Peeking into the Past: Art Carney of ‘Honeymooners’ fame visited West Pittston in 1979

Peeking into the Past - By Judy Minsavage


Gravity served to move the Pennsylvania Coal Company train cars filled with coal to their valley destinations from mines located at higher elevations. How were the train cars returned to the mines?

1959 – 51 Years Ago

Ted Louden, president of the Pittston Jaycees, announced that the group would sponsor a hobby contest for teens. Categories included model planes, cars, boats and handcrafts. Bill Kane, chairman and Bill Connors, co-chairman, announced the winners as George Connors, Herbert Kozichek, Susie Jordan, Ray Thomas, Dan Ward and Elaine Dotter and thanked judges, Major D. Cocking and Captain Paul York, USAF; lieutenants Norman Daleida, Steve Krupinski and Leonard Zavada, U.S. Navy Reserve; and Jane Stets, Joseph Janoski and John Poalacci. Established in 1920 to provide opportunities for young men to develop personal and leadership skills through service to others, the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees) later expanded to include women, reflecting the growing influence and leadership of women in America. Presidents Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford and basketball great Larry Bird were all Jaycee members.

Dorothy Mae VanLuvender Slezak of Dupont, or Dottie Mae, as she was professionally known, was listed in the November 1959 issue of Country Songs Roundup Magazine as a bright star on the entertainment horizon. Dottie had just recorded her own compositions, “Honey Doll” and “Something Wonderful Happened,” at Yale Recording in New York City. Appearing at various venues throughout Eastern Pennsylvania she also appeared on the “Ted Mack Amateur Hour” and “Grand Ole Opry Show” on the ABC Network with rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson, country singer-songwriter Justin Tubb and country and bluegrass artist Jimmie Skinner.

1969 – 41 Years Ago

The Greater Pittston Meals on Wheels program was initiated for the house-bound in September 1969. Two nutritious meals would be provided five days a week for $5. In case of financial hardship, meals are provided free. Volunteers working with the newly formed service were Mrs. William Carey, Rev. Charles Gommer, George Bainbridge, Miss Martha Jones, Mrs. Truman Stark, Anthony Cardascia, Mrs. Louise Uritz, and Gerald Remus. The first Meals on Wheels program began in the 1950s in Philadelphia. It is the oldest and largest organization serving meals to people in need.

St. John’s Youth Center held a dance sponsored by St. John’s High School Athletic Association, music was provided by Nobody’s Children. Dupont Hose Company advertised “Party Tonight.” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Oblong Box” was featured at the Comerford Drive-In and “Stiletto” was playing at the American Theatre.

To the owners of the California Flower Company in West Pittston it was all about new innovative designs in artificial flowers. Twice a year owners Tom and Phil Ansilio visited Hong Kong to keep up on new ideas. Their association with families in Hong Kong who specialized in the manufacture of life-like artificial flowers kept the company at the forefront by supplying current trends in floral decorations. Some of the new flower designs for the coming year were the Martha Washington geranium, Helen Forrest dahlia, giant daisy, sugar plum, petunia and giant tulip. According to the most popular artificial flowers are the calla lily, carnation and, of course, roses. China is one of the leading exporters of artificial flowers in the world.

1979 – 31 Years Ago

An article appeared in the 1979 issue of the Sunday Dispatch detailing the local history of the gravity railroad. In 1850, when the Pennsylvania Coal Company noticed the success of transporting coal by the gravity railroad, they commenced an operation from Hawley to Port Griffith. The 47-mile route enabled the coal company to transport coal to the Delaware Hudson Canal and on to New York. Eventually steam engines were introduced and the gravity railroad ended operations in 1884.

Joseph Motiska American Legion Post 657 held its 49th annual installation of officers program in Dupont. The post was chartered on Jan. 23, 1930, under Michael Healey and was listed as the oldest veterans’ organization in Dupont. Officers to be installed were Louis Ritzie, commander; John Krave, John Mihalka, Louis Iannuzzo, Edwin Kuchinski, Charles Ritzie, Bernard Zielinski, Stanley Piechota and Danny Caster.

Calvin Gary, Lorraine Miller, Dick Forsey and Rosalie Smith were surprised to see a real life star in their Garden Village neighborhood of West Pittston. Art Carney, a.k.a. Ed Norton of “Honeymooners” fame, was first spotted at Insalaco Supermarket in West Pittston hoping to find cardboard boxes. He and his wife Jean were in town to close the home of her uncle Paul Armstrong of Philadelphia Avenue. All who had a chance to speak with the actor found him charming and kind. Carney won an Academy Award for his role in the feature film “Harry and Tonto.” He also won eight Emmy Awards, seven of which were for his work with Jackie Gleason and his portrayal of Ed Norton in “The Honeymooners,” which ran for 39 episodes from 1955 to 1956.

1999 – 11 Years Ago

The Wyoming Historical and Geological Society planned its first Swetland Homestead Harvest Festival. A wide variety of demonstrations such as blacksmithing, tool carving, chair-caning, mandolin construction and embroidery were scheduled. The 81st Company Pennsylvania Infantry Company K Civil War reenactment group camped on the Swetland grounds and demonstrated military drills and camp life.

Bernard Trudnak, Roy Emic, Fritz McGrath, Tom Orth, Dr. William Tarutis, Bill Weeks, Jim Hiller, Thomas Runscavage, Mark Godlieski, James Falzone, Ed Barth and Tom McHugh were celebrating 145 years of the Greater Pittston Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Thomas Wildey founded the American chapter in Baltimore, Md. in 1819; the organization understood the need to protect the working men of America. The first Greater Pittston Thistle lodge 512 was formed in 1848. Known for their charitable acts the lodge provided monetary relief, electric beds, lift chairs and walkers to members and made generous contributions to the Arthritis Foundation, St. Vincent DePaul soup kitchen, Greater Pittston Meals on Wheels, and St. Joseph’s Children’s Center.

Each year five former Wyoming Area football players are chosen by the Wyoming Area Football Alumni Association to become members of the Ring of Pride. In 1999, the association chose Louis Berti, Albert S. Harris Jr., Jack Henzes, Ken Kopetchny and Mark Sickler because of their excellence on the field and service to community. Founded in December 1997, the Alumni Association was formed to assist players on the field and prepare them for future endeavors. The first members chosen for the Ring of Pride were Frank Delaney, Bill Anzalone, Don McDermott, Don Casey, and Mike Butera.


Horses and mules harnessed to a cable and pulley system returned the empty Pennsylvania Coal Company train cars back to the mines.

This Date in History

1793 – George Washington lays the foundation stone for the U.S. Capitol.

1929 – Charles Lindbergh takes off on a 10,000-mile air tour of South America.

1975 – Patty Hearst, granddaughter of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped by violent radical group SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army); she eventually takes part in some of the group’s militant activities and is captured by FBI agents.

Peeking into the Past

By Judy Minsavage

Reach Judy Minsavage at 570-991-6403 or on Twitter @JudithMinsavage

Reach Judy Minsavage at 570-991-6403 or on Twitter @JudithMinsavage

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