1952 – 66 YEARS AGO
An editorial in the Sunday Dispatch cited the fact that school taxes would be much higher if there were no parochial schools in Pittston and surrounding communities. At the time it was estimated to cost approximately $200 a year to educate a child in the county. There were approximately 1,500 children enrolled in parochial schools. The article stated, “If the burden of educating these children fell on the local citizenry, via taxation, it would cost the school district about $300,000 additional each year.” In terms of taxation that would mean a tax hike of about 30 mills more based on what Pittston’s assessment value was at the time.
Bill Watson, editor of the Sunday Dispatch was pleased that something that he had been requesting over the years from the Community Chest would actually be fulfilled. The Community Chest publicized a list of the organizations and agencies that were requesting funds to enable them to continue their work. Among some of those seeking allotments were The Boy Scouts, Catholic Charities, Family Welfare, Pittston Hospital, Salvation Army and YMCA. The total requested for all agencies was $109,738.91. It was reported that it was the “first time that a complete announcement was made as to what the various agencies expected for the operation of their respective organizations for the year.” Watson felt that an accounting of the Chest’s administrative costs should also be recorded for public knowledge.
1953 – 65 YEARS AGO
Esther Langan of Pittston appeared on the NBC network radio program “Search for Talent”. A vocalist with the Frankie Reynolds orchestra, she performed the song Say You’re Mine Again. The program locally broadcast by WSCR in Scranton was heard coast to coast. The Reynolds orchestra based in Ohio recorded on Bluebird Records for RCA.
The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked, “Do you think children beginning school are brighter than the beginner in the era before television?” Josephine McDonnell of Inkerman answered, “They are noticeably more intelligent.” Sam Lizza of Pittston added, “They have a better opportunity to learn by seeing.” Mike Lieback of Old Boston stated, “They pick up an awful lot. If it wasn’t for television it might take them a couple more years to get it all.”
1960 – 58 YEARS AGO
John J. Rossi of Dupont was well on his way to a recording career as a member of the Geno and the Encores group, recording on the WGW label. Before joining the Encores, Rossi directed and played sax and clarinet with the musical group the Top Hatters. Rossi along with his Encore bandmates released Love’s Encore, Fading Winds, Love’s Hidden Island and Gerry, Gerry. New records Rita My Teenage Bride and Midnite Walk were set to be released in late summer. A quick search of Amazon.com brought up a 45 rpm recording of Rita My Teenage Bride by the Encores for sale for $20.
A Junior Billiards League was organized at LaTorre’s Recreation in Pittston. Santo Scalzo was named president, Dave Pavlico, treasurer and John McNulty, secretary. Those joining the league in the junior division were Tony Iorfida, Jim Noone, Mike Dooley, Al Lipperini, Charles Pirrello, Gene Daley, Ship Sexton, Lou Manganiello, Charles Turco, Joseph Pirrello, Norm Fulkerson, Joe Oprendick, Joe Scarantino, John Piorkowski, Billy Keating, Paul McGarry, Santo Sperrazza and Dan Pavlico. The league was operated on a handicap basis with all players given equal opportunity to win a trophy. It is believed that the game of billiards originated in one of three countries, China, Italy or Spain, but the name of the sport is most certainly French, bille, meaning ball and billart, the stick used. In the 15th century the object of the game was to hit a ball through a croquet-like wicket to hit a peg. During the 1840s, billiards became associated with pool parlors in large cities.
Jonathan “Bee” Strucke was set to play the drums at a Drum-o-Rama program to be held at the Sans Souci Park. The youngster playing with his own band, The Raindrops, performed at nursing homes, weddings and showers. Strucke was expected to do a drum solo at the competition and play with the scheduled orchestra.
More than four tons of potatoes were peeled and shredded and ready to be deep fried and served to the thousands of people visiting the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church picnic in Dupont. Known for its delicious food, organizers enlarged the refreshment and food bar from the previous year in order to accommodate the expected crowd. Potato pancakes were only a portion of the kielbasa, pierogis, and pigs in the blanket that were served. Eight couples from Canada were in attendance and vowed they would return the following year.
