Memorable Events

#19 from Christine Skinkis        1-5-2021

Memorable 80th birthday from Christine Skinkis McNees

Well another year has passed and I hit the big 80.   I have a memorable birthday every year as it is January 1st.  However, this year was really an exceptional one.  My daughter  had moved back to Pa., so I have no family here in Florida,  I do have friends and my great red hat group, but that is not the same as family.  My daughter and fiancé drove down after Christmas and contacted a good friend of mine here and arranged for a SUPRISE party for me on New Years Day.
I had no idea and when one friend showed up I just thought she did not want me to be alone on my birthday.   Then another showed up and another… LOL.   The cars were lined up on my street.   They all brought food and my daughter got pizzas and of course there were drinks for toasting me.   What a wonderful birthday that I will never forget.

#18 from Ambrose/Donovan

Stories from James and Rose Marie Ambrose Donovan:
When Jay was in the Navy we were married in November l959.  After he knew he would be stationed in Norfolk, Va. he found an apartment in Ocean View, Va. and came to get me to move down with him.  We got as far as Breezewood and since I didn’t get out of Courtney very much I asked him if we were almost there yet.    He said “I thought you said you liked to travel”.  So he always teases me about that.
On the way to OceanView it snowed like crazy and the car was covered with salt from the roads. The next morning he decided he would wash the car. So there was an inlet behind our apartment from the Chesapeake Bay and he went to get some water to wash the car. Just like he used to go to Mingo creek to do that when we were back home. Well needless to say the car turned white from the bay salt water. I get to tease him back about that.
     While living in Virginia, we took a ride to Virginia Beach to picnic and swim. It was very crowded so we parked the car and walked down over the bank to the water. When we started back over the hill we could not see our car anywhere. The police had towed our car with others that didn’t park in the assigned area. We didn’t have enough money with us to get it out of the area where it was parked, so Jay had to hitchhike back to Ocean View to get more money from our apartment.  I had to wait at a nearby garage until he came back. I was scared that he would not make it back before the garage closed. Thank goodness he made it. Oh how a credit card or cellphone would have been nice to have then.Those were the good old days.

#17 from Bob Roule



Our class is made up of a bunch of tough old birds. I don’t know how many are left, but the ones I keep in touch with seem to be doing quite well.
Perhaps it’s the Monongahela River water we all drank and sometime had to hold our nose to drink it.
Later in life, it may have been the baseballs that Ed Kikla pumped into the water purification plant’s settling tank during his PONY League career.
Whatever it is or was, I’m happy to have so many of us around. I’m looking forward to 2040. Damn! Will I be crotchety.
Take care of yourself.
Bob Roule

#16 from Thelma

#16 from Thelma

Subject: Thelma Wilson Lutes – 80th Birthday Party

On my birthday March 8, 2020, I had the surprise of my life.  My daughter
Debbie and my son Donnie said, “What should we do for your 80th Birthday
Mom?”   I replied “Just so we are all together, that’s all that matters.”

They decided to get in touch with my nephew Jerry who works at a restaurant
in Pittsburgh called “Osteria”.  They are normally not open on Sundays but
they told me he was trying out a new Sunday brunch. My son and daughter in
law drove me down and when we walked in all I could see was my family.

They had balloons, flowers and decorations along with a beautiful cake.  There
were 40 members of my family.  Another surprise was my nephew Tony flew up
from Texas! He pretended to be my personal server! The food was absolutely

So that folks was my very first surprise birthday party and I’ll
treasure this forever!   Thelma


Story #1 from Rosie

From Rosemary Bindi Sanderson

Re: My most memorable birthday.

Over the years, Sandy and I had owned 4 Volkswagen Beetles.  At the time, while living in California he drove the Cadillac and I drove our “bug.”  He knew I loved this car but he had problems with the stick shift and fitting in it as  he was over 6 feet tall.  Often he would say you should drive a nice compact or mid-size car.  I would say “maybe some day.” 

One  day he called me at work to say that a fellow in his office was interested in buying a used VW and also interested in a Nissan but couldn’t decide.  So we agreed to meet at the Nissan dealer. 

We pulled in to the dealership and a salesman walked over to greet us.  Sandy said “I am Al Sanderson and this is my wife, Rosie.  We are waiting for someone that has been looking at a Nissan here and he wants me to look at it and get my opinion.”  

Meanwhile, I said to Sandy and the salesman, “Oh look, there is a new car over there with a huge bow on it.  I’ll bet someone is getting a new car for a gift!”  The salesman smiled and said “Your name is Rosie, right?”  I said “yes.”  He said, “THAT new car is YOUR birthday gift!”.  I was shocked!  I looked quizzically at Sandy and he just smiled.  What a thrill!  (He pulled one over on me, which is hard to do!)

 Unbeknown to me, Sandy had previously been to the Nissan dealer, bought this car and made up the story about the guy in his office that was car shopping.  Pretty neat surprise, eh?  Oh, it was a Nissan Maxima and I really enjoyed the car for years!



Story #2 from Norma

I have two birthdays to remember.  Both involved Gene Haywood.

