Oyler: The Octogenarian Brunch from Bridgeville High
Despite being in the midst of a bone-chilling series of single-digit temperature days, we had an excellent turnout for the first Octogenarian Brunch of the new year.
We were comfortably settled at two four-person tables pushed together when Paul Love showed up to push our total to nine. Paul, who lives in Cecil, is a recent and welcome addition to our group. He graduated in 1951.
I think we are about to begin our 24th year of getting together on the first Wednesday of each month to tell war stories about our growing up and going to school in Bridgeville in the 1940s. After the 44th reunion of the BHS Class of 1949, Sam Capozzoli suggested that those of us who lived in the area get together once a month and compare notes.
We enjoyed it so much that some of us began to add another date each month.
And, as our numbers began to dwindle, we began to welcome members of other classes.
At this point, we range from the Class of 1948 (Alfred Barzan) to the Class of 1955 (my brother Joe), all now octogenarians.
This time I was joined by two fellow '49ers, Don Toney and Lou Kwasniewski. Fellow classmates Dick Rothermund, John Rosa and Sam Capozzoli attend occasionally The 1953 class was well-represented by Dale DeBlander, Russ Kovach and Ron Rothermund.
The conversation at our brunches generally begins with an update on folks we know who have died recently and those who are in bad health. George Maioli was a good friend of all of us; we mourn his passing.
We then usually go through the tabulation of problems we share — hearing aids, cataracts, root canals, etc. — before getting down to the serious discussion of whatever pro sports team is in season.
The one thing about which we all agree is that, despite growing up in the Depression and World War II, we were fortunate to live where we did when we did when we were kids.
Officially over half of the families in Bridgeville had incomes below the poverty line. Nonetheless, the memories we retain are mostly happy ones.
I recently have been struggling with the recollection of a childhood game in which the loser was subjected to being pounded until he was able to “name three cigarettes and whistle.” I remember memorizing “Camels, Chesterfields and Luckies,” then struggling to produce an audible whistle.
Unfortunately, none of my colleagues remembered the game.
We frequently make enough noise that other folks in the restaurant will come over and comment on something we have discussed.
We meet at Bob Evans at 10 a.m. the first and third Wednesday of each month. If you happen to be there on those dates, we are the scraggly looking collection of older men hidden back in the southwest corner of the dining room. Drop by and say hello!