1963 – 55 YEARS AGO
Pagnotti Enterprises employee Louis J. Marino Jr. of Pittston Township was one of the key personnel handling the riggings and drills at the Sheppton Mine near Hazleton after it collapsed trapping David Fellin, Henry “Hank” Throne and Lou Bova on August 16. The men were given up for dead, but to quell the concern of immediate family members it was decided to drill a 6-inch-wide borehole in an attempt to hear any sound that would indicate the miners were still alive. The hole took two days to drill. A microphone was lowered. To the surprise of rescue workers, they heard two of the miners speaking. Drilling of larger boreholes commenced immediately. A microphone and supplies were lowered into the mine. A 17½-inch borehole was drilled by equipment loaned by a company owned by billionaire Howard Hughes. On Tuesday, August 27, 1963, Fellin and Throne were pulled from the mine. Throne later recalled of the rescue, “And now it was Monday, Aug. 26. It was 6:01 p.m. and they told us and the big reamer that was widening the hole to 18 inches was only six inches over us. Twenty minutes later that big gorgeous reamer broke through. I yelled up “Send us a line down. I’m coming up!” The two men were eventually brought to the surface by 2 a.m. the next morning. “Bova was separated from Fellin and Throne in the cave-in, his body was never recovered. A headstone surrounded by a white, picket fence just off Nuremburg Road marks his grave.
Joseph Hannon, chairman of Avoca Borough Council, was in the hospital being treated for a ruptured appendix. During his stay he received numerous get well cards. As he was sorting through the envelopes he found one from the White House. It wasn’t a get well card, but a card of thanks to Hannon and other members of council for a sympathy note they had sent to the President and Mrs. John Kennedy on the death of their son Patrick.
1983 – 35 YEARS AGO
Four Greater Pittston Area athletes and Members of the Y-Stars Softball Team, leftfielder Lisa Gigliello, centerfielder JoAnn Matt, catcher Lori Guitson and designated hitter Mary Jane Grella were set to travel to the A.S.A. Class A National Softball Championships in Hayward, California. Team coach Kathy Potera commented, “The girl’s dedication and discipline made them among the finest “top-notch” players in the country.” The Y’s would be competing against 1972, 80 and 82 national winners San Diego Astros and 1981 title holder Montclair 81’s.
The Greater Pittston Stoners Soccer Team began practice for their initial season with the Wyoming Valley Soccer League. Sixty-five boys and girls, ages 6-14 registered. Coaches for the Stoners were Klaus Geller, Chuck Leibman, Joe McDonnell, Joe Heffers, Al Melone, Tony Fabrizio and Jack Nardone.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1429 – Joan of Arc makes a triumphant entry into Paris.
1862 – Confederate General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson seizes Manassas Junction, Virginia, and moves to encircle Union forces under General John Pope.
1883 – The Indonesian island of Krakatoa erupts in the largest explosion recorded in history, heard 2,200 miles away in Madagascar. The resulting destruction sends volcanic ash up 50 miles into the atmosphere and kills almost 36,000 people–both on the island itself and from the resulting 131-foot tidal waves that obliterate 163 villages on the shores of nearby Java and Sumatra.
1920 – The 19th Amendment to the Constitution is officially ratified, giving women the right to vote.
1970 – A nationwide Women’s Strike for Equality, led by Betty Friedan on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment calls attention to unequal pay and other gender inequalities in America.
1999 – Russia begins the Second Chechen War in response to the Invasion of Dagestan by the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade.
1906 – Albert Sabin, medical researcher, developed the polio vaccine.
1910 – Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu), missionary, Nobel Prize laureate for her work in the slums of Calcutta.
1922 – Irving Levine, journalist; first American television correspondent to be accredited in the Soviet Union.
1945 – Tom Ridge, first US Secretary of Homeland Security.
1952 – Will Shortz, American puzzle creator and editor.
1970 – Melissa Ann McCarthy, comedian, writer, producer, Emmy-winning actress (Mike & Molly TV series).