1948 – 70 YEARS AGO
According to the Pittston city health officer Mrs. Thomas Newcomb, the health of the city’s residents was good for 1947. There were seven cases of chicken pox, one case of scarlet fever, one case of spinal meningitis, five cases of tuberculosis and two cases of social disease.
Residents were warned that a business operating locally accepted money from those wanting to send money to family and friends in Italy. The scam artists promised to convert dollars into lire and pass it on to the folks in Italy. However, the rate of exchange was far below the legal rate. Residents were also warned that bogus Irish Sweepstakes tickets were being sold in New York and several of those surfaced in the Pittston Area.
John Kehoe, publisher of the Sunday Dispatch, was staying at the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. Noting that the hotel was named after the Spanish explorer, Kehoe paid 80 cents to take a drink from what is believed to be the fountain of youth de Leon was initially looking for when he discovered Florida in 1513. Kehoe remembered he had taken a drink from the same fountain 14 years prior and credited his good health and longevity to that drink. Kehoe added, “ I think I will take another drink of this foundation of youth water 14 years from now and continue at 14 year intervals until I not only live to be 256 but go on to pass Methuselah who lived to be 969 years of age.” With signed guest books stretching back to 1868, the Fountain of Youth is the oldest attraction in Florida, and the Spring House is the centerpiece of the Park. The water is said to contain over 30 minerals.
1960 – 58 YEARS AGO
Mary Hefferon decided there was only one thing left to do after not receiving a salary for a year and a half as librarian at the Pittston Library. She closed the doors, ending the availability to over 3,700 books. Hefferon, whose salary was $50 a month, appealed to the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce for help keep the library open, but did not receive an answer. They library began operation in 1952 and was organized on a permanent basis in 1953 with William McNulty as president and Edward Burke as secretary. “It was the most heartbreaking thing I ever did,” Hefferon said. “I told the children I wasn’t giving books out and they went out as through they’d lost their best friend.” Today, the Pittston Memorial Library, located at 47 Broad St., is a PA Forward Gold Star Library that offers a large variety of books and programs for all ages such as book clubs, health and wellness events, story time, therapy dogs and STEAM Club.
1964 – 54 YEARS AGO
Hoping to gain a league title they had not seen in 16 years, the St. John’s High School basketball team was off to a good start. The varsity squad consisted of Jimmy Ware, John Dargis, John Loftus, Bob Murphy, Frank Allan, Michael Burke, Joseph Mullarkey, Marty Quinn, Frank Smith, Joseph Walsh, Austy Allan and Tom Makalusky. The roster consisted of players from Pittston, West Pittston, Clarks Summit, Port Griffith and Wyoming. The Johnnies coach, Jack Connors, was a member of the 1948 championship team.
Angelo Alfano, of West Pittston, was very proud of the model train and village he displayed at his home at 322 Race St. Alfano spent two months putting together the layout that included two model trains, a freight locomotive and a passenger diesel. Scenes included mountains fashioned from treated paper, trees, a volcano, Indian reservations, miniature animals and figurines. Covering 100 square feet, the display also included a replica of the White House and an airport.
1972 – 46 YEARS AGO
Top Ten Songs
1. “Let’s Stay Together”– Al Green
2. “American Pie — Don McLean
3. “Hey Girl” – Donnie Osmond.
4. “Brand New Key” – Melanie
5. “Day After Day”– Badfinger
6. “Cherish” — David Cassidy
7. “You Are Everything” – The Stylistics
8. “Sunshine” – Johnathan Edwards
9. “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” – New Seekers
10. “Once you Understand” – The Think
1976 – 42 YEARS AGO
Mrs. Irene McDonald was unanimously elected president at the reorganization meeting of the Avoca Borough Council. McDonald had previously been appointed to serve during a six-month interim period upon the resignation of former president Frank Fuller. She was the first woman to be elected to serve on council in Avoca.
An anonymous letter from an area resident brought a family of a missing Media girl to Greater Pittston. Sixteen-year-old Wendy Eaton went missing after she set out on an afternoon walk from her home in Delaware County on May 17, 1975. In response to an ad the family placed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, a letter arrived from someone in the Greater Pittston area explaining that Wendy had been seen soliciting for a religious group known as the Forever Family. Hoping to find their daughter, her parents traveled to Pittston, but found no trace of their daughter or the religious group. According to the website pennsylvaniamissing.com, Eaton’s disappearance coincided with the slayings of several other girls whose remains were found in the Tinicum Marsh area, but no evidence has ever been found that would link Eaton to those victims. It was determined that the young girl was very unlikely to have run away. Her case remains unsolved.
1992 – 26 YEARS AGO
State Labor and Industry Secretary Tom Foley presented the Governor’s Award for Labor Management Cooperation to Celotex Corporation. Celotex’s labor-management committee exhibited 26 years of cooperation in establishing a satisfactory working relationship. Bob Hergan, plant manager, Darren Negavesky, employees relations supervisor, John Reedy Jr., president of Local 8-672 Oil Chemical & Atomic Workers, and Michael Kroski, vice president accepted the award on behalf of the company. Celotex, manufacturer of molded mineral ceiling tiles, employed 60 full-time and 25 part-time employees. Celotex ceased operations in 2003.
1996 – 22 YEARS AGO
The Blizzard of ’96 dumped approximately 21 inches of snow across the region and set accumulation records in the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia areas. As many local residents began digging out, West Pittston Mayor Ray Crisci stated, “We’re well over the budget” for snow removal. Street Commissioner Bob Dovin said his crews were working 10-hour days. Pittston, which had budgeted $15,000 for snow removal, had already spent $16,000 on contracted equipment to haul snow to various dump sites in the city.
This day in history
1911 — The USS Arkansas, the largest U.S. battleship, is launched from the yards of the New York Shipbuilding Company.
1942 — President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders all aliens in the U.S. to register with the government.
1943 — Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Charles DeGaulle meet at Casablanca to discuss the direction of the war.
1969 — A blast on the U.S. carrier Enterprise in the Pacific results in 24 dead and 85 injured.
1980 — The United Nations votes 104-18 to deplore the Soviet aggression in Afghanistan.
Born on this day
1741 — Benedict Arnold, American colonial General turned traitor
1875 — Dr. Albert Schweitzer, French theologian who set up a native hospital in French Equatorial Africa in 1913
1919 — Andy Rooney, American humorist; author and television personality (“60 Minutes”)
1940 — Julian Bond, civil rights leader and Georgia state senator
1948 — T Bone Burnett (Joseph Henry Burnett), musician, songwriter, Grammy-winning producer (O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack)
1952 — Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist, author; won Pulitzer Prize for her series on the Monica Lewinsky scandal during the Clinton administration
1968 — LL Cool J (James Todd Smith), influential rapper (“I’m Bad”); actor (“NCIS: Los Angeles” TV series)