PEEKING INTO THE PAST: Service under fire and daring escape deserved honor


Peeking into the past - By Judy Minsavage



Thirteen senior girls at St. John’s High School received college scholarships in 1960. From left, first row, Sheila Redding, Carolyn Julio, Mary Ellen Kozischek, Eugenia Gavigan, Barbara Boyle, Barbara Pisano. Second row, Mary Ann Sevec, Joann McNally, Marita LaPorte, Mary Pat McDonald, Carol Devers, Ann Loftus and Barbara Brigido. Misses McNally and Julio received scholarships to Marywood College, the others to College Misericordia.


Sunday Dispatch File Photo

Does anyone recognize these members of the Key Club of West Pittston High School who in 1960 worked after school hours to landscape the grounds of the West Pittston Library?


Sunday Dispatch File Photo


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    Question:

    In 1947, were those who set Daylight Savings Time in West Pittston, Wyoming, Pittston Township, Avoca, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton breaking the law?

    1947 – 70 YEARS AGO

    Charles McCarthy, of Butler Street in Pittston swore this story, was true. As a former lieutenant in the Army, McCarthy was determined to visit Brenner Pass while traveling in Italy. The Pass, which forms the border between Austria and Italy, played an important part in World War II, not only as a supply line for German troops but as a target for American airmen. McCarthy approached the border guards who insisted he produce identification. He was able to accommodate by showing a number of cards which included his officer’s identification. The guards didn’t budge and refused him entrance. Finally, McCarthy pulled out one last card which showed his membership in the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick. With that, the guards let him pass, and McCarthy was able to visit the historical site.

    According to one Pittston innkeeper, “The public isn’t satisfied anymore with just a beer and a pretzel. Today, the local tavern must take on a big town air with producing floor shows to entertain customers.” Billy Emma, of Emma’s on the Trail, was one of the first to bring in entertainment. The Gramercy, Bobby Reed’s Diamond Bar and McGraw’s Bar and Grill joined in with a list of shows. The trend was said to have increased business in the Pittston area, while raising the prices on drinks and food.

    1948 – 69 YEARS AGO

    The Pittston Township School District was in financial distress and was appealing for aid from the state department. A grant of $7,000 was authorized but was not enough to meet teachers’ payroll. After not being paid for three months, teachers banded together and composed a letter to Mr. E. A. Quackenbush, Chief of Schools Division of the Department of Public Instruction, which appealed for help. In the letter, teachers stated, “We are facing a crisis. We are undergoing severe hardships, unable to meet our obligations and unable to live in a manner worthy of every citizen in our democratic way of life. Our district is in no financial standing whereby the money can be raised. We have worked zealously and remained in our classrooms in order that our youth may receive the education they deserve. We are not selfish but feel justified in stating that the only solution is an immediate grant from the emergency fund appropriated by the legislature for distressed districts.”

    It was all about the deed, and the question as to whether land purchased by Dupont Borough for a new athletic field and stadium had a clear title. The former coal company land was purchased for $1,000 by the borough and a quitclaim deed was obtained. However, a search by Judge Frank L. Pinola found the title was not clear, and he warned any group or municipal body investing any money on the site may be challenged by unknown interests in the future. A newly organized Independent Sportsman’s Club comprised of 160 sportsmen headed by Frank Kuna, Gayne Malinics, Edward Plisga, Dominick Cocco and Michael Lis decided to step in to see what they could do to expedite action on the proposed stadium.

    1953 – 64 YEARS AGO

    Exeter native John Murtha proposed that steps be taken to name one of the streets in Exeter after Ann Bernatitus, a United States Navy nurse known as one of the Angels of Mercy who served in World War II. After the war, Bernatitus, who was born and raised in Exeter, returned to the borough and lived at the intersection of Valley and Battle Avenue. Bernatitus was cited for her heroism in caring for wounded under heavy fire during the Japanese takeover of Bataan and Corregidor and was one of the last Americans to escape Corregidor. During a daring rescue, she joined six Army officers and six Navy officers along with other nurses as they slipped out of Manila Bay to board the submarine U.S.S. Spearfish. Bernatitus was the second person awarded the Legion of Merit Award medal for her service under dangerous conditions but was the first person in the United States Naval Service to be so decorated. Bernatitus passed away in March of 2003 at the age of 91 and is buried at St. Casimir’s Cemetery in Pittston.

