Being in such venerable company brings back some memories.
All are stellar products of the Haverhill High athletic scene, like their children. Now they have grandchildren setting their own trend. Few in the city were better at swimming than Martha Clohisy or played better basketball than young Teddy DeRoche or football like Paul Grillo. No doubt, chips off the old block.
“I owe him my life,” the elder DeRoche said of Valenzi. “Rudy talked me into quitting cigarettes. He taught us to take care of ourselves and enjoy the beauty life had to offer. Sometimes, we take those privileges for granted.”
These Rudy’s Tigers talk of those who have gone before them, people like Del Bracci, Sid Lafey, Nordo Nissi, Spike Valenti, Al Burton, Les Brindis, Dick Bluestein, Frank Donahue, Wes Shaw, Elie LaBombarde and the inimitable Fred Battistini, who died last year.
“A toast to all of them,” the remaining members said in unison, raising their water glasses at a recent lunch. “Let’s hear it for Fred and the others.”
At 88, Battistini personified the age of Rudy’s Tigers. He swam in the Massachusetts Senior Games and brought back eight gold medals from Harvard University. He was a true Tiger, working at his Haverhill TV & Appliance shop into his 90th year.
Right up there as a chief workout artist was Hy Der Bogosian, a long-time confectionary business owner. Drill sergeant was more like it.
“When he finished with you at a workout, you could have drowned in your own sweat,” said Piccolo. “Hy was by the book – all business.”
And you could never forget Wesley Shaw. The funeral director made the “Y” his hiatus. He’d go through a workout without a strand of hair out of place.
“He could have done it with a suit and tie,” laughed Piccolo. “He’d come out of it looking like Fred Astaire.”