From 1915 to 1977, one can only wonder how many households managed celebrating Thanksgiving with a traditional roasted turkey with all the trimmings while planning to attend the many Thanksgiving Day football games that were a major part of the holiday activities. Not to say men did not help, but we’re sure in large part, the ladies of the household would set about making sure the traditions and family gatherings were all fulfilled before family members left to attend the games.
1955 – 62 YEARS AGO
The 23rd annual “Battle of the Wyomings” was one of the most anticipated events on Thanksgiving Day. The yearly contest originated in 1933. Wyoming High School posted a 12-8 total game advantage over West Wyoming. During the 22-year run, two games ended in a tie. Wyoming was looking forward to the 1955 contest to counter a 26-0 loss in 1954. Seniors Joe Lehon, Joseph Greskiewicz, Jimmy Charney, Bob Kozlosky and Bill Karcutski played their final game for the West Wyoming Cowboys. Seniors on the Wyoming Redskins team were John Sapiego, Joe Yurish, Paul McGinley, Bill Loyack, John Shulde, Erwin Muschter, Russ Giordano and Herb Pecht.
The 40th annual football classic matching Pittston High School and St. John Central Catholic was set for Bone Stadium. The games dated back to 1915 and showed Pittston holding a one game edge with five games ending in ties over the 34-year rivalry. Pittston seniors playing their final game were Bob Vitale, Joe Sciandra, Ross Baccanari, Francis Monachino, Al Brown, Charlie Marranca, Jake Sobeski, Francis Tierney, George Nowakowski, Anthony Darbenzio, Joe Lombardo and Steve Sciandra. St. John’s had 13 seniors seeing action in Frank Kolmansberger, Joe Ruane, Charlie Manganiello, Tony Kalmanowich, Frank Roche, Bill Romanko, Hughie Walsh, Kenny Davis, Bill Burke, Jimmy Rettenmeyer, Billy Mundy, Joe Kelly and Joe Dallesandro. The last Thanksgiving Day game between Pittston High School and St. John’s was played in 1963.
1956 – 61 YEARS AGO
Dupont youngster Billy Redicka wasn’t interested in participating in sports but had quite an extensive library on the subject. Gathering statistics was also his forte. However, when he entered the Sunday Dispatch “Guess the Grid Scores” contest for Thanksgiving Day, many were surprised to learn the young man won first place after correctly guessing that the Avoca – Moosic tilt would end in a 14-14 tie. He’d also hit the 13-6 Pittston-St John’s result on the nose and the 14-7 Wyoming-West Wyoming match-up. The contest also held another surprise. The second and third-place winners were females with Jennifer Morgan, of Pittston, taking second place and Mrs. Theresa Klimchak, of Port Griffith, taking third.
1962 – 55 YEARS AGO
Bill DeAlba, of Pittston, shared his memories of the St. Rocco’s Church dances held during the late 50s and early 60s. Dances were held Mondays from 7 to 10 p.m. Joe Nardone and the All Stars performed while WARM disc jockeys provided the music for most of the year. Approximately 250 or more chaperoned young people attended the dances regularly.
In 1962, over 500 teenagers from Greater Pittston enjoyed a holiday dance at St. Rocco’s auditorium. One of the highlights of the dance each year was the release of a live turkey on the dance floor. It was up to the girls to catch the bird to be served at a Thanksgiving feast. In 1962, Mary Kay Hines captured the prize. Her friends Joe Nardone, Judy Spohrer, Ann Marie Hodakowski, Ann Marie Sobol and Jack Borzell were there to congratulate her.
Grant City in Pittston Plaza started advertising early for anxious Christmas shoppers. A Big Wheel by Marx would set parents back $11, a 13” trail bike, $16; a 7’ pool table, $66; and the “World’s Favorite Game,” Monopoly sold for $2.97. According to the US Inflation Calculator, those prices would equate to $89.90, $130.00, $539.41 and $24.27 respectively, today.
