The Alpine Hunting and Fishing Club was founded in 1946. It is an organization steeped in tradition, founded by Italian immigrants from Tuscany who were successful family oriented businessmen, tradesmen, restaurateurs, entrepreneurs and working men. These men formed a bond with friends and relatives to make an investment in their new country, the United States of America. The Alpine Hunting and Fishing Club is a result of this investment. They did this not just for themselves but also for future generations.
The Tuscany Group
The founders, a group of friends from the Tuscany region of Italy, would be proud of the Alpine Hunting & Fishing Club legacy they created.
The founding members were:
President: Paul Sodini
Secretary: Daniel Pacini
Treasurer: Ettore Fontana
Recording Secretary: John Cancilla
Directors: Charles Sodini, Anthony Vitter, Carlo Silvioni, Joseph Silvioni, and Frank J Zappala.
Paul Sodini along with his brothers Charles and Joseph owned Ideal Sports Shop in Mt. Lebanon, PA and also were partners in Sodini's Restaurant in Squirrel Hill, PA. Ettore Fontana owned a restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on Smithfield Street. The first members of the AHFC met in the basement of the original farm house on the club property. Ettore and Daniel Pacini prepared and cooked dinner for the club members each Wednesday night in the remodeled kitchen they had designed and built in the basement of the original farm house. This was the start of the Alpine Club's famous delicious traditional Wednesday night dinners finished with a shot of whiskey added to a cup of espresso.
When Ettore or Daniel needed a rest from cooking other members would take turns cooking. They turned this into a competition and the debate would start, "Who cooked the best meal?" This was the start of another Alpine Club tradition, "The Guest Chef". Wow! Many fabulous meals have taken place at the AHFC. I have been a member for over thirty five years and remember when Wednesday night dinners cost $2.00 and only men attended. The members proudly shared their homemade wine and played Tressette, an Italian card game, a tradition still carried on by some members.
The leadership of Paul Sodini and later his son-in-law Dave Levy, Ray Bourg and Fern Testoni as well as the Barsotti, Sodini and Tambellini families have all helped the club for decades and are why the club continues to thrive. If the Alpine Club was a service organization Dave, Ray and Fern would have been given several award plaques for all their time and efforts for the betterment of the club.
Another Dave that stands out as an asset to the Alpine Hunting & Fishing Club is Dave Tambellini. Dave has given his time, money and equipment to make the Alpine hunting fields among the best in the area. His cousins continue to serve the club as well.
Many new members have joined who share an interest and a commitment to keeping the club active. We have been blessed with many active members who serve on our board of directors as well as those who serve on volunteer committees. Today's leadership includes Fern Testoni, Ron Barsotti, Ray Bourg, Mike Tambellini, Dave Tambellini, Steve Buchanan, Gerry Pasquale, Jerry Kopach, Joe Riepole, Bill Coen, Tony Sciorelli, Rob Keddie, Don Legrand, John Brandstatter, Ollie Weiss, Bill Inks, Larry Lester, Kenn Popko and Bruce Barnhart. I apologize for being unable to name all of the many others who are the reason for the club's continued success.
We are all appreciative for those who always make themselves available to help whenever work is needed to be done. Such projects have included fish stocking, tending to the fields, caring for the bird pens, grounds cleanup and mowing the lawn to keep our club working and functioning well. Such labors require many people contributing. Members have given their years of life experiences as role models for our younger generations in caring for the club and grounds while learning how to appreciate the environment and wildlife through safely hunting, fishing, and applying skills such as shooting and fly-tying.
Time and mother nature have forced many changes upon the Alpine Hunting & Fishing Club. The caretaker of the AHFC property, Lou Braccini and his wife Helen, lived in the main part of the original farm house. In the spring of 2002 a bolt of lightening struck and burned this structure to the ground. Left standing in the basement was the hand carved stone fireplace created by a club member who was a professional stone mason. Some of the stone relief carvings decorating the fireplace were of wildlife such as ruffed grouse, rabbit, squirrel, and a ram's head. Hopefully one day this Alpine Club artifact will be reassembled on a wall of our present club house. The same lightening was also responsible for the destruction of the club house which had been designed and built to accommodate the increasing number of members and the increasing size of the original club members' families.
Through the leadership, expertise, and many hours of hard work and dedication by Ray Bourg, businessman, and Fern Testoni, civil engineer, plus the financial guidance of Gene Provero, entrepreneur and venture capitalist, the present club house became a reality.
We currently have second, third and fourth generation Alpine Hunting & Fishing Club members. But we also have new members who are old and new members who are young. Our members are unique in many ways and the same when it comes to being good quality people. The great thing about this club is that it is reborn over and over with the ideas and hard work of all members as we work together, hunt together, fish together, garden together, feast together, dance together and have fun together. The Alpine Hunting & Fishing Club (AHFC) is the center of many activities such as fish stocking of the lake, fly tying and fly fishing instruction, stocking of the pheasant fields, hunter safety classes, instruction for shooting sporting clays, bocce tournaments, Easter egg hunts, picnics, wild game dinners, Oktoberfest celebrations, seafood fests, and dinner dances featuring a variety of music. These activities and more provide enjoyment, learning, fun and good fellowship in an enriching environment where young and old mingle and develop lasting memories. Because of the excellent leadership and hard work of all members the Alpine Hunting & Fishing Club has survived and grown to it present beauty. The Alpine Club is constantly getting better and better in direct proportion to the selfless efforts of its members.
Many thanks to Chuck Morreale who did a tremendous job in researching the club history, talking to different elders of the club to collect information and spent a lot of time writing it and creating the website. In Chuck's own words; "Boy, where do the years go? I remember going to the original clubhouse for a $2 dinner and then donating an additional dollar for some food to take home for the kids. A story that took place at the second club house comes to mind. I was experimenting making pizza sauce and discovered some herbs that I was not aware of. One night at the club I was eating with Joe Calderone, a contractor, and Paul Sodini, one of my club sponsors. Mr. Fontana who had a restaurant on Smithfield Street was one of the the chefs. He was very proud of his sauce and rightly so. He came up to me after dinner and asked what I thought of the meal. I said it was great, especially the tarragon seasoning in his sauce. Ron, this 4 foot 5 little man exploded into a 6 foot giant. He shouted at me in his broken English that he had been making this sauce since 1902 and I wanted to steal his recipe. I was totally flabbergasted and said he had misunderstood me. God bless Fern Testoni who was there and explained to Mr. Fontana in Italian that I was complimenting him and succeeded in calming him down. Now I am one of the old men at the club." - thank-you Chuck.