Bisonalities Again


A quarterly Newsletter dedicated to the Alumni of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf High Schools
October 2014 ----------------------------------------------- Fall Issue ------------------------ Volume 16 - Number 1

Welcome to the Bisonalities, Again, a newsletter dedicated to the alumni (students, teachers, and administrators) of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf High Schools. This newsletter will be issued quarterly. New issues will be posted for viewing on the Web site on, or about January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.

The Bisonalities, Again Web site may be viewed by going to:

The success of this newsletter will depend on you. I need contributors. Do you have an interesting article, a nostalgia item, a real life story, or a picture you would like to share with other alumni? Do you have a snail-mail or an e-mail address of one of your former classmates? If you do, please send it to me at the following e-mail address:
or at my snail-mail address:
Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062
Tel: (301) 535-9263
Fax: (301) 375-9250

Please, NO hand written submissions.

The Bisonalities, Again Newsletter is available to any and all alumni, teachers, and administrators of Waterford or Fort LeBoeuf High Schools on the Web site, free.

If you know an alumnus, teacher, or administrator who would be interested, tell them about the Web site. None of the material in this newsletter has a copyright unless otherwise noted. If you wish to make copies of this newsletter and distribute it to other Alumni or friends, please feel free to do so.

If you are reading this newsletter on-line and would like a printable version of it, a PDF version is available on the web site. That is, a file that can be read and displayed by the FREE Adobe File Reader. This will allow you to print the newsletter exactly as if you had received it by snail-mail. If you would like a PDF copy of the newsletter, it is located on the Main Menu under "Past Issues Bisonalities Again."

Dedication to "Carm"

This issue is dedicated to a teacher I admired more than any other I ever had, high school or college, Mr. Carmel (Carm) Bonito, "The Coach"!

Carmel "Carm" Bonito, age 91, of Waterford, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, at Forestview Healthcare Center, where he resided for over a year. Born in Erie on October 14, 1922, he is a son of the late Anthony and Susan Verdoni Bonito.

He married Alice Mooradian on October 7, 1949, and she survives.

Carm was a well-known local sports figure, from his early high school years to his many years of coaching.

He graduated from Wesleyville High School in 1941, where he lettered in football, basketball, wrestling, and baseball. He played football, baseball, and wrestled at Findlay College in Ohio, before joining the U.S. Navy in 1941. After four years of service, Carm enrolled at Bowling Green University, where he played football and was captain of the wrestling team for three years, graduating in 1949 with a B.S. in Health, P.E. and Recreation.

His teaching career started at Waterford Academy in 1949, and ended with his retirement from Fort LeBoeuf High School in 1982. During those years, he served as: Athletic Director from 1949-1982; basketball coach from 1949-1951; baseball coach from 1949-1959, including Eastern Champs three years and Erie County Champs two years; and football coach from 1949-1982, including Erie County Champs three years, with an undefeated team in 1962.

Carm was the first Certified Athletic Trainer in Erie County and served as trainer for the Erie Vets semi-pro football team. After retiring from Fort LeBoeuf, he was the football trainer for Mercyhurst College from 1982-1984. Carm was privileged to serve as County Coach in the Save-An-Eye Football Classic three times - he also played in the game as a high school senior.

Carm organized the first recreation program at Fort LeBoeuf Schools, and he enjoyed playing in the American Legion Baseball League, the Wesleyville and Waterford County Leagues, the Lake Shore League and Glenwood League, and the Senior County League. He was past president of the Erie County Coaches Association, was a PIAA wrestling official for 25 years, and was inducted into the Fort LeBoeuf Hall of Fame in 1996, the Wesleyville-Iroquois-Lawrence Park Hall of Fame in 2008, and the Metropolitan Erie Chapter of the PA Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Carm enlisted in the Navy in 1941 after the Pearl Harbor attack. He served in the Pacific on two destroyers, the USS Maddox and the USS Hastings, and was involved in the invasions of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Philippines, Luzon, Marshall Islands, and Tokyo Bay. He was honorably discharged in 1945, as Gunner's Mate First Class.

He was a member of the Waterford Lions Club and recipient of the Melvin Jones Award, and he enjoyed hunting, dog training, hiking, fitness, reading, and traveling.

Carm is survived by his devoted wife of 64 years, Alice; his two children, James A. Bonito and wife Patricia of Waterford, and Patricia A. Sarring and husband Rudy of Edinboro; his granddaughter, the joy of his life, Allyson C. Sarring; two brothers, Joseph Bonito and wife Sandra, and Anthony Bonito and wife Tabby, all of Port Huron, Mich.; and two sisters-in-law, Teresa Mooradian and Patsy Mooradian, both of Erie.