I met Gene on my 18th birthday.  I was visiting a friend and he was their milkman!  He told me later that when he saw me sitting on the couch in their living room, he thought, “That is the girl for me.”

Unfortunately that didn’t work out until 30 years later.

My 76th birthday was miserable.  I had gone through 12 grueling radiation treatments.  I was often sick to my stomach, could not taste anything and had lost 40 pounds.  That day Gene went to Giant Eagle to stock up on groceries.  When he came out of the kitchen he was carrying a cupcake with a candle in it.  I was sitting on the couch in my nightgown with dirty hair and unbrushed teeth.  What a birthday cake!  I ate every crumb.




Story # 3 from Dennis  March 20, 1940

March 20, 2020 was the Virus lock down day.

My 80th Birthday story is a simple one.  I had to cancel my big-time Pittsburgh restaurant birthday party for 18 at

My family and friends all RSVP’d that they would attend.  I wonder,….. was it because it was my 80th, or because I was paying for a great dinner?

I then had to cancel a Florida trip with Lola to visit her 87 year old Mother who is doing well.  Free room and board  with warm weather would have been nice for a couple of weeks.

Housebound, and after doing face to face cell phone calls with family, my Birthday ended up to be a nice quiet day with Lola.  She made me a 2 cupcake Birthday cake.  We took a walk, raked some leaves, cooked together and had a nice dinner.  She made my day most special….without the hoopla.  ♥

My sweetie.





Story #4 from Bob Roule

One might think that out of 80 birthdays more than one would jump out as being somewhat significant. I find that’s not the case.

The only birthday I can recall with any clarity was in 1956. Yes, you know that was the magic year when one could get a drivers license. I didn’t get my first license until 10 years later and it was issued by the state of Mississippi. But that’s a story for another time.

That year my birthday fell on Easter Sunday. That hasn’t happened before that year or since.

I had left church services and headed for Schwartz and Shaver drugstore for a little refreshment. In a booth I saw Marcia Papak and Gaynell Sheperd. I joined them and spent a pleasurable half hour or so.

For those who don’t see what the big deal was, all I can say is you had to be there.

Robert Roule


Story #5 from Dave

I’d like to share a couple special birthday moments. My first was my 16th birthday when my father gave me a Winchester model 12 shotgun. It will stay in our family forever.

The second when with Elaine, our daughters, their husbands, and our grandsons celebrated my 60th birthday with dinner at the 95th restaurant in the John Hancock Tower in Chicago. We left Pittsburgh in 1962 and raised our family in Chicago. A special day.

Thanks for asking, and Happy Birthday to all who reach this milestone this year.
David Burya



Story #6  from Barb Williams Jackson

I can’t remember that far back!!!!  I know there were some special ones with Harry and lobster, and the sea shore, but I can’t remember any other specifics!  But this last birthday was on Dec, 29th (Sunday) as my son from Texas had come up for a visit  –  Jay and Beth Jackson of Spring, TX.  It was great fun to have all 4 sons and extended family in the same room.  As soon as I can locate a picture, I’ll try to send one down.  I didn’t get to stick around for cake as David had picked me up on his way to Ray’s from New Hampshire (3 hour drive) and there was an ice and snow storm headed in for the North east.  So we left around 8 pm. and Ray froze the remaining German Chocolate cake and put it in my freezer.

Love, Barb Jackson


A Memorable Event   #7 from John Allen

I am a member of a fraternity of retired Naval Aviators, 150 Navy and 50 Marines, called the Golden Eagles.  One of our distinguished members is a retired three star Marine General.  When he was a young Marine Captain he flew helicopters in Viet Nam.

On one mission he was called upon to pick up some wounded Marines from a”hot LZ”, or landing zone that was under fire.  While he was on the ground waiting for the Marines to be embarked, unknown to him, a Viet Cong somehow got on his helo.  The VC was coming forward toward the cockpit when Fred, the pilot recognized what was happening.  Fred took out his pistol and shot the VC, killing him.

Because the shooting took place on a US government airplane, a JAG (military lawyer) investigation was required.  The lawyer conducting the investigation, after conversing with Fred said, “I understand why you shot the VC Captain, but why did you shoot him six times?  Without hesitation, Fred said, “I only had six rounds in my pistol”.

That, my friends, is how my friend Fred got his call sign “Assassin”.  His cool courage in tough situations is what got him his three stars.

Hope you all have a Happy Eightieth!  John Allen



.Story #8 from Priscilla

My 43rd birthday is very memorable.  My parents, our daughter, Max and I decided to go to the Jamboree in Wheeling, WV, for my birthday.  We didn’t bother to check who was playing there and what a surprise we got.

Conway Twitty was there and we had 5 seats in balcony together.  We had a great time and my father really enjoyed it as well as myself as Twitty was one of my favorites.

PS: Some of you know I have always been a country music lover which included Elvis. 

Story #9 from Connie Mamie Vlah

I’ve enjoyed each of my birthdays, but none really stand out in my mind.  Most of them included family gatherings with good food, drinks, conversation and birthday cake.  There were special dinners at favorite restaurants and trips.

