1949 – 69 YEARS AGO
Joan Davenport, 15, of Hughestown, was among four girls who tried out for the Springfield Sallies of the All American Girls Baseball League in 1949. Joan was scheduled to attend spring training in Florida in May 1950. It was said at the time, “she will never be another Bucky Harris, because she’s female.” Joan said her baseball ability came from her father Kenneth, a Hughestown ball player, and her mother, Elizabeth, who was “no novice at baseball herself.” Philip K. Wrigley founded the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a women’s profession baseball league, in 1943. The league was created to keep the sport alive during World War II. The league existed until 1954 and turned out to be very successful with over 600 women participating by 1948 and game attendance reaching over 900,000. A League Players’ Association organized in 1986, and gained recognition by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. The Sallies, of Springfield Illinois, joined the league in the 1948 season.
1950 – 68 YEARS AGO
The annual Kehoe-Berge Coal Company clambake was scheduled to be held at the Kehoe estate in Harding. Clams, corn freshly picked at the Kehoe farm and refreshments were on the menu. Entertaining the “thousands of coal men and old timers of the Anthracite region” were the American Legion Band of West Pittston, the Scotch band of Philadelphia and Irish band of New York, vocalists Harry Stanton, Henry Morgan, Billy Kerwin, Pat Curry, James Corbett, James Walsh, Ted Dove, Jimmy McNey and James Brady. Con McCole dispensed jokes while John J. “Butch” McDevitt was the renowned “millionaire for a day.” In its first year Kehoe-Berge Coal Company shipped over 9,000 tons of coal from its No 10 Mine in Duryea and had 164 employees. By 1942, the company shipped over 128,000 tons and had 304 employees. In 1960, Kehoe-Berge shipped 2,300 tons of coal and was down to 65 employees.
1957 – 61 YEARS AGO
Members of the Eagle Hose Company of Pittston celebrated their 100th year of the organization’s existence. Those who were instrumental in planning the centennial observance were Bernard Bender, president; Dan Bidwell, co-chairman; Thomas Burns, chairman; Ralph Vandenburg, secretary; George Naugle, vice-president; David Richardson, captain; Ben Koch, trustee, Oscar Kitzman, driver; Robert Mitchell, fire chief; Fred Fox, trustee; John Toole, assistant foreman; and William Jamieson, trustee. Originally called Pittston Hose Company No. 1, the name was changed to Eagle in 1866.
1960 – 58 YEARS AGO
Avoca American Legion Little League team members Jim Mullins, Steve Turel, Billy Gibbons, Jay Cieless, Rich Ruble, George Aldrich, Pat Feeney, Bill Baclasky, Gary Rogan, Carl Craig, John Satkowski, Joe Rogan, Mike Brogan and Tom Maciorowski had a 10-5 record for the season going into the playoffs of the Avoca Little League championship. The team came away with honors by beating the V.F.W. team. Joe Casper and assistant Ron Casper coached the Legion team to their victory.
Two large school buildings in Avoca were set to be razed. The Avoca No. 1 on Main Street and Cleveland in the Oregon section had fallen into disrepair. Joseph L. Nowakowski was contracted to dismantle Avoca No 1 and Pearage Brothers in Duryea would handle demolition of the Cleveland School.
1964 – 54 YEARS AGO
“A Hard Day’s Night” starring the Beatles was screened at the Comerford Drive-in in Dupont, Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “Rear Window” played at the Moonlite Drive-in in West Wyoming and “McHale’s Navy” was showing at the American Theatre in Pittston. Favorite television shows viewed on Sunday evenings were “Mr. Ed,” “Lassie,” “Walt Disney,” “My Favorite Martian,” “Ed Sullivan,” “Bonanza,” “Candid Camera” and “What’s My Line?”
1968—50 YEARS AGO
NOTE: Members of the Pittston Area High School Class of 1969 will celebrate their 50th anniversary reunion in August 2019. Throughout the coming months leading up to the reunion event, committee members Carmen Falcone, Mary Beth Appnell and Glenys Karpavich want to share senior highlights from the class in our Peeking into the Past column. Join us in following the class through its senior year as committee members submit various events and high points experienced throughout their final year in high school.
