As far as the "Greatest Generation" goes, Julius Lasslo is a charter member. The son of immigrants, and a solid integral part of what we so often take for granted, America, Julius Lasslo was the perfect person to honor with his name on a bridge.
Julius Lasslo, or Jay, was a prisoner of war in World War II. He told tales of the terror inflicted on all the prisoners on a daily basis, and there was no agreement honored by the Nazis about the treatment of prisoners in that war. Jay,
those of us who know him, and so many who will never know him are to be thankful that he came home to Hazard.
In doing so he became a very valuable member of the community through his work with the Hazard Lions Club, and his never ending spirit of wanting to make things better.
Jay also had a great sense of humor. There were times that station engineer Bob Hale and I would taunt Jay while he was doing his afternoon sportscast. Everything from dropping objects to the floor to distract him, to actually interrupting his broadcast to tell him, on air, that his wife Delphia wanted him to pick up a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk on the way home.
The reply we were expecting was not what we got. When Jay was handed the note, and told of the request before he had time to shut off the microphone, he simply looked up with a wry grin and said, "OK."
The laugh turned out to be on us. Those listening heard only the interruption, not the fiasco we had hoped to happen. Jay continued the broadcast as if nothing had taken place, and we left feeling empty having evoked no response.
Another example of Jay's humor was the familiar tag to the Mother Goose ads. In a drawn out nasal tone Jay would end each spot with, "Where Maw saves Paw's money."
Sexist? You bet. Funny? You bet. Effective? You bet, otherwise it would not have been the long lasting catch phrase that so many of another generation grew up hearing every day for so many years.
He also had sports terms that were exclusive. Among them was "Yo-Yo-ing" a dribble up the floor. Having had the great fortune to work with Jay doing some of those high school basketball games I got to hear his terminology first hand through the headphones. Often I would anticipate them coming, and feel a sense of joy when he didn't let me down.
Jay's screams of "Can you believe it? Can you believe it?" when Laurel County's Paul Andrews hit the half court shot to win the State Tournament will forever be a part of local broadcast history.
During all those years on the radio Jay and Delphia managed to have four sons, Steve, Mike, David, and Joey. They, along with Jay's Mother, ran Lasslo Jewelry on Main Street, and prided themselves in quality service and merchandise.
He has always displayed an even tempered attitude, and his spirit of pride in his community is one that is fit for imitation. Now, thanks to civic minded members of the Lions Club, the Perry County Fiscal Court has voted to name the bridge on the Hazard Bypass in his honor, and rightfully so.
Hazard Mayor Bill Gorman said, "I am for this 1000%. Jay Lasslo and I were in the same class. He went on to be a war hero while his family ran a business on Main Street. In fact, they ran a business on Main Street for as far back as I can remember."
The mayor also had memories of Jay's Mother. As Mayor Gorman recalled, "Jay's Mother was from Hungary, and still had an accent when Jay went to war in Germany. He was a paratrooper who would jump into combat zones and not be heard from for days at a time. I would see his mother and she would say in broken English, 'Yulius is lost again.'"
Mayor Gorman said it would not be long until they heard from Jay, and he would be fine. Jay was finally captured by the Nazis and interned with other Allied troops. Jay said one of the German Officers would call him out everyday to be executed, and then cancel the order.
The Lasslo family's love for this country, and Jay's actions as a young soldier are meritorious examples of those who were looking for a better life, and willing to sacrifice in order to make the dream a reality.