1964 – 53 YEARs AGO
Ending a 48-year tradition, the Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked Pittston residents, “Are you going to miss the annual Thanksgiving Day game between St. John’s and Pittston High School?” Michael Baldo answered, “Yes, and I know other people throughout the area are going to miss it. I promised to take my daughter this year; I know she is going to be disappointed. Sam Infantino stated, “As for myself, I think I’ve only missed one game in my life. We used to get our Thanksgiving dinner over with as soon as possible so we could go.” Steve Volpetti added, “Thanksgiving should be awful dull this year; I guess we’ll have to stay home and watch football on TV.”
1969 – 48 YEARS AGO
Members of the newly formed Pittston Area High Press Club were gearing up for the publication of the very first issue of The Patriot school newspaper, which was to be distributed prior to Thanksgiving Day. Members who worked on that first issue were Sharon Roxby, Diane Romanski, Lita Pupa, Linda Nardone, Mary Ardo, Nancy Evaskitis, Ann Shifano, Eileen Gunning, Ruth Higdon, Jenny Centrella, Donna Calabro, Ann Marie Joseph, Mary Ann Yanuskavich, Marguerite Graziano. Theresa Gaza, Mary Rose Montagna, Mary Ann Navarouski, Charles Iacona, Michael Clifford, Ronald Dolman, Brian Petroziello, Patricia Lombardo, Mary Pat Melvin, Carole Karpovich.
1971 – 46 YEARS AGO
Local football fans held their breath as Wyoming Valley coaches gathered to vote on whether to continue the annual Thanksgiving Day high school football games which dated back to 1933. After a split vote, the announcement was made that the traditional “Turkey Day” games would be played for another year.
1976 – 41 YEARS AGO
The excitement surrounding a seasonal match-up between Pittston Area and Wyoming Area football teams rivaled any professional game as over 8,000 noisy fans packed Charlie Trippi Stadium. Taking their fifth straight Thanksgiving Day win, the Patriots posted a 40-30 score over the Warriors as quarterback Harry Ardoline and tailback Carmen LoPresto played “starring” roles. Ardoline, who rushed for 86 yards, passed for 47 and scored one touchdown was reported as playing “the best game of his career.”
LoPresto rushed for 107 yards and scored three touchdowns to close out his high school career. Bruce Barbini and Sam Berto accounted for two touchdowns while “soccer style” kicker Tony Tavella added the extra points. Warrior points came from touchdowns by Tom McDonnell, Tony Verdine, Mike Manganaro and Joe Radzwilka with two-point conversions by Larry Marianacci and Paul McNulty.
1996 – 21 YEARS AGO
Due to a long teachers’ strike, Pittston Area School District students were scheduled to attend class on Thanksgiving Day in 1996 which made national headlines. Pennsylvania Act 88 mandates students receive 180 days of education even if school days falls on holidays, and Pennsylvanian’s for School Legislation Reform sent invitations to national media, local and national politicians to witness the event, which was the first in Pennsylvania history. The six-week strike was ended by court order from the Department of Education. Pittston Area students were only given two holidays, Memorial Day and Christmas Day. Reporters from USA Today and a television crew from “Good Morning America” were in Pittston. There was buzz that local and state legislators, Governor Tom Ridge and even Hillary Rodham Clinton might appear.
Thanksgiving facts according to history.com
• Three towns in the U.S. take their name from the traditional Thanksgiving bird, including Turkey, Texas; Turkey Creek, Louisiana; and Turkey, North Carolina
• Originally known as Macy’s Christmas Parade — to signify the launch of the Christmas shopping season — the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in New York City in 1924. It was launched by Macy’s employees and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo. Today, some 3 million people attend the annual parade and another 44 million watch it on television.
• Tony Sarg, a children’s book illustrator and puppeteer, designed the first giant hot air balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927. He later created the elaborate mechanically animated window displays that grace the façade of the New York store from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
• Snoopy has appeared as a giant balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade more times than any other character in history. As the Flying Ace, Snoopy made his sixth appearance in the 2006 parade.
• The first time the Detroit Lions played football on Thanksgiving Day was in 1934 when they hosted the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit stadium in front of 26,000 fans. The NBC radio network broadcast the game on 94 stations across the country — the first national Thanksgiving football broadcast. Since that time, the Lions have played a game every Thanksgiving (except between 1939 and 1944); in 1956, fans watched the game on television for the first time.