In 1953, an exciting event would produce “Pittston’s First Voice.” What was it?
1959 – 59 YEARS AGO
Duryea resident John Runski, chief personnel officer of the Flag Administrative Unit U.S. Navy, retired after 20 years of service. The recipient of many medals, ribbons and citations, Runski was first assigned to the USS New York in 1939. During World War II, he participated in the battle of Saipan, the invasion of Leyte in the Philippines and the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In 1945, while serving aboard the USS Newcomb a DD-586 Fletcher class destroyer, seven kamikazes descended on the ship. According to destroyerhistory.org, “as many as five” hit the vessel. Runski survived the attack, but 40 of his crew members were killed and 24 injured.
1964 – 54 YEARS AGO
“South Pacific” was screened at the Comerford Drive-in, Dupont and “The Prize” with Paul Newman played at the Moonlite Drive-in in West Wyoming. Popular Sunday evening television shows included “Amateur Hour,” “Twentieth Century,” “Mister Ed,” “Lassie,” “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “Bonanza.”
“Where are they now?” was the question being asked by the Sunday Dispatch regarding the members of the Duryea Teeners Orchestra. In 1964, the group was remembered as winning the 1954 National Amateur Championship on the “Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour” in New York. Founder Charles “Masters” Mustinski led the talented musicians to the victory before 15,000 people at Madison Square Garden. The group also had the opportunity to perform at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. Sadly, after graduation, members of the group parted ways and on the 10th anniversary of their championship year, the Dispatch was searching for the talented musicians. Members of the 1954 Duryea Teeners Orchestra were Bernard Kasulis, Richard Cimakosky, Paul Dunay, Gene Kobal, John Bachkosky, Richard Coolbaugh, Ronald Swenton, Veronica Kashuba, Leonard Vrabel, Andrew Wasta, Martina Balchune, Ronald Gallagher, Bernard Pernot, William Patalon and Paul Butrymowicz.
1972 – 46 YEARS AGO
Top Ten Songs of 1972
1. “Sylvia’s Mother” – Dr. Hook
2. “I Saw the Light” – Todd Rungdren
3. “Hot Rod Lincoln” – Commander Cody
4. “Little Bitty Pretty One” – Jackson 5
5. “Where is the Love” – Robert Flack and Donny Hathaway
6. “I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All” – 5th Dimension
7. “It’s Gonna Take Some Time” – Carpenters
8. “I Need You” – America
9. “Song Sung Blue” – Neil Diamond
10. “Nice to Be With You” – Gallery
For $25 plus tax, Pittston Area and Wyoming Area students could order their 1973 and 74 class rings from Nocera’s Jewelers in Exeter and have it ready to wear at the beginning of the school year.
Several people in West Pittston did not believe it at first, but Englebert Humperdinck was in fact at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Soricelli on York Avenue home in West Pittston. The singer’s East Coast manager was in the area visiting friends and brought Humperdinck along. As word spread about the famous singer’s whereabouts, Humperdinck began signing autographs and soon traffic backed up and parking was at a premium. Meanwhile, Councilman and Mrs. Ray Crisci were on a scavenger hunt with members of the First Methodist Church. The hunt took them to York Avenue. They encountered a car blocking the entrance to the avenue and asked the Soricellis to move the vehicle. When informed that Humperdinck was inside the residence, Crisci, in disbelief, continued to press for the removal of the car. Crisci entered the residence to find Humperdinck indeed there, at which time the star signed Crisci’s scavenger hunt list. A special autograph was given to the Soricellis which read, “Mary, please buy some of my albums instead of Tom Jones.” Unfortunately, the Soricellis had none of the star’s albums, but had a few of Tom Jones’ albums.
1974 – 44 YEARS AGO
Topps Chewing Gum Inc. presented baseball legend Willie Mays with the largest piece of bubble gum in the world, a specially made giant size equal to over 10,000 pieces of the popular bubble gum. Plant employees honored Mays at a ceremony in June 1974, citing his contribution to inspiring children throughout the country. Sy Berger, sports director, responsible for all sports cards issued by the company, was also in charge of the company’s extensive baseball awards programs encouraging young players of the game.
1979 – 39 YEARS AGO
After winning the AAA title in the Wyoming Valley Conference and the District 2 PIAA Triple A crown, the Wyoming Area girls softball team traveled to Reading to participate in the state championships. Although they were not successful in obtaining the championship title, the girls, most of whom were underclassmen, were already looking forward to the 1989 season. Team members were Ann Taddei, Karen Kichilinsky, Gina Granteed, Barbara Yunkunis, Karen Rome, Donna Angeli, Cindy Weiskerger, Ann Holland, Jamie Harned, Michele Porasky, Sharon Manganiello, Sherie Carbino, Suzanne Christian, Carol Lepore, Ann DeGraba, Lynn Kichilinsky, Kenley Hoats, Jackie James and Sue Newman. Sandy Chiampi was the team’s coach.
1984 – 34 YEARS AGO
Over 300 sixth-graders entered the annual Greater Pittston Jaycees Father’s Day Essay Contest founded by Wil Toole in honor of his late father, Edward. Out of the many entrees, 13-year-old Adam Norwig took the top prize for his touching essay dedicated to his adoptive father Bill. Bill and his wife Carol, who had adopted a Korean girl, Tamara, two years earlier, opened their home and hearts to Adam who was born in Seoul, Korea. For his prize-winning testament, Adam received a $50 savings bond and plaque. In an excerpt from his essay Adam wrote, “This weekend dad took me on a fishing trip with a few men from our church and they all made me feel special because dad tells me I am much more than adopted. I am accepted and loved. I am one of the family and part of each one.”
The formal opening of WPTS Radio Station in Pittston on June 21, 1953 produced “Pittston’s First Voice” scheduled to be heard at 11:44 a.m. WPTS was billed as” Northeastern Pennsylvania’s most modern radio station covering nearly a million listeners with 1000 watts of power at 1540 on the radio dial.” Daily broadcasting was scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. and sign off at 9 p.m. The first WPTS staff consisted of Angelo Fiorini, general manager and president; Frank Silva, station manager; Mrs. A.W. Fiorini, treasurer; Mrs. Rosemary Gallagher, secretary; John McGoldrich, executive engineer; James Pettinato, chief engineer; Charles Morgan, transmitter engineer; Al Costelli, account executive; Russ Andalore, musical director. Staff and radio announcers included J. Harold Flannery, Jr., Joseph Tipton, Claude Martin, Joseph Noack, Martin Sutkowski, Josephine Fiore, traffic manager; Ruth Goodman, promotion manager and Ann D’Nardi, receptionist. Established in 1953 by Angelo and Rose Fiorini, the Midway Broadcasting Company, Inc. sold the WPTS radio station in 1975.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1856 — The Republican Party opens its first national convention in Philadelphia.
1932 — The U.S. Senate defeats the Bonus Bill as 10,000 veterans mass around the Capitol.
1950 — Surgeon Richard Lawler performs the first kidney transplant operation in Chicago.
1963 — The U.S. Supreme Court bans the required reading of the Lord’s prayer and Bible in public schools.
1972 — Five men are arrested for burglarizing Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.
1994 — Millions of Americans watch former football player O.J. Simpson, facing murder charges, being driven in his Ford Bronco through Los Angeles, followed by police.
1742 — William Hooper, signer of the Declaration of Independence
1882 — Igor Stravinsky, Russian-born U.S. composer (“The Rite of Spring,” “The Firebird”)
1914 — John Hersey, novelist and journalist (“Men on Bataan,” “Hiroshima”).
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