This past week we lost another giant of downtown Pittston.
Stanley Salavantis, who owned and operated the Majestic Lunch for 44 years before retiring in 1998, passed away last Sunday and he leaves not only the love of his life, his wife Nitsa, but a large legacy as being a familiar face downtown.
Mr. Salavantis was a proud man – proud of his heritage, proud of his faith, and proud of his family, in particular his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Even though he retired in the late 1990s, he just couldn’t stay away from the Majestic, which his family still owns. He was as permanent a fixture as the portrait of President John F. Kennedy that hangs on the wall inside the restaurant.
It was always hard to walk by the restaurant when the aroma from the grill’s exhaust fan would hit me. It was intoxicating and I just had to stop in for the famous chili sauce on a hot dog or hamburger.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Salavantis at a fundraiser held at the Majestic. They were a charming couple that made me feel at home, and they told me how much they loved reading the Sunday Dispatch.
A huge hole will be left in the hearts of Stanley’s loved ones and the patrons of the restaurant.
‘Catch ‘em all’
The other night, I decided to go for a little drive and on my route, I ended up driving down Main Street in Pittston. As I was getting closer to the Tomato Festival lot, I saw more and more people.
Was I missing something? Was there an event going on and I wasn’t aware of it happening?
I knew it wasn’t a Second Friday Art Walk. It was too early for a Paint Pittston Pink event. I knew it wasn’t Tomato Fest time, but why were the streets of Pittston so busy?
Curiosity made me swing around Kennedy Boulevard, circling around to Main Street again. This time around, I drove slowly in a parade-style speed.
As I got closer to the crowds, I noticed they were younger people — all looking at their cell phones. It has to be some kind of scavenger hunt, I thought.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks – the “Pokemon Go” phenomenon!
Several dozen of people were wandering the streets of downtown while glancing at their phones using the popular app.
Pokemon Go is a free, location-based game that uses real-time live view mixed with animation using one’s phone GPS system and camera.
Sunday Dispatch writer Nick Wagner wrote about the increasing popularity of the Pokemon craze in Pittston last week, but I could never imagine the streets being filled like they are.
It’s getting kids off their keisters and on the streets. Usually one would want to see kids off the streets, but this might be a good thing. Maybe it’s a fad, but everyone seems to be having fun.
Little League success
I got caught up in the West Pittston Little League all-star team’s march to Williamsport and so did everyone in town.
It’s been many moons since I swung a bat for West Side Bank, my team back then. Well, the team is gone and so is the bank, but the dream of reaching the Little League World Series still lives today in the Garden Village.
It was great to see so many residents out to support the team. One such couple, Lou and Gloria Vullo, have been avid sports supporters of our local teams over the last few decades. It doesn’t matter if it’s Little League, junior high or high school sports, Lou and Gloria are bound to show up.
When I was 12, I was fortunate enough to be chosen for the all-star team and every night at the conclusion of the regular Little League game, we would have all-star practice. From 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., we worked hard to gel as a team.
Lou would often during pitch batting practice, and he threw hard knowing we would face a tough Back Mountain team.
Come game time, we travelled to Dallas for our game. I played centerfield my entire career through high school, but for all-stars, the coaches switched me to left field.
As I stood in left field I noticed fans were at least five people deep all the way around the field. I felt claustrophobic, if that was possible.
It was a hard-fought pitchers’ duel between Back Mountain’s Steve Skammer and our own Bobby Simonson. If memory serves me correctly, Bobby tossed a two-hitter, Skammer one-hit us and we lost the game, 1-0. It was a heartbreaker and in those days, there was no double elimination. We may very well have had one of the best all-star teams from West Pittston.
Skammer excelled through high school where he eventually ended up at Villanova. There he still stands in the record books. He was inducted into the Villanova Hall of Fame in 1998. So, one could see he was a tough competitor, even during Little League.
The West Pittston Little League all-stars’ talent this year really measures up to some of the great ones and the fervor just brought the town together. Congrats to the 2016 team!
Quote of the week
“Colors answer feeling in man; shapes answer thought; and motion answers will.” – John Sterling, American sportscaster.
Thought of the week
“Hard work without talent is a shame, but talent without hard work is a tragedy.” – Robert Half, American HR consultant.
“It is not reason which makes faith hard, but life.” – Jean Ingelow, American writer.
Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.