How many have driven from Pittston on North Main Street through the Junction towards Duryea? Ever notice an historical marker on the way?
I’ve seen it a million times, but because it’s hard to stop and read it, I’ve never had the opportunity to do so.
The marker notes the devastating collapse of the Red Ash Vein coal mine, some 434 feet below the surface where 58 men and boys perished. The disaster was as paralyzing as the Knox Mine Disaster 63 years later, which happened probably less than a mile south on the Susquehanna River.
It’s well-known the Knox Mine Disaster ended anthracite mining in Greater Pittston. The Twin Shaft Mine Disaster brought the national spotlight on the area. It was a big influence on creating child labor laws as well as labor laws in general.
What came out of the disaster were laws created that still stand today — the eight-hour work day and the establishment of the minimum wage. Think about it — history was made right here that has affected the rest of the country to this day.
Statistics, laws, and history – it all didn’t matter to the 58 families that lost their fathers, brothers, and sons on that dark Sunday, June 28, 1896.
I covered the wreath-laying ceremony marking the 120th anniversary of the disaster last week in Pittston. It was followed by a Mass at Our Lady of the Eucharist Church, formerly known as St. Mary, Help of Christians Church — the same church where 32 of the 58 killed were parishioners.
The church still has the 120-year-old register that logged all 32 victims.
The next time you drive by that historical marker, think of those 58 lost miners 434 feet below and remember the ultimate price they paid.
Losing to Alzheimer’s
Whenever I hear about another victim of Alzheimer’s disease, it just brings back a flood of memories for me. My dad passed away from Alzheimer’s in 1996 and my mother of dementia just three months ago.
Legendary college basketball coach Pat Summitt recently passed away at the age of 64, just two weeks after her birthday, from Alzheimer’s disease.
I don’t play golf, but enjoy watching occasionally. A golf broadcaster, David Ferherty, aired a show this week on one of his peers, Peter Oosterhuis. Oosty, as he’s affectionately known, was a former tour player and some may remember him as a commentator/analyst for CBS.
Oosty, 68, announced in May 2015 he had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and hung up his microphone. Ferherty’s own father is suffering from Alzheimer’s in Ireland and doesn’t get to see him very often.
In the end, this horrid disease robs those afflicted of everything. I tell people my dad died twice — the first time when he was diagnosed and the second when he finally succumbed to his and my family’s worst nightmare.
As Oosty’s wife said, we do what we have to do to make each and every day a good one and try to make the best of it. With Alzheimer’s disease, it’s never the best of anything.
Watching a loved one’s life gradually go completely dark is very hard. One can feel helpless, angry, and lose patience at absolutely no fault of the victim.
Those watching this happen end up missing their loved one though they are still alive. They can wish and want but nothing would change.
Quote of the week
“Life had taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French author.
Thought of the week
“Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.” – James Harvey Robinson, American historian.
“The least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, French philosopher.
Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.