In 1947, several Dupont men volunteered to help borough police track down a national predator annoying local young women on the street after dark. Just who were they hoping to catch?
1967 – 49 Years Ago
Sgt. John P. Lavan of Pittston was honored by the commanding general of the Fleet Marine Force in the Pacific for his courage under fire while serving in Vietnam. An 18-year veteran, Lavan received the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V Device.
Members of the All-Star baseball team and graduates of the Pittston City Little League were honored at the Gramercy Restaurant. The boys were presented jackets for their achievements in the past year. Those honored were Robert Finnerty, Sam DeAlba, Gene Sperrazza, Ken O’Brien, John Watson, Joe Schillaci, Steve Cerullo, Bobby Panuski, Richard Wallace, Lee Calabro, Richard Dziak, Frank Arusavage, Sonny Saporito, Amos Newhart, Brian Appel, Fran Solano, John Morreale, George Jones, Ronald Melvin, Lee Monteforte, Billy Dessoye, Joe Noto, Bobby Lussi, Buddy Barnes, Tommy Langhorne and Mike Moore.
1977 – 39 Years Ago
The Exeter Ambulance Association was touted as one of the largest in Northeastern PA. The association was noted as unique because 15 of the 38 volunteer members were women. The group logged 5,274 miles in 1976 with a total of 367 runs. Established in 1973, members were trained in C.P.R. and advanced medical training. Listed among the volunteers were four registered nurses and one practical nurse. The members were Florence Skesavage, Carrie DiLeo, Joanne Turner, Betty Cunningham, R.N.; Jan Bergman, Lynda Skesavage, Charlotte Kofera, Rick Turner, John Nardone, Mike Coolbaugh, Clem Skesavage, Mike Ziobro, Mark Razawich, John Pavidus, Tom Scalonger, Oscar Juroski, Ron Dileo, Joe Cunningham and Paul Roman. According to emsmuseum.org, in 1903, Dr. Emily Dunning, the first woman admitted to an internship program in New York, became the first woman ambulance surgeon. While serving, her male counterparts attempted to discourage her, but in the end she had gained the cooperation and encouragement of her co-workers and the patients she served.
Wyoming Hose Company No. 2 auxiliary celebrated its 27th anniversary. Members were Helen Chronowski, Josephine Kutzkowski, Josephine Yurek, Mae Dennis, Dorothy Sleboda, Joan Mehelchick, Norma Hendershot, Dolores Chorba, Irene Ales, Martha Gavlick, Ann Jayjock, Mary Maruca, Frances Marfisi, Lorraine Miller, Mary Legas, Teddy Sowa, Helen Klem, Ida Brennan, Roberta Karasek, Stella Elko, Erma Cicon, Agatha Sherman, Marcella Venetz, Anna Benowski and Irene Pascoe.
Twenty-four juniors and seniors at Seton Catholic High School were selected for the National High School Award for Excellence. Faculty members nominated students based on scholastic and extracurricular activities. Those selected were Rich Kosik, Charlie Lyons, Billy Joyce, Joe Dorbad, Pat Feeney, Bernie Dellario, Brian Gilroy, Rita Kashinski, Betsy Long, Karen Mikita, Anne Tierney, Kathy Donovan Michele Skurla, Maggie Pace. Eileen Reddington, Mary Ann O’Boyle, Julie Roman, Marilyn Piemontese, Beth Linskey, Mary Key Boos, O.J. Gavigan, Al Fearick and Mary Creedon.
1987 – 29 Years Ago
Thomas Walsh, Pittston mayor, signed a proclamation designating Feb. 16, 1987 as Lithuanian Independence Day. The 69th Restoration of Lithuania’s Independence event was observed with a flag raising ceremony at Pittston City Hall. Adele Brooks, Anne Chalian, Leo Butsavage, Annamarie Sewatsky, Helen Butsavage, Grace Kazacavage, Marie Lauck, Frances Shoppel, Dorothy Banso, John Wesnosky, Nellie Bayoras Romanas, Ann Devala, members of the Knights of Lithuania Council 143 who were in attendance, remembered that although they were celebrating the anniversary of the day Lithuania proclaimed independence from Russia, the country was again annexed in 1945 by the Soviet Union and many of their countrymen fled. With 5,000 members nationally the Knights operated an “underground railroad” sort of speak, supplying letters and religious materials from America to their countrymen. According to trulithuania.com, the Soviet occupation lasted for 45 years and ended in 1990.
The big question facing Pittston City officials was how best to spend a newly received $20,000 state grant. Among the ideas submitted by Mullin and Lonergan Associates, a consulting firm in Philadelphia, were a new mall on New and Cornelia streets, a housing development in Fleming Park, industrial development in the Junction section of Pittston and moving Broad Street to run directly into Water Street. Bonds and reassessment of properties were considered as a way to fund these and additional projects planned by the city. But planners of the projects estimated that Pittston would lose another 10 percent of its population in 1987 and expected the numbers of residents to level off at 10,000. The 1990 census list Pittston as having 9,400 residents. As of 2010, the U.S. census bureau lists Pittston’s population at 7,734.
Answer: In 1947, as the story of Jack the Hugger spread across the nation, several Dupont area women reported that they had been approached by the stranger, who was accused of conning victims into sharing an embrace. Not leaving anything to chance, the police and groups of young men patrolled the streets in hopes of catching the culprit. In California in the 1800s, the perpetrator was known as Jack the Squeezer, and in 2012 he resurfaced in Missouri as Jack the Gripper.
Reach Judy Minsavage at 570-991-6403 or on Twitter @JudithMinsavage