Peeking into the Past: Twelve men didn’t make it out of the Knox Mine

Peeking into - the Past - Judy Minsavage
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The Pittston Area basketball team competed in the Wyoming Valley League for the first time in 1972. The team formerly competed in the Lackawanna League and took the championship in 1971. Players were, from left, first row, Junior Bellanco, Jim Castellino, Dave Sellers, John Watson, Joe Pacuska, Ray Musto, Oren Breymeier. Second row, John Gallagher, coach; Frank Licata, Jack Rava, Tony Zalendonis, Ed Robbins, Jim Cefalo, Rob Finnerty, Jerry Wycallis, assistant coach. -

Question

What items were residents of Railroad Street in Pittston and Francis Linnen, Pittston police chief, setting on fire in 1952?

1952 – 66 YEARS AGO

Bingo pinball machines, sometimes called Bright Lights or Bright Spots, were being moved back into the city of Pittston. A few weeks earlier, Pittston Mayor John Allardyce issued an official ban against the Bingo pinball machines after receiving complaints about youngsters being “fleeced” while playing the fast-action machines. At the time, even though the machines were licensed, the mayor sent city police to establishments to remove them. After choosing a reliable distributor for the machines, businesses were allowed to move the machines back into establishments for a charge of $15 annually for the first machine and $10 annually for additional machines.

Two intoxicated fellows aged 16 and 18 were brought before Judge W.A. Valentine and admitted they drank alcoholic beverages at beer gardens in Upper Luzerne County. With that, the Luzerne County District Attorney, sheriff and probation offices and Liquor Control Board announced the “flying squads” concept to curb establishments from serving minors. Along with surrounding areas, Pittston proprietors were warned by Mayor John Allardyce that the squads would turn up announced any time of the day to be sure no minors were in the bar.

1953 – 65 YEARS AGO

A tax assessment of the abandoned Exeter Colliery led to a court hearing. The Lehigh Valley Coal Company, owner of the colliery, contended that the coal left underground could not be mined at a profit so they wanted the $188,000 valuation dropped. Local representatives did not agree to the company’s request to drop the whole valuation. School representatives argued that, if the mine was valueless, the property should be surrendered to the borough and school district for “surface support.” That suggestion was dismissed by county assessors. It was agreed that a new assessment of $151,000 be placed on the property. It was estimated that the abandoned colliery mines contained 3 ½ to 5 million tons of removable coal. But the company felt the cost of mining the coal prohibitive.

Sgt. Alyce S. Banelis, of Pittston, was one of the U.S. Women Marines who took part in the inaugural parade of Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, D.C. Nearly 20,000 members of the armed services participated in the parade and fly-over of the president’s reviewing stand in front of the White House. The problems facing Eisenhower as he took the oath of office were the Korean conflict, Russia and the dread of the “atomic” bomb. “Soon, even little countries will have a stockpile of these bombs, and then we will be in a mess,” exclaimed President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the spring of 1954.

1959 – 59 YEARS AGO

On Jan. 22, 1959, Joe Stella, a surveyor for the Pennsylvania Coal Co., was spending his first day in the Knox Mine. A few minutes after sharing a sandwich with Myron Thomas in the Pittston vein substation, he found himself in a struggle to survive, along with 84 other men. Seventy-two would make it out of the flooded mine; 12 others would remain entombed forever. In 1989, upon the 30-year anniversary of the day the Susquehanna River broke through the river slope mine of the Knox Mine Company, Stella and Amadeo Pancotti, Carnegie Medal for heroism recipient, reflected on the events of the day.

Mrs. James Cosgrove, chairperson of the March of Dimes Mother’s March, met with fellow committee members Mrs. George Nagy, Mrs. Sabatina Battisti, Mrs. Leo Scoda, Mrs. Ky Levin, and Mrs. Anthony Narvid to plan the local event. The first national Mother’s March was introduced in 1950. In 1952, Dr. Virginia Apgar developed the “Apgar Score,” a clinical system of evaluating the physical condition of newborns at birth. Dr. Apgar joined the March of Dimes fight against polio in 1959.

A rib-end pork roast at Detato’s Supermarket, Pittston, sold for 33 cents per pound. Sam Maira Style Creators on Main Street, Pittston, sold men’s suits for $30 and “Perry Como” sweaters for $6.95. Barton’s Furniture on South Main offered hotel-type mattresses and box springs from $44.95 each. Mary Pirella’s Beauty Shop on LaGrange Street in Pittston advertised a “perm” for $5 with wash, cut and set.

1972 – 46 YEARS AGO

Rosedell Dress Shop on North Main Street in Pittston advertised hot pants for $3, hot pant outfits for $12 and Bobbie Brooks shifts for $8.80. Detato’s Food Center offered sirloin steaks for 99 cents per pound, Porterhouse steak for $1.19 per pound and sliced bacon for 69 cents per pound.

