Peeking into the Past: Old photographic plate used in 1958 Sunday Dispatch tribute of Pope Pius XII

Peeking into the Past - Judy Minsavage

1948 – 62 Years Ago

West Wyoming Borough council members proposed a 5-cent-per-ton tax to be placed on coal in order to cover a budget shortfall. The measure did not pass, as proponents of the tax only half-heartedly concurred with the new measure. As property tax remained at 19 mills, the rising cost of government and a fall in assessed property valuation created a gap in revenue. The council was at a stalemate as to what direction should be taken to cover the shortfall.

The Community Chest of Greater Pittston’s pledge campaign, headed by William Bonser and Mrs. Louis Fabrizio, kicked off with several advertisements in the Sunday Dispatch. Some of the programs sponsored by the organization were Campfire Girls, Girl Scouts, Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A., hospitals, visiting nurses, Salvation Army, family welfare, Crippled Children’s Committee and Boy Scouts. The Chest’s goal was to raise $78,000. The Community Fund idea was established in 1913 in Cleveland, Ohio; the number of organizations increased to 1,000 by 1948, and eventually became the United Way in 1963.

1958 – 52 Years Ago

Catholics around the world mourned the loss of Pope Pius XII, a religious leader who represented one-fifth of the world’s population. The Dispatch reported on the death and upcoming funeral, and because of the foresight of Paul Muzzappapa of Pittston, the paper was able to print an accompanying photo of the pope along with the article. Years before, Muzzappapa had come across an old photographic plate used at the Dispatch in the early days of commercial printing of the paper. He had asked if he could take the plate home and “put it in a place of reverence.” Happy that he could provide the photograph, Muzzappapa stated, “It was meant to be that I should keep this so the Dispatch could print it in tribute to His Holiness.”

While local woodsmen scoured the area for papinky mushrooms, they were pleased to discover the return of chestnuts to the area. Local old-timers who remembered an abundance of the fruit recalled a blight that devastated the American chestnut trees from Maine to Georgia. By 1940, 3.5 billion American chestnut trees had perished. The blight called Cryphonectria parasitica was transported to the United States from Asia in 1900 and spread by wind, rain, birds and other animals.

Santa made an early stop at Pittston Hospital in October 1958. The jolly old man, along with JayCee members Joseph Evaskitis, John Brogan, Edward Burke and Ted Loudon, presented young patients with a new television for the children’s ward. Accepting the new gift were Ireta Davenport, student nurse; Marguerite Gardner, nursing arts instructor; and Margaret Kosik, graduate nurse. Santa promised the children he would visit them again in December.

1968 – 42 Years Ago

The Cadette Troop 865 of St. Rocco’s Church participated in Project Vietnam to show appreciation for soldiers serving overseas. Personal items and books were collected and shipped to the soldiers. Debra Brogna, Donna Brogna, Mary Ann Volpe, Mary Gianficara, Donna McFadden, Tina Falcone, Cynthia Bussaco, Barbara Scott, Susan Shifano, Frances Casper, Susie Ackalonis, Cynthia Castellino, Cynthia Savakinas, Debbie Conroy, Joan Schifano, Sherrie Luyshore, and Judy Sokolowsky, assisted troop leaders. Angela Brogna, Margaret Casper and Mrs. Robert Conroy assembled items for shipment.

The former Wilson School building, adjacent to Jones Park in Duryea, was found to be in poor condition. Scattered tissue paper, glass from broken windows and bottles was strewn throughout the school. A Sunday Dispatch correspondent, after viewing the disarray, hoped the Pittston Area School District would clean up, board, and perhaps find a use for the building. He wrote, “The structure is a solid one from the inside, it would make for a good Community Center in that area of town.”

1978 – 32 Years Ago

A Sunday Dispatch article about the anticipated fall season in Northeastern Pennsylvania stated some facts about the changing of the leaves to vibrant gold, orange, reds and russets. Pennsylvania has approximately 113 species of trees, with more variations and more exquisite in beauty than anywhere in the world. Leaves change color due to the change in chlorophyll content. In the fall, as days become shorter, leaves begin to die and stop producing food. The green coloring or chlorophyll begins to fade revealing the brilliant colors underneath. The eastern hemlock is the official tree of Pennsylvania and doesn’t change color; it is a member of the evergreen family. According to the State Department of Forestry, the hemlock can live 800 years. According to the department’s website, “the Pennsylvania legislature debated the merits of several nominations for the state tree, but no decision was reached. In 1931 lawmakers were again asked to make a ruling, and after considerable debate, the eastern hemlock was adopted June 22, 1931.”

In 1978, Wyoming Area Home Economics teacher Kathryn Burke hosted speakers from the Nutrition Education Development Project. Students Laura Adrian, Joni Clarke, Lori Begliomini, Karen Malarkey, Denise Klaproth, Terri Stover, Kelley Deeb, Annette Coccetti, Geraldine Hackling, Joanne Swivek, Jeanette Smith, Annette Longo, Darlene Charney, Debra Owen, Jane Grogan, Patti Barber Cathy Price, Nancy Alexanderian, Lynne Zawacki, June Ann Gregor, Linda Walsh and Laura Sulger learned the importance of good nutrition from experts in the field. Today some believe that re-establishing home economics as a mandatory subject would help students learn how to make healthier food choices to help reduce the ever-increasing problem of childhood obesity. Some advocates also believe financial instruction should be included such as budgeting, balancing a checkbook and credit card issues.

This Date In History

1701 – Yale University is founded as The Collegiate School of Killingworth, Connecticut by Congregationalists who consider Harvard too liberal.

1793 – Queen Marie Antoinette is beheaded by guillotine during the French Revolution.

1978 – The college of cardinals elects 58-year-old Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, of Poland, the first non-Italian Pope since 1523.

Peeking into the Past

Judy Minsavage

Reach Judy Minsavage on Twitter @JudithMinsavage.

Reach Judy Minsavage on Twitter @JudithMinsavage.

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