1948 – 69 YEARS AGO
After 42 years of practice, Dr. H.J. Lenahan was moving from his offices at 10 Charles St. after selling his former office building to the Bell Telephone Company. Lenahan began his practice in Pittston in 1906 and was credited with delivering enough babies that banded together “would make a good-sized parade.” Dr. Lenahan served in World War II and first began his local practice in the offices of Dr. Connor on William Street. He then moved to 21 S. Main St. and then to Charles St.
1949 – 68 YEARS GO
Two girls, seniors at Jenkins Twp. High School, wrote the following letter apologizing to the Sunday Dispatch for not submitting an announcement of their Sadie Hawkins Day Dance. “We are very sorry that we did not inform you about our Sadie Hawkins Day Dance. Our senior class discussed who we would have as Daisy Mae and Li’l Abner. Well, we found a girl who would be Daisy Mae, but couldn’t find a boy as Li’l Abner. It seems the senior boys were all bashful.” Sadie Hawkins Day, an American folk event, made its debut in Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip Nov. 15, 1937. Sadie Hawkins grew tired of waiting for the fellows to “come a courtin’.” Hekzebiah Hawkins, Sadie’s father and a prominent resident of Dogpatch, was even more worried about his daughter never finding a husband, so he decreed the first annual Sadie Hawkins Day foot race in which the unmarried gals pursued the town’s bachelors with the ultimate goal of getting a marriage proposal.
1952 – 65 YEARS AGO
Dupont Volunteer Hose Company was recognized as one of the youngest fire departments and was one of the most active. In existence since 1915, under the leadership of Albert Strucke, the hose company began with a hand-drawn hose apparatus. A horse-drawn wagon was added, but made it necessary to rely upon horse owners to supply teams to get the apparatus to fires. Upon realizing the value of the hose company, the borough looked to relocate the company to the town hall and update the outmoded equipment. In 1924, the company purchased an American LaFrance engine with a hose box, four cylinder motor and 500-gallon pump. In 1948, the company was able to purchase a new truck with a 750-gallon pump, 12-cylinder, truck with 1200 feet of hose, costing $12,500. In 1932, the company purchased a fire alarm system which included eight alarm boxes scattered throughout the town which was also used for the 9:00 curfew. Past presidents, in addition to Strucke, were Dominick Cocco, William Wargo, Louis Adams, James Ameen, Andrew Kosik and Peter Rutz. In 1952, John Ritzi was fire chief, with officers Paul Lello, first vice president; Charles Ross, second vice president; Anthony Patte, treasurer; John Mihalko, financial secretary; and Sam Darbenzio, recording secretary. George Ziobro held the post of fire chief for approximately two decades. The hose company celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2015. Frank Drost, Bill Elko and John Lizak were honored as lifetime members.
The Pittston Lions Club sponsored a Christmas lighting contest in West Pittston, Pittston, Jenkins Twp. and Hughestown. George Zorgo, general chairman, indicated that prizes would be awarded on arrangement, attraction and originality. First-place prize was a table radio donated by City Electric Center, the second-place winner would receive a toaster from Scranton Electric and third, a pair of lamps donated by Jack Friedman. Additional prizes were a waffle iron from Warchal Bros. and an emergency auto light from A&C Auto Parts.
Edward Gontkowski, of Duryea, was the town’s leading pigeon handler. A member of the Taylor Pigeon Association, he was presented with the first trophy ever awarded to a member at the Luzerne and Lackawanna Concourse meeting in Old Forge. Gontkowski received the award for winning the average speed in the young bird series of 1953. There were eight races held totaling 1,700 miles. His bird averaged 1,218.72 yards per minute to give him first place. Completing with more than 2,300 other birds, Gontkowski’s pigeons won first and fourth place in the 100-mile race held in Harrisburg. According to pigeon.org, the American Racing Pigeon Union website, homing pigeons were imported from Europe in the 1860s. The first race was held in 1881.
1960 – 57 YEARS AGO
The Junior Chamber of Commerce High School Basketball Tournament was listed as a Holiday Classic as games were usually played between Christmas and New Year’s. Slated to be played in the St. John’s High School Youth Center, the tournament first started in 1948 and was an annual affair. Pittston High School was the host for the first tournament and captured the win over Jenkins Township with Jack Kelly, Ray Alpaugh and Jack Sekusky as standouts. In 1949, St. John’s took the honors with a win over Exeter. In 1952, the classic separated into A and B divisions. But In 1955, after one night of play, the tourney was abandoned when too many schools dropped out because games interfered with regularly scheduled high school games. The tournament resumed again in 1958.
1973 – 44 YEARS AGO
Charles DeFrancesco, James Gildea, Patricia Stelmack, Christine Navalany, Colleen Greene, Elizabeth Wesnyak, Marcella Vinvorski, Marie Campenni, Alfred Rava, Margaret Burke, Robert Gilboy, Andrew Plisko and Frank Gerosky, Pittston Area seniors, were selected to participate in the Program for the Gifted at Wilkes College. The students were selected by excellent scholastic performance, test results and availability.
Grant’s City advertised the Polaroid Colorpack Camera for $28.88, a 10-speed bicycle for $72.88, a 10-foot artificial Christmas tree for $10.88 and a Springfield 12-gauge Pump-Action shotgun for $78. Giant Markets sold a five-pound bag of sugar for 58 cents, Mrs. Filbert’s margarine for 39 cents and turkeys for 78 cents per pound. A custom-built brick ranch, on 7/8 acre, with patio and 24-foot pool located in at Carverton Road in Wyoming was selling for $47,500.
1976 – 41 YEARS AGO
Pat Girard Jewelers of Wyoming advertised a one-carat diamond ring for Christmas for $695. According to the US Inflation Calculator, that figure would equate to $3,012.92 today, a 333.5% rate of inflation.
1986 – 31 YEARS AGO
A merger between local financial giants, Miners Savings Bank of Pittston and First Eastern Bank of Wilkes-Barre was finalized in December 1986. Stockholders of Miners would receive 12 ½ shares of First Eastern stock for each share of Miners held. At the time, First Eastern stock was selling at $54.75 per share. PNC Bank Corporation purchased First Eastern in 1993. Currently, PNC Corporation stock is listed on NASDAQ for $145.13. Miners Saving Bank was organized in 1869. Officers were A.A. Bryden, president; J.L. McMillan, vice-president; C.M. Hileman.
This day in history:
1903 — Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft.
1944 — The German Army renews the attack on the Belgian town of Losheimergraben against the defending Americans during the Battle of the Bulge.
1944 — The U.S. approves an end to the internment of Japanese Americans. U.S. Major General Henry C. Pratt issues Public Proclamation No. 21, declaring that Japanese American “evacuees” from the West Coast could return to their homes effective January 2, 1945.
1948 — The Smithsonian Institution accepts the Kitty Hawk – the Wright brothers’ plane.
1989 — The Simpsons, television’s longest-running animated series, makes its US debut.
Born on this day:
1935 — George Lindsey, comic actor best known for his role as Goober on The Andy Griffith Show.
1936 — Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina), named to the Papacy March 13, 2013.
1937 — Art Neville, singer, musician; member of The Neville Brothers and The Meters.
1945 — Chris Matthews, news anchor, political commentator; host of Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC.
1962 — Richard Jewell, police officer who discovered pipe bombs on the grounds of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, and helped evacuate the area before the bombs exploded.
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