Peeking into the Past: Giving back in the ’80s and ’90s began with Engelbert

Peeking into the Past - Judy Minsavage

1951 – 64 years ago

W. Arthur Fullager, commander of Fort Pittston Post VFW, authorized a donation to a Christmas fund set up for Pittston’s Heavy Mortar Co. of the 109th Infantry Regiment stationed in Germany. The 109th set sail on sea transport vessels General Haan and General Muir in November 1951. The troops disembarked at Bremerhaven, Germany nine days later. The money was used to provide presents from home.

Bill Kupcho, of Duryea, returned home from serving with the SeaBees in the U.S. Navy in World War II and starting working in the mines. Soon after, when building materials became more available, he decided to open his own woodworking business. He started by building kitchen cabinets, bars and booths for local tap rooms. His neighbor, John Vanko, also a returning World War II veteran, joined the business. Both men completed the woodwork in the Rendezvous Restaurant, Pittston, constructed and installed bars in Boyers, Dupont; The Midway, Dupont and Mickey’s in Duryea. Kupcho enlisted in the service in 1943 and served in the Pacific Theatre before being discharged. Vanko entered the service in 1942 and served with distinction in the African and Italian campaigns. He received the Bronze Medal for heroism for rescuing 11 wounded soldiers in Italy.

1961 – 54 years ago

The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photogapher asked, “What do you think of the new dance, the Twist?” Anthony Zelinski, of Dupont, answered, “I think it’s the best dance that has come along in a long time. I wouldn’t recommend it to older people, though.” Eleanor Ryzner, of Duryea, stated, “I think if I were a little younger, I’d learn to do it myself,” and Thomas McKeon, of Pittston, added, “You’d have to have darned good wind to keep it up for any length of time.” The Twist was originally written and released by Frank Ballard and the Moonlighters in 1959. Dick Clark arranged for the re-release of the Chubby Checker version in 1960. The song became popular world-wide, along with the dance.

Joanne Solerno, of West Pittston, was notified she passed her state board examination to teach beauty culture. She was employed at the Pomeroy’s Department Store beauty salon.

Jane Marsola, Peter Dopkin, Joan Smith, D. Musto, Jean Stella, Sam Chairge and Bernie Brezak, employees of Allan’s Shoe Store in Pittston, gathered at Bruno’s Restaurant in Exeter for their annual Christmas party.

Some said it was beginner’s luck when 16-year-old Howard Gordon, of Pittston, bagged a deer on his very first hunting trip.

Popular Sunday shows in 1961 – “Maverick,” “Lassie,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Ed Sullivan,” “Bonanza,” “Candid Camera” and “What’s My Line.” What was your favorite? Call us at 570-991-6403.

1981 – 34 years ago

The touch football team from Bottoms-Up on Spring Street in Pittston took the Greater Pittston Touch Football League championship for the fourth straight year. Members of the game winning team were Rocco Barge, Phil Semenza, Louie Degnan, Paul Cawley, Ken Polochek, Mike Nardone, Brian Selinski, Ken Granahan, Bill Reiner, Tony DeMark, Leo Giovanelli, Alfie Koytek, Joe Dubeck, Don McDermott, Phil Dunn, Dave Morreale and Keith Allen.

A total of 55 boys competed in the seventh annual intramural weightlifting contest. Winners were Eugene Castellino, fly weight, 725 lbs. total; Fran Benfante, unlimited class, 1,145 lbs. total; Al Gristina, middleweight, 1,020 lbs.; Frank Ardoline, heavyweight, 1,310 lbs. and Art Faulkner, lightweight winner, 975 lbs.

The very popular St. Anthony’s Junior Choir was scheduled to appear at several functions leading up to the Christmas holiday. Members of the choir were Rhea Piccirilli, Jennifer Vacula, Roseann Pribula, Amy Novak, Heather Vacula, Michele Sennick, Carina Zurenda, Jean Marie Litzi, Maureen O’Reilly, Keri Ann Quinnan, Laura Wardell, Mary Jo Cunningham, Kelly O’Reilly, Cathy Trzcinski, Missy Ripa, Nicole Alu, Christine Alu, Christine Botteon, Cathy Scripkunas, Pam Heard, Gina Orlandini, Ann Marie Banellis, Marie DeGraba, Corinne Connolly, Marcy Russo and Corinne Giordano.

1991 – 24 years ago

What started out as a group of ladies having fun and supporting their favorite singer soon formed into a charitable organization that gave back to its community. Thirty-five members of the local Engelbert Humperdink Fan Club turned their joy of following the entertainer to as many performances as possible into making Christmas bright for those in need. In 1968, Mary McCracken, her mother Marguerite, sister Marcella and friend Joan McCracken would travel to see the chart topping artist any time they could and noticed they were not alone, seeing many others from Northeastern Pennsylvania doing the same. In 1975, the ladies formed a fan club. Over the years, the club contributed to the Toys for Tots campaign, sent Christmas cards to residents of local nursing homes, collected food for Meals on Wheels and volunteered for the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon. Officers were Mary McCracken, president; Marguerite McCracken, vice president; Beth Bastis, treasurer; Marcella Ann McCracken, recording secretary; Jean Lavan, financial secretary; Judy Young, Sunshine Club.

This date in history

1944 – The United States conducts the longest, most effective air raid on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima.

1967 – In the biggest battle yet in the Mekong Delta, 365 Viet Cong are killed.

1982 – The Washington, D.C. police shoot and kill a man threatening to blow up the Washington Monument.

Peeking into the Past

Judy Minsavage

Reach Judy Minsavage at 570-991-6403 or on Twitter @JudithMinsavage

Reach Judy Minsavage at 570-991-6403 or on Twitter @JudithMinsavage

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