Century Club: At 100, the histories of Mary Kasich and Mabel Bates filled with engaging tales
In 1906, George M. Cohen wrote the song "Mary's a Grand Old Name." People were still singing it when Mary Madeline Churilla Kasich was born on Sept. 4, 1912, and she knew he was right.
She was born in Blaine Hill, Elizabeth Township, to Wasil Churilla and the former Maria Kytchak. Two of her sisters, Anne Homa and Rose Tyszkiewicz, still live there.
She was 6 when her mother died in the 1918 flu epidemic. After her death, her father would bring home boarders from the mine; they always ate first. She never had a baby doll as a child, so she painted a face on a stuffed sock and called it her doll. When she was 8, her father remarried. She lost an 8-year-old brother in a fire and an 18-year-old step-brother drowned while swimming in the Monongahela River.
On Oct. 28, 1933, she married Peter Kasich, a founding member of the Blaine Hill Volunteer Fire Department. Their wedding reception was the first one held in the fire hall's banquet room. They had four children: Marion Vanderbilt of Littleton, Colo., Marjorie Dagger of Elizabeth Township, Peter of Munhall, and Marlene McKean of Rochester Hills, Mich., with whom she lives.
Mrs. Kasich enjoyed tending flowers, sewing, knitting, taking pictures with her box camera, cleaning house, watching cooking shows, reading books and newspapers and going to Holy Dormition Orthodox Church in McKeesport. She is an excellent cook, specializing in "city" chicken, cabbage rolls, French toast, potato soup with caraway seeds and lemon meringue pie. She doesn't swear, smoke or drink alcohol. Her husband died in 1982 and she has 13 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Kasich has lived through 18 presidents and believes that you should never miss the chance to vote.
When Pennsylvania finally allowed women to tend bar, Mabel Marie Steis Bates was one of the first in line. She worked as a waitress and cook at the Elks Club in Sheraden, then as a barmaid in Wise's Lounge, Nip 'n' Tip and the Obey House in Elliot.
She was born on Sept. 12, 1912, in Ridgway, Elk County, one of Joseph and Sadie Steis' nine children. Two of her sisters are still living -- Ruby Gamarino of Brockport, Pa., and Josephine Fasenmyer of Warren, Pa.
She and her sisters would travel to Pittsburgh to hear and dance to the big bands and she met her future husband, Thomas L. Bates, on one such trip. He was a fireman and an engineer on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
They married at St Leo Church in Ridgway on Thanksgiving Day in 1941 and lived in East Liberty, then Sheraden. They had three children: Tommy of McKees Rocks, Bonnie of Ridgway (deceased) and Vicki of Kennedy, with whom she lives.
After her husband died in 1968, Mrs. Bates continued to work and loved tending bar and meeting people. She made delicious fried chicken, turkey, stuffing and apple pie. She never wanted anyone to be alone on a holiday, so she would invite people she knew from the bar -- and some she didn't -- to come home for a holiday meal. She retired from Obey House in 1988.
Mrs. Bates has four grandchildren and is a member of Holy Innocents Catholic Church in Sheraden. She celebrated her birthday with a trip to Rivers Casino and a party at home.
If you or a friend or a relative recently turned 100 or will soon do so, the Post-Gazette would like to hear from you. To be included in Century Club, send the honoree's biographical information and your phone number to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Century Club, Attn: Kevin Kirkland, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. Fax: 412-491-8452. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Published September 18, 2012 12:00 am