Peeking into the past

June 27th, 2015 1:25 am

First Posted: 4/1/2013


In 1976, what historical and controversial Supreme Court case had local connections?

1956 - 57 years ago

Snowflakes as large as ping pong balls were reportedly falling in the Pittston area during a surprise April storm. Tom Puscavage was among many Pittston motorists who found themselves unprepared for the snowfall. The US Weather Bureau at the Avoca Airport issued a report, noting an unseasonably cold beginning to the month of April. According to the website in 1956, the longest cold spell was from March 15 to April 4, constituting 21 consecutive days with colder than average temperatures. The month of May had the largest fraction of cooler than average days with 87% of days with lower than average low temperatures.

Gordon “Gordie” Williams, of West Pittston was named most valuable player in the Fifth Annual Wyoming Valley’s Dream Tournament. The tournament featured all star players from the Valley, North, Wyoming Valley and Catholic Basketball leagues. Williams was third in scoring in the game, but “caught the eye of the judges” with his rebounding abilities. He received a watch for his MVP title. Williams was also a star athlete in football and a perennial favorite in track and field, garnering a trophy for a record-producing mile run.

Members of the Jenkins Township American Legion Post 938 almost had their sponsored Easter Egg Hunt ruined for the second time. In 1955, the evening before the scheduled hunt, someone unsuccessfully tried to enter the building to steal prizes for the event. In 1956, the Legionnaires decided to store the prizes at another location just in case the would-be thieves tried again. Try again they did, this time successfully gaining access to the building, but finding none of the treasures that awaited the 400 plus children who attended the following day’s event.

1976 - 37 years ago

In a new effort to fall within the guidelines of a favorable cost/benefit rating in order to sway the Army Corps of Engineers to consider flood protection for West Pittston, Council President Ray Crisci obtained the help of U.S. Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary David O. Melker. Melker sent a letter to the Army Corp recommending the federal government “undertake those measures necessary to meet state and federal flood protection standards and to permit the locality to carry out planned redevelopment in the area.” United States Senator Hugh Scott, in a letter to Crisci, felt the redevelopment efforts in West Pittston would enable the borough to be reconsidered for a favorable rating, making flood protection “cost beneficial.”

In conjunction with National Library Week, the Duryea Library celebrated its first year anniversary. Mary Louise Branas, librarian, and assistants Helen Kramer and Kathy Bousa planned a film festival for the children featuring “The Astronaut” and “The Fur Coat Club.” Both films released in the early 70s can still be found online.

Local teens were invited to attend a fund-raising dance at the West Pittston Armory sponsored by St. Rocco’s teeners baseball team. Lee Marcino and Gus Turonis planned the event and arranged for the Buoys to provide the music. The group consisted of local musicians Bill Kelly, Fran Brozena, Jerry Hludzik, Carl Siracuse and Chris Hanlon. Bob Gryziec was the original bass player when the band recorded its hit single, “Timothy.” The song reached the Billboard Top 40 chart on April 17, 1971, remained there for eight weeks, peaking at #17, according to The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits by Joel Whitburn.

1986 - 27 years ago

The Pittston YMCA sponsored the Catalina Synchronized Swim Team. Members presented a swim show entitled Movie Memories with solo swimmers Krista Carwardine performing to “War” from “Rocky IV” and Michelle Eifert performing to the love theme from “Flashdance.” Kim Hummer and Kathy Jones swam to “Memories” from “Cats” and junior members Christine Calabrese, Jamie Evans, Laura Scarantino and Jennifer Moughan swam to “March of the Siamese Children” from “The King and I.” The swimmers were coached by Linda Scaz.

Pittston Area Senior High School presented Talent Show 86. Some of the students featured were Moria Barbieri, Amy Deice, Cindy Lucarella, Charlene Pace, Monica Yuhas, Kim Clarke, Maureen Ratchford, Jackie Mathis, Lou Haddick, Kim Klush, Romaine Gillow, Janine Kubasko and Ethel Van Luvender with Bill Yaple on sound and lights.


In 1954, Joe and Julia Quinlan, a New Jersey couple, adopted a baby girl born in the Scranton area. By 1976, 22-year-old Karen Ann Quinlan was the focus of an historic decision before the Supreme Court and the subject of a right-to-die case. Karen Ann, after ingesting alcohol, diazepam and dextropropoxyphene at a party, fell into an irreversible coma, making it necessary to place her on life support . On March 31, 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court rendered a unanimous decision, appointing Joe Quinlan as the personal guardian of tKaren with the right to determine her medical treatment, including the right to discontinue all extraordinary means of life support. After winning the case and the respirator was removed, Karen Ann lived until 1985 when she passed on of pneumonia at the age of 32. To read more about the history of the case and the good works of her parents on behalf of the Karen Ann Quinlan Memorial Foundation, log on to

What makes the month of April special:

The Pony Express started on April 3, 1860. It went from St Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California and took 10 days.

In April 1909, Robert Peary reached the North Pole.

In 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant.

The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912.

Shakespeare was reportedly born on St George Day, April 23. He also died on April 23, 1616. St. George is the patron saint of England.

The Mutiny on the Bounty took place in April 1789. Captain Bligh and 18 seamen were set adrift in a small boat. They eventually landed on the island of Timor, after a journey of over 3,600 miles.