Carm also had a sister, Theresa Lindway, who preceded him in death.

Visiting hours were at Van Matre Funeral Home, 105 Walnut Street, Waterford, on Monday, July 21, 2014, from 2-4 and 6-9 p.m. The funeral service was held at Asbury United Methodist Church, West 2nd Street, Waterford, on Tuesday morning at 11:00 a.m., officiated by Pastor Linda Ruth of Oasis of Love Church, Edinboro. Private burial, with military honors, followed at Lakeside Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Fort LeBoeuf Football Boosters, c/o Diane Lewis, P.O. Box 993, Waterford, PA 16441, the Fort LeBoeuf Historical Society, P.O. Box 622, Waterford, PA 16441 or the Art Steves Room Fund, c/o Greg Kuzma, 8313 Old French Road, Erie, PA 16509.

Tributes to "Carm"

Coach Bonito is one teacher I never remember any student back-talking. His word was unquestioned. He left a vivid impression on all his students and athletes.

I recently heard a few stories that showed he had a sense of humor, maybe a prank or two on Wally Mahle or Art Steves. Is it true that he had a photo taken in a boat fishing in Wally Mahle's swimming pool; the photo was then mailed to Wally who was out of town on vacation?

The coach and his wonderful wife attended our church for many years. As fellow servers at the annual Mother and Daughter Banquet, he shared with me his assessment of my (much larger than me) big brother, Lowell, and his football acumen in his high school career in the early fifties, "one of his best players over the years," an opinion I was able to share with my brother before his own passing.

"Carm" left a heritage we shall always honor and to which we will try to live up.

Best Regards,
Verel R. Salmon
FLBHS Class of 1963


I was lucky enough to have Coach as an educator in his last few years. I remember I was a freshman or sophomore and it was the beginning of the year. Coach said we're testing on punting, passing, and kicking. Out to the field boys...but just as we were getting reading to take off he hollers out, "anyone playing football can hit the showers"...automatic pass for the testing. To this day that moment has stuck with me.

Rich Galbraith
FLBHS Class of 1983


There are many special, even exceptional people that come into our lives over the years; certainly "Carm" is at the top of the list for all the athletes he mentored during his time at FLBHS. I was not one of them but have benefited from his influence on one of those athletes for many years. Many fond memories and stories have been shared in our home spreading "Carm's" life lessons with our children and even some of the grandchildren. Joe speaks of Coach Bonito with great reverence and affection. He/we regret not being able to attend his memorial service.

Ruth Ann Allen Leech
FLBHS Class of 1957


One time during gym class we were to climb the famous rope from the floor to the ceiling. Coach told me to do it as someday you're going to need this training.

Little did I know I would be drafted in the U.S. Army soon after graduation and assigned to a Special Recon Platoon where rope climbing and repelling was one of our major training sessions.

His training and giving me self confidence helped guide me through over 24 years of Military Service. Thank You Coach

William (Bill) Breault
Msg, U.S. Army Retired
FLBHS Class of 1966


I had him for gym class when he first came to Waterford HS. We did exercises before we did anything else. I loved the spring board, basketball, and softball, all of which we did in gym class. He was a super person and sensitive to his people. A Great coach! His memory will go on forever!

Nancy Prososki Austin
WHS Class of 1955


As a member of the class of 1967 I can only echo the many kind words that have come Coaches way. Through the years every so often something would remind me of Coach Bonito. Nothing specific, no memorable quotes but just a way of trying to do things the right way. In contrast to what we see today Coach was always ready with a pat on the back and an encouraging word. There was no yelling, screaming or cursing just trying to turn kids into young men. From the classroom to the sports arena all I can say is "Thank you Coach."

John Rudolph
FLBHS Class of 1967


For over fifty years advice from Coach Bonito has stuck with me. It was during a Health class that Coach stated that you should always urinate before leaving on an automobile trip. Aside from the obvious discomfort of searching for a restroom while driving down the road with a full bladder, Coach stated that if you were involved in an accident, your bladder may rupture and cause serious internal complications. Thinking back, he may have not been totally serious, but the image of my bladder bursting like a water balloon has led me to the bathroom before every car ride. Even if I'm going two miles I'm going potty first. It drives my wife crazy, but I have been doing this ever since Coach made that statement, oh so many years ago.