The Pittston Area School District, in conjunction with Wilkes College, implemented the non-graded education plan in the Jefferson Elementary School. A feature of the program was to remove grade levels, allowing teachers to tailor programs to the individual child. The major purpose of the curriculum was to enable students to acquire and develop skills, understandings, attitudes and values that would help each child achieve success in learning and further boost the student’s self-confidence.

1979 – 39 YEARS AGO

The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked, “Who do you like in the Super Bowl?” John Callaio, of Pittston, answered, “Pittsburgh is a touchdown better.” Joe Ciampi, of West Pittston, added, “Pittsburgh, they’re all defense.” Mrs. Jean Elko stated, “The final score will be 8-0, Dallas.” In Super Bowl XIII, the Steelers defeated the Cowboys by the score of 35–31. The game was played on Jan. 21, 1979, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, the fifth and last time the Super Bowl was played in that building.

1988 – 30 YEARS AGO

Adam Montville, of Pittston, was one of 120 veterans selected to participate in a study of ear implants for the profoundly deaf. A revolutionary electronic device, the Cochlear implant surgically implanted in the ear provided electrical impulses to the auditory nerve, which transmitted impulses to the brain. Montville would travel to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan for at least two to five years after the surgery to track the benefits of the implant. Due to the success of early studies and volunteers like Adam Montville, the Department of Veterans Affairs has helped many veterans who are profoundly deaf through their Cochlear Implant Program.

Answer

In 1952, it was discovered that particular sweaters available in stores in the Pittston area would ignite when near an open flame and be consumed by flames in a matter of seconds. Along with the Pittston Police Chief Francis Linnen, Joseph Volpe, Sandy LaFoca, Andrew Sciandra, Charles Costanza and other Pittston residents wanted to visually bring the danger to the attention of consumers. It was discovered that “brushed rayon” contained in the fabric of the sweaters, was highly volatile. The Flammable Fabrics Act was passed in 1953 to regulate the manufacture of highly flammable clothing, such as brushed rayon sweaters and children’s cowboy chaps. In 1967, Congress amended the Flammable Fabrics Act to expand its coverage to include interior furnishings as well as paper, plastic, foam and other materials used in wearing apparel and interior furnishings. In several studies, hysteria and unexplained mental illness due to the fumes of carbon disulfide used in the manufacture of rayon caused mental illness and paralysis in those working in the industry.

This day in history

1785 — Chippewa, Delaware, Ottawa and Wyandot Indians sign the treaty of Fort McIntosh, ceding present-day Ohio to the United States.

1790 — Joseph Guillotine proposes a new, more humane method of execution: a machine designed to cut off the condemned person’s head as painlessly as possible.

1793 — The French King Louis XVI is guillotined for treason.

1921 — J.D. Rockefeller pledges $1 million for the relief of Europe’s destitute.

1930 — An international arms control meeting opens in London.

1943 — A Nazi daylight air raid kills 34 in a London school. When the anticipated invasion of Britain failed to materialize in 1940, Londoners relaxed, but soon they faced a frightening new threat.

1951 — Communist troops force the UN army out of Inchon, Korea after a 12-hour attack.

1958 — The Soviet Union calls for a ban on nuclear arms in Baghdad Pact countries.

1974 — The U.S. Supreme Court decides pregnant teachers can no longer be forced to take long leaves of absence.

Born on this day

1737 — Ethan Allen, American Revolutionary commander

1824 — Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate General

1925 — Benny Hill, British comedian

https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_Judy-Minsavage.CMYK_-2.jpg

The Pittston Area basketball team competed in the Wyoming Valley League for the first time in 1972. The team formerly competed in the Lackawanna League and took the championship in 1971. Players were, from left, first row, Junior Bellanco, Jim Castellino, Dave Sellers, John Watson, Joe Pacuska, Ray Musto, Oren Breymeier. Second row, John Gallagher, coach; Frank Licata, Jack Rava, Tony Zalendonis, Ed Robbins, Jim Cefalo, Rob Finnerty, Jerry Wycallis, assistant coach.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_1972-PA-BASKETBALL-WYOMING-LEAGUE.jpgThe Pittston Area basketball team competed in the Wyoming Valley League for the first time in 1972. The team formerly competed in the Lackawanna League and took the championship in 1971. Players were, from left, first row, Junior Bellanco, Jim Castellino, Dave Sellers, John Watson, Joe Pacuska, Ray Musto, Oren Breymeier. Second row, John Gallagher, coach; Frank Licata, Jack Rava, Tony Zalendonis, Ed Robbins, Jim Cefalo, Rob Finnerty, Jerry Wycallis, assistant coach.

Peeking into

the Past

Judy Minsavage