Snapshot: Edward “Ed” Hornyak
Occupation: Originally, I joined the cadets, which was a government program that when you went through it, you’d graduate as a second lieutenant. The government shut the program down when I graduated the program, so about 1,200 of us didn’t get our commission, but I got the pilot training and my wings. I was Ball Turret Gunner in the Air Force. I was briefly sent to England and France, then transferred to Germany where my commander was Colonel Lucius Clay, Jr. After three years, I wanted to make the military my career, but when I told my dad how I wanted to stay and reenlist he told me my mother had cancer.
After I was discharged, I went home to Bridgeport and was hired at McKesson to run the printing machine. I got so good they wanted me to start running the department, but by that time I had already decided to start my own printing business. They hated to see me go after five years there, but I kept a good reputation there. I wound up renting a little hole-in-the-wall place and bought a machine. I developed a good business called Quality Printing in Bridgeport for 20 years. My first wife helped me so much in my business. For the first year of business we lived off the money I made playing the accordion, because I needed to pay off the machines I bought.
Family: My mother, Katalin Kardos, and father, John Frank Hornyak, came from Hungary and met in America. I had a brother named John Alex Hornyak, who was nine years older than me. He was a wonderful, wonderful brother. I went to school with my first wife, Edythe Steeves, and we got married when I was in the military. We have a daughter Katalin, named after my mother, who lives in Florida. When Edythe got cancer, I took care of her. Her last year was really tough. Today, I’m 94 and my wife, Sue, is 93, and we have been together about 50 years. God blessed me with two beautiful women.
How long have you lived in Newtown? About ten years. We lived in Easton five years before. We chose Newtown for the senior apartments.
What do you like to do in your free time? When I was around 6 years old, I picked up the accordion in my dad’s closet. He had been trying to play a Hungarian Hallgato song, but struggled to get it. When he wasn’t home, I took it out — though we had specific instructions not to — and figured out how to play the song. I had a good ear for music. When I played the song for my father, he couldn’t get over it. I started taking lessons when I was 8 up until I was about 16 years old. I started playing in restaurants when I was 15 years old and played with two fellas that are still alive, Frankie Visciglia and Sammy DePiano.
I always kept up the music. I didn’t stop. I played music all over the place with my father, who sang. I also played the accordion at a lot of surprise parties for people’s wives in the military. Every day I still pick it up and practice a little bit.
What is your favorite travel destination? Florida. I lived there 20 years.
What is the best part about Newtown? The village that we live in is beautiful. It’s nice and quiet. The neighbors are very friendly, and we all go out of our way to help each other. We are very happy here.
What has been the greatest influence in your life? Playing the accordion. I got to go to different places, different clubs. My first wife had me take dance lessons and we did so well that we taught for studios for a while. Because I took dance lessons, I’d play the right tempo and that was the secret to success. If you play too slow, people can’t dance to it. If people are going to play dance music, they should take dance lessons.
Who is your favorite musical artist? Joe Biviano. I took accordion lessons from him. He was one of the greatest accordion players in the United States. Him and his brother-in-law, Charlie Magnati, had a big impact on me. It was always so great just to be in their company.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever been given? I was out playing ball one day and my dad scolded me. He said, “I don’t want you playing ball from now on. If you hurt your fingers how are you going to play the accordion? What have I been spending all this money for?” He didn’t have to tell me twice, and I stayed with the accordion. It paid off, because when I was in Florida I played the accordion six nights a week and we were sold out for every dance.