Peeking into the past: Avoca, Pittston Twp. land dispute opens investigation

Peeking into - the Past - Judy Minsavage | November 8th, 2017 1:53 pm

Question:

What question, posed by the Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer in 1947 would, if asked today, elicit some very angry responses from women?

1947 – 70 YEARS AGO

What was once seen as a saving grace in regard to unemployment in the Pittston Area in 1947, the Mercury Shoe Plant owed its 135 employees a week’s pay and four months rental to the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, totaling $5,000. Unable to meet those commitments, the Exeter plant was padlocked pending payment to creditors. The building housing the plant was owned by the Chamber and constructed with publicly subscribed debenture bonds. The Chamber of Commerce instructed Mercury’s officers that they would have to raise $150,000 before it would approve resumption of the operation. Union officials stressed that workers would not return to work without wages being paid. Chamber officers questioned the head of Mercury, William Weinbrot, as to why he would not cut his $15,000 annual salary as well as $15,000 paid to his secretary, Mrs. Bell, and two foremen who were paid $8,000 annually, in order to ease the situation and show good faith.

Edythe Jones store at 59 N. Main St. in Pittston advertised Gene Autry Gauntlet Gloves for young boys who idolized the popular TV and movie star. The gloves, which sold for $2.98, were fully lined, crushproof and waterproof and had Autry’s personal signature on the cuff. According to answers.com, to which the question was asked as to why Autry wore gloves, “He felt he had to keep his hands occupied. He was self-conscious about their appearance on film, fidgeting with them periodically.” After more than three decades in TV and movies beginning in the 1930s, Autry became the owner of the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels Major League Baseball team from 1961 to 1997.

1948 – 69 YEARS AGO

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Pleasant Valley Post conducted Armistice Day services in front of the Avoca Borough Honor Roll on Main Street. The firing squad for the service was made up of post members Tom Fadden, Robert Kania, Walter Tighe and John Wanalista. Color guards were Al Novak, Joe Smith, Sgt. Pete Wanalista and Stanley Kania. The veterans attending were disappointed that American flags were not displayed on many businesses and homes throughout the borough.

As Tte Fort Pittston Post VFW dedicated a monument costing $3,200, an Armistice Day program was also being held in front of Pittston City Hall. A Sunday Dispatch photographer, assigned to the events, commented “there wasn’t enough people present to indicate a ceremony was being held.” One veteran stated, “During the war, when men were departing for service, there were large crowds. Now people get a chance to pay tribute to those who served and, particularly, those who died, and they will not turn out.”

Once known as Armistice Day, representing the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect, the official U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and honors all persons who served in the United States Armed Forces.

1949 – 68 YEARS AGO

The newly formed Pittston Township High School Band made its first public appearance at the Jenkins-Pittston Township football game. Stephen Lapsansky was the first director of the band.

1953 – 64 YEARS AGO

With Democrats in control of the Borough of Avoca, hopes were elevated that the council members would pursue efforts to reclaim a portion of Avoca land known as Houston City that was, through some suspected political wrangling, transferred to Republican-controlled Pittston Twp. County engineers found the discrepancy in the summer of 1953 and, upon further checking, discovered the land had been Avoca property early in the century but was transferred to Pittston Twp. If the land was returned, it would have transferred half of Houston City back to Avoca, part of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport would then be located in Avoca and the shift would take about 20 residential properties from Pittston Twp. and put them in Avoca. An investigation and possible court case was pending.

1957 – 60 YEARS AGO

The Sunday Dispatch High School correspondents in 1957 were Rosemary Spohrer, St. John The Evangelist High School; Sara Martinelli, Pittston High School; Barbara Brown, Exeter High School; Carolyn Castellani, Pittston Twp. High School; Hubert Rau, West Pittston High School; Ellie White, Hughestown High School; Nancy Malinics, Dupont High School; Betty Godlewicz, Wyoming High School; Mary Piskorik, West Wyoming High School; Elaine Jones, Avoca High School; Elaine Gillis, Duryea High School; Mary Ann Hutz, Jenkins Twp. High School.

So that those who patronized drive-in theaters during the summer could attend during the cold weather months, the Comerford Drive-in added electric heaters that could be placed in cars. It also installed heaters in bathrooms and the refreshment stand.

