In 1971, what West Pittston show combining three very different set of circumstances was guaranteed to keep everyone laughing from beginning to end and was billed as the “Craziest Show on Earth?”
1961 – 55 Years Ago
A merger between the Erie Railroad and Delaware and Lackawanna rail system produced a layoff of at least 15 employees primarily at the Avoca yards. In a cost-cutting move, the Lackawanna eliminated a track fee on freight shipped to Ashley from Avoca over Delaware & Hudson rails. Lackawanna’s decision to send freight over its own tracks from Binghamton to Taylor and then transfer to the Central Railroad rails would save those fees. Rumors spread quickly that the Avoca yards would be shut down permanently. Recently the Luzerne County Rail Corporation announced the Ashley Rail Yards and Avoca Rail Yards are available for development.
The West Pittston Library remodeling project was completed after a year of renovations, which included removal of a second story and adding of a wing onto the west side of the building that included a fireplace and seating area. The work was made possible by contributions of local residents and a donation by the Morris Foundation for the exterior painting.
Charles McCarthy, local historian, detailed the lives the men of Company H., Ninth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers of Pittston as they suffered through their initial encampment at Camp George H. Thomas, at Chickamauga Park, Georgia. During the Spanish American War, conditions at the camp were unsanitary and clothing and supplies were non-existent. Several of the men were stricken with typhoid fever. Cpl. William Gilmartin, 26, was the first typhoid victim on July 3, 1898. His name was inscribed on the memorial tablet unveiled at the Wilkes-Barre Armory on May 11, 1900. Three other local men who died from the disease were Pvt. John H. Hostley, 23; Pvt. William C. Poynton, 20; and Pvt. John Powell, 28.
1971 – 45 Years Ago
The Sunday Dispatch received a letter from SP5 Joseph F. Novak Jr. while he was serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. It said, “I am a resident of Pittston, having originally lived on Elizabeth Street, and also an avid reader of the Sunday Dispatch. I was assigned to Vietnam on April 26 and have since been out of contact with your newspaper. I have found your publication both factual and informative especially on local happenings and thus being unable to read it every week, I am left in the dark when it comes to local news. I would appreciate it if you would somehow arrange for a mailing of the Dispatch to me.” The reply: “The Dispatch thanks the local GI for taking time out of his dangerous duties to send us this message. We’ll see that he gets the paper regularly.”
West Pittston Little League All Star Team still had to face Nanticoke in the elimination tournament that would take the victor to the Little League World Series in Williamsport. Members of the team were Anthony Sindaco, Larry Marianacci, Joseph Fasciana, Thomas McDonnell, Larry Berti, Sam Agolino, Robert Mitchell, Jody Newcomb, Pat Thornton, Jamie Smith, James Manganello, manager; Michael Manganero, Frank Baldiga, Joseph Vullo, Elwood Hines, manager. Does anyone know the outcome of the game? Call us at 570-991-6403.
1991 – 25 Years Ago
Nine Jenkins Township residents were honored for their service to their country during Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm. Those who received plaques were Anthony Balchun, John Balchun, Frank Carden, Peter Ciliberto, Richard Hennigan, Gerald Matusick, Thomas Maxwell, Kenneth O’Brien and Robert Scanlon. On January 16, 1991, coalition forces let by the United States began their initiative to free Kuwait from occupying Iraqi forces. The coalition forces used the latest in war-time technology such as Stealth systems, smart bombs, night vision and cruise missiles.
The Pittston Police Department participated in the Special Olympic Law Enforcement Torch Run along with other state law enforcement agencies. Participating in the run were Sgt. Greg Policare, Sgt. Paul Porfirio and Ptlm. James Sulima.
2001 – 15 Years Ago
Demolition began on two Pittston City structures to make room for the new Tomato Festival Lot just off of Main Street. Spring Street Auto and an adjacent structure were purchased for $215,000 and much of the work was expected to be completed by festival time in August. A major renovation of the Eagle Hose Company building adjacent to the new lot was also completed.
The Ladies Auxiliary of Northeastern Pennsylvania Volunteer Firemen’s Federation celebrated its 50th year anniversary. Stating in 1951, the auxiliary began holding fundraisers and winter carnivals. By 1960 more than 90 companies and 150 participants were involved. Local members attending the festivities were Beryl Astolfi, Mary Lepore, Catherine Junichko, Lillian Rayno, Carol Ditto, Rita Zang, Irene Retkowski, Mary Rowan, Judy Legg, Dolores Koslosky, Peggy Ferguson and Rose Klinkel.
Answer: In 1971, a donkey baseball game billed as the “Craziest Show on Earth” was scheduled for the West Pittston Little League stadium. The event combined the circus, rodeo and baseball to create an entertaining show filled with laughter, thrills and spills. The game pitted the Little League directors and umpires against managers and coaches. The donkeys were provided by Shaw Brothers Sports of Sayre.
Reach Judy Minsavage at 570-991-6403 or on Twitter @JudithMinsavage