readers, especially those who have access to the columns via unconventional channels.

John Oyler is a columnist for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-343-1652 or

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