Peeking into the past

June 27th, 2015 1:50 am

First Posted: 8/27/2013


Why was 15-year-old Joan Davenport, of Hughestown, being compared to Baseball Hall of Fame member Bucky Harris in 1949?

1959 - 54 YEARS AGO

A motorcade led by the Pennsylvania State Police wound its way south along the newly-opened Pittston By-Pass. Cars carrying dignitaries from the Greater Pittston Area were the first autos to travel the highway which officially opened on Sept. 1, 1959. A luncheon at the Mayfair Supper Club in Yatesville was held to commemorate the event.

A headline in the Sunday Dispatch stated “Action needed on Loitering.” Dozens of complaints were received by the newspaper and city police regarding remarks made to passing females by groups of young males outside poolrooms and on street corners, not only at night but during the day as well. An earlier police crackdown on the loiterers proved successful but, within a few months, females were complaining they were once again the target of crude remarks.

1969 - 44 YEARS AGO

Thomas Martin, chairman of the Wyoming Area Booster Club, decided to change a tradition of the Wyoming Area School District Homecoming celebration. Elections were held at the close of the 1968 school year and seniors elected Linda Troiani, West Pittston, as homecoming queen and her court Lisa Damelio, West Pittston, Pam Musto, Exeter, Linda Scatena, West Pittston and Janet DelPriore, Exeter. The club, citing the difficulty of graduates to return from college for the affair, decided to change the title from Homecoming queen to Miss Wyoming Area, enabling the “emphasis to remain at the high school level. A dance for students and graduates was scheduled to honor Troiani and her court. Music was provided by the Whazoos and boys were required to wear a coat and tie.

Pittston Mayor Robert Loftus received a letter with an unusual request from Roy Robert Plummer of West Virginia. In the letter Mr Plummer stated, “ I am a man of good character, 44 years old, 5’9” and in good health. I have a good job and earn a good salary. I would like to meet a nice woman not over 45 years old, in good health and not so bad looking. A woman who will be a good true loving wife and helpful partner in my business.” He went on to request the mayor place the letter in the local newspapers and would consider “a younger woman, a widow or divorcee.” Asked what he thought about the letter, the mayor replied, “No comment.”

Citing that the law specifically recognizes the telephone company as the author of the telephone directory, all of the pages of the new 1969 Bell Telephone directories were copyrighted for the first time. Alexander Choman Jr., Bell’s Pittston manager, stated, “We have a proprietary interest in the directory and it is costly to produce. In the interest of our customers who are identified therein, we believe the fruits of this labor should be controlled.” The new directory had 97,769 white pages and 2,668 yellow and weighed 2 pounds 2 ounces. The Bell System, led by the Bell Telephone Company and later by AT&T, provided telephone service to much of the United States and Canada from 1877 to 1984. Considered a monopoly by the U.S. Justice Department, the company was broken up into smaller independents in 1984.

1979 - 34 YEARS AGP

The Pittston Senior Citizens Center celebrated the 10th anniversary of its opening. Eleanor Himmelwright, director of the center, stated, “by the end of the first week 75 people had joined.” Registration records reflected a total of 1200 members with at least 100 to 150 stopping by each day. Staff members were Josephine Knowles, Doris Williams, Connie Appel, Marge Strubeck and Mame Ardoline. The Area Agency on Aging for Luzerne and Wyoming Counties recently announced that its “senior centers” are being replaced by “active adult centers.” That includes updated and additional programs geared toward a more active lifestyle.


Joan Davenport, of Hughestown, was among four girls who tried out for the Springfield Sallies of the All-American Girl’s Baseball League in 1949. Joan was scheduled to attend spring training in Florida in May 1950. It was said at the time, “She will never be another Bucky Harris, because she’s female.” Harris, who hailed from Pittston, spent seven decades in the majors as a player, manager, executive and scout, according to National Baseball Hall of Fame. She was inducted in 1975. Joan said her baseball ability came from her father Kenneth, a Hughestown ballplayer, and her mother, Elizabeth, who was “no novice at baseball herself.”

“When I work, I relax; doing nothing or entertaining visitors makes me tired.” - Pablo Picasso