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Honored Members_2

Eddie Ostry - "My best Polka memory was my time playing with Little Wally“. To learn more about Eddie’s contributions to the Polka community, watch this video of a talk he recently gave at a CPA general membership meeting. You will really enjoy it.

Barb VinezI remember we had Christmas Parties (for the kids) and one of them was at St. Josephat's and my son, Michael, was probably 2 yrs. old so I believe I probably joined in 1976 because he was born in 1975. We (meaning Jean Wagner, Barb Haselow, me and a few others) did the cooking for this party and we had a ball in the kitchen at St. Josephat's, except when I burned my hand on the hot grease frying the chicken, but we never skipped a beat and everyone really enjoyed it. I believe Mike Stevens played for this party and gifts for the kids were bought by Barb and Linda Pezo specifically for each kid. I can remember Michael getting a fairly large plastic fire truck and he sat on it and rode it or Cindy or John pushed all around the hall.

Robert Dvoroznak – I favor the Slovenian style of Polkas. I worked with Lenny Zadell who played Polish style. He and I enjoyed many polka events together. I remember Wally’s Polka Chips and the Joe Beno Orchestra. They are part of our heritage. I enjoy the Polka Pirates and the Chardon Polka Band today. I can’t dance like I used to but I love to listen to Polka music. By the way, I wish new cars still had CD players, I miss listening to Polkas as I drive.

Patricia Frances PadyjasekPatricia (Stemkowski) Padyjasek was the eight child of Peter and Frances Pronishen-Stemkowski, born on September 24, 1936; 100% Polis family. When five years old she became a member of The Polish National Alliance. On October 5, 1957, Patricia married Joseph Padyjasek, son of Andrew and Helen (Ashmanas) Padyjasek. They were married almost 58 years when he passed August 10,2015. Patty and Joe were proud of their Polish ethnicity, supporting all Polish dances locally and once retired, they branched out to the dances in Cleveland, Youngstown, and Pittsburgh, when able. Patty is fun loving and likes to listen to all the new and old bands with her favorite being Marion Lush. Patricia is always available to assist the local Polish organizations when able with her great ethnic cooking and baking skills. Patty is the mother of Carla (Larry) Tedeschi, sons Peter and John, granddaughter, Dr. Carissa Tedeschi and grandson Christopher Tedeschi and her miniature schnauzer, Glennon. Patty will celebrate her 86 birthday in 2022! Sto Lat!!!! 

Steve Szczawinski - When I was a kid (pre-teen, teen), Polka Varieties, etc was a staple of my parents entertainment. It was entertainment for my parents but just noise for me. As a young adult following military service, Polka Dances were never given a thought.

I had known Nancy (Novak) for the first nine years of our education and we even campaigned for JFK. However we drifted apart due to college and the military. We reconnected as geezers many, many years later (2014) and started a relationship (it took me 50 years to ask her out). I soon learned that Nancy was an avid Polka enthusiast. I remember being invited to a Christmas Dance in 2014 along with Nancy's eldest daughter, unfortunately I don't remember the band. I had such a good time and have been enjoying Polka Dances with Nancy on a regular basis. The first time I heard Polka Family I was mesmerized, Hank is such an excellent entertainer.

Eugene Bryda - One of Eugene’s most treasured Polka memories is following his cousins; Jimmy, Richie and Kenny who made up the Lorain Polka Sharps. Eugene would record their sessions and gigs! Eugene was a talented Polka dancer. He and his late wife, Carla, won dancing contests at Parma Town and various church events. Eugene loved to go to Brookstate after finishing his shift at the GM/Chevrolet plant. He has lived in Florida since 2006 and has a collection of over 400 Polka CD’s.

Nancy Novak - My interest in polka music began as a teenager. Every morning I'd wake up to the famous trumpeter in old Krakow playing to alert the residents of invaders to the city which then introduced Tony Zebrowski and his polka program featuring polkas, waltzes and obereks. This always kept me in the right frame of mind to face the day with a radiant smile.

     My parents hosted many family gatherings with the stereo playing polka music and all would take song sheets and sing along with Lil Wally. We always had polka music in our house. Then there was a young polka accordionist in our neighborhood who joined in and played for free. That was Wally Chips!

      Polkas could be found at Karby's, Golden Mule, Bus Stop Inn, Hillside, Polish Women's Hall, the Aragon Ballroom, Brookstate Inn, to name a few places that featured locals and out-of-town musicians. This was the great 60's & 70's era and how I was introduced to the CPA and became a member. What could be better than a polka to cheer you up at home or melodies used to sing praise in church at Polka Mass. My daughter took a big interest in polka dancing and also followed a local band. That just added fuel to the POLKA-fire within me to get more involved...and so I did.

Frank Hejl - Frank began his Polka Career as a dancer on Polka Varieties. He and a group of other dancers would be on the show whenever Ray Budzilek played. Frank would be partnered with any girl from the group who wanted to dance.

    Frank and his brothers were active musicians in a variety of polka bands. Frank played drums and provided the vocals in the “Musical Cavaliers” a group whose other members consisted of Tom Adamski on accordion, Joe Natran clarinet/sax, and John Drlik on trumpet. While the band consisted of 4 members, sometimes the musician’s union would require 5. At that time, other well know musicians from the Cleveland area were approached to help.

     The Musical Cavaliers were very popular in Cleveland and surrounding counties. Frank remembers playing at The Brookstate,  Parma Town Mall, the Downtown Garden Club, Medina Ball Room and a host of weddings and other events and venues. The Musical Cavaliers could have 3-4 bookings a week at their busiest. The band disbanded because the members wished to spend more time with their families.

Bob Smith - One of my favorite polka memories is of Silva & Paul Namitka. From the beginning Paul was the most open & friendly person; he introduced himself at my 1st meeting & made me feel welcome. From then on, at CPA meetings or a dance, we socialized and enjoyed each other’s company. Our relationship included many phone calls to exchange information. Unfortunately, time (and age) change relationships and Paul & Sylvia are being missed. 

Valerie Oberitis - My best memory about Polkas is when my son, Joe Oberaitis had his first appearance on “Polka Varieties” Sunday TV Show in 1971. I was very happy that he shared his beautiful Polish music with people in Cleveland and in the United States. Joe went to weddings and parties when he was a baby. At 3 years of age, he played Polka music on my stereo - the only records he would play. He had an album, Polish Soul. It was his first record in 1971.

Patricia Stephan - My sister and I attended almost every dance here. But, our favorite dances were at Idora Park in Youngstown. We met up with out-of-town friends and danced to bands we didn’t see in Cleveland.

Frank  Mezzapeso“It was the 4th of July fireworks festival; I don’t remember the year. Eddie Blazoncyk and Happy Louie were playing and nobody was able to dance because the whole floor was full of polka people. I was able to take pictures but I could not get close. It was UNBELIEVEABLE!!

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