1948 – 69 YEARS AGO
It was announced in the Sunday Dispatch that the War Memorial installed at Pittston City Hall would be dedicated on Armistice Day, Nov. 11. Funds amounting to $3,200 were presented by city service clubs to build and install the monument. The obelisk, designed to commemorate the war dead of all wars, replaced a previous monument listing names of all those who served in World War II. The inscription reads, “Hold it High” and inscribed on the base are the words, “Dedicated to the memory of the brave men and women of Greater Pittston who fought so courageously in all our battles for freedom.”
Jenkins Township High School board members wondered how two of seven typewriters stolen from the school ended up at New York University and at a mission in Africa. All evidence pointed to a high school clerk. Upon investigation of a tip given to Pennsylvania State Police, a total of seven typewriters and a number of musical instruments were found missing from the high school, resulting in an arrest warrant issued for the clerk. Within the hour, the band instruments were mysteriously returned by taxi with no explanation or details given as to who loaded them into the taxi. Eventually, five of the typewriters were returned and all but three of the band instruments. State Police intended to continue the investigation.
1949 – 68 YEARS AGO
The World War Adjusted Compensation Act was a United States federal law passed on May 19, 1924. The act granted a bonus amount be paid to veterans of American military service in World War I. After World War II, it was the hope that veterans would receive the benefit, as well. It was believed the payment of $325 per veteran would pump more than $2 million dollars into Greater Pittston’s economy. After the federal government failed to make good on the World War I payment to most veterans, President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided on a better benefit plan called the G.I. Bill which provided funding for education, home loans, unemployment insurance, job counseling and the construction of veterans’ hospital facilities.
1952 – 65 YEARS AGO
The “Marie Dressler” dress, designed to take inches and years off women’s figures, sold at the Rosedell Dress Shop on North Main Street, Pittston for $12.99. The CBS Columbia TV set with a 20” screen was available for $239 at Fidelity Television Company, South Main Street.
Master Sgt. Amelia Madrak, of Duryea, was home on leave after being hospitalized in Washington, D.C. Madrak entered the service in 1942 and was assigned to the Pentagon after basic training. She left the states in 1950 aboard the USS Butner, arriving in Yokohama Japan where she was assigned to the Counter Intelligence Corp.
1953 – 64 YEARS AGO
Leaders of Boy Scout Troop 311 of Exeter found out it wasn’t easy to be kindhearted. The Scouts, upon hearing pleas for Korean relief, started a clothing drive. They collected scores of garments, all of which were sorted and bundled by members of the troop. However, after finding shipping of the clothing would cost $11.40 per 70 pounds, the Scoutmasters realized the fee was too exorbitant to ship all the items overseas. Most of the huge collection was divided and given to local institutions. According to the US Inflation Calculator, the cost would be $104.83 per 70 pounds today.
1958 – 59 YEARS AGO
While area woodsmen were scouring the area for popinky mushrooms, they were pleased to discover the return of chestnuts to the area. Local old-timers who remembered an abundance of the nuts recalled a blight that devastated the American chestnut trees across the Appalachians from Maine to Georgia. By 1940, three and a half billion American chestnuts had perished. The blight called Cryphonectria parasitica was transported to the United States from Asia in 1900 and spread by wind, rain, birds and other animals.
Movies playing at local theaters in October 1958: “Damn Yankees” at the American starring Tab Hunter, “Ride a Crooked Trail,” starring Audie Murphy played the Comerford Drive-In and “From Here to Eternity” with Frank Sinatra was screened at the Midway Drive-in.
1978 – 39 YEARS AGO
A Sunday Dispatch article about the anticipated fall season in Northeastern Pennsylvania stated some facts about the changing of the leaves to vibrant gold, orange, reds and russets. Pennsylvania has approximately 113 species of trees more exquisite in beauty than anywhere in the world. Leaves change color due to the change in chlorophyll content. In the fall as days become shorter, leaves begin to die and stop producing food. The green coloring or chlorophyll begins to fade, revealing the brilliant colors underneath. The Eastern Hemlock is the official tree of Pennsylvania and doesn’t change color; it is a member of the evergreen family. According to the State Department of Forestry, the hemlock can live 800 years and, according to its website, “the Pennsylvania legislature debated the merits of several nominations for the state tree, but no decision was reached. In 1931, lawmakers were again asked to make a ruling and, after considerable debate, the eastern hemlock was adopted June 22, 1931.”
1993 – 24 YEARS AGO
Gail Humphrey, West Pittston, Chad Lojeski, Dupont, and Nicole Drahus, Pittston, decided to utilize their fall break from Wilkes University to benefit the underprivileged. They volunteered to assist Habitat for Humanity in building homes for families in Paterson and Newark, New Jersey. The students spent their spring break in community service, as well, by volunteering to help victims of Hurricane Andrew. Andrew was only the third Category 5 hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States and was the only major hurricane of the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season.
Fond memories of the Coxton Bridge:
In December 1949, Larry Holmes, 13, of West Pittston, spent his day fishing near the Coxton Bridge. He had planned it knowing his father and mother had forbidden him from going into the Susquehanna River to fish. The temptation proved too much for the lad. He waded into the river and perched atop a rock from which he would spend the afternoon casting his line. Little did he know that Newman Darby, of West Pittston, an avid photographer, was so impressed with the scene, he took a picture and entered it into a local photo contest. The picture won first place and months later was displayed in the window of Rutledge’s Photo Store. Larry’s secret was exposed and, though summer afternoons of fishing were a memory, his father and mother served a proper punishment.
In 2014, Caroline Mazurkivich sent the following email, giving the Sunday Dispatch more information on Butch Knox, the fellow who jumped from the Coxton Bridge on his birthday each summer in the 50s and 60s. Mazurkivich stated: “My father Chester Montante told me about a piece you wrote on Butch Knox. His real name was William Mazurkivich. Yes, he dove off the Coxton Bridge every year on his birthday. He actually did that well into his 60s. He never did have lung cancer, but did have emphysema from working in the coal mines.” Caroline should be an authoritarian on Mazurkivich (Knox); after all she’s married to his son, Steve. They now reside in Georgia. She continued, “One particular year, my father-in-law jumped off the bridge with my husband hanging on to his neck. He told my husband to ‘let go’ when in the air.”
This date in history
1860 — Eleven-year-old Grace Bedell, of Westfield, N.Y., wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he could improve his appearance by growing a beard.
1917 — Mata Hari (b.1876), the woman whose name has become synonymous with a seductive female spy, was executed by the French outside Paris on charges of spying for the Germans during World War I.
1937 — The Ernest Hemingway novel “To Have and Have Not” was first published.