1948 – 70 YEARS AGO
Many hoped that Champ Brewery on North Main and New Streets, the last of the Pittston breweries, would re-open under new ownership. Unfortunately, the buyers who purchased the brewery for $68,000 planned to dismantle the equipment and prepare it for shipment overseas. City officials attempted to guarantee the re-opening but a lien held by the federal government was compromised and the sale went through. The brewery had 50 employees and produced over 100,000 barrels a year.
1952 – 66 YEARS AGO
Patricia Roberts, 19, of Wyoming, was on her way to Philadelphia to compete in the Miss Pennsylvania Beauty Pageant. In her first year as a nursing student at Nesbitt Memorial Hospital in Kingston, Roberts was chosen Miss Anthracite at a contest sponsored by the Greater Pittston Junior Chamber of Commerce at Bone Stadium.
The Pittston Bell Telephone Operators softball team made their debut on the local sports scene in their first game against Scranton operators. Members of the team were Ann Flynn, Mary Bonchonsky, Claire Dwyer, Catherine Murphy, Rosemary Meade, Janice Paradine, Jean Christian, Mary Philbin, Janet Eustice, Margaret Smeltster, Mildred Marley, Dolores Williams, Rosemary Surack, Josie Clark and Claire Murley.
1953 – 65 YEARS AGO
Rocky Mitchell, of Pittston, was looking forward to the release of the motion picture “Stalag 17” — not for the entertainment value, but to see if the comedy-drama war film captured some of the reality he experienced as a prisoner of war in the Austrian Camp. While flying over Italy in his 13th combat mission as a flight engineer on a B-24 bomber, Mitchell’s ship was hit by flack from German anti-aircraft guns and then intercepted by Nazi fighter planes. The B-24 suffered a direct hit and caught fire, forcing the crew to bail out. Mitchell was wounded on both shoulders and legs but, with the help of a fellow crew member, slid on a parachute and jumped from the plane. He landed in a field and was aided by Italian civilians. However, the Germans arrived quickly and shipped Mitchell to a hospital. After he recovered, Mitchell was sent to the Stalag 17 POW camp in the Austrian countryside. Mitchell spent 13 months in the camp before liberation.
Although he had heard the movie had comedic overtones, Mitchell understood that some of the sordid details of camp life would not be highlighted. There were beatings, starvation, sickness and living conditions were horrible, but he also remembered there were times like the movie when odd and humorous incidents would take place, keeping the American airmen’s morale high. One man in particular Mitchell and his fellow prisoners remembered was a young fellow who had been a physician but who, for an undisclosed reason, was not able to practice his profession in the US. The young man attended to the prisoners’ injuries and health issues during their confinement. Upon release, all signed a petition, asking the proper authorities to allow the man to once again practice medicine. After the war, Mitchell lost track of the young man and never heard of the outcome of the petition.
1968 – 50 YEARS AGO
It was time for the annual Lions “Dream Game” at Scranton Memorial Stadium and 1968 was the first time Pittston Area and Wyoming Area were “allowed” to send representatives. As one of the 11 City All Stars, Duryea’s Joe Martinelli turned in an excellent performance as line-baker. He and Charlie “Grazie” Graziano put on a fine offensive display. Pittston Area’s Eddie Booth rushed for a total of 30 yards in 12 carries. PA’s defensive back Sal Montagna broke through the line several times to put pressure on the County quarterbacks. Wyoming Area’s defensive backs Bill Simonson and John Stanchak broke up quite a few pass plays and Warrior teammates John Sammon, Charlie Platt and Pat Donahue turned in great performances. Patriot center Rich Rava saw limited action due to an injury and one of the “finest pass receivers in the region,” Mike Martin, suffered an injury in practice and was missed by teammates. The County squad copped a 7-2 victory over the City.
George Waselinko, of Dupont, had lost something valuable and was hoping a Good Samaritan would help him recover the items. George had taken his collection of silver dollars to Pittston to show friends. Sometime during his excursion, he had lost all six coins from the 1800s and was hoping that someone, upon finding the treasure, would return them.
1981 – 37 YEARS AGO
There was a critical shortage of nurses in 1981. The American Hospital Association projected over 100,000 job openings in the nursing field, but predicted the decade would see a steady decline in people to fill those jobs. The Pittston School of Nursing was beginning its 78th year with one of the largest freshman classes in its history. Rosemary Zurla, director of the school, announced 35 new students, six of them men, indicated a turning point in the decline. Originally, the school was one of five hospital-based diploma schools in the area, but in 1981, it was the only surviving program offered in Luzerne County. In 1912, Esther Tinsley started the Nesbitt Hospital in Kingston. Two years later, she began the Pittston Hospital as well as the School of Nursing in Pittston. She had the distinction of being the first woman hospital administrator in the country — even before women could vote.
1988 – 30 YEARS AGO
Girls were taking gold. Pittston Area’s Michele Cefalo collected three gold medals at the Keystone State Games, seizing first place in the 800-meter run, 1500-meter run and 400-meter relay. Cindy Czerniakowski took first place in the javelin throw and Wyoming Area sprinter Tracy Wrubel took top honors for the 100-meter dash. Pittston Area student Lisa Kinns took home a silver in shot put, tossing the sphere 26’ 1”.
1991 – 27 YEARS AGO
Brother Paul McDonnell would be the first parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Exeter to be ordained a priest. Upon graduation, Maxima Cum Laude from Wyoming Area High School in Exeter, Father Paul entered the Oblates of St. Joseph Order. After many years of study, Father Paul was assigned to the Pennsylvania Province of St. Joseph’s Seminary. Father Paul McDonnell, OSJ has recently been appointed to the international commission in Rome in preparation for the XVI General Chapter of 2012. Father Paul will retain his positions as rector of the Oblates of St. Joseph Seminary, Laflin, vice-provincial superior and secretary of the PA Province, as well as regional vocation director, working in conjunction with the Oblates of St. Joseph California Province, based in Santa Cruz and Sacramento.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
30 BC — Cleopatra VII, Queen of Egypt, commits suicide.
1863 — Confederate raider William Quantrill leads a massacre of 150 men and boys in Lawrence, Kansas.
1864 — After a week of heavy raiding, the Confederate cruiser Tallahassee claims six Union ships captured.
1896 — Gold is discovered near Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada. After word reaches the United States in June 1897, thousands of Americans head to the Klondike to seek their fortunes.
1898 — The Spanish American War officially ends after three months and 22 days of hostilities.
1981 — Computer giant IBM introduces its first personal computer.
2000 – Russian Navy submarine K-141 Kursk explodes and sinks with all hands during military exercises in the Barents Sea.
BORN ON THIS DAY
1781 — Robert Mills, architect and engineer whose designs include the Washington Monument, the National Portrait Gallery and the U.S. Treasury Building
1859 — Katherine Bates, composer of “America the Beautiful”
1881 — Cecil B. DeMille, American film director, producer and screenwriter, famous for epic productions
1927 — Ralph Waite, actor (“The Waltons,” “Roots”)
1927 — Porter Wagoner, country singer, TV show host
1929 — Buck Owens, country singer, a leader in establishing the “Bakersfield Sound”
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