    1960 – 57 YEARS AGO

    The Sunday Dispatch published the High School News which listed social and scholastic activities. Those who were reporters at their respective schools were Carol Schoner, West Pittston; Elizabeth Acquilina, Pittston; Ruth White and Jule Terry, Hughestown; Lorraine Perrins, Pittston Twp; Eleanor Jennings, Avoca; Sandy Sarnak, St. John’s; Mary Grace and Anne Zikoski, Moosic; Mary Ann Wojik and Gloria Romanowski, Jenkins Twp.; Deanna Steckman, Wyoming; Geraldine Szymanski, Duryea.

    A Speed Queen wringer washer could be purchased for only $99.95 at Radio City Shopping Center, Broad Street, Pittston. The business accepted the customer’s old washer as down payment. One could buy a brand new Mercury Monterey or Comet for $2,631 or $1,998, respectively, at Julio Motors, 295 S. Main St., Pittston.

    The Fort Pittston Parent Teacher Association announced newly elected officers: Ida Sarago, Mary Bosco, Eleanor Garzella, Mary Tighe, Mary Mooney, Monica Joyce, Josephine Fasciana, Leora Fulkerson and Catherine Klimashiewfski.

    Answer:

    Pittston assistant city solicitor, Attorney J. Earl Langan, discovered a little known Pennsylvania law which he believed made Daylight Saving Time illegal in Pennsylvania and deemed those observing in West Pittston, Wyoming, Pittston Township, Avoca, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton as breaking the law. The statue, in Volume 1 of Purdon’s Digest, A Digest of Pennsylvania Statues from 1700 to 1903, compiled by John Purdon Esq., includes a Chapter IV. Time: Section 171, Uniform Standard Time which states in short, On and after the first day of July, Anno Deomini, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven, the mean solar time of the seventy-fifth meridian of longitude west of Greenwich, commonly called eastern standard time shall be the sole and uniform legal standard of time throughout this Commonwealth and on and after the date aforesaid all days shall everywhere be taken to begin and end in accordance with said standard.” The statue, though, went on to state that, “When the standard time shall be advanced, for any portion of the year, by any act of Congress, now in force or hereafter passed, the time so fixed by such act of Congress shall be the standard time of this Commonwealth for such portion of the year.” By 1966, more that 100 million Americans were observing Daylight Saving Time. Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of that year which was signed by President Lyndon Johnson. The act was to “simplify the official pattern of where and when Daylight Saving Time is applied within the U.S.” Prior to this law, each state worked out its own plan for the dates of beginning and ending of Daylight Saving Time.

    This day in history:

    1700 – William Penn began monthly meetings for blacks advocating emancipation

    1955 – 81st Kentucky Derby: Bill Shoemaker aboard Swaps wins in 2:01.8

    1960 – U.S.S.R. announces Francis Gary Powers confessed to being a CIA spy

    1966 – Mamas and Papas “Monday Monday” hits No. 1

    1970 – “Long and Winding Road” becomes Beatles’ last American release

    1975 – President Ford declares an end to “Vietnam Era”

    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_thumb1_Miss-Judy-toned.jpg

    Thirteen senior girls at St. John’s High School received college scholarships in 1960. From left, first row, Sheila Redding, Carolyn Julio, Mary Ellen Kozischek, Eugenia Gavigan, Barbara Boyle, Barbara Pisano. Second row, Mary Ann Sevec, Joann McNally, Marita LaPorte, Mary Pat McDonald, Carol Devers, Ann Loftus and Barbara Brigido. Misses McNally and Julio received scholarships to Marywood College, the others to College Misericordia.
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_ST.-JOHN-GIRLS-SCHOLARSHIP-1960-toned.jpgThirteen senior girls at St. John’s High School received college scholarships in 1960. From left, first row, Sheila Redding, Carolyn Julio, Mary Ellen Kozischek, Eugenia Gavigan, Barbara Boyle, Barbara Pisano. Second row, Mary Ann Sevec, Joann McNally, Marita LaPorte, Mary Pat McDonald, Carol Devers, Ann Loftus and Barbara Brigido. Misses McNally and Julio received scholarships to Marywood College, the others to College Misericordia. Sunday Dispatch File Photo

    Does anyone recognize these members of the Key Club of West Pittston High School who in 1960 worked after school hours to landscape the grounds of the West Pittston Library?
    http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/web1_West-Pittston-Library-Clean-up-1960-toned.jpgDoes anyone recognize these members of the Key Club of West Pittston High School who in 1960 worked after school hours to landscape the grounds of the West Pittston Library? Sunday Dispatch File Photo

    Peeking into the past

    By Judy Minsavage

    Reach Judy Minsavage on Twitter @JudithMinsavage

    Reach Judy Minsavage on Twitter @JudithMinsavage

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