Gus Brhely’s 100th Birthday

February 25, 2014

Gus Brhely’s 100th Birthday

By Ann Lobotzke

Local 8 member Augustine “Gus” Brhely celebrated his 100th birthday on February 19th.  Piano player Gus has belonged to Local 8 for an impressive 79 years.  Gus holds the second longest membership in Local 8.  (Honors for the longest membership go to Sam Armato, a veteran member of Local 8 for 80 years.)

Betty Mehring and Allen Brhely have sent in some fond memories of their father that we share with you here.

Betty remembers that “My father played for a living up until my mother and he got married in 1951. At that time she said he had to get a better paying job because she wanted more children. He took a job with Ladish in Cudahy, and retired from there in 1979, at the age of 65. After they were married he continued to play on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights for a long time, then filling in for different piano players when they were short. Some of the venues he played were Julie’s, Eagles Club and Mamies’s Grotto. The club Someplace Else was the one place that I remember so well as a child.  The morning after he played there, there would be peanuts in the shell on the kitchen table. The club had peanuts for the customers and would let them throw the shells on the floor.  We thought that was so cool! My father played well into his sixties, whenever he would get a union call.  He and my mother had 5 children together, 4 boys and 1 girl.  Dad was previously married and fathered two daughters. My mother was married before and had a son. Growing up we listened to Dad play the piano on a daily basis until the piano was so out of tune he refused to play it anymore. My mother bought him a second hand organ and he played that for years. Unfortunately, his fingers became arthritic and made it difficult to play at all. Dad also made numerous cassette tapes of himself playing the piano and the organ. He would listen to them on Saturday mornings when I would go over there to help clean. I always said he was his best audience! He made the most endearing tape for my mother of him playing and singing love songs.”

From Allen we learn “my Father played the piano for the silent movies when he was a young teenager.  He would ad lib the scenes.  When there were exciting scenes he would play faster, and when there were love scenes he would play slow music.  (And when there was a bang at the door, he would let his friends sneak in!)

He always had the stories to tell when we were young.  My favorite was how he and his band were driving from gig to gig when a trailer came flying past them in the other lane.  That trailer was just like theirs they thought.  That trailer was theirs!”

Thank you to Betty and Allen for sharing your father’s story with Local 8.  Happy Birthday, Gus!