In 1964, firemen of two communities joined forces to fix something that had been broken for 10 years. What was it?
1957 – 61 YEARS AGO
At Morris Jewelers on North Main Street, a 10-diamond engagement and wedding ring set originally priced at $159 was on sale for just $88. According to the US Inflation Calculator, those amounts would respectively amount to $1,417.68 and $784.63 today.
“For Whom the Bell Tolls,” starring Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper was screened at the American Theater, where every Wednesday and Thursday, “ladies” could receive a free piece of new dinnerware. A different piece was offered each week.
According to the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, it was a great time to become a member. Approximately $6 million was spent or contracted for in new plants and equipment in Greater Pittston. New plants such as Art Craft Specialty, Blackburn Electronics Corp., Celotex Corp. Dorr-Oliver Company, Duryea Woodworking, B.F. Goodrich, Metals and Research Development Co. and S.B. Tobacco Products opened new plants in the area. Stating, “It costs only 6.8 cents a day to belong to the Chamber,” the organization was optimistic the boon to the local economy was only the beginning. It was estimated with the opening of the new plants a total of 2,000 new jobs with an annual payroll of well over $4,500,000 a year was possible.
All that West Pittston truck driver Leon Walters wanted to do was support the borough’s centennial celebration by growing a beard and joining 50 other borough men in the Brothers of the Brush. Walters was surprised, however, when he walked into an unnamed restaurant and was refused service because of his whiskers. The owner did not expect the result of his actions, as a dozen patrons, truck drivers all, heard the exchange and followed Walters out of the door. It was also reported that three employees of a local supermarket began growing the beards in support of the centennial and were ordered to shave them off.
1964 – 54 YEARS AGO
As was common in the late 1800s and early 1900s, many people left Europe and headed to the United States. Some never reunited with relatives left behind. In 1964, Robert Groves, of West Pittston, welcomed his brother Alexander and his wife as they traveled to the United States from Shotts, Lanarkshire, Scotland for a three-month visit. Groves and his brother had not seen each other in 42 years. The small industrial town of Shotts is located halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Today, it is known for its quaint shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs.
The Roman Theatre located at 27 S. Main St. in Pittston opened for business on Feb. 23, 1914. The name was reflected by the Roman-style interior decoration and the statue of a fierce-looking gladiator that stood on the second floor exterior of the building. Originally, the theatre sat 700 patrons, but in 1918 seating was expanded to 1,000 seats. The theatre closed on Oct. 31, 1954. In 1964, the Roman Theatre was demolished. The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked, “As you watch the Roman Theatre being razed, what memories of the old theatre does it bring back?”
Joseph Clapps, Pittston, answered, “I can remember standing in line on Saturdays waiting to see the cowboy pictures and old serials. The line would extend from the theatre down to Dock Street. The movies in those days was 11 cents.” Angelo DeSanto, Pittston, stated, “I can’t help but think of all the nice men who worked there. Right now, I think of Paul Tigue, former manager, and George Mortimer, former doorman.” George Coleman, Hughestown, added, “When the theatre was established, we saw many good pictures. We saw rockets, televisions and submarines, which we had never heard of and certainly never thought we would actually see.” Ross Sciandra, Pittston, said, “In those days, there was a long line of youngsters waiting to see the serials. There was no TV in those days; all we could do is go to the movies.”
1965 – 53 YEARS AGO
The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked St. John’s High School students, “What are your future plans?”
Marianne McGowan, of Avoca, answered, “To continue my education at Marywood. I’m interested in the field of education.” Stanley Barnak, of Dupont, stated, “I’ve been accepted at Penn State; my planned course is Chemical Engineering.” Ellen Pettengil, of Avoca, added, “I’ve applied for work at Bell Telephone in Scranton and received an interview; I hope to begin work this summer.”
1979 – 39 YEARS AGO
Kris Gawelko, Sandy Ferrara, Valerie Tavaglione, Karen Kelly, Eleanor Fiske, Barbara Sickler, John Chiampi, Jerry Passarelli, Joe Schaffer, Tom Doran, Sandy Jones, Mary Tossi, Chris Pavloski, Karen Vernosky, Rachel Marenda, Theresa Obester, Clyde Wardell, Lou Manganello, Ron Musto, Santo Sperrazza, Mike Grobowski, Dave Bohn and Joe Maszeroski, eighth-grade social studies students, visited a local cemetery. Wyoming Area Social Studies teacher Mr. James Katchko took the students to Jenkins Cemetery located at the intersection of Wyoming Avenue and Linden Street to discuss the historical importance of the cemetery and relate stories about prominent figures buried there. The first interment at the cemetery occurred on July 2, 1778. Known as the Harding massacre, brothers Benjamin and Stuckley Harding were killed by Indians on June 30, 1778.
1985 – 33 YEARS AGO
Joseph Pupa III, president of Interstate Window and Door Company in Pittston Township, learned that an architectural firm in Clarks Summit was handling the Statue of Liberty restoration, at which time he and his father Joseph Pupa Jr. offered to donate a total of 32 vinyl windows and rolling doors for the restoration pavilion in New York harbor. Originally known as Interstate Home Improvement, the company was founded in 1939 by Joseph Pupa Sr.
According to statueofliberty.org. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan asked Lee Iacocca, then chairman of Chrysler Corporation, to head a private sector effort to raise funds for the restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The American people contributed more than $600 million to the repair, restoration, and maintenance of both projects.
In 1964, The Pittston Fire Department, under the direction of Chief Francis McDonnell aided by Gene Melvin, James McCutcheon and Raymond Milne, brought its new aerial truck to the West Pittston Cemetery to replace a rope on the flag pole that had broken in 1954. It could not be replaced due to the fact that the pole, after being hit by lightning, was unsafe to climb. Carefully, the men directed and placed the truck close to the pole. West Pittston Hose Company No. 1 took over and Ronald Dietrich, president, under the direction of Ray Smith, fire chief, and Roy Bratlee climbed the extended ladder and installed the new steel cable. The men raised the flag to fly once again over the cemetery.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1864 — Some 7,000 Union troops are killed within 30 minutes during the Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia.
1888 — The classic baseball poem “Casey at the Bat,” written by Ernest L. Thayer, is published in the San Francisco Examiner.
1923 — In Italy, Dictator Benito Mussolini grants women the right to vote.
1952 — A rebellion by North Korean prisoners in the Koje prison camp in South Korea is put down by American troops.
1965 — Astronaut Edward White becomes the first American to walk in space when he exits the Gemini 4 space capsule.
1969 — Seventy-four American sailors die when the destroyer USS Frank E. Evans is cut in two by an Australian aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.
BORN ON THIS DAY
1808 — Jefferson Davis, president of Confederate States of America
1904 — Charles R. Drew, American physician, researcher of blood plasma
1906 — Josephine Baker, dancer and singer
1922 — Alain Resnais, French film director
1926 — Allen Ginsberg, American poet (“Howl”)
1936 — Larry McMurtry, novelist (“The Last Picture Show”,” “Terms of Endearment”)
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