Peeking into the past: Letter written by Dispatch publisher attempted to block oil delivery to Anthracite region in 1947

Peeking into the Past - Judy Minsavage

1947 – 68 years ago

Evidenced by the large number of people attending, Greater Pittston football fans were more inclined to attend night games played under the newly installed lights at the West Pittston football stadium. A decline in the number of people attending the day game of the East-West Coal Bowl at Bone Field, sponsored by the Pittston Lions Club, was a matter of concern for its members. Only 2,000 fans witnessed the event, 2,000 less than attended the year before. William Owens, of the West Pittston Park Commission, said statistics showed 43,000 people attended night games in the West Pittston stadium. Owens further noted, 5,500 fans attended a West Pittston/St. John’s High School night game, while a Thanksgiving Day game played at Bone Field with the same two teams showed an attendance of 4,413.

In April 1946, John L. Lewis, United Mine Workers president, called for all member coal miners to strike for improved wages, health benefits and safety regulations. The strike crippled industrial production and threatened the postwar economic recovery. Many industries and private individuals switched to oil to heat their businesses and homes. In an effort to try to stop the increase in sales of oil burners in the Wyoming Valley, John Kehoe, publisher of the Sunday Dispatch, sent a letter to U.S. Senator Kenneth S. Wherry, chairman of the special committee to study problems of American Small Business. Due to the increased demand, the committee was dealing with a national fuel oil shortage. In the letter, Kehoe outlined the “unnecessary increase of oil burner installations in the Anthracite (region).” And urged the Senate Committee to arrange to “cut off delivery of fuel oil to those people in the Anthracite (region) who use oil burners, for the fact that there is plenty of Anthracite on hand to heat their homes.” In a letter sent to the Sunday Dispatch, the senator responded, “We will consider statements made in your letter when we re-open our hearings in the near future.”

1957 – 58 years ago

St. Rocco’s grade school formed its first eighth-grade basketball team. The team won five of its first six games under coaches Ace Brown, Ross Scalzo and Sam Ferrara. Members of the first team were Dan Pavlico, Rich Gorgone, Tony Conti, Mike Viola, Tony Bellanca, Sam Castellino, Dan Limongelli, Ross Scalzo, Orin Olmstead, Ross Scarantino, Ed Brown, Tony Marrancca, Tony Schiano and Johnny Giordano. Of course, all teams need to have cheerleaders and the grade school basketball team was no exception. At each game, Rangerettes Peggy Ann O’Boyle, Mary Ann Bellanca, Madelyn Sciandra, Jermaine Bell, Santina Palmieri, Lois Ann Marmo, Eugenia Acrudi, Mary DeMarco, Carol Ann Serino, Doreen Angelella and Marie Falzone cheered the young team on.

“Jailhouse Rock” staring Elvis Presley was playing at the American Theater in Pittston, The Comerford Drive-In was showing “The Tin Star,” a western starring Henry Fonda. Morris jewelers on Main Street, Pittston advertised one carat diamond ring sets for $388. Grablick’s Dairy sold holiday ice cream cakes for $2.50.

1977 – 38 years ago

Greater Pittston football fans would get one last chance to see Jimmy Cefalo in a Penn State Nittany Lions uniform as the team faced the Arizona State Sun Devils in Penn State’s first appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Cefalo stunned the Devils early on in the game as he ran 67 yards on a punt return to set up a PSU field goal. On a final drive of the game, Cefalo caught a pass from quarterback Chuck Fusina, setting up a 3-yard touchdown. Penn State survived a last-minute Arizona drive to win the game, 42-30. Penn State ended the season ranked fifth. Cefalo was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1978. He would play six seasons for the Dolphins and appear in Super Bowls XVII and XIX.

Trains were a passion of Thomas Dougherty and his son, Arthur, of West Pittston. Using five complete O gauge train sets, Dougherty, a 30-year train hobbyist, utilized a large section of his home to build a triple level display that took a month to assemble.

1987 – 28 years ago

Closed for several years, the American Theater on North Main Street, Pittston, was about to receive a face lift after a grant funded by the State Department of Community Affairs was approved. Through a program designed to help distressed communities affected by the recession of the ’70s and early ’80s, the funds were targeted for razing several Pittston City properties and turning the theater into a professional center and bus terminal. Paul McGarry, city clerk, had hoped for more money, but felt the initial funds would help to get the projects started.

The Wyoming Area High School wrestling team competed at Lock Haven State University in one of the state’s most prestigious holiday tournaments. Featuring 16 of the top teams in the state, the tournament welcomed Wyoming Area, the newest addition to the competition. Team captains were Pat Heck and Mark Amato. Members of the team were Jim Mazonis, Keith Coolbaugh, Jason Randazzo, Jason Procopchak, John Morgan, Jeff Pepe and Paul “The Hammer” Pascoe.

The Greater Pittston YMCA offered residents a New Year’s Eve sleepover with swimming, games, movies and a pizza party. The Nook on Kennedy Boulevard advertised 50 Maine clams for $3.49 and Alaskan king crab legs for $8.99. Top movies of 1987 were “Three Men and a Baby,” “Wall Street,” “Moonstruck” and “Fatal Attraction.”

Did you know:

Revelers began celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square as early as 1904, but it was in 1907 the New Year’s Eve Ball made its maiden descent from the flagpole atop One Times Square. Seven versions of the ball have been designed to signal the new year.

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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