1949 – 69 YEARS AGO
Pittston High School planned to resume activity on the local baseball scene after a lapse of close to 20 years. Team coach Art O’Malley expected, with all the local talent participating in league play, that the team would be one of the finest in the area. O’Malley asked residents to help in finding team members of the last team to play for the high school so they could honor them at the first game of the season.
According to a report of the Pittston High School Athletic Association, football was the most lucrative sport in the program. The report noted income of all sports as $14,183.95 in the period from 1948 to 1949 and, of that amount, $12,000 represented football receipts. Basketball revenue paled in comparison as the report stated one game produced $81.30 in ticket sales, while football could garner as much as $2,000 a game, especially for the Pittston-West Pittston match-ups. Expenses incurred for the football games included paying the visiting teams, officials, police officers, park rental, insurance, ticket takers and sellers, equipment, transportation and taxes, leaving the athletic club with a balance of $5,724.49. According to the US Inflation Calculator, that amount would equate to $58,952.39 today.
1952 – 66 YEARS AGO
The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked, “Do you think that women automobile drivers have increased or lessened the perils of driving the highways?” Paul Keim, of West Pittston, answered, “I think they have added to the perils. A woman will usually pull out in traffic without signaling. They don’t seem to have the same driving ability that men do.” Michael Baccanari, of Pittston, stated, “They have increased them. They drive too slow in maneuvering in traffic. I would say this constitutes a hazard. It indicates they have poor judgement.” Mrs. Worthy Hood, of Pittston, stated, “I think they have made the highways safer. They are far more considerate than men and make more polite drivers. They don’t drive as fast as men and don’t have as many accidents.”
1953 – 65 YEARS AGO
Evelyn Reese, of Exeter, commander of the Joan of Arc American Legion Post, the only Post in the Wyoming Valley comprised of ex-servicewomen, received a citation from the Department of Pennsylvania American Legion in recognition for her service and her work in producing bi-weekly shows in area hospitals. Reese enlisted in the WACs in 1944 and received her basic training at Fort Oglethorpe, GA. She was assigned to Fort Meade, MD where her main task was to drive convoy trucks transporting troops.
Two heavy duty D&H steam locomotives being hauled to the Bethlehem Steel Company for scrap stopped at the Coxton Yards. The two locomotives were the last of the steam engines being replaced by modern efficient diesels. The nameplates on the locomotives indicated the engines were less than 10 years old. The Coxton Yard roundhouse originally had 32 stalls accommodating the steam engines, but by 1953, the stalls had been sealed and the locomotives replaced by fewer more powerful diesel engines. In 1698, Thomas Savery, an English military engineer, had been working on solving the problem of pumping water out of coal mines when he came up with an idea for an engine powered by steam. The first diesel locomotive appeared on the Central Railroad of New Jersey in 1925 and on the New York Central in 1927.
1964 – 54 YEARS AGO
The lobby of the Pittston YMCA needed sprucing up but funds were not available for the project, so members of Pittston Local 488 Painters and Decorators Jasper Butera, Frank Solano, Sam Talipan, Emilio Casagrande, Sam Daley and Robert Parrick volunteered their time to give the lobby a fresh coat of paint.
1972 – 46 YEARS AGO
A party was held at the Fox Hill Country Club to celebrate the silver anniversary of the Sunday Dispatch. Editor Bill Watson Sr. began his career as a Pittston correspondent for the Times Leader Evening News until 1943 when he entered the Army. He served as a combat infantryman in Germany until the end of World War II. Once home, Watson returned to the Times Leader working in its Wilkes-Barre office. After a short time, Watson partnered with John Kehoe and founded the Sunday Dispatch in 1947.
1973 – 47 yEARS AGO
Catherine Russavage and John Haduck, playing the trombone and baritone horn, respectively, were two of many Pittston Area Senior High School band and chorus students participating in the district band festival sponsored by the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. Lt. Cdr. A.A. Mitchell, former conductor of the U.S. Navy Band in Washington DC, was guest conductor. According to the association’s website PMEA.net, early in the 1970s the association’s goals switched to mini courses and a core curriculum so every child could receive musical education.
The radio show, “Just for Today,” premiered in 1953 on WPTS radio in the Newrose Building South Main Street, Pittston. In 1973, Pastor D.R. Williams, his wife Jean, pianist Jean Gothard and Calvin Straub celebrated the 20th year of the devotional program. The show began with a familiar organ arpeggio. The pastor and his wife would sing a hymn after which a devotional message was read during the 15-minute program.
1983 – 35 YEARS AGO
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, Pittston Area High School observed the occasion with a 600-student program initiated by music teacher Marianna Smith at Martin Mattei Elementary School. Performers included elementary pre-band, fifth and sixth-grade chorus, junior high band and chorus, senior high band and stage band and a chorus comprised of parents and students. “We teach music appreciation classes in elementary and junior high, and offer music electives in senior high,” stated Mrs. Smith. “We are getting full support from the administrators; we are involving everyone.” By seeing the parents participating, students will realize music continues after their high school days.”
Nadean C. Graziosi, of Avoca, began her career at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in 1977. In 1983, she was named the manager of the Federal Women’s Program at the Depot. She served as an equal employment opportunity specialist and insured employment rights for the depot’s more than 600 female employees. The Women’s Program was established in 1963 to implement the recommendations of President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women. The commission, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, looked into problems that women encountered in employment in the federal Ggovernment.
2002 – 16 YEARS AGO
It was the St. Louis Rams vs. the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI scheduled to be played at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Four hundred and sixty local residents predicted a Rams’ win over 233 residents who predicted a Patriots’ win. The New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl by defeating the Rams, 20–17, when kicker Adam Vinatieri made a game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired. The Rams had been 14-point favorites to win the game, making the Patriots’ victory one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. This year will markthe 10th Super Bowl appearance for the Patriots.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1787 — Shay’s Rebellion, an uprising of debt-ridden Massachusetts farmers against the new U.S. government, fails.
1789 — George Washington is unanimously elected the first president of the United States by the Electoral College. He will be unanimously elected again in 1792 and will remain the only U.S. president in history to receive the totality of electoral votes. [From MHQ—the Quarterly Journal of Military History]
1795 — France abolishes slavery in her territories and confers citizenship on the slaves.
1889 — Harry Longabaugh is released from Sundance Prison in Wyoming, thereby acquiring the famous nickname, “The Sundance Kid.”
1906 — The New York Police Department begins fingerprint identification.
1909 — California law segregates Caucasian and Japanese schoolchildren.
1932 — Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurates the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, N.Y.
1941 — The United Service Organizations (U.S.O.) is formed to entertain armed forces members and their families.
1944 — The Japanese attack the Indian Seventh Army in Burma.
1974 — Newspaper heiress Patty Hearst is kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, beginning one of the most bizarre cases in FBI history.
1980 — Syria withdraws its peacekeeping force in Beirut.
1986 — The U.S. Post Office issues a commemorative stamp featuring Sojourner Truth.
THOSE BORN TODAY
1902 — Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic.
1906 — Clyde Tombaugh, astronomer, discovered Pluto.
1913 — Rosa Lee Parks, civil rights activist.
1921 — Betty Friedan, writer, feminist; founded the National Organization of Women in 1966.
1947 — Dan Quayle, vice president under President George H.W. Bush.