But my favorite story involved Coach Bonito and my Dad, John “Kaki” Rutkowski. Coach would often hunt on our farm. A few years ago, when they were both getting up there in age, Coach Bonito came out to hunt geese. My Dad helped him carry some decoys across a hayfield, and as Coach settled in a shallow ditch to wait for geese, my Dad walked back home. A while later he walked out to see how the hunt was going and as he approached he saw Coach lying flat on the ground and not moving. He told me later he yelled “Carm” several times and got no response. Fearing the worse he ran to the supine coach and found him fast asleep.

That was amusing enough, but a couple years later my Dad was weeding in the garden and stretched out on the ground to rest his aching back. Driving past was Walley Mahle and his frequent companion, Coach Bonito. Walley skidded to a stop and they ran out to the garden thinking the worst, only to find my dad sound asleep. Turnabout is fair play, it seems.

A few years later at my Dad's funeral Coach told me the story and said “Kaki thought I was dead, and I thought Kaki was dead. Looks like he beat me to it.”

That he did, Coach.

May God Bless both of you.

Dave Rutkowski
FLBHS Class of 1967

Bisonalities Blog

Without a doubt this has been the worst summer I have experienced, weather wise, in the 53 plus years I have lived in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area.

We have had temperatures as low as 54 degrees, at night, steady winds as much as 15 mph, for 12 hour periods, and rain like we lived in the tropics.

By this time of the year we have usually experienced 45 days of over 90 degrees for a high and 10 of those days with temperatures over 100. This year we have had only three 100 degree days and only 20 of 90 degrees or more.

We have already had two inches more ran than our normal yearly rain fall, even with September being our 4th driest September on record.

The winds and rain have really cut into my fishing. I usually get out 120-125 days a year, in my boat. This year I have been out 25 times, so far.

If you are planning a special event in the Waterford area, get the information to me and I will publish it for you. I maintain three web sites pertaining to the Waterford area:

The first two sites have a calendar on them showing various events around Waterford. I also post information to both of their Facebook pages.

In addition, I have the e-mail address for approximately 250 alumni from the classes of 1943 through 2012.

I was fortunate enough to get back to Waterford for the 40th Waterford Days celebration, my class reunion, and my sister, Barbara's 80th birthday.

My class, FLBHS class of 1956, held our reunion in the Red Room at the Sugar 'n Spice. We had a great time, with excellent food, at a reasonable price.

If you have not experienced the Waterford Days celebration, do your best to schedule attendance next year. It will be well worth it. It will be held July 17, 18, and 19, 2015. You will be glad you did.

I wish to apologize to the class of 1954 for not attending their reunion. I was invited, but developed pneumonia while in Waterford and had to return to Southern Maryland for treatment. The class of 1954 celebrated their 60th at the home of Roger and Betty Jean Schwab at their beautiful home in Waterford!

Pictures of both the class of 1954 and 1956 has been posted to the web site.

Amber Owens McCallWHS1953
Stacey Lee Chase DingleFLBHS1988
Carm BonitoWHS/FLBHSThe Coach
Loretta Young DzeskewidzWHS1955
Minnie Briggs BaughmanFLBHSCook
Florence RuthowskiWHS1950
Donna Martin PetersFLBSDMember
Bonnie Reed WasylFLBHS1966
Faye RussellFLBHS1980
Janelle Marie KitelingerFLBHS1966
Harley G. WellsFather
Stanley BielakFLBHS1965
Ken SkladanowskiFLBHS1972
The Christmas tree
by The Late Herb Walden

I suspect that more family traditions have originated around Christmas than any other holiday or time of year. Many of these traditions were so much a part of our young lives that they followed us into adulthood. Of course, some of those traditions may be slightly modified due to circumstances beyond our control. In my case, getting the Christmas tree is a prime example.

When I was a kid, Mom, Dad, and I always went to a nearby Christmas tree plantation in late October or early November to pick out our tree. Now selecting a Christmas tree in even a small plantation can be an all-afternoon job. We were picky. Our tree had to be a Norway spruce. No pine, no fir --- spruce! It had to reach the ceiling. Daylight should not penetrate the tree anywhere. If any part of the trunk could be seen, it was thumbs down.

It's hard to judge size outdoors. Mom and I would finally discover the perfect tree only to be discouraged by Dad. He would point out that our ceilings were only eight feet high, while the tree Mom and I wanted was at least 12 or 15 feet beyond that. It would take a small logging operation to get the tree out. Besides, there were a couple families of squirrels living in it.

Then he would show us some puny little thing saying that it was just right. Eventually Mom and I would relent and let Dad tie our name tag on his tiny, baby tree.

About a week before Christmas, we would return to the plantation to cut our tree and take it home. It seems like there was always a foot or two of snow by that time, and dragging the tree to the car was a real workout.

