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April 27, 2014

Ageless 'Rudy's Tigers' continue fitness tradition

(Continued)

Being in such venerable company brought back some memories. After all, it was this fraternity that talked me into my first climb atop Mount Washington in 1984.

All are stellar products of the Haverhill High athletic scene, like their children after them. Now they have grandchildren setting their own trend. Few in the city were better at swimming than Martha Clohisy, or played better basketball than young Teddy DeRoche, or football like Paul Grillo.

“I owe him my life,” said DeRoche. “Rudy talked me into quitting cigarettes. He taught us to take care of ourselves and enjoy the beauty life had to offer. Sometimes, we take those privileges for granted.”

They talk of those who have gone before them like Del Bracci, Sid Lafey, Nordo Nissi, Spike Valenti, Al Burton, Les Brindis, Dick Bluestein, Frank Donahue, Wes Shaw, Elie LaBombarde and the inimitable Fred Battistini, who passed last year.

“A toast to all of them,” they said, raising their water glasses. “Let’s hear it for Fred and the others.”

At 88, Battistini swam in the Massachusetts Senior Games and brought back eight gold medals from Harvard University. He was a true Tiger and worked through his 90th year at Haverhill TV & Appliance.

Right up there as chief workout artist was Hy Der Bogosian, a long-time confectionary business owner. Drill sergeant was more like it.

“When he finished with you at a workout, you could have drowned in your own sweat,” said Piccolo, who succeeded him. “Hy was by the book — all business.”

And you could never forget Wesley Shaw. The funeral director made the “Y” his hiatus. He’d go through a workout without a strand of hair out of place.

“He could have done it with a suit and tie,” laughed Morris Piccolo. “He’d come out of it looking like Fred Astaire.”

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