1949 – 68 Years Ago
As revelers finished ringing in the New Year, they wondered what they would be doing at the end of 1949 when New Year’s Eve would fall on Saturday night. Under the state law, taverns closed at midnight. Going further, they wondered what would happen on New Year’s Eve in 1950, when Dec. 31 falls on Sunday, the taverns would then be closed in accordance with the states Blue Laws. The first of the “Blue Laws” was enacted in 1682 while colonies were under British rule. It prohibited working or having fun on Sundays of which the selling of alcohol was a part. The ban carried over when Pennsylvania became a state in 1787. The Pennsylvania Legislature re-enacted the law in 1939. It wasn’t until 1978 that the State Supreme Court ruled that the blue laws were unconstitutional, but on rather strange grounds. The Legislature, the court decided, had the perfect right to pass laws regulating behavior on Sundays, including the 1935 restriction on showing movies and the 1939 ban on playing pool. In order to sell alcohol on Sundays, taverns and restaurants had to prove that 30 percent of their sales were derived from food sales, but that requirement was also eventually removed by the state legislature.
1950 – 67 Years Ago
A brand new 1950 five-passenger GMC Streamliner, a six-cylinder sedan coupe with Hydromantic Drive could be purchased for $1, 758 at O. McGraw Company, Luzerne Avenue in West Pittston. Hydromantic drive was an automatic transmission developed by both General Motors for the 1940 model year vehicles, the Hydromantic was the first fully automatic mass-produced transmission developed for passenger automobile use. According to the US Inflation Calculator, the price equates to $17,993.53 today.
1956 – 61 Years Ago
A Pittston Landmark, The Miners Bank Clock which stood at the corner of Main and Broad Streets from 1912 to January of 1956 was dismantled and deposited in the “Al Miller junkyard.” It was replaced with a hanging chime clock.
1966 – 51 Years Ago
An editorial column in the Sunday Dispatch took exception to a story written in the Wilkes-Barre Record regarding Dispatch publisher John C. Kehoe Sr. and the sale of his Harding mansion. It stated, that reporting on the sale was not the problem, but the writer calling Kehoe a “Whiskey salesman” and referring to his many friends as “Kehoe cronies” gave the impression Kehoe was of less than honorable character. The Dispatch editorial went on to list the many anonymous contributions Kehoe had made to the community, churches, industries and childhood friends. The homestead was sold four years after Kehoe’s death to Kenneth Marrell and his wife for approximately $300,000 including acreage and servants quarters. The estimated cost to build the mansion in 1927 was $500,000. The mansion which contains 10 bedrooms, 5 full baths, 1 half bath, has 12,391 square feet of living space and sits on a 12.78 acre lot was recently listed for sale with a million dollar asking price.
1972 – 45 Years Ago
At the beginning of 1972, the Pittston city housing program looked positive. After completing the Apollo Apartments and additional housing for the elderly in 1971, a 60 unit project was planned for low income families to be constructed on the site of the former Riverview Theatre. Another 90 units were planned for the elderly on High Street. Initial bids for the projects were $800,000 in excess of what the Federal Housing Administration would allow. Construction, after budget modifications, was due to begin in the spring.
Despite the weakening of the garment manufacturing industry, Greater Pittston weathered the 1971 national and state economic climate in fine shape. Estimates revealed a total of 1500 new jobs were created during the year. A significant change during the year was the increase in wages offered by most local industries at the entry level. The beginning hourly wage in manufacturing industries averaged $3 per hour. The glass industry held the greatest number of job openings in the area followed by tobacco, furniture, paper, leather, metals and non-electrical machinery, manufacturing, printing and warehousing. According to the US Dept. of Agriculture, textile and apparel jobs have been in decline for three decades stating, “Technological improvements and import competition have reduced the U.S. workforce from 2.4 million in 1973 to 650,000 in 2005. The decline in textile and apparel jobs accelerated following the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico in 1994.”
1976 – 41 Years Ago
Len Pesotini of Duryea led the nation in pass receptions during the 1975 Indiana University of Pennsylvania football season by catching 74 throws for a total of 1088 yards. He was one of only six receivers in the country to top the 1000-yard mark. In a game against Westminster, Pesotini caught 14 passes from All American quarterback Lynn Hieber breaking the game record of 11. Pesotini was inducted into the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Hall of Fame in 2011.
1986 – 31 Years Ago
Rick Ide became the “TV-kid” as a teen studying television and radio repair. For a time, he worked with his father Don, owner of Action Antenna in Exeter. By 1981, Rick and his wife Sue had opened Ricky’s TV Service on East Sixth Street in Wyoming. Rick worked mostly in the customer’s home, replacing anything from small wires to high-voltage transformers. With The new satellite systems becoming available Rick installed the black-mesh aluminum dishes weighing 200 pounds and measuring 10 feet in diameter.
According to history-of-satelite-tv.net the cost to the everyday consumer was very high. In 1980, a satellite system cost approximately $10,000. By 1985, the prices on the systems dropped to about $3000 each. The programming was free during these years. People made a one-time purchase of a system and received more than 100 channels, including every basic and premium cable service.
1996 – 21 Years Ago
Despite a slump in the national sports trading card business and a number of layoffs, managers of Topps Chewing Gum in Duryea planned to keep their local plant operating. Bargaining agents agreed to a six-month contract putting a stop to the rumor that the company based in Duryea for 30 years would close. Members of Local 229 voted to approve a contract that raised the average hourly wage by 25 cents to $11.75 along with company financed health benefits. Citing the 1994 Baseball strike as a contributing factor in poor sales of the pink bubblegum, company executives hoped they had “hit bottom”. The Topps Company was founded in 1938 and added baseball cards to their gum products in 1951. In 1992, in response to complaints about wax stains on appearing on inserted bubblegum cards, Topps began sealing cards in plastic wrappers. In 2012, Topps offered three Smartphone Apps for its baseball and football card fans listing statistics for players back to 1952.
This Day in History
1775 — George Washington orders recruiting officers to accept free blacks into the army.
1852 — The richest year of the gold rush ends with $81.3 million in gold produced.
1911 — Helene Dutrieu wins the Femina aviation cup in Etampes. She sets a distance record for women at 158 miles.
1915 — The Germans torpedo the British liner Persia without any warning killing 335 passengers.
1923 — The Sahara is crossed by an automobile for the first time.
1930 — Brewery heir Adolphus Busch is kidnapped.
1942 — After five months of battle, Emperor Hirohito allows the Japanese commanders at Guadalcanal to retreat.
1944 — Hungary declares war on Germany.
1965 — California becomes the largest state by population.
1977 — Cambodia breaks relations with Vietnam.
Born on this Day
1815 — George Gordon Meade, Union general who defeated Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg.
1869 — Henri Matisse, French artist.
1889 — George Catlett Marshall, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army during World War II, Secretary of State under Truman, he won a Nobel Peace Prize for the Marshall Plan.
1908 — Simon Wiesenthal, survivor of the Nazi Holocaust who dedicated his life to tracking down former Nazis.
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