Peeking into the past

June 27th, 2015 1:28 am

First Posted: 9/17/2013


In 1963, “bleacher seats” were set up in one Pittston location for an exciting showdown. What was going on?

1963 – 50 YEARS AGO

George P. Mancini opened his barber shop on Searle Street in 1914. “Haircuts were 20 cents,” he told a Dispatch reporter in 1963. “Today, they’re $1.25.” Mancini learned the barber trade at his uncle Ralph Totaro’s Parsonage Street shop. Mancini, who celebrated 50 years as a barber, remembered seeing styles come and go and then come back again. “Sideburns were all the rage, crew cuts were only requested by a certain few and “hair dye, well they buy that in a store nowadays.” He reminisced about days he’d work until 11 at night. “You didn’t make a lot of money, it went a long way, things were cheaper. It’s better now.”

1973 – 40 YEARS AGO

John Alaimo, of Pittston, was in Barcelona, Spain directing “The Unfinished Vision,” a film based on the life of Antonio Gaudi, an architect born in Reus, in the Catalonia region of Spain. Also the film’s screenwriter, Alaimo finished the film and in 1974 after which it was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York City. Then, for 35 years, the film was “lost” until it was discovered by a film historian in a bank in Barcelona in 2009. Never seen by the general public until December 2009, the film was honored with the prestigious designation of “Cultural Patrimony of Catalunya,” making it an official part of Catalan culture. To read more about Alaimo and the incredible works of Gaudi log on to

It was quite an impressive scene as uniformed men from the Marine Air Reserve Training Unit of Wyoming escorted the Wyoming Area Homecoming Queen and her court. Patti Rostock, homecoming queen, and her court Sharon Murphy, Karen Begliomini, Mary Kay Brown and Andrea Pellegrini were escorted on the arm of their respective attendants, Cpl. Brian Baum, Sgt. Donald Harris, S/Sgt. Rick Cradit, Sgt. Robert Gambill and L/Cpl. Tom Heruska.

At the beginning of the school year, three Wyoming Area High School correspondents, Sandra Richelmi, of Wyoming, Debbie Sandroski, of Exeter, and Elaine Charney, of West Wyoming, were on board to supply the Dispatch with school news.

1983 – 30 YEARS AGO

Pittston Area School District created a Computer Sciences Department coordinated by Walter Tigue which offered an expanded cirriculum within the Business Education and Mathematics Departments . Being one of the first in the area to do so, the school had an objective of graduating students able to compete in all employment areas ,especially computer sciences as it was estimated, at the time, that 20 million jobs would be computer oriented by the end of the decade. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, computer and data processing services grew by 181% from 1979 to 1989.

2003 – 10 YEARS AGO

Edward Earley, a 1936 graduate of St. John’s High School who won a sports scholarship to Syracuse University, and John “Bozo” Connors, a 1949 graduate of Seton Catholic High School who won a scholarship to William and Mary, were two local “three sport stars” inducted in to the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame. Sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the local chapter was founded in 1985. “We endeavor to perpetuate the memory of local athletes, male and female, who have brought lasting fame and recognition to the state of Pennsylvania through their athletic achievements and community involvement” is part of the group’s mission statement. To see the list of inductees from 1985 to the present day log on to


Jimmy “Cowboy” Moore, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was coming to Pittston for a 350-point match up with Pittston’s Lou “Sonny” Butera to determine the fastest billiard player. Both men claimed to be the fastest but Butera had run 93 balls in eight minutes in August 1963 and Moore wanted to re-claim the title. Tickets were on sale at Lattore’s Steak House and Butera’s Billiards. A large crowd was expected at the West Pittston American Legion for the event. In December 2005, Lou Butera was one of 43 invited pool players who competed in the International Pool Tour’s King of the Hill Shootout in Orlando, Florida. Digitized videos of Butera demonstrating spectacular trick shots were included in Virtual Pool software. Virtual Pool 1, released by Interplay Entertainment in 1995, is now in its fourth edition.

“Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America is the only idealistic nation in the world.” - Woodrow Wilson