BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Fridays at St. Al’s

STEUBENVILLE – Oh, those Friday night dances at “St. Al’s” at the Catholic Community Center at 148 S. Fourth St.

It was a staple of the school year’s social scene for Catholic Central High School students from classes from the 1940s up until 1969, the final year the dances were held there.

All those good memories, all that good music, all that good nostalgia from days gone by are good reason to get together and reminisce, say organizers of a two-evening opportunity next month to do so.

For St. Al-goers, the invitation is out there.

On June 13, a Friday, there will be an informal reunion at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 97 at 341 Kragel Road, Richmond, beginning at 7 p.m. and continuing until whenever.

The per-person charge is $25, which will cover food, beer, wine and pop. Entertainment will feature CDs playing music from the St. Al’s eras.

On June 14, a Saturday, the reminiscing continues, this time at the CIO Hall at 227 S. Third St., Steubenville. It also begins at 7 p.m. and continues until whenever. Ditto for the per-person charge of $25, which will cover food, beer, wine and pop.

Music for this, however, will come courtesy of the State of Mind band performing St. Al’s kind of tunes.

Both days will feature “lightweight” food – pizza and chips, for example – with music at the FOP lodge to feature a CD collection of oldies that go back to 1949.

Those interested in attending either day or both or wanting information should contact Patty Ravasio Cramblett by phone at (740) 632-1683 or by e-mail at cramblett@comcast.net or Linda Pinciaro Staffilino at (740) 264-7689.

Behind the initial thought of this first-ever St. Al’s reunion are Patty Ravasio Cramblett, CCHS Class of 1968, and her brother, Louie “Wildman” Ravasio of Baton Rouge, La., CCHS Class of 1967.

Cramblett said after her brother’s class reunion in 2012, he had mentioned interest in having an ice breaker that would include his class, Cramblett’s class and the Class of 1966, which included their cousin Linda Pinciaro Stafflino.

Cramblett described her brother as “very, very Steubenville oriented.”

“He just loves and brags about the Ville to everybody, so he wanted to get together with my class, and he wanted to get with my cousin Linda’s class that graduated in 1966 and kind of have like an ice breaker, so we discussed it and went back to some of our classmates on reunion committees,” she explained.

“The more we talked we decided to make it a St. Al’s reunion and open it up to more classes,” Cramblett said.

The trio ultimately grew to a committee that included Patty Reda, Janice DiFederico and Mary Manella Babaryk, all of whom met in August and decided to go with a two-day St. Al’s Reunion, welcoming people from all of the classes who ever would have attended the dances.

“We started contacting classmates to see if they were interested and are getting a pretty good response,” she said.

“We’re really excited we’ve gotten a lot of good feedback, and I was really amazed that even the older generation are wanting to come because they all have good memories about these dances, so we’re excited,” she said.

Both days will feature “lightweight” food – pizza and chips, for example – with music at the FOP lodge to feature a CD collection of oldies that go back to 1949.

Cramblett said she was contacted by a few classmates who graduated in 1948 and 1949 who remembered going to St. Al’s back then.

“They wern’t sure when St. Al’s started, but knew it was there when they were freshmen, 1944 and 1945. They remembered not only going to the Friday night dances, but having the proms and other formals at St. Al’s also. They have a group of people from their classes that are excited about the reunion,” she said.

“St. Al’s was the place to go every Friday night,” Cramblett recalled. “Classmates would climb the two flights of stairs where two classmates would be sitting and collecting your 25 cents to the dance hall where music played from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. It didn’t matter if you were a freshman or a senior, the girls would dance, and the guys would stand against the wall waiting for a slow song so they could dance with their girlfriends. St. Al’s was like a private club. You had to be a student of CCHS to attend,” she explained.

Of St. Al’s, Cramblett’s brother said, “What fond memories those two words bring to mind, and it still puts a smile on my face after all of these years.

“It was my first experience at a real ‘dance,’ and it never disappointed me or my friends,” Ravasio said.

“Everyone looked forward to the dances there every Friday night, and we got to see the ladies not in their ‘school uniforms’ but in ‘real clothes’ – mini skirts, maxi skirts and everything in between. There was always a selection of great music, and the 45’s – most people do not know what those are – they were everyone’s favorite songs, and even the guys danced,” Ravasio reminisced.

They were the days of dances minus today’s line dances, according to Ravasio. “None of these – in my opinion – stupid line dances, except, of course, for the Harlem Shuffle and the Phyilly Freeze,” he said. “No, we wanted slow dances so you could hold that special lady in your arms. We fast danced also but a lot of that included joking around, forward roll and whatever else someone thought of for laughs. If I had to put it in one sentence it would be ‘we had fun.’ Every dance that I went to I had fun,” Ravasio said.

“Of all of the great times that I had at Central, St. Al’s may be one of my favorite times and fondest memories,” added Ravasio, who recalled how the last song played at the close of the Friday dances was Gene Pitney’s “Town Without Pity.”

Cramblett believes today’s generation is missing out on special memories that St. Al’s fostered.

“It’s sad our children today don’t have this – they don’t have this connection. When we look back we remember the St. Al days. Our children don’t have that connection,” Cramblett said.

“St. Al’s was special, a staple of the school year, a social connection where freshman through senior would meet, and there really wasn’t so much of a class barrier,” Cramblett said. “Guys mostly stood around the dance hall, and the girls danced, and it was funny because the guys looked around and wanted to see who they wanted to slow dance with,” she said.

“They were innocent days, and it’s just something that brings back smiles.”

(Kiaski can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)