Page 9 - Southington Magazine Issue 46 Autumn 2021
P. 9

dent who played Santa Claus in the lobby at Christ- mas time.
Once Ralph became president of the YMCA Board of Directors, Tony volunteered on the board and later joined the Y to serve as its CFO in 1999.
“Ralph was a leader who taught hard work and family values. He overlooked peoples’ faults and only saw the best in them,” Tony said.
What I heard from so many people was that Ralph, the bank president, was a compassionate, trusting man. I told Meredith and Steve that the comment I heard most often was, “Ralph gave me my first mortgage!” Ed Platt recalled that Ralph gave his dad his first mortgage.
“Our families became friends. I remember cutting down Christmas trees on their property!” Platt said.
“Life is like a long hike. Take it one step at a time.” — Ralph Mann
Meredith and son Steve attribute this quote to their husband and father. Fitting, since Ralph loved hiking with his buddies.
He hiked all over the world: New Zealand; the White Mountains of New Hampshire; Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. He also was a fan of run- ning.
One of Ralph’s running buddies, Tony “Tosh” Tar- fano, recalled, “For 40 years, our ‘club’ would run together. Later, we switched to jogging. Then even later, walking,” he chuckled. The group included Lance Walters, Tony Priore, Francis Kane, Tarfano and others. The years may have slowed them down. As long as Ralph was able, they’d walk at the YMCA. Breakfast at the Carousel was a regular affair.
“We used to love playing Liar’s Poker,” Tarfano remembered fondly.
“There never would have been a Ralph Mann without Meredith.” — Steve Mann, their son.
“My parents had a strong relationship. My dad was quiet and compassionate. My mom drove the marriage with a certain level of energy. Their com- plementary personalities made the relationship.
“My dad had a sense of humor that was differ- ent from my mom’s. He appreciated a good laugh. Laughed at his own jokes!” Steve eyed Meredith. “My mom’s humor had more...’bite,’” he laughed.
Ralph loved to travel, and Meredith was the trav-
Meredith, Steve and Ralph Mann
el coordinator. They explored Europe, Israel, Sweden, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, to name a few. They brought Steve and older brother, Ed, on excursions that in- cluded the Grand Canyon, Puerto Rico and Alaska.
“We toured Alaska for a month in 1970 with two young boys,” Meredith reminisced. “In a tiny pop-up camper towed by a ’69 Cutlass. We went through a ton of tires!”
“We brothers fought in the car,” said Steve. “Ed won. Dad didn’t get angry. As a gag, he silently went and cut a switch, as if to hit us with it. But of course, he never did.”
Steve recalled that although Meredith has a sweet singing voice, Ralph was a terrible singer. “It was like hearing music through a meat grinder,” he quipped, noting that in his high school chorus group, they asked Ralph to “go to the back!”
Ralph’s many loves and some kind words from friends
Ralph loved to play pinochle, “unmercifully,” ac- cording to Tony Priore. “We all teased each other.”
Wil Kisser, retired owner of the former Baker Shoes, said, “Pinochle games could get a little heated. Ralph would say, ‘Boys, it’s only a game!’ and simmer us down. We’d play for $2.00 a game. If Ralph lost, he’d take two $1.00 bills out of his wallet, straighten and smooth them...then put them back in his wallet!”
All this teasing led to what the wives coined the “A.H.” club. This was born from all the dumb things their husbands would do during the year. (You can figure out what the A.H. initials stood for.)
The annual A.H. banquet was held in Ralph’s ga- rage. Joe Laporte would cook. The A.H. winner of the year would receive an award — a toilet seat with his picture on it, a cape and a crown.
Tony Tarfano said, “There was a sign in his ga- rage that said, ‘If A.H.s could fly, this place would be

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