Peeking into the past: Downpour at graduation signals things to come

Peeking into - the past - Judy Minsavage
The 1972 Greater Pittston Area High School graduation was held during a rainstorm. Many braved the elements and stayed to watch the abbreviated ceremony held in Charlie Trippi Stadium. Do you recognize anyone? -

1957 – 61 YEARS AGO

The Eagle Hose Company of Pittston observed its 100-year anniversary. Members of the celebration planning committee were William Mcart, Bernard Bender, Thomas Burns, Ralph Vanderburg, John Toole, Fred Fox, Oscar Kitman, William Jamieson, Ben Kotch and Dan Bidwell.

Forty-five seniors graduated from Wyoming Memorial High School on June 11, 1957. Members of the class were Mary Ann Kolessar, Katherine Nalewajko, Edna Hartman, Beverly Hornby, Joan Gunshire, Lorraine Kearney, Mary Randazzo, Bette Truskowski, Eleanor Balara, Margaret Lucas, salutatorian; Helen Davis, Marie Rasenko, Jacqueline Kearney, Elaine Filipini, Marie Aquilina, John Pieszala, Joseph Pineno, Alfred Howell, Patricia Korecki, Marilyn Givens, Mary Ann Hizney, Kaye Kupy, Barbara Munson, valedictorian; Barbara Savitsky, Marilee Lewis, Shirley Salus, Jerry Eddy, Joseph Heaton, Arthur Long, John Yurich, Paul Kennedy, Gilbert Dominick, John Kropcho, William Johnson, James Salus, Michael Frankowsky, William Hazlett, Herb Gonnerman, Reno Morgan, Richard Rapson, Robert Yetter, Thomas Casterline, William Thomas, James Jeffrey.

1964 — 54 YEARS AGO

The Christian’s Stamp Club organized by Rev. Joseph Sammon of St. Mary Help of Christian Church held its first exhibit. Those offering stamp selections were Rudy Forlenza, Ralph Tonte, Patrick Doyle, John O’Malley, Brian Petroziello, David Standarowski, Joseph Wascavage, Raymond Bulford, Richard Shoback, Kevin Clark, John Sheerer, Stephen Standarowski, Alan Conte, Joseph Donahue, George Joyce, John Jerrytone and Alan Quinn. Conte won the prize for outstanding collection of world-wide stamps, O’Malley had the best United States collection and Sheerer had best religious group.

Members of the Northeast High School graduating class sent a graduation invitation to Jacqueline Kennedy, who had been widowed the year before, when her husband President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Mrs. Kennedy sent a reply on “black-bordered stationery” thanking the class and expressing her best wishes and regrets that she would be unable to attend. The seniors did not expect the former first lady to attend, but wanted her to know they were thinking of her in her time of mourning.

The cornerstone for the St. Joseph’s Seminary at the corner of Yatesville Road and Dupont Highway was blessed by Rev. Pietro Magnone, OSJ, Superior General of the Oblates of St. Joseph in Rome, Italy. Among the documents sealed in the cornerstone was a June 1964 issue of the Sunday Dispatch. Contracts to build the Seminary amounted to $604.150. All funds for the project were raised through contributions and memorial gifts. The names of persons who made contributions and names of deceased persons in whose memory the gifts were made were inscribed on the memorial plaque in the building’s lobby.

Officers chosen to serve the Wyoming Monument Association for the year were Mrs. Coray H. Miller, president; Mrs. Edwin Shortz, first vice-president; Mrs. Ralph Thomas, secretary; and Alan Perkins, speaker; Mrs. G.B. LaFrance, second vice-president; Mrs. F. Frank Smith, honorary vice-president; Mrs. Harradon H. Smith, treasurer; and Lena Baldwin, historian. The Wyoming Monument on Route 11 in Wyoming marks the gravesite of victims of the Wyoming Massacre which took place on July 3, 1778. This year marks the 140th anniversary of the battle between colonists and British forces assisted by their Native Americans allies. Colonial fighters fell in defeat and many died brutal deaths trying to defend their lands against the British invasion. It was not until Oct. 22, 1778 that recovery parties felt safe enough to return to the area and begin collecting the bodies of those killed in the battle. The remains were placed in a common grave in 1832 and remained there until 1833 when they were moved to the site on which the monument stands today.

