1948 – 68 Years Ago
Pittston Township teachers were desperate to receive their wages. They sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction, only to receive a letter of sympathy in reply. Financial problems plaguing the township schools seemed unsolvable. John O’Malley, spokesman for the teachers, felt it was a ploy to force teachers to quit. A recommendation handed down from the department that two rural schools in the township be closed, was initially rejected and new taxation methods were not on the table. The township board planned to dismiss four teachers in order to obtain a $7,000 grant from the state. The Department of Schools was created in 1837. In 1873, it was renamed the Department of Public Instruction and in 1969, was changed to the Department of Education.
Pittston engineer John Reilly and city solicitor Earl Langan prepared legal papers naming area coal companies as responsible for dangerous mine subsidence occurring in the city. Cave-ins caused by coal removed from beneath the city of Pittston forced residents to evacuate their homes particularly in the Mill Street section. This caused many city-wide homeowners to be fearful that the same would happen to them. At the time, it was uncertain if criminal charges could be filed.
“The Miracle of the Bells,” starring Fred MacMurray, Alida Valli and Frank Sinatra played at the American Theater. Folks listened to these shows on WBRE 1340 radio: “Jack Benny,” “Charlie McCarthy,” “Fred Allen,” “Manhattan Merry Go Round” and “American Album.”
1958 – 58 Years Ago
James Flannagan passed away while painting a Pittston apartment. His passing closed a final chapter in a mine disaster that ended with Flanagan receiving the Carnegie Medal for heroism. In 1909, a blast at the Pittston No. 6 mine shaft of No. 6 Colliery injured John Mullery of Sebastopol and William Derrig of Avoca. Flannagan, 16, working 1,500 feet away, ignored personal safety went into the slope mine and carried each man out before collapsing from exhaustion. Derrig died a week later, Mullery passed away in 1941. In 1931, Flannagan was once again called a hero when he saved a Scranton woman from sure death as a hole caused by mine subsidence opened beneath her on the 600 block of Madison Avenue in Scranton.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were announced for the new West Pittston Armory. The new facility was set to house the Heavy Mortar Company, 109th Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Among those who were scheduled to address attendees were Congressman Dan Flood and Major General T. Linus Hoban, president judge of Lackawanna County.
West Pittston High School’s track and field team won its 13th district title in 15 years. Top-notch performances by Ned Wicks, who placed first in hurdles and pole vault along with Sam Capone, Gene Bonfanti, Ed Levandoski and Billy Brown in the pole vault, half mile relay, 440 yard run and long jump, respectively, clinched the title.
At John’s Beauty Shop in Hughestown, customers could receive a wash, cut, perm, set and style for $5. A rummage sale at Temple Agudath Achim offered items for nothing over 50 cents. For what is usually less than a lease down payment today, a brand new fully equipped Mercury could be purchased for $2,663.
1968 – 48 Years Ago
It was the first year that Pittston Area High School fielded a golf team, but student Mike Martin of Duryea was not a stranger to the game. He’d been golfing for a number of years and went to the state finals in 1967. In 1968, Martin helped add a District 2 golf championship to the school’s football, basketball and baseball honors. The first golf team was coached by Clem Russavage of Duryea.
The state police began cracking down on organizations selling lottery tickets. Considered a form of gambling, organizations such as the Moose, Elks and American Legion found themselves without a way to raise funds for projects many clubs sponsored in their communities. When Pocono Downs opened in 1965, many residents felt that organizations should be held harmless for their smaller fundraising lotteries.
1978 – 38 Years Ago
Jo Ann Davala, Carolyn Silenskie, Jo Lynn Para, Maria Kolob, Lori Mattey, Janice Mizin, Karen Voitek, Jackie Atherholt, Mary Beth Thomas, Brenda Crich, Judy Legg, Terry Nicholas, Mary Beth Giamusso, Beverly Burnside, Barbara Pesotine, Mary Pat Soroka, Linda Morgan, Cathy Scanlon, Donna Morgan, Doreen Rynkiewicz, Carmella Kasulis and Lisa Bonczek received certificates at the Pittston Hospital Candy Stripers’ awards night. Instructors taught the students how to take a patient’s pulse, temperature, blood pressure and bathe the ill.
This Date In History
1652 — A law is passed in Rhode Island banning slavery in the colonies but it causes little stir and seems unlikely to be enforced.
1860 — Abraham Lincoln is nominated for president.
1951 — The United Nations moves its headquarters to New York City.
Reach Judy Minsavage at 570-991-6403 or on Twitter @JudithMinsavage.