Boosting the tree up on top of the car was quite a chore, too. We were surprised at how "un-puny" the tree really was. And when it took all three of us to wedge the tree through the door and into the living room, well, Mom and I had to admit hat Dad knew how to choose a tree. Until next year!

After Dad passed away, the tagging/cutting/hauling ritual became my responsibility.

It was getting late in the season a few years ago before I got around to the tree business. I had the job all to myself, and I left for the plantation right after school one day. It was about ten miles from home.

It was a cold, gray day. Really cold! There was no snow on the ground, but it was very cold, and there were flurries in the air. It was cold enough that the ground was frozen, and puddles in the plantation driveway were iced over. Did I mention it was cold?

I walked around through the trees for an hour or so. I had wandered quite a distance from the car before I finally discovered a couple of acceptable trees. A drainage ditch about three feet wide separated the two trees. It was frozen over, and I hopped back and forth across it looking at first one three and then the other.

After a dozen or so hops, I thought to myself, "Why am I jumping this ditch? It's probably frozen solid, and besides, I'm wearing nice, warm, lined boots."

So on what would prove to be the last trip, I stepped squarely in the middle of the ice. It turned out to be less than a half-inch thick, and the water underneath it, about six to eight inches above my boots!

I didn't fall, but I did step in with the other foot to prevent it.

Now we all know that water freezes at 32 degrees, but this water was at least 20 degrees below zero! I'm not sure how that can be, but I had two boots full of it, and I know!

Well, I dumped a couple of gallons out of each boot, but it didn't help much. The fuzzy lining had soaked up several more quarts.

I made a quick decision and tagged a tree in a hurry! Then I started back to the car, which looked to be two or three miles away. My brisk walk changed to a jog which changed to a dead run as numbness progressed from toes to ankles to legs. It was a tough run, too. Each boot must have weighed ten pounds.

I started the car and got the heater going. I removed my boots and socks and check to see that I still had toes. They were all there. They were sort of blue, but there nonetheless. My pants, evidently being made of some super-absorbent material, were wet with that super-cold water way up past my knees. So I removed them, too, since I didn't expect to see anybody.

I sat there until some feeling came back to my feet. It was snowing a little more earnestly now.

As I pulled out the driveway and started down the road, I was suddenly aware of the need of a restroom! I could have taken care of this almost anywhere back in the plantation, but I didn't have to go then. There were too many houses along the road to do anything about it now. I decided if I drove like Mario Andretti, I could make it home in time.

About half-way home, I saw something through the snow, (which was really coming down hard now), in the road ahead of me. When I got closer, it turned out to be a fire truck. In fact, there were two fire trucks and some electric company trucks, too. They were getting ready to burn an old, abandoned house and had the road blocked off. Only for a few minutes, they hollered.

So there I sat, squirming, clad in stocking cap, heavy jacket, fur-lined gloves, and ... underwear!

I supposed my eyes were darting in every direction looking for a way out before disaster. At any rate, my gaze finally came to rest on the gas gauge, the needle of which was on "E"! In fact, it was a tad left of "E"!

"How ironic," I thought. "The car's tank is all but empty, and my own personal tank is about to overflow!"

Now I was really desperate! Watching the firemen squirt water all over wasn't helping my condition either!

I made up my mind that I was either going to have to ram the fire trucks and make a break for it or drive around the trucks through a cornfield and, if it could get up enough speed, make a "Dukes-of-Hazzard-jump" over the creek.

Then, just as I decided to get out of the car and run to the woods beyond, the fire trucks moved, and I was on my way!

Just in time, too. I knew most of the firemen and they knew me as a respected school teacher. It would have been hard to maintain my decorum while running barefoot in my underwear through snow, flush, and fire hoses!

Well, to make a long story short, (which is impossible now), I made it home in time. I'm afraid I may have exceeded the speed limit a bit. Mario would never have kept up. I always drive fast when I'm really low on gas so I can get to my destination before I run out. You do that, too, don't you?

I went back to the plantation about a week later to get my tree only to find someone got there before me and took my tree, tag and all. My second choice was gone, too.

The next day, I went into the city and bought a tree, I still have it. It's not spruce, nor pine, nor fir. It is plastic!

So, I've modified the old Christmas tradition somewhat. Now I go down to the basement each December and harvest my Christmas tree from a cardboard box. There's a restroom just a few steps away, and you know, my feet hardly ever get cold at all!

This is the last issue unless I receive some new stories! PLEASE help me to keep this publication going! Send me stories.

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