First Posted: 2/26/2013
In March of 1950, why did “hundreds” of Greater Pittston residents travel to Mehoopany?
1950 – 63 years ago
Three major league baseball teams, the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies “had their eye” on Billy Williams Jr., of Duryea. Williams, while pitching for the Clem’s Eagles, struck out 140 batters in 77 innings and, in 10 of those outings, struck out three men in one inning. Williams played with the Duryea Wildcats as a sophomore in high school and was a member of the Brick Methodist Church basketball team. Young Williams’ father, William Williams, played professional baseball with Warren, Ohio in the Steel League from 1919 to 1920.
Dupont High School “Coal Crackers” basketball team won the East Anthracite Conference in an “overtime thriller before the largest crowd ever to witness a game at Dupont.” The team garnered the “first cage championship” in the school’s history. Coached by Guy Costello, the team expected an even larger crowd for their district playoff game with Wyoming. High scorers were Dom Bau, Eddie Romanko, Teddy Gemzik and “Moe” Kulick.
In 1949, a letter to the editor of the Sunday Dispatch asked the question, “Why doesn’t someone organize a camera club in the area?” That letter brought about the organization of the Fort Jenkins Camera Club headed by Jack Balcomb, Newman Darby, Elihu Carr and Sidney Bugelhall, all of West Pittston. By March of 1950, the club increased to 12 members and would meet twice a month. Carr, who admitted he only had a small camera and roll of film when he joined, commented, “Now you should see any one of the group wield the Rolleiflex, Speed Graphic or Graflex. These “antique” cameras can fetch quite a sum today. Produced by Graflex in Rochester, New York, the Speed Graphic is commonly called the most famous press camera. Although the first Speed Graphic cameras were produced in 1912, production of later versions continued until 1973. Rolleiflex is the name of a long-running and diverse line of high-end cameras originally made by the German company Franke & Heidecke.
1960 – 53 years ago
Charles A. McCarthy, former president of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Greater Pittston, presented a copy of the history of the Friendly Sons from 1771 to 1892 to King’s College Library. McCarthy, who also donated books on Irish history and literature, wrote a series of articles for the Sunday Dispatch, chronicling the history of public education in the area.
The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked, “Soviet Russia is xporting small automobiles to the United States. Do you think Americans should buy these cars?” Charles Pernot, of Duyrea answered, “No, we have enough cars of our own. There’s enough money going out of this country as it is.” Ann Marie Vigilione, of Hughestown stated, “I can’t see why Americans should purchase any Russian products. They’d do better buying American products, it would put more men and women to work.” Joseph Marotto, of Exeter added, “If you ever bought a Russian car and something went wrong, you’d have a heck of a time getting into that country for a part. They’d pull down the Iron Curtain just when you needed new spark plugs or something.”
1970 – 43 years ago
To most West Pittston residents, Harry Schmaltz was the quiet, unassuming owner of an established “building” business, but one weekend a month Schmaltz made the change to Lt. Colonel and would fly off to destinations unknown. Schmaltz began his flying career in 1942 as an aviation cadet in the Army Air Force. He went on to Italy flying combat missions in a P-51 Mustang until 1945. After the war, he joined the Pa. Air National Guard, commanding a C-121 Super G. Constellation. Although flying planeloads of supplies to airbases in Vietnam held great risk, one of his worst experiences was in Leopoldville, Africa during a political upheaval when armed men surrounded his plane. Schmaltz married the former Clara Herron, of Hughestown and had four children, Harry W., Alan, Carol and Janet.
Jon McHale coached the very first Pittston Area High School swim team to be named district champions. Taking first place in the District II meet were the PA 200 yard medley team composed of Gordon Finn, Bill Healey, Chuck Masulis and Mike Wilchinski. The team set a district record time of 1:06.6. The young men were set to compete in the state championships at Penn State. We would like to know how the team faired. Call me at 602-0168.
Closing of the Pittston Catholic Elementary school was announced. Affected were 197 students from St. Rocco’s Church and St. Mary’s Help of Christians Church. Superior General Mother M. Berta Wertz I.H.M. cited a shortage of IHM personnel and noted that the consolidation of the two schools had not been successful. A study of where existing teachers would be most effective was scheduled to take place.
1980 – 33 years ago
The St. Mary’s 8th grade girl’s basketball team, coached by Marlene Mariggi and Cathy Healey, finished its season with a perfect 12-0 record. Historically, the team “spawned” most of the area’s high school basketball talent with graduates such as Seton Catholic’s Ellen Gilhooley and Pittston Area’s Janet Sheerer. Starting line-up of the team consisted of Jackie Higgins, Kay McAndrew, Lynn McCutcheon, Patty Soy and Denise Scheller.
A train pulling cars loaded with meat and butter derailed near Mehoopany and the word was out that the material was selling at substantially lower prices. Greater Pittston residents joined thousands at the site. One railroad employee commented, “I’ve never seen anything like it, when the butter was put up for sale at an astounding low price, the women in the crowd pushed and clawed like gals at a bargain sale in Gimbel’s basement.” A local man claimed he purchased a half a calf for $5.