Peeking into the past

June 27th, 2015 1:34 am

First Posted: 4/3/2013


What promise did Mrs. Samuel Leonardi of Pittston fulfill in 1950 that she made during World War II?

1950 – 63 years ago

High school athletes Joan Davenport, of Hughestown, and Betty Ritzie, of Dupont, were invited by Fred K. Leo, president of the All American Girls Baseball League, to attend a baseball finishing school in South Bend Indiana. After competing in tryouts in Scranton in 1949, they were considered outstanding prospects for positions on league teams and instructed to report to the school by April 13, 1950. By the fall of 1942, many minor league teams disbanded due to young men being drafted into the armed services during World War II. Major league baseball parks across the country were in danger of collapse, prompting Philip K. Wrigley, the chewing-gum mogul, to search for a possible solution to the dilemma. The league inspired the movie “A League of Their Own,” released in 1992. To see photos and read the incredible history of the over 600 young women that played on the teams from 1943 to 1954, log on to the league’s websie at

1960 – 53 years ago

The Pittston Hospital Junior Auxiliary announced that a transistor radio would be awarded to the winner of its fund-raising effort. The group consisted of more than 50 girls. According to Charitable Institutions of Pennsylvania which have Received State Aid, published in 1898, the first public meeting to establish the Pittston Hospital was held on March 9, 1889. The first trustees were listed as John Law, Stephen Bennett, Thomas Lance, W. Watson, John Collier, Joseph Cake, Theo Hart, William Rutledge, Samuel Fenn, John Flynn, E.G. Mercur and George Ferris.

The Duryea Mid-Valley Old Timers Athletic Association headed by Al Galardi announced that the group would sponsor its 10th annual bus trip to Yankee Stadium to attend a Yankee/Chicaco White Sox doubleheader. Tickets for bus fair and refreshments totaled $10. Ben Cardoni reported a total of 2,361 organization members, the largest number recorded in the history of the club.

According to the Baseball Almanac, in 1960, the highest-priced tickets in the major leagues were the $3.50 box seats in Yankee Stadium and The Coliseum. Today prices range from $15 for bleacher seating to $300 for MVP accommodations.

Just 60 pins short of first place, Joseph Preate, Ted D’Andriola, Gene Calogero, Tony Mucciola and Joe Merli of Old Forge and Exeter resident Nick Mauriello posted the highest team score ever hit by a Luzerne or Lackawanna County bowling team in the American Bowling Conference competition in Toledo, Ohio. Hitting 3,032 total pins, the group placed seventh in the competition. The first ABC Tournament was held in Chicago, Illinois in 1901.

1970 – 43 years ago

Ninety-six members of the Pittston Rotary Club celebrated their 50th anniversary at Fox Hill Country Club. Clyde Garrison, Rotary president, Michael Insalaco first vice president, and Frank Barbera, second vice president, welcomed Luzerne County Commissioner Frank Crossin as toastmaster. In the 1920 publication The Rotarian, it was noted the Pittston Club transported 127 boys in 22 member-donated cars to a number of Wyoming Valley historical sites. Club member Attorney A.T. Walsh gave a brief history of each spot visited.

Susan Davala of Exeter, the first employee to retire from the Exeter Blouse Company, was honored at a retirement party at the Hi-Lite Lounge in Kingston. Mr. William Bellus, owner of the firm and Dora Weiskeger, shop foreman, gave speeches and presented Davala with a miniature sewing machine and a Ship n’ Shore Blouse. The company that introduced the Ship ‘n Shore line was founded by Samuel Netzky in 1916 as Susquehanna Waist Co. in Susquehanna, PA.

1980 – 33 years ago

Bill Salus, of Wyoming, began his musical career in the 1930s when he taught himself how to play the washboard bass. In the 40s, he bought his first banjo. By the 1980s, Salus, an accomplished musician, had taught many area residents the art of playing the guitar and banjo. He also loved singing with his wife, the former Ann Yakobitas, of West Pittston. Known as the “King of the Banjo” Salus played with The Smoothies and Joe Parker Groups and for years performed at various minstrel shows and parties as a single entertainer.


Mrs. Samuel Leonardi made a promise that she would “arrange for the presentation” of a large crucifix to St. Rocco’s Church if World War II would end and her sons as well as those of her neighbors returned home safely from military service. The war ended shortly thereafter. Mrs. Leonardi diligently collected donations for the crucifix that was unveiled in April 1950.

“The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.” ~Author unknown