Gatsas honored for supporting Salvation Army kids' programs
Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, left, poses with the Singer Family Kids Champion Award trophy presented to him Friday by Stephen Singer, executive officer for Merchants Automotive Group. (Pat Grossmith/Union Leader)
Gatsas, still recuperating from open heart surgery about five weeks ago, received a standing ovation from about 100 people attending the annual fundraiser at The Derryfield Country Club.
The five Singer boys and the two Gatsas boys all attended Smyth Road School where they participated in sports. After school, they’d play baseball together and “Teddy,” as he was called, would get upset if they lost.
Gatsas later said what Singer didn’t know is that Gatsas was doing the same thing, taking a peek at another student’s test exam to get the right answers.
And both, he said, have a love for the Salvation Army and know what it means for the community.
And, he said, who can forget the year it was announced Twinkies were no longer going to be made and the mayor showed up at the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army kickoff luncheon with a case of the favorite sweets and auctioned them off, raising thousands of dollars.Gatsas said what the two families also had in common were great matriarchs and great patriarchs. All their mothers had to say was, “I’m going to tell your father,” to straighten them out.The mayor reminisced about his childhood, recalling walking to school with Stephen Singer leading the way with his white sash as patrol leader. They played together outside after school until Gatsas’ mother sounded the cowbell and they all knew it was time to go home for dinner. After, it was back outdoors for some more play.It was a time when a 10-year-old kid could ride his bike all over the city. Gatsas recalled pedaling his brand new Schwinn bicycle from the North End down to Kalivas Park for a ballgame that included a slide into broken glass at home plate. Within 15 minutes of arriving, someone stole his bike. He had to pay Stan Spirou, who would go on to be head basketball coach at Southern New Hampshire University, 25 cents to get it back. Stan wanted the quarter so he could buy an Orange Crush, Gatsas said.
“For the kids who can’t hear that cowbell,” he said.
The Salvation Army’s summer day camp provides 75 children, ages 8 to 16, with seven weeks of activities and includes a weekly trip to city pools, trips to Canobie Lake Park and Water Country, state parks and Hampton Beach, as well as meals and snacks and, at summer’s end, backpacks filled with school supplies.
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