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memories

Druhna Chris: Memories

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Druhna Lottie Fik was an amazing person. She was a great leader in the Polish Falcons of America. I am glad I was able to participate in the events that she planned and organized. As a youth in her gym class, I remember many events where Druhna had us out on a field in the beating sun getting ready for a mass exhibition for a Zlot. I remember holding my arms out at shoulder length for a long time – so that we would remember that when you did the National Drill, you had your arms at shoulder height and straight. We marched until we were about to drop over, but when we marched out on that field for the exhibition, we were a sight to see! Druhna was tough, but the events she planned were an important part of my youth, and I thank her for every single minute she put into making them a success.

I remember when Druhna would come to Pittsburgh for a District IV gym class to get everyone ready for the National Zlot. I was not a particularly good gymnast. I was not the first one picked to do special things on the mats or to be the center of the pyramid. In fact, I usually held someone else up doing something complicated and cool. But nevertheless, I would attend the practices when Druhna Fik would come. I never thought that she knew who I was or that I was a part of the gym class in Pittsburgh. It was just exciting being a part of the group.

Then a few years back, I was attending a National Bowling Tournament and I ran into Druhna Fik while I was there. I will never forget this moment because she made me feel so special. We both said hello and were riding the bus to the club, so we sat together. The thing that stuck with me the most was that she knew who I was and where I was from. She said, “So here is my Pittsburgh protégé taking over the National Instructress position. I am so proud of you.” I was so surprised to know that she knew who I was and that I was from Pittsburgh that I just beamed with pride and of course a few tears in my eyes. We rode the bus to the club, and she told me she was proud of me taking over and that she enjoyed seeing all the photos from the events I had already run.

It was not until I started working as the National Instructress that I realized how impressive Druhna Fik was. I know how hard and time consuming it is to get just a fraction of the people of the PFA organized and attending a Volleyball Tournament or a National Zlot or Camp for a week. She had many more participants whom she had to organize. She was always full of energy and happy to be at a Falcons event. I am so glad that I got to ride the bus with her at the Bowling Tournament and to know that she was proud of me! I am immensely proud to have had her as a mentor during my youth in the PFA gym classes.

VP Trish: National Golf

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Life is funny! We experience the butterfly effect so many times.

I went to the National Bowling Tournament in 1994 in Southgate, Mich. I ran into a friend of mine (whom I had met at Falcon Camp when we were kids), Terri Noga-Starnick. During one of our chats, Terri asked why I didn’t attend the National Golf Tournaments? I went home and asked my then husband, Rick, if he would like to go to the National Golf Tournament in August being hosted by Nests 493/493A in Batavia, N.Y. Rick suggested I call my friend, Bill Eveland from Rochester, and ask if he would like to join our group. Bill asked Rich Young to join us (all of this is important to the story!). Our foursome was one woman with three men. I didn’t give it a thought; I golfed with Rick all the time. The next year, we golfed in Erie, and again I golfed with Rick and two other guys.

Well back in those days, the women and men (oh my!) were not permitted to participate together. The tournament chairs didn’t understand how I managed to golf with Rick once, let alone twice!

I thought that was nonsense and told Rick I was going to start attending Nest meetings. I did, soon I became Nest 118 Vice President. In 1996, the National Convention was being held in Pittsburgh; I attended as a Delegate (whole new experience, but that is another story!). I put this in as a motion (that men and women could golf together); the Convention decided that was a Golf Commissioner issue.

My involvement on a Nest level continued. In 1999, Dolly Kokoski suggested I run for District IV President (I served for one year as I was not permitted to hold a National and District Office at the same time.). I was now very involved on a Nest and District level as well as National Golf, Bowling and Volleyball Tournaments.

In the fall of 1997, Anthony (Dutch) Surman called me and suggested I run for National Office. National Secretary/Treasurer Ted Kokoski was retiring in 2000. I found this quite amusing! Rick did not, and he thought I should consider it.

At the National Golf Tournament held in Saginaw, Mich. in 1998, Bobby Joe Gorny (I did not know him at the time), came over to chat. He told me that he was going to run for Second Vice President (not expecting to win, just to get his name out there) and thought I should do the same. I told him that I was signed up for classes the upcoming fall and that I was contemplating running.

At the National Golf Tournament in 1999 in Rochester, N.Y., Bob Wienczkowski (at the time, the National Golf Commissioner) suggested that I run for National Office.

At a District IV Oplatek in Donora in 1999, I suggested to Tim that he run for Secretary/Treasurer as I wanted to be National Vice President (I don’t think he appreciated that!).

Fast forward to springtime, I was asked to come into the office to meet with Wally and Tim. Tim had changed his mind and wanted to run for Secretary/Treasurer – would I run for Vice President? Now, while I was meeting with Wally and Tim, Rick was in Ford City meeting with Val and Mary Jo Wojton picking up “Vote for Trish for Secretary/Treasurer” giveaways (I learned to just get “Vote for Trish!”).

It amuses me that three different men, three different ages and three different Nests suggested I run. But had I not been a golfer, none of this would have ever happened!

I shall miss seeing the golfers this summer. I don’t golf much these days but I go to the tournaments.

Hope all is well with all of you. Keep safe and healthy! Czolem!

