The feature photo above shows members of the 6th and 7th grade teams boarding an Allegheny Airlines propjet to travel to Rockville, MD, in 1966. (Photo by Francis W. Devlin)
Remembering Elias “Spud” Shapiro
Spud Shapiro was inducted into the Windsor Locks Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007—a richly deserved honor. An outstanding athlete in his own right, Mr. Shapiro also had a distinguished career as a high school basketball and baseball coach during the 1950’s before becoming an administrator in the public school system. (See his write-up in the “Inductees” tab on this website for more details.) Additionally, he both coached and tutored young athletes for many years in various youth programs for decades. His influence on young people in Windsor Locks was profound. Words like “respect” and “class” quickly come to mind when people remember Mr. Shapiro.
My own personal recollection of Mr. Shapiro centers around two incidents. The first occurred in the winter of 1966 when I was part of an all-star basketball team that flew to Rockville, Maryland to play another group of 6th and 7th grade all-stars from that town, a contest for bragging rights that grew out of the friendship of two pilots for Allegheny Airlines. (See Spud in feature photo above, boarding the plane with us.) Spud helped Russ Mattesen coach that team. I was the starting center. I will never forget the time he spent tutoring me on how to rebound. First, he showed me how to position myself to effectively block out opponents; next, he showed me where to position myself, depending on where the ball was being shot from. He seemed to have this uncanny understanding on where the ball would go if the shot was missed from a certain place on the court. I followed his instructions exactly, got 12 points and 12 rebounds in the game in Maryland and received the MVP trophy, thanks to Mr. Shapiro. I decided from that point on that I would do everything he told me to do.
My other vivid remembrance of Spud occurred when I was about 20 and a college student. I was working as a substitute teacher in Windsor Locks during semester breaks. Spud called me into his office one morning and said, “Now, Philip, the teacher you’re subbing for today does not have as much control over his classes as I would like to see. I want you to take a few notes on what I am about to tell you.” I reached for a pen but had nothing to write on. Noticing this, Mr. Shapiro opened his top drawer, took out a 3 x 5 index card and handed it to me, a bit put out that I didn’t have anything to write on. As he handed it to me, he looked squarely in my eyes and said, “You should always carry a card to write on!” To this day I keep a small pile of index cards on my dresser and put one in my pocket each morning.
Mike O’Connor, All-American soccer player, member of the 1965 Little League World Championship team and 1966 State Championship team, spent 23 years in the Marine Corps, retiring as a lieutenant colonel several years ago. During his time as a Marine, Mike says that he met many dignitaries—Presidents, generals, senators, congressmen, etc. None of these people could measure up to Spud Shapiro; in fact, other than his parents, Mike sees Mr. Shapiro–his dad’s best friend– as being the most influential person in his life. Mike’s sister, Chris (O’Connor) Wrabel feels the same way: “He was a very important man in my life as well. I am the educator I am today because of him.”
Don Pisati played basketball for Spud’s older brother, Al Shapiro, on some of the best teams in Windsor Locks history. Spud was his high school principal. Don had this to say about Mr. Shapiro: “I never appreciated the lessons I learned from “Spud” when I was in school. As I grew older and looked back on what he actually did to help me become a better person, I wish that he were still here so I could properly thank him for what he did.”
A third Shapiro brother, Joseph, never had the chance to mark a lasting impression on the people of Windsor Locks. Joseph Shapiro was killed while fighting the Nazis in World War II. He is buried in a military cemetery in the Netherlands. However, the post-World War II generation in Windsor Locks was fortunate to have come under the influence of two of the Shapiro brothers–both Spud and Al. Their positive impact on the young people in Windsor Locks endures to this day.
Dave Farr Inducted into State American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame
Longtime Windsor Locks resident and sports enthusiast Dave Farr was inducted into the state of Connecticut’s American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday, January 9, 2015, at the Aqua Turf in Southington, CT. The 1966 WLHS grad was a star soccer and baseball player for the Raiders and later coached the high school baseball team to two state championship titles.
Dave not only played American Legion baseball but has also been actively involved in Legion ball in a variety of capacities for 46 years, as the following list of accomplishments clearly demonstrates:
- Head Coach or Assistant Coach Post 36 for 13 years
- General Manger or Assistant Gm Post 36 since 1975
- Zone 8 Chairman– 13 years
- State Director– 7 years
- Baseball Commissioner since 1988
- State Tournament Umpire Assignor since 1990
- Hot Stove Dinner Committee– 15 years
- Baseball Committee since 1990
- Fall Ball Director– Greater Hartford Area past 5 years
- Elected to Windsor Locks Athletic Hall of Fame 2009
- Elected to Department of Connecticut Hall of Fame 2014
- Coached youth sports and high school sports for 50 years
- Elected to second class of American Legion baseball Hall of Fame 2015
Congratulations to Dave on a well-deserved honor!