1972 – 46 YEARS AGO

Greater Pittston Area High School graduation held in Charlie Trippi Stadium was listed as the wettest graduation ceremony in history. After two of yearbook photographer Angelo Bufalino’s flash units shorted out due to the pouring rain, in frustration, Bufalino asked Dispatch photographer Ken Feeney, “How can I get a photograph?” Mrs. Larry Brogna, director of music at the high school, was disappointed for her students as the musical selections to be performed by the Glee Club and choir were cancelled. Parents were disappointed that the moment they and their son or daughter had waited for was reduced to a quick presentation of diplomas devoid of the usual speeches and honors given to graduates. Threatening clouds were gathering prior to the 5 p.m. start of the ceremonies. Many thought the school missed the mark by not moving the ceremonies to the gymnasium. With the rainfall average already climbing for the month of June and hurricane season in full swing, the destruction of Hurricane Agnes and the future of the Wyoming Valley were sealed.

1973 – 45 YEARS AGO

In a class totaling 89 seniors, St. John’s High School graduated three sets of twins: Robert and Barbara Kirk, Joseph and George Sharkey and Mary Ann and Joseph Petro. The first graduates to participate in the Wilkes-Barre Vocational Tech School were Joseph Petro, Raymond Walsh, John Connor and John Casey.

1974 – 44 YEARS AGO

Floyd Evans, president of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, imposed a 21-day salute to “Honor America” to commence on Flag Day, June 14 and extend through July 4. All citizens were asked to display the American flag during the three-week event. The observance was sponsored by the American Historic and Cultural Society Inc. of Washington, DC headed by John P. Cosgrove, executive director. Evans stated, “We should all honor America on a daily basis.”

1983 – 35 YEARS AGO

Franklin’s East-West All-Star Baseball Classic was scheduled for Artillery Park in Wilkes-Barre and was measuring up to be quite a match-up. Wyoming Area seniors Mark Sickler and Ron Musto were part of the West’s starting nine, garnering the first and second baseman spots respectively, Dave Gavlick was set as outfielder; Tom Spurlin, all-scholastic catcher; Wyoming Seminary’s Joe Littzi, shortstop, and Mark Ambrose as the West’s starting pitcher. Pittston Area’s Rich Kashuba was slotted for East’s starting first baseman. Other members of the East team were Pittston Area’s Rob Musto and Joe Ranieli of Old Forge and Seton Catholic’s all-star infielder Mike Mazur.

1984 – 34 YEARS AGO

Eighth-grade students of the Wyoming Area Middle School participated in the District History Day competition. Sponsored by the Luzerne and Wyoming Counties Social Studies Council, the competition encouraged students’ interest in the study of history. The school had 22 entries and students won 10 awards in all six areas of interest. Listed winners included: Individual performance, Kim Weiss, Kim Pazdziorko, and Scott Stephen; group performance, Randy Spencer, Nicole Alu, Renee Dolfi, Berdena Beatty, Tanya Fetch and Collen Podwika; individual project, Laura Taylor; group project: Patricia Osticco, Susan Corridoni, Carol Maszeroski, Heather Abromavage; media, Tom Turonis, Lisa Buchieri, David Hergan, Joe Guido; historical research, Tom Butchko.


1692 — Bridget Bishop is hanged in Salem, Mass., for witchcraft.

1776 — The Continental Congress appoints a committee to write a Declaration of Independence.

1861 — Dorothea Dix is appointed superintendent of female nurses for the Union army.

1909 — An SOS signal is transmitted for the first time in an emergency when the Cunard liner SS Slavonia is wrecked off the Azores.

1948 — The news that the sound barrier has been broken is finally released to the public by the U.S. Air Force. Chuck Yeager, piloting the rocket airplane X-1, exceeded the speed of sound on Oct. 14, 1947.

1970 — A 15-man group of Special Forces troops begin training for Operation Kingpin, a POW rescue mission in North Vietnam.


1895 — Hattie McDaniel, African-American actress

1922 — Judy Garland (Frances Ethel Gumm), American actress and singer (“The Wizard of Oz,” “Easter Parade”)

1933 — F. Lee Bailey, American defense attorney

The 1972 Greater Pittston Area High School graduation was held during a rainstorm. Many braved the elements and stayed to watch the abbreviated ceremony held in Charlie Trippi Stadium. Do you recognize anyone? 1972 Greater Pittston Area High School graduation was held during a rainstorm. Many braved the elements and stayed to watch the abbreviated ceremony held in Charlie Trippi Stadium. Do you recognize anyone?

Peeking into

the past

Judy Minsavage

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at