One year there was a trip to Vegas where I won $1,000.00 on a poker machine.  I was actually dealt a royal flush!!  Now, that was a memorable birthday!

In recent years I’ve had the privilege of celebrating each birthday with my grandson. Our birthdays are three days apart, and he loves celebrating together, even though I’ve told him many times he should have his own special day.  He insists both our names be on the cake, and the family sings a double round of “Happy Birthday”.  There isn’t anything more special than that.



Article #10  Phyllis Hann  2 Events

As young as my memories started I had two, both at the age of two.  They are still planted in my brain just like they happened yesterday.  I saw my father paint a wall in the house and it looked like so much fun that I wanted to be like my dad so I went down to the cellar and found a big can of paint, which was black paint.  I had watched my dad for days painting that room so I knew I needed a brush for the paint and something to open the can. It was easy as whoever closed it did not do a very good job.  It took me three trips up those steps to carry my supplies.  It turned out I was a pretty good painter and had the front porch almost all the way except for a lot of missing spots.  My body had a lot of painted spots too and Mom said I went from red hair to spotted black hair.
The second event involved a naked girl and boy, both in for a nap.  The girl wakes up and wakes the boy.  Having wet diapers they helped each other undress.  They then snuck outside, got a wagon and since I was the boss, the boy got into the wagon and I started down the sidewalk.  We lived near the train tracks and as the trains passed us, they would blow their horns and laugh.  All the noise got the attention of Mom and my Aunt.  They were petrified, seeing us ready to cross a side street.  They ran after us, screaming our names.  I froze and stopped because even at that early age I knew I was in for another scolding.  Imagine how adorable I was.   A trouble maker, too.



Memory #11 from Linda G H  4-14-2020

Now, thinking about our graduation….I have come up with a good one.  I always was friends with Dave Burya and really liked him.
(he never asked me out – too bad, so sad).
I remember graduation when we had taken our robes off.
              (This needs clarification !)
Dave was standing there and I did something that I never did before.  I asked him to kiss me and he did.

Memory #12 from Judy Leach

My almost memorable b-day story would take too long to relate; so I will tell of my vacation “trip.”

My  family and my brothers family would go on vacation to the Outer Banks of N.C. every summer.  We rented a very large house on the beach and every one took turns cooking.  After breakfast, before it got too hot, we grabbed our beach bags and beach chairs/lounge chairs and headed to the sand to get some rays.  To reach the shore you took plank-board walkways over the scrub grass and sand.  On one trip, I was carrying my bag and lounge chair when I stumbled on a raised board and went headlong over the side (no railings). I fell about 5 or 6 feet into the tall beach grass and landed with a thump that knocked the breath out of me.  The guys jumped over the side and helped me back up and we continued on to the beach. Of course, my brother (always the smart aleck) said if the fall had been higher, I could have had my chair unfolded and landed softly.  (haha)  As I sunbathed (too achy to move much), I fell asleep.  A little later as the others joined me from their time in the ocean, they stared.  When I asked why, they told me to look at my arms and legs,  WOW! colorful bruises were blossoming all over (purple, black, blue, yellow, green).  I was a rainbow of colors which lasted for  the week as a reminder of my vacation “trip.”

The following year, I got a lot of ribbing from the rest of the group as we headed to the beach; but I was careful and all was well.




Olympic skating comments from Connie Mamie Vlah  4-20-2020

I remember that Torvill and Dean performance so well.  It was beautiful and flawless.  I was so excited to see them win the gold medal that year.

I’ve been a big fan of figure skating and have been following it for years.  Love of the sport goes way back to my childhood.  I remember one year when I was around 10 or 12 years old, I received a pair of ice skates for Christmas.  When I tried them on, I was concerned that they were a bit short.  I was so excited though that I didn’t want to tell my parents – I wanted to go ice skating!  A few days later,  Bryan Ellsworth and I went to the “frog pond”  so I could try out my new skates.  We skated until my toes were numb. I suffered in those skates for two winters!  I didn’t dare tell my parents the skates didn’t fit.

My daughter loves ice skating too.  We traveled to the National Ice Skating Championships for several years during the early 90s.  We had the best times.  Back in Pittsburgh, one evening we went to a “Celebrities on Ice” show at the Civic Arena where we had front-row seats.  During Viktor Petrenko’s performance, he skated right up to my daughter and gave her a kiss on the cheek, and, if that wasn’t thrilling enough, Christopher Bowman then followed that with a big hug.  She was “over the moon”.  It certainly was a memorable evening.




Hi Classmates,
I finally have a son for some help and he had time to set this up.  This is from Dec.29, 2019 at Ray’s house, my 79(th).  Facing from the left side  –  Jay Jackson, and  Ray Wenzel, Jr.,David Wenzel, Bill Wenzel and I’m in the middle.
 And if you notice, yes, that is a real Emmy on the left side.  Ray was part of the team for NBC Sports 2 years or so ago.  He has been a camera man for Indy (25 years), Impsa, Formula 1, NASCAR, NCAA, hockey, boxing, bull riding, etc.  If available he works for NBC Sports in Stamford.  He loves  his job!!   They are each have a different occupation.
Barbara Jackson



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