More reader responses to recent stories on the Santa snowballing and the Philadelphia Athletic Club:
Eagles and Santa
I just wanted to add a bit of perspective to a couple of letters published in [last] Saturday's Extra Cheese responses. Frank Olivo was the man in the suit the day in 1968 when Eagles fans threw snowballs at Santa and, to the contrary of the accounts in the letters and other so-called eyewitnesses, he wasn't drunk, he wasn't a "pathetic-looking clown" or a "horrible Santa" and didn't give an "effortless attempt."
He was a 20-year-old guy attending the game along with members of his family when he was asked to help the team in a difficult and unexpected situation. He was and still is a loyal Eagles fan who has followed his team for well over 40 years, and to this day will always stand up for the Philly fans when members of the national media try to get a remark from him disparaging his fellow fans or the city which he calls home.
It's true that Frank Olivo took several for the team. It's a shame he had to take them from fellow Eagles fans.
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Note: Mr. Gothie is a nephew of Frank Olivo, the Santa who got snowballed.
I travel and only recently caught up with my Inquirer and I had to throw my take on the infamous Franklin Field Snowball Game.
I was 14 and went with my die-hard-Philly-fan dad, and two of his friends. His seats were under the "pigeons" and easy access to snowball making and throwing. The team was not good, and quite frankly the snowballs were excellent!
Initially they were meant for the coaches at the end of the first half (my father said, "Don't hit the players!"), and with Santa in the stadium his presence began to get in the way!
I don't remember him being a pathetic Santa, and on that day I don't think it would have made any difference.
At the time, one could never dream that this would be a defining moment forever for a Philly Sports Fan! Having lived in New York, Denver and Chicago, there is one truth . . . there is no more compassionate a fan than a Philly fan!
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Athletic Club memories
I just read the piece on the PAC. My father took me there when I was a kid, early '70s, that was the greatest place in the world.
My father signed me up for some training with Al Nino, remember him? I trained with a couple other guys, one was Mike McCloskey, who went on to be a tight end at Penn State.
Thanks for the article, the image of the old guys in the sheets is tattooed on my brain forever, scary sight, and I've yet to find a steam room that matches the ol' PAC . . . thanks again.
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Re: The Broadwood Hotel; you may remember that Jack Kelly Jr. and Frank Novick were the owners of the sports club. Both are now deceased. Kelly died on Callowhill Street on a Sunday morning [actually Saturday, March 2, 1985] from a sudden heart attack, and lay in the street and then in the morgue for over 24 hours unknown. At the time, ironically, he was one of Philadelphia's best-known personalities.
Novick was an owner of Novick Brothers, food distributors, and his brother, Morrie Novick, continues with that firm.
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As a 26-year-old coach of Juniors at Vesper Boat Club, Jack Kelly and Dietrich Rose arranged a "Special Membership" for me at PAC. I had to sign in each visit in a log book at the front desk.
My memories of PAC are highlighted by the "guys in the sheets" who sat for hours around their card tables. Never once saw them attempt anything that might look like real exercise.
The loudspeaker would forever request the attention of Al Nino, the ageless trainer, who would also on occasion appear at Vesper to catch a quick drink while riding his bike on the River Drive.
Sometimes Kelly would show up at PAC, and always greet me with the news that he would be "taking some steam."
All of this occurred in 1972-73 before I left Philly to build jet engines with GE. Thanks for the article and the rekindled memories.
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I loved reading your piece in the Saturday paper about the PAC. I spent every lunch time there from 1967 until the fire. [A fire damaged the facility in March 1979.] The basketball games were great and as hard-fought as any NBA game.
I know that you were limited in space, but the list of well-knowns that played there goes on and on.
I recall one day when Bill Walton showed up. Sonny Hill, Wally/Wali Jones, Doug Collins, Luke Jackson, Ed Rendell, Wilt Chamberlain and on and on.
Yes, I do remember the famous Max Patkin. Thanks for stoking my memory of "The good old days."
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(Editor's note: Legendary Philadelphia Athletic Club trainer Al Nino passed away in November 1996 at the age of 88.)