Maria Remembers


First Posted: 5/30/2013

It’s time to write and I don’t have anything to write about!

There must be a feeling in the heart and in the brain before the words can be put on paper. I feel as though my bones are going one way and my brain the other. I sit here staring, asking the Holy Spirit for inspiration.

I recall a few years ago this happened and I talked to the paper clip icon that was on the screen. Somehow, we got through the column. Several weeks later, I received a telephone call from John Marino from Dupont Monumen, telling me that he had fashioned the paper clip icon on a piece of granite with the words inscribed “C’Mon, Maria, You Can Do it.”

That memento sits on my computer desk where I see it daily. It serves as a reminder of many things but mainly John and what a gentleman he is. I met him in the late 1970s when the Bicentennial Committee was planning to erect a coal miner statue in observance of America’s 200th birthday. He made our job much easier by taking full responsibility of the design, contacts and materials.

There wasn’t a prouder father than Louie Marino, a member of the committee on the day that most meaningful statue was uncovered and dedicated. It was a joyous and emotional day. I recall Matthew Granteed watching with a look of pride and appreciation on his face and tears in his eyes.

The Coal Miner Statue which stands on North Main Street serves as a tribute to the many men who labored in the coal mines. Mining was hard, dangerous and the lif line of many families in the Valley. When driving by the statue, I say hello and am reminded of the people who were the heart of this project: Louie Marino, George DeGuerolomo, John DeRossa, Frank Lenza, Angelo Marcino, Joe Nardone, Jerry Mullarkey and Judge Joseph Augello.

The paper clip icon has shared the struggles, laughter and tears entwined in my articles and will understand this. Last Saturday, while attending a memorial service honoring veterans of all wars at the Samuel Miceli Veterans Park, I was emotionally filled with a sense of loss and a feeling of pride – loss for all those who gave their lives for our freedom and pride in all who serve and have served in this quest.

Samuel Miceli, my uncle for whom the park is named, served in the U.S. Army during World War II. After retirement, Uncle Sam returned to the Valley to take up residence and became active in the community and, especially, veterans affairs. He became a member of the Nino Montante DAV Post #46. Through his efforts and the cooperation of Mayor Thomas Walsh and members of the Pittston City Council the ground, was dedicated a veterans park.

Uncle Sam’s vision for the park was to line it with cherry blossom and dogwood trees in memory of and dedicated to fallen comrades. When the trees were planted, there was no water supply so Uncle Sam filled containers of water and each day tended to their care. Not many trees were lost due to his determination and labor of love. What a glorious sight and legacy to see the trees in full bloom in early May.

The Memorial Day ceremony held yearly at the park was conducted by the American Legion Post 477. complete with honor guard, gun salute, raising of the American flag and the playing of Taps. Joseph Savokinus, chaplain, coordinated and served as chairman of the well-attended program.

Friends who came to honor our service people and to remember Uncle Sam are Judge Joseph Augello, Judge Fred Pierontoni, former Representive Tom Tigue, Chris Latonna, City Controller Jim and Judy Deice, Tony Bianco and Michael Delconti, members of the Luzerne County Italian American Association and Chester Montante, Nino Montante Post46.

The paper clip icon has nothing to do with this incident but, perhaps Ed. Ackerman’s belief in signs does. Last week, Chet and I visited Dr. Renee Monahan’s office for a hearing aid adjustment. Dr. Monahan inquired about our plans for Memorial Day. We responded it would be quiet. She, in turn, offered with a glowing look that she would be busy at the opening of their library which is located in White Haven. Pictures of the restored stone structure appeared with the explanation that the building was used for needed train engine repairs as passengerws passed through White Haven.

“Come,” she said. Her enthusiasm opened many memories. Sure enough, I asked my Marilyn if she would drive us to White Haven. She obliged and I was thrilled, for it meant a road trip through country roads and quality time with my daughter. I was in awe of the beauty of the mountains, the color of the sky, the willowy clouds and the magnificence of the Francis Walter Dam.

The exterior of the restored building is commanding as are the grounds. What most touched my heart was the enthusiasm and pride of the volunteers responsible for the accomplishment. I was feeling it for them and remembered our hometown people who, in 1970, responded to a notice in the Sunday Dispatch to attend a meeting to revitalize our little library that was located in one room on the second floor of Pittston City Hall.

I will call them first responders for they came to the first meeting and never left: Carmen Uritz, Bobby and Jean Linskey, Jean Campbell, Joe Luke and me.

Finally, the paper clip icon and I wish a very remarkable man a happy 94th birthday. His zest for life, love of God, family and golf are inspirational. He is a joy! Best wishes to my husband, Chester Montante.

P.S. Thanks, John.

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