1983 – 34 YEARS AGO

Leo Tierney served with Battery B during World War I in the battle of Argonne Forest, one of the bloodiest battles of the war. His Battalion later rescued Russian prisoners of war in Mater, Belgium. In November 1983, a group of eight survivors of Battery B, including Jacob Brese, of Wyoming, Charles Sieglin, of Hughestown; and Charles Evans, of West Pittston gathered at the Spanish American War Honor Roll in West Pittston to honor Pittston men Thomas Gilmartin, Joseph Houston, Patrick McGarry, Peter Stukes, Sylvester Sullivan and Jesse Thomas who were all fatally wounded while serving with Battery B in France.

Answer:

In 1947, The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked local residents, “Do you think husbands should be allowed to assist their wives in casting their vote?” John Kishkis, visiting Pittston from Newark, NJ, answered, “Yes I do. The average woman doesn’t study papers closely enough.” John Bernaskas, of Inkerman, stated, “They should allow assistance because I don’t think women really know how to vote by themselves; they don’t know how to pull the levers.” Thomas Murtha, of Port Blanchard, added, “I don’t believe so. You can’t tell a woman what to do, not even when voting.” Margie Markert, of Pittston, said, “I don’t see why a woman, single or married, should need help. A woman has her own mind to make up and ought to know what she’s doing. There’s no reason she should require assistance.” In 1947, along with local elections, there was a special Senatorial Election during the middle of Democratic President Harry Truman’s first term. The Republicans won control of the Senate, a vote seen as a referendum on Truman’s presidency, as his approval rating dropped to 32%.

This day in history:

1867 — Mount Vesuvius erupts.

1923 — Adolf Hitler is arrested for his attempted German coup.

1938 — Mexico agrees to compensate the United States for land seizures.

1951 — The U.S. Eighth Army in Korea is ordered to cease offensive operations and begin an active defense.

1960 — The satellite Discoverer XVII is launched into orbit from California’s Vandenberg AFB

Born on this day:

1929 — Grace Kelly, American actress and Princess of Monaco.

1945 — Neil Young, singer, songwriter, musician, producer and a member of several well-known bands, including Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

1952 — Ronald Burkle, business magnate, who founded Yucaipa Companies private investment firm and is a co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins professional hockey team.

1957 — Tim Samaras, engineer and storm chaser, who contributed to scientific knowledge of tornadoes. He was killed along with his son Paul and meteorologist Carl Young by a tornado with winds of nearly 300 mph near El Reno, Okla., in 2013.

1961 — Nadia Comaneci, Olympic gold medal-winning Romanian gymnast, who was named one of the athletes of the century by Laureus World Sports Academy in 2000.

1968 — Sammy Sosa, pro baseball player from the Dominican Republic, who was the only Major League Baseball player to hit 60 or more home runs in a single season three times.

http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_Judy-Minsavage.jpg
The Ladies Auxiliary to the West Pittston Little League presented the league with a check for $5, 500 in 1972. From left, first row, are rom left, first row, outgoing auxiliary officers, Anna May Ayers, president; Irma Bell, treasurer; Shirley McDonnell, first vice-president; Judy Carpenter, secretary; Lillian Hanczyc, second vice-president; Rose Mary Sasha, newly elected first vice-president. Second row, Martha Gadomski, newly elected president; Eileen McDonnell, newly elected treasurer; Mary Jean Tedesco, newly elected second vice-president; Andy Whyte, Little League treasurer; Fred Melvin, treasurer West Pittston Swimming Pool Association; Jim Melberger, president Little League; Dominick Occhiato, vice-president, Little League; and Robert Seeley, secretary, Little League.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_Peeking-1.jpgThe Ladies Auxiliary to the West Pittston Little League presented the league with a check for $5, 500 in 1972. From left, first row, are rom left, first row, outgoing auxiliary officers, Anna May Ayers, president; Irma Bell, treasurer; Shirley McDonnell, first vice-president; Judy Carpenter, secretary; Lillian Hanczyc, second vice-president; Rose Mary Sasha, newly elected first vice-president. Second row, Martha Gadomski, newly elected president; Eileen McDonnell, newly elected treasurer; Mary Jean Tedesco, newly elected second vice-president; Andy Whyte, Little League treasurer; Fred Melvin, treasurer West Pittston Swimming Pool Association; Jim Melberger, president Little League; Dominick Occhiato, vice-president, Little League; and Robert Seeley, secretary, Little League.

Peeking into

the Past

Judy Minsavage

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.


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