Some of the most wonderful things about Christmas are memories we hold most dear, like the smell of fresh pine while setting up the Christmas tree, getting pricked by the thorny needles as we placed our favorite ornament, albeit scratched and worn, in a distinctive spot. Somehow those scratches disappeared as the tree sparkled through the darkness. We strung as much tinsel as the budget allowed, then watched in wonder as it reflected each and every color of light that encircled the branches. It was a magical time when the sound of church bells ringing in the distance signifying the time of day took on a special meaning and the countdown to Christmas Day seemed like an eternity. The smell of the dough that Mom rolled out to make the nut and poppy seed breads filled every corner of the house while we sampled the leftover honey-filled nut filling before the monumental clean up. It was an exciting time filled with anticipation but also a quiet time of observance spent with family, friends and neighbors all wishing each other a very Merry Christmas.
1948 – 69 YEARS AGO
Zambor’s on North Main Street sold an all steel large express wagon for $5.95, a drummer boy for $.39, baby carriages for $7.95, footballs for $.98 and Noma Bubble Lite Sets for $2.75. A box of 3 ladies’ handkerchiefs could be purchased at Kresge’s for $.59.
1949 – 68 YEARS AGO
The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked, “How do you like best to spend Christmas Eve?” Joseph Colarusso, of Pittston, answered, “Well, first of all, I would like to go to midnight mass. I would like to visit my girlfriend. We could enjoy listening to the Christmas carols.” Bill Budzieka, of Pittston, stated, “I’d like to spend it with my wife and son. We could put up decorations all through the house then each of us open presents.” Joseph Brown, of Inkerman, said, “I’ll be driving bus between Baltimore and Washington D.C., but if I wasn’t working I’d probably be in Washington having a date and being out enjoying the holiday season somewhere.” Florence Kania added, “I’d like to sit home with my family and listen to carols. I would then like to finish off properly by going to midnight mass.”
It wasn’t going to be a pleasant Christmas card arriving at the doorstep of some 50 Duryea residents as the envelopes that the mailmen were dropping off contained summons to report to Alderman Joseph Katkowski for a hearing on delinquent wage tax payments. Residents had the opportunity to pay their tax obligations.
The Greco Nylon Center in Pittston offered free orchids with every purchase of extra sheer Dupont nylons. With over 10,000 pairs to choose from and over 100 styles, men were sure to find the right shade and style for the women in their lives.
The only thing those who worked at a Pittston shoe store could say about a bogus check passer was that he wore a brown tweed suit and was a smooth talker. The suspect was believed to have cashed several checks by taking advantage of the busy holiday shopping. The man gave a $20 check for a $2.79 purchase to a clerk in the Triangle Shoe Store on North Main Street which was later found to be phony. The man signed his name as John Lawlor. As police canvassed the city, it was revealed the man tried to cash checks in other shoe stores in the city.
The plan was to have Santa appear atop the Hopkins Department Store on Main Street in Avoca. To wide-eyed children, it would seem that Santa arrived in his sleigh. But as the Sunday Dispatch photographer started snapping photos, everyone turned to the cameraman and seemed more interested in getting into the photo than in Santa perched high above. After a time, Santa descended to the main floor of the building and greeted hundreds of excited youngsters.
1966 – 51 YEARS AGO
The Oregon Drillerettes, under the direction of Maria Capolarella, arrived at the Avoca airport to attend their annual Christmas party at the Dutch Pantry Restaurant located inside the terminal building. Upon arriving, they encountered 82 GIs waiting for a plane to take them to the West Coast. After the party, the girls and their moms noticed the soldiers were still waiting for their delayed flight so they decided to bring some Christmas cheer to them by distributing candy and singing Christmas carols to boost their spirits. The group planned to wait with the weary soldiers until they departed but had to leave to get the children home at a decent hour. After a stop on the West Coast, the soldiers were slated for active duty in Vietnam.
1976 – 41 YEARS AGO
Sister M. Rosaria, principal of St. John the Baptist Elementary School, asked second and third-graders to write down their favorite Christmas recipes. To add to the charm they were published in the Dec. 19 issue of the Sunday Dispatch without corrections.
These are the recipes exactly as the children wrote them:
Sally Falzone, Grade 3 – “Peantbutter Cookies – Get Peantbutter, roll into ball, put sruger on top, put in refrigerator for a little while.”
George Severnak, Grade 3 – “Cholklit Chip Cookies – 1 bag cholklit chips, 1 tsp, brown sugar, bake one hour let it stay on table 3 minutes and eat them.”
Michael Magdalinski, Grade 2 –“Cut-Out Cookies – Make dough in afternoon skwez it hard, roll it with rolling pin, put Christmas cutrs on the dough, put it in a pan, put it in the ovin. “
1982 – 35 YEARS AGO
The Nathan Denison House, built in 1790, and the Swetland Homestead, built in 1803, both located in Forty Fort, were decorated in two distinctly different styles for the Christmas holiday. The Victorian-style Swetland Homestead included a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, fresh greenery, and reflected a festive spirit. Nathan Denison and his family were puritanical Congregationalists and forbad any ostentatious adornments of Christmas in their home. However, the focus was on the Denison style of entertaining with displays of food set on tables throughout the house. Tours of both homes were being conducted for the holiday season.
Christmas Day in years past:
1776 — Patriot General George Washington crosses the Delaware River with 5,400 troops during the American Revolution. Washington hoped to surprise a Hessian force celebrating Christmas at its winter quarters in Trenton, New Jersey.
1965 — Entertainer Chris Noel gives her first performance for the USO at two hospitals in California; she became a star on Armed Forces Radio and Television, entertaining troops in Vietnam; in 1984, the Veterans Network honored her with a Distinguished Vietnam Veteran award.
1973 — U.S. astronauts onboard the Skylab space station take a seven-hour walk in space and photographed the comet Kohoutek.
1979 — Egypt begins a major restoration of the Sphinx.
1991 — Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union’s first and last executive president, resigns. The Soviet Union no longer exists.
2006 — James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul,” dies at age 73.
Those born on Christmas Day
1642 — Sir Isaac Newton, English mathematician and scientist who enunciated the laws of motion and the law of gravity.
1924 — Rod Serling, screenwriter, producer; created “The Twilight Zone” TV series.
1946 — Jimmy Buffett, singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, actor (“Margaritaville,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise”).
1948 — Barbara Mandrell, country singer; twice Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year (“Sleeping Single in a Double Bed”).
1954 — Annie Lennox, Scottish singer, songwriter, activist; a member of The Eurythmics band; winner of eight Brit Award, four Grammys, an MTV Video Music Award, a Billboard Century Award; won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Into the West” in the soundtrack of the film The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.