A group of friends who grew up in the Ohio Valley in the 1950s and 1960s is still going strong. In fact, the longtime friends, who now live in the Wheeling area or in Florida, get together regularly for dinner and other social occasions.
Bill Hazlett of Wheeling said some of the folks in their circle continue to reside in Wheeling or, in the case of Hazlett and his wife, Joan, have returned to the Friendly City to live. Others live in Florida and return to the Ohio Valley for the summer months, while some of the group members have vacation homes in the Sunshine State.
"We were all born here and love to come back for the summer," he commented.
Longtime Ohio Valley friends continue to gather monthly for dinner and social evenings. Members of the group include, seated from left, Phil Shapaka, Mary Ellen Lurty, Carol Sacco, Carolyn Mox, Nancy Frank, Joan Lurty and Cathy Antonucci; standing from left, Judy Beazel, Bill Beazel, JoAnn Thomas, Patty Edge, Shirley Shapaka, Joan Hazlett, Bill Hazlett, Lillian Tsoras, Mike McCutcheon, Sue Riffle, Wayne Thomas and Bill Frank.
In all, 25 to 27 people who either live in Wheeling or spend their vacations here participate in the monthly gatherings, Hazlett said.
During their teen years, he said, "We went to different schools in the valley. We were friends then."
Group members attended Wheeling High School, Wheeling Central Catholic High School, St. Joseph's Academy, Linsly Military Institute and Martins Ferry High School.
Today, Hazlett said, "We meet and get together monthly for dinner and social evenings."
He said the group members also enjoy meeting at Heritage Port for the Wheeling Waterfront Wednesday concerts during the summer.
"We also meet at Pickles Restaurant in the fall for the Steelers football games," he said. "The guys enjoy playing golf at many of the golf courses a couple days a week."
He said, "We have cookouts at our homes and attend many of the festivals around the valley."
In addition to the Hazletts, the group include Phil Shapaka, Shirley Shapaka, Mary Ellen Lurty, Carol Sacco, Carolyn Mox, Nancy Frank, Bill Frank, Joan Lurty, Cathy Antonucci, Judy Beazel, Bill Beazel, JoAnn Thomas, Wayne Thomas, Patty Edge, Lillian Tsoras, Mike McCutcheon and Sue Riffle.