December 10, 2004
A Valley club for former New York City residents will celebrate its 30th year this month.
But without an infusion of new members, the Fun City Survivors might perish.
"We used to have 150 members and we had a waiting list," said Genevieve Kilfoylke, 70, of Glendale, the club’s secretary. "This past year our membership was 45. Most of the members are old-timers that have just hung on."
The club is open to people over age 40 who lived or worked in New York City for at least 15 years.
The club hosts monthly meetings, picnics, trips and other events. Over the years, its members have gotten together for cruises and even trips to Europe.
Members live in the East Valley, Scottsdale and other Valley cities, said Kilfoylke, who has lived in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
"We’ll gladly have new people come in," she said. "We need a number of them."
People who have lived in the Big Apple survived the crime waves, the traffic — the things that happen nowhere else but in the country’s biggest city. They know its neighborhoods and special places like no visitor can.
"There’s a certain bond," said club president Hank Sila, 82, also of Glendale. "You get a couple of people from New York, they talk to each other for 10 minutes — it’s like they’ve known each other their whole lives."
Unlike the stereotype, New York City residents are actually the friendliest people around, Sila said.
"If you don’t believe us, just ask us," the former Queens resident said.
Another benefit of the club: "You get a refresher course in how to speak English," Sila said. "You’ve got to maintain your accent. You don’t want to lose that."
Frank Lopiano, 83, of Sun Lakes, said he joined the group about five years ago. After living most of his life in the Bronx, he "wound up" in Florida for a while before arriving in the East Valley, where two of his children live.
"The Fun City Survivors — it brings me back home," said Lopiano, a saxophone player who also belongs to an Italian club. "I got to know a lot of nice people."