Editor’s note: This article originally published on Dec. 2, 2012
In 1954, on a visit to his hometown, former Pittston native and major league baseball legend Bucky Harris was surprised to find many residents were upset with him for something that happened in 1948. What was it?
1954 – 63 YEARS AGO
The Sunday Dispatch distributed the annual football supplement on Dec. 1. The following week the Dispatch published an apology for the lack of photos of the Pittston Central Catholic football team, band, majorettes and cheerleaders. The apology went on to explain that the omission of the photos was not an oversight on the part of the staff, but unavoidable as the school had placed a “no picture ban” on Dispatch photographers. The school’s ban against the Dispatch began when the paper “took Central’s coaches to task” for interfering with the paper’s “representatives” at an earlier game.
In the Dispatch “Ramblin’ Round Our Town with the Editor” column, local residents were given credit for some unique “Famous Sayings.” Herman Eisen, of Pittston, told Jimmy Polka how to stay out of arguments, “Just remember it takes two to argue, so you keep quiet.” Art Fulagar, a confirmed bachelor and member of the Pittston VFW, was quoted as saying, “Many a go getter is afterwards sorry he gotter.” Jimmy Heffron, of Plank Street, uttered these prolific words, “Self preservation is the first law of nature, but too many people act as if it were the only one.” Jim Murphy, of Church Street, commented, “An old timer is a fellow who can remember when cars and telephones had to be cranked.”
Larry Delaney, of Pittston, was stationed in Germany with the 6910th Security Group of the United States Air Force and led the base touch football team to Eastern Division honors. Son of Larry Delaney Sr., a Pittston police officer, Delaney scored several touchdowns, taking his Arrowheads team to a 43-0 blow out and grabbing the Germany-Austria title.
Yatesville residents and members of borough council were scratching their heads over the disappearance of all the desks and some of the chairs from the borough school building. No forced entry was evidenced and an investigation did not produce any trace of the missing items. Borough officials suspected an unknown thief who had previously stolen tires off a truck while it was parked in the borough garage.
1964 – 53 YEARS AGO
The West Pittston School District joined several other districts in the Southeastern section of Pennsylvania to fight the impending merger of the Pittston and Northeast School Districts. The controversial Act 299, mandating the merger, was to go before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court because it was deemed unconstitutional. According to the Pennsylvania School Board Association, 2,277 school districts were in existence in the 1959-1960 school year. Despite the mergers and jointures of the middle 1960s, 669 districts still operated from 1969-1970. By 1981, the number held at 501. In 2009, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell opened discussions on mandating additional mergers to reduce existing school districts to 100.
Cub Scout Pack 303 of St. Rocco’s R.C. Church met for the first time. Cub Master Louis DeGrose along with den mothers Josephine Alfano and Jane DeGrose started with 16 boys and hoped to expand the group as more den mothers volunteered. Organizing members included Charles Calabro, Angelo Schifano, Danny Dantone, Clifford Mansley, Joseph Murphy, and Carmen Alu.
The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked, “How do you think the cars of today compare with cars of former years?” George Legezdh, of Dupont, answered, “They are 100 percent better. The only thing wrong is they don’t build the bodies like they used to.” Charles Galante, of Browntown, added, “Today’s body styles are knockouts but bodies of years ago were much stronger.”
1974 – 43 YEARS AGO
The Wyoming Area senior girls had the opportunity to receive scholarships ranging from $550 to $5,000 by taking the Betty Crocker American Homemakers of Tomorrow test. Sponsored by General Mills, the contest offered the girls an opportunity to participate in a national competition, receive a scholarship and enable each state winner’s school to receive a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. The program offered educational grants totaling $111,000. In September 1954, General Mills announced the program. The written exam tested girls on their family relationships, spiritual and moral values, child development and care, health and safety, utilization and conservation, money management, recreation and use of leisure time, home care beautification, community participation, and continuing education. The program ended in 1976.
Upon the 30th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, World War II veterans Ralph Pup and George Parrick, of Pittston, and John Basta, of Wyoming, joined other comrades in touring the European cities they fought in during the conflict. Fought on Dec. 16, 1944, the battle was a major element in General George S. Patton’s plans to march into Bastogne in Belgium and break German strongholds along the way. With about 610,000 committed soldiers, Americans suffered 89,000 casualties, including 19,000 killed. The Battle of the Bulge was the largest and bloodiest battle fought on western front during World War II.
The 1974 Thanksgiving Day match up between Pittston Area and Wyoming Area football teams attracted close to 8,000 fans and held the lowest score in the history of the game. What happened during the game that created another first in history that year?
1984 – 33 YEARS AGO
After undergoing a 1.1 million dollar 11-month renovation project, the Water Street Bridge connecting Pittston and West Pittston re-opened. West Pittston Women’s Club members Greta Whyte, Justine Haddow and Helen Bubul were especially proud because their club initiated public interest in the need for bridge repairs. Senator Ray Musto, Representatives Thomas Tigue and Frank Coslett, West Pittston Mayor Merle Bainbridge and Pittston Mayor Thomas Walsh were present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Musician and Pittston resident Bob Bath and Hughestown drummer Rich Kossuth collaborated on a 12-song album entitled “Traces of Illusion.” Fusing their heavy metal, jazz and rock styles, Bath and Kossuth combined their talents to create interesting and innovative patterns and rhythms utilizing their improvisational skills. Bath played guitar, bass and keyboard, Kossuth drums and percussion, Bill Kossuth added keyboards on two of the twelve tracks, Joe Limongelli played bass on four songs and Dewey Vasquez played slide guitar on one song. A review from the album jacket stated “The tracks of this recording are new and innovative. These musicians have dared to play their inner feelings with unrelenting enthusiasm and skill.”
In 1948, Pittston’s Elk Pony League champions traveled to New York to take in a Yankees game and hoped to get a chance to meet Yankee manager and baseball legend Bucky Harris. Under the impression Harris knew they were attending that day, kids and coaches alike were disappointed at not being recognized by their hometown hero. During a 1954 visit to Pittston, Harris was confronted by his hometown residents regarding the supposed snub. He said he wasn’t aware of the team’s presence, and if he had been, would have made the boys and their coaches feel at home. It was surmised that someone in the Pony League forgot to send Harris a letter stating their plans. All was forgiven and Harris’ local “snob” status was eradicated. During his lifetime, Harris was a Major League baseball player, manager and executive.
Defensive players Jim Carmody, Ken Detato, Charlie Yurkon, Mark Kelly, Sam Sakocius and George Mazur for Wyoming Area and John Licata, Rocco Barge, Mike Piorkowski and Phil Dunn for Pittston Area contributed to making the 1974 Thanksgiving Day match up the lowest scoring game in the history of the annual contest. Wyoming Area kicker Ken Detato became the only player to kick a field goal in the eight-year history of the games. WA held its 3-0 lead up to the third period when PA’s quarterback Lou Marinangeli rifled a pass to Kevin Duffy for the game’s only touchdown. The final score: 7-3.