Druhna Chris: PFA Beginnings

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With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the cancellation of PFA events, and with history being an important part of the Falcons, I would like you to share your experiences as a Member with us. I am interested in how you became a Member; was it through your parents or grandparents? What activities have you been involved in, or are still involved in today? What is your favorite memory? How have your friendships in the PFA flourished? What are some of the things that you have learned as a Member? These are all things that interest me.

I know that I became involved in the PFA through my Ciocia, Betty Bubacz. She was the Instructress for Nest 118 in Pittsburgh. She always stopped at our house on the way to gym class with my cousins. One summer evening, she saw how bored I was and decided I should go with them to gym class. So, I went. That night Druhna Leona Kozloski was there to teach Polish dancing. I had so much fun that I continued to go to gym class and have been active pretty much since then. I did have a bit of a break during college. I got involved again when our National First Vice President Trish talked me into attending a Nest meeting. She has been one of those lifelong friends who helps me with everything. As soon as my children were able to attend events, they became actively involved. They both, too, have made many lifelong friends in the PFA. My husband took a little longer to get involved, but has been my back-up and behind the scenes helper with everything I do in my job as the National Physical Education Director. My cousin Barbara Chervenak was, for a while, my helper at all the Youth Events as Secretary, and a general helper with everything. Now, my cousin Patty Capozoli helps me with all those events. We always manage to have a great time with each other and the youth participants. After my pause for college, I have been active in my Nest and District and with the National Office. The Puskar’s are a Polish Falcons family. All of my closest friends are Polish Falcons people. I am very grateful to my Ciocia Betty for taking me with her to gym class that day. Polish Falcons is a huge part of my life, and I love every minute of it.

Now it’s your turn. I would love to hear the stories of how you became involved in the PFA. I know that there are many, many families that have similar stories to tell. Now that we are all mostly at home practicing our “social distancing,” you might have the time to write down your story and send it to me. Maybe we will get enough stories together to put them into a book. I love photos too. Maybe you can send one or two with your story?

There is no age limit to who can send their stories. All ages can tell us about their favorite parts of the PFA. I am looking forward to hearing from you! Email your story to cpuskar@polishfalcons.org.

Czolem!

VP Trish: Reminiscing on the National Bowling Tournament

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My first National Bowling Tournament was in 1981 hosted by Nest 52, Rochester, N.Y. At the time, Nest 52 still had their Club, which included a small bowling alley next to their bar. I had just moved and was not in a good frame of mind (I get very emotional!), and I simply did not know what to expect. I was quite surprised and not in a pleasant way. I went home and told my Mother that I thought the event was awful! Her response – “Well, there is something wrong with you!”

That fall, we attended the District IV Bowling Tournament and had a blast. A few folks asked us if we were going to South Bend (Nest 80) in the spring. At that time, there were two weekends and most of the Pittsburgh Membership went the second weekend. Well, my Mom went the second weekend; so we decided to go on the first weekend (There were other factors within our team that made the decision.). In a better frame of mind and expectations slightly different, off to South Bend we went! Five of us jammed into one car and all of us slept in one room! Obviously, I understood my Mother’s comment!

So much has changed since then! Think about how much the world has changed since 1982!

  • There were no computers so all entries were sent in on a paper application. There were quite a few bowlers so if you wanted to get your preferred day and time, you had to get your application in early. Geography played a role in these assignments. The Nest Financial Secretary had to sign off and you had to get it signed by the (at the time for the ladies) WIBC. The application was usually mailed a few times before it arrived at the National Bowling Commissioner’s home.
  • There were two divisions – men and women, no mixed. The teams were five person and one had to have a sanction card to participate. We even bowled two male teams on a pair, then two female teams on a pair. It took a while before we were bowling together.
  • Your doubles partner had to be the same gender. If you bowled singles, you had to bowl doubles.
  • Teams dressed alike; we used to have so much fun coming up with outfits!
  • There were no computers at the lanes so the Host Nest had to have enough volunteers to keep score. This was quite a task but again, tons of fun! Then, the Host Nest had to tabulate all of those results by hand. Every team, every person, every series, imagine that!
  • The tournament moved from the east to the west alternating years. West was of course, in the South Bend area. East was Erie and east. Nests would bid on the tournament, often giving away items or hosting a hospitality room, and also each team member received a goodie bag from the Host Nest.
  • Results were posted in the Sokol; we couldn’t wait to receive the Sokol so that we could see the final results!
  • Each Nest still receives a souvenir to put in their Club.

But, the common denominator at the tournament all those years ago was the camaraderie. And that remains the same! Bowling is simply an excuse to get together with life-long friends! The Camaraderie!

I have missed very few tournaments since I began going. I could fill several issues of the Sokol Polski with stories, with lots of giggling. Conversations in the van or in the car or on the plane or on the train! Silliness and just plain fun! Mom’s apple pie, Humphrey, vacuum cleaners, glass elevators, serenades in the van, comedy routine, National Drill, Denny’s restaurant, casino on the boat, playing pool, holding Kathy’s belt loop, a Chevette, Barbie’s pool party, pushing a Cadillac, playing cards, driving a Corvette, homemade dinners at the Club, rubber legs, limo rides, sunbathing, that girl, tailgating, Asti, let’s dance, bus rides, McDonald’s in the bus, shotskis, 50/50, paint sticks, costumes, elevator floors, hotel lobbies, late night conversations, take me home country roads, shoe shopping…

And, I met my John at a National Bowling Tournament all those years ago!

See all of you next year in St. Louis!

Keep healthy and safe! Czolem!