By JUDY MINSAVAGE
June 1, 2013
With an estimated crowd of 60,000 expected to attend the ceremony, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Airport in Avoca officially opened on June 1, 1947. What unusual cargo was aboard the first freight shipment leaving the new airport?
1947 - 66 YEARS AGO
“Impressive” ceremonies were scheduled for the grand opening of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Airport in Avoca along with a “christening of the American Airlines Wilkes-Barre -Scranton Flagship plane by a set of Scranton twins.” During the day, courtesy flights were given by American Airlines to travel members and members of the media. Colonial Airlines, along with American, planned to land a total of 20 planes to inaugurate services at the field. On June 25, 1936, American was the first airline to fly the Douglas DC-3 in commercial service. From 1945 to 1950, American operated American Overseas Airlines, a trans-Atlantic division, which served a number of European countries. Based at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, Colonial Airlines operated in the 1940s and 1950s.
1957 - 56 YEARS AGO
With a win over Exeter High School, Pittston High retained the baseball championship of the Eastern Division of County High School League. Jim Fitzpatrick pitched a shutout and Hank Walker produced a two-run homer, netting the 2-0 victory. Members of the championship team were Frank Tribbett, Carl Tuinylas, Russ Arnone, Ray Eichman, Charlie O’Boyle, Sam Argo, Jