First Posted: 1/13/2013

… one is silver, the other is gold.

I learned the Girl Scout motto in the early 1970s as a Girl Scout leader. Long before that, Mama had instilled the same concept into my brothers and me. Through the years, we have made new friends but have cherished the old and steady friends who remain in our lives.

There are six women celebrating a milestone of 50 years of friendship and togetherness. We organized a club after our 10th anniversary high school class reunion in 1962. It was such fun being together planning the event that we promised a continuation of our gatherings.

Our first meeting was held in January, 1963, with seven classmates and one friend in attendance: Evelyn Borzell Levandowski, Ruth Petritis Colarusso, Theresa Ardenti Cardascia, Maria Manganaro Capolarella, Dorothy Gattuso Manganaro, Delores DePasquale Malore, Alice Zakreski Stanish, and Ann Marie Paragas Conroy. A few of us had been friends in grade school, attending the Cleveland School and the others from high school. Celestine Ercolani Benfanti, a newcomer to the area, joined us at a later date.

Dubbing ourselves the Pokeno Club, a popular game during that era, we met at 8:30 p.m. after our babies had been bathed, powdered, hugged and put to bed. Knowing they were secure and being cared for, off we went to begin our evening reunion with our girlhood friends.

We were young, vibrant mothers full of life with so much to talk, laugh and reminisce about. The night went by quickly.

On the night of the first meeting, we made the rules to meet on the last Monday of every month and each of us would host the club in alphabetical order of our last names. The rules still apply somewhat. We are now meeting in the afternoon after having lunch in a local restaurant. I wonder why?

We are a group of women who have run the gamut of life’s experiences and have supported each other during those times, whether they were good or bad. Babies were born and we rejoiced. Two infants, a club member, parents and husbands were taken from us and we mourned.

As sideline godmothers, we watched the growth of all our children and were part of the celebrations from early childhood to adulthood to parenthood, making us grandmothers and one a great-grandmother.

Time has changed our physical appearance; however, our personalities and characteristics remain the same.

Evie is our detailed talker with an affected laugh that can have us all laughing at her animated stories. Pineapple upside cake is still her expertise.

Ruthie is our giggler. If something strikes her funny, the giggle continues until we are all laughing. Taking care of Carmen and her boys is her number one priority.

Ann Marie is quick with a quip. One never knows what might be said in jest. She will go the extra 10 miles to help someone in need.

Dorothy is the quiet one who listens and, at times, offers words of wisdom. Card playing with her sister, Gertrude Kichlinsky, and brother, Sebastian Gattuso, is one of her favorite past times.

Celestine, known as Cel, is the adventurous one. She likes to keep on the go and is especially proud that she can take to the open road to visit her daughter, Michelle, and family in Connecticut.

As for me, they tell me I am too serious and have no sense of humor. Chet may agree.

Whatever our personalities, we are bonded and held tight by the strings of events that have been and will be shared. Our steps and knees may not be as lively and quick but our spirit and commitment to each other remains solid and strong.

Happy 50th anniversary, Evie, Ruthie, Ann Marie, Dorothy, Celestine and yours truly. Sorry we did not make the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Solid friendships of 80 years

In the late 1920s three young men – Sam Mantione, Chester Montante and Charles Guinta – met while attending Pittston High School, became buddies and then solid friends. It was friendship based on trust, intermingled with a lot of joking and laughing.

Chet always contended that he and Sam would still be in the 10th grade if it hadn’t been for Charles’ smarts.

Charles Guinta went to his eternal rest on Jan. 3. He was a successful business man, served in WWII and the Korean Conflict and reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Active in church and civic organizations, taking leadership roles was his forte. He will be remembered as a gentleman with a keen mind, a caring personality and as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend.

Nurture and enjoy the gift of friendship, for neither time nor distance can ever erase the memories made with cherished friends.


We are a group of women who have run the gamut of life’s experiences and have supported each other

during those times, whether they were good or bad. Babies were born and we rejoiced. Two infants, a club member, parents and husbands were taken from us and we mourned.


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