21 Aug 2014
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Everybody Wins with John Golec Sr.

The Suffield Fireman's Carnival wouldn't be the same without 83-year-old John Golec Sr. He's seen 56 carnivals since joining the Suffield Fire Department.

Everybody Wins with John Golec Sr.

If you've ever played corn bingo at the , you've met John Golec Sr.

The 83-year-old Suffield Fire Department veteran is as much a part of the carnival as the fried dough and spinning midway rides.

He's the caller at the bingo tables that form a horseshoe around the front of the carnival grounds, where players use corn kernels instead of ink to mark their cards.

"I've done pretty much everything... I started working the bingo booth and then graduated to calling bingo," John Sr. said.

Instead of dots, players use corn kernels on the cards.

Over the years he's come to know the regulars who come early and grab their favorite spot.

"I've been trying to get someone to take my place but people say, 'No! You can't quit!'" he said. "But hey, I'm 83. How much more time do I have?"

John Sr. was born in Killingly, on the eastern edge of the state, to a large family. He was the seventh of nine siblings.

He married his friend's sister after he got out of the Navy and moved to Suffield, where his wife's father was deputy chief of the fire department.

Mary Ann Golec, a nurse, passed away 18 years ago, but together they had three sons. John Jr. and Ed, both Suffield firefighters, and Tom, a Southington firefighter. They had two daughters as well, Mary Ann and Ann. 

John Sr. has 11 grandkids ranging in age from 10 to 28 years-of-age.

I play golf and I have what they call "grandpa duty," he said with a chuckle. "I run the grandkids around." 

"I also say that I go chasing after women, but I don't catch any!"

He lives with son Ed in a historic home built in 1745 on East Street. It may have been built by a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

John Sr. can watch the snow fall out the window while working his wood burning hobby during the winter months.

But in the summer, it's all about the carnival bingo table. That's where he stays.

"I've never been one for carnival rides," he said. They never interested me."

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