1953 - 62 Years Ago
A group of local residents turned a piece of land described as “a swamp, a dust bowl and a hay field” into a park playground. The Gilmartin Park Association, organized in 1952, gained enough money to start clearing and grading the rectangular plot of ground between Parsonage and Panama streets and between Miller Street and the original Gilmartin Park. According to a post on Ancestry.com the park was named after Sergeant Thomas Gilmartin who was killed in France during World War II serving with the Pittston Battery B, 109th Field Artillery. Those instrumental in the initial efforts for the playground were Michael and Anthony Direnzis, Nick Bosco, William Conti, Jerry Callaio, Al Lipperini, Joe Quinn, James Lombardo, Frank Bruno, Joe Gagliardi, Corey Gagliardi, Carl and Rick Roman, William Vitale, Joe Bell, James Garzella, James Orts, Danny Dandrea, Andrew and Dominick LaFratte, Micke Perfetto, Joe Mundenar, John Bantell, Daniel Lipperini, and Victor Calabello.
The discovery of local deposits of humus and peat moss caused speculation of new industry. Tests made on the deposits indicated it compared with “the best in the country” and also “better than types imported from Western Europe.” Deposits in area mountain basins were estimated to be millions of tons. At the time, humus was selling in local stores for 19 cents for a one pound bag and peat moss for 35 cents for a three pound bag. According to gardensalive.com, humus is defined as “Soil that is rich in organic matter, whether from added compost or the natural decomposition of plant material.” According to gardeningknowhow.com, “Peat moss is dead fibrous material that forms when mosses and other living material decompose in bogs.” There is some controversy over carbon emissions in the mining of peat.
1963 - 52 Years Ago
In 1908, John Lukash left Czechoslovakia and settled in Exeter. Fifty-five years later, Lukash’s sons Mike and Joe were “knee deep” in tomatoes on their four-acre tomato farm which was passed on to them after their father’s death. “I’ve tasted tomatoes from Florida, Georgia, New York and New Jersey and there’s no comparison with ours,” Joe claimed. “It’s something in the soil along the river bank.” Don J. Allen, Pittston Chamber of Commerce president, was determined to market Pittston Tomatoes nationally. Vincent O’Hara, executive secretary of the chamber, agreed saying, “According to agriculture officials, tomatoes grown by our local farmers are from a quality standpoint, among the best grown in the United States.”
In 1955, the Pittston Little League team went to the state championships, but did not bring home a victory. In 1963, the Pittston team got a second chance to acquire the championship trophy. Members of the team included Charles Turco, Michael Sperrazza, Michael Costello, Barry O’Boyle, John Richards, Louis Tribbett, Louis Loquasto, Ed Murphy, Marty Walker, Charles Graziano, Brian Doyle, Mickey Cannella, Anthony Testa and Billy Howley. Sam Charelli and Joseph O’Malley were alternates. Does anyone know the outcome of the Little League championships in 1963? Give us a call at 570-991-6403.
1973 - 42 Years Ago
Gilbert V. Perry, superintendent of Wyoming Area School District, announced that on Sept. 1 construction of the senior high school would begin. The facility plans included a planetarium, swimming pool, new field house, closed circuit educational television, and an expanded science laboratory. The new facility was expected to house 1,732 students.
The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked Duryea residents, “The scheduled trip of the current astronauts is for 59 days. How would you feel about spending that period of time in a capsule in outer space?”
Bill Gross answered, “I wouldn’t mind. It would be worth it to get that much time off from work.” Elaine Delevan said, “I’d be proud to spend that much time. The astronauts are becoming part of history and I wouldn’t mind that.”
Top ten songs of 1973:
1. “Morning After” by Maureen McGovern
2. “Long Train Runnin’” by Doobie Brothers
3. “Diamond Girl” by Seals & Crofts
4. “Touch Me in the Morning” by Dianna Ross
5. “Yesterday Once More” by Carpenters
6. “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple
7. “Shambala” by 3 Dog Night
8. “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by Bette Midler
9. “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce
10. “Live and Let Die” by Wings
1983 - 32 Years Ago
The Seton Catholic cheerleaders won first place at the United States Cheerleader’s Association training and competition session held at LaSalle College in Philadelphia. The girls won four first place ribbons: one PEP award ribbon, the spirit award, group routine and outstanding notebook. By winning the event they were eligible to compete in the U.S.C.A. National Grand Championship in Lansing, Michigan. Members of the team were Mary Kay Luchetti, Kelly Donovan, Lisa Severnak, Michelle Oprindick, Kathy Larnerd, Renee Oprindick, Amy Krall, Erin McGlynn, Lynn Marie Grella, Valerie Zigmond, Sandy Connors, Carol Hanczyc, Suzanne Fath and Nancie Lucas. To see a photo of the team and moderators log on to psdispatch.com and click Peeking into the Past.
Answers to questions posed in last week’s Peeking into the Past:
1. Prior to 1809 Campbell’s Ledge was known as Dial Rock
2. Pittston’s Flatiron Building was razed to make room for the construction of Kennedy Boulevard.
3. The last run of the Laurel Line through Greater Pittston was December 31, 1952.