Like most folks, I sign on to social media while my morning coffee is brewing. On one recent morning, there was a message from Dotty Martin waiting for my attention. She wanted to know if I would be willing to write a column for the 70th anniversary of the Dispatch. I read the message, fetched my coffee and waded through the flood of memories that began to surface.
The Dispatch was the brainchild of John Kehoe. Kehoe was a local coal baron who wanted his own newspaper. He hired my grandfather William A. Watson as his editor. My grandfather was a newspaper man. The first few editions of the paper were filled with news from the wire services. My grandfather didn’t like what they were producing for the people of Greater Pittston. It lacked news from Pittston and the surrounding communities.
Wilkes-Barre and Scranton had morning and afternoon papers providing the same wire service information and they all had healthy circulations in the Greater Pittston area.
My grandfather decided to drop the wire service and cover the lives of the people living in the Greater Pittston communities. “A paper written by, for and about Greater Pittston people” was printed under the masthead and served as the papers mission.
The people who worked at the Dispatch were always the strength of the paper. When someone mentions the Dispatch to me, that’s what comes to mind. The wonderful people in the community who built the reputation of the paper. People like Dick Cosgrove, Ace O’Malley, Ed Ackerman, Ken Fenney, Kim Rebovich, Lori Nocito, Spot O’Donnell, Joe Luke, Leo Moran and Bill Corcoran, to name a few. Not to mention all the people who contributed the news from Dupont, Avoca, Duryea, Falls, Exeter, West Pittston, Wyoming, West Wyoming, Yatesville, Jenkins Twp, Pittston Twp. and the rest that I forget. Over the years, the number of contributors must number in the hundreds.
My earliest memories are from the original location of the Dispatch on Dock Street in downtown Pittston. Whenever my father had to watch my brother John and me, we always ended up at the Dispatch. For both of us, as kids, it was a cool place to visit. I could watch the Linotype machine for hours. It was a fascinating contraption that turned hot lead into the printed word. Our job was to sweep up and take the discarded lead to a collection bin.
Back in the day of numerous daily newspapers, the Dispatch proved to be a great place to earn your apprenticeship into the newspaper trades. Dozens of Greater Pittston people working at the Wilkes Barre and Scranton newspapers got their start at the Dispatch.
When Kehoe died, my grandfather and father purchased the paper from his family and continued to expand. They built a new building on New Street in Hughestown and installed the area’s first offset press. Offset presses reproduced photos much better than letterpresses and the Dispatch took full advantage of the new technology. We printed a lot of photos. There was a saying that if your photo didn’t appear in the Dispatch at least once a year, you really didn’t live here.
The Sunday Dispatch was always about Greater Pittston. A newspaper written by, for and about Greater Pittston people.
For other 70th Anniversary stories, click here.
Bill Watson and his wife the former Deb Yaniello, of Pittston Township, now own and operate a senior newspaper called “Prime Time For Seniors” in the Denver, Colorado area. The newspaper has a circulation of 50,000 monthly.