An AYF DC “Ani” Chapter Alumnus’ Stroll Down Memory Lane

Editor’s Note: Oscar Caroglanian became an “Ani” member of AYF Washington DC in 1950. During the 80th anniversary celebrations on November 5, 2022, he shared fond memories of the founding and early days of the Chapter. Excerpts from his prepared remarks are included below.

Thank you for asking me to say a few words to the AYF youth of our community. Perhaps a look into the past will give you an idea of ​​the growth of our church in Washington, DC and the surrounding area.

The 1915 genocide allowed survivors to move throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. These voyages took my father to Racine, Wisconsin in 1912, arriving via Ellis Island. My mother came to Canada in 1928, married my father shortly thereafter and moved to DC where I was born in 1932. Armenians later managed to form organizations like the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and the Armenian Relief Corps called the Armenian Red Cross (now the Armenian Aid Society) – followed by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) in 1942. We had no formal meeting place. The local ARF was organized in the 1920s by some Armenians including my father Nazaret Caroglanian, Khachik Haroutunian, Nishan Shamigian and later Arshavir Shavarshooni who joined them among others.

I was approached by Ann and Harry Atanossian to join the AYF. My interests were basketball and bowling. Our basketball team wasn’t very competitive, but we’ve been very successful and won trophies in all of our bowling games. One of our star bowlers was Clara (Najarian) Andonian.

Since I had a driver’s license and a car, I would pick up members and drive them to meetings. Occasionally we would drive to Philly for dances where we would eat, dine and dance into the wee hours while listening to the bands from Gomidas and Vosbikian. We also had a close fellowship with the Richmond AYF members and frequently attended dances and picnics at the homes of the Bandazian and Kerneklian families.

Our “Ani” AYF was also fortunate that we had musicians from our own community who came together when we had dances and picnics. We heard the music of the Leo Derderian Band, consisting of AYF members Chuck Shamigian, Leo Sarkisian, Micky Kerneklian, Peruz Manoogian, Setrak Srabian and occasional guest Emil Kasis. What wonderful times we had. Many of us from the old days love the fact that the AYF has brought so much joy to all of us. Those who were members remained lifelong friends, such as Clara Andonian, Chuck Shamigian, Ann Atanossian, and Edward Dombalagian.

AYF Ani Chapter members Oscar Caroglanian and Harry Atanossian were crowned kings at the 1997 AYF Olympics in Washington, DC.

From 1952 to 1954 I was drafted into the US Army and served in Korea. After my return in September 1954, the AYF OThe Olympic Games took place in Washington, DC. At this point I became active again and was later elected as a delegate to the 1956 convention in Springfield, MA. My life took an amazing turn when I met my future wife at a dance that weekend. Eleanor Seda (The Parseghian) Caroglanian, a Tseghagron and member of AYF Watertown”Gaidzag” Chapter, and I’ve been married for 65 years. Thanks to this AYF Convention, we started a family and our children, Michael and Lisa, also joined the AYF ranks. In fact, Lisa would be among the first members of the AYF DC “Sevan” Junior Chapter, formed under the watchful eye of AYF Junior Advisor Karen Abrahamian Hatchik.

A snapshot from the 1956 AYF Convention in Springfield, MA where AYF “Ani” Chapter delegate Oscar Caroglanian (top row, third from left) met his future wife Eleanor Seda The Parseghian Caroglanian. They have been happily married for 65 years.

Our community has grown and we are so proud to see that a new generation has emerged. Getze Hayastan! geze AYF and sister organizations. Keep up the great work and bravo to you all!

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