The new Pittston Area Senior High School in Yatesville was scheduled to open its doors for the first time on Sept. 4, 1968. Martin L. Mattei, superintendent of the Pittston Area School District, announced that classes for grades 9-12 would begin at 7:50 a.m. with dismissal at noon the first day and at 3 p.m. throughout the school year. The bus schedule was also released. High school students were to board their buses at designated times and places. Pick-up locations included Duryea Elementary, Ben Franklin in Dupont; Airport Inn, Avoca; Village Inn, Sebastopol; McAndrew’s Service Station in Pittston Junction, Cyclone Cleaners and Detato’s Market on North Main Street, Falcone Beverage on Plank Street and the intersections of South Main with Pine, Swallow, East vFrothingham, and West Oak streets in Pittston. Pittston students who lived north of Market Street and south of Parsonage Street had to walk to the rear of the Lincoln building at the top of William Street.
1969 – 49 YEARS AGO
Citing that the law specifically recognizes the telephone company as the author of the telephone directory, all the pages of the new 1969 Bell Telephone directories were copyrighted for the first time. Alexander Choman Jr., Bell’s Pittston manager, stated, “We have a proprietary interest in the directory and it is costly to produce. In the interest of our customers who are identified therein, we believe the fruits of this labor should be controlled.” The new directory had 97,769 white pages and 2,668 yellow and weighed 2 pounds 2 ounces. The Bell System, led by the Bell Telephone Company and later by AT&T, provided telephone services to much of the United States and Canada from 1877 to 1984. Considered a monopoly by the U.S. Justice Department, the company was broken up into smaller independents in 1984.
1980 – 38 YEARS AGO
With two master’s degrees in music, Arlene Kunigel, of Duryea, opened the 33rd annual Little League World Series in Williamsport by singing the National Anthem. Organized in 1947, the tournament was called the National Little League Tournament. It was later renamed the Little League Baseball World Series. Garry Sheffield, retired New York Yankees hitter, played in the 1980 Little League championships; his team lost to Chinese Taipei.
Donna Azarovich, of Pittston, received the first-ever title of “Miss Harveys Lake.” An avid water skier and excellent student at Pittston Area, she took the title based on appearance, poise and a composition she wrote on the history of the lake. According to www.harveyslake.org, from 1950 to 1964 the Harveys Lake Lions Club sponsored an annual “Lady of the Lake” beauty contest. The local contest was created to choose a possible entrant for a Lions International competition with contestants from 27 countries. In 1964, the final year of the Lions contest, Gloria Wright, of Pittston, took first runner-up. Gloria had also competed as Miss Northeastern Pennsylvania in the Miss Universe contest.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1789 — The Treasury Department, headed by Alexander Hamilton, is created in New York City.
1885 — In Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory, 28 Chinese laborers are killed and hundreds more chased out of town by striking coal miners.
1910 — Alice Stebbins Wells is admitted to the Los Angeles Police Force as the first woman police officer to receive an appointment based on a civil service exam.
1945 — Japan signs the document of surrender aboard the USS Missouri, ending World War II
1945 — Vietnam declares its independence and Nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh proclaims himself its first president.
1956 — Tennessee National Guardsmen halt rioters protesting the admission of 12 African-Americans to schools in Clinton.
1963 — Alabama Governor George Wallace calls state troopers to Tuskegee High School to prevent integration.
1963 — The U.S. gets its first half-hour TV weeknight national news broadcast when CBS Evening News expands from 15 to 30 minutes.
1970 — NASA cancels two planned missions to the moon.
BORN ON THIS DAY
1877 — Frederick Soddy, named an isotope and received the 1921 Nobel Prize for chemistry
1948 — Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian passenger on a space mission. During that mission, she and the six other crew members on the space shuttle Challenger perished in an explosion shortly after launch.
1948 — Terry Bradshaw, athlete, TV sports analyst, actor; the first quarterback to win four Super Bowls (Pittsburgh Steelers); Pro Football Hall of Fame
1951 — Mark Harmon, actor (“St. Elsewhere,” “NCIS” TV series)
1952 — Jimmy Connors, former World No. 1 tennis player; reached more Grand Slam quarterfinals than any other male.
1964 — Keanu Reeves, actor (“Speed,” “The Matrix” trilogy).
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