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The Yankee Express

Joan Costa’s 100th a time for reflection on bowling, dancing

Ms. Costa with her first husband, Henry Skrocki.


Sitting in the kitchen of her home on Granite Street in Webster the afternoon of February 25th, Joan Costa could not help but wonder what all the fuss was about.
Having almost attained the age of one hundred years old is not that big a deal, in Joan’s mind. Her son Richard “Dick” Skrocki and the rest of the family feel the milestone is significant, however, which is why they are throwing her a birthday party on Saloon No. 6 on Worcester Road on March 12th.

 Joan Costa of Webster, who turns 100 this month, with her grandson Brian, two of her great granddaughters, and her son Dick Skrocki.

Forty or so people are expected to attend.
Joan Costa is the daughter of Polish immigrants. Her dad, Zygmunt, was a weaver. Her mom, Rose, was a homemaker and mother to nine children. Joan’s sister, Sylvia Kozlowski, lives downstairs and “comes up every day to read the paper,” Ms. Costa said.
Ms. Costa has white hair that was done up in a perm. She is an unpretentious woman and seemingly reluctant to share much about her life even though it has been one of hard work with time set aside for candlepin bowling and dancing.
“Guess who Stasia Czernicki feared most” on the lanes? Mr. Skrocki said. Then he turned a look in Ms. Costa’s direction with a smile on his face.
Statsia Miles Czernick was an American professional candlepin bowler from Webster who set the all-time candlepin record in her hometown for ten strings with 1388 pins. She had a series of personal highs, including a 194 single, a 466 triple, and 707 for five strings. She also shares the world record for women’s doubles (2382), mixed doubles (2676) and women’s five strings (707). She was world champion eight times, singles queen six times, a member of the women’s doubles title team three times, mixed doubles team twice and a member of the world’s women’s title team in 1965.
Ms. Czernick was inducted into the Candlepin Bowing Association Hall of Fame in 1987.
She died in 1993.
“Joan was her No. 1 competitor,” Dick Skrocki said.
“When I was growing up, that was the thing,” Joan said. “Bowling and dancing.”
Except for a pacemaker put in about five years ago, and the walker she uses to get around, Joan Costa has no complaints about her health.
She did have a scare a while back.
“I would say my rosary and go get the newspaper when I had a sharp pain and screamed and my sister came up,” she said.
Her life now is much quieter than it once was. Reading one to two books a week, including novels by Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele, is a favorite pastime. As is enjoying the company of members of the family. Her grandson Brian and his daughters Olivia and Vivienne arrived as we spoke. She is grandmother to Brian and Andrew and a great grandmother to Olivia, Vivienne and Lena.
Standing by during the conversation, Dick Skrocki was eager to share details about his mom, who he describes as “a very hardworking lady. She would go above and beyond.”
In high school at Bartlett, his mother had “the best shorthand around,” he says. During World War II she wrote letters to a friend’s husband.
“He wrote my friend letters and I wrote back for her,” she said.
A resident of Webster since moving to town when she was in the third grade, Ms. Costa has been married twice. She identified her first husband, Henry Skrocki as “the love of my life.” Henry worked for the Worcester Soda Co. and then the Webster Times.
Her second husband, Constantin Costa, operated an auto body shop in Southbridge.
Joan worked at Bates Shoe Co. in Webster in a stitching job and after that at American Optical in Southbridge as an inspector.
Asked if the town of Webster or any organization had recognized her longevity, she said “no, no.”
She wouldn’t have wanted all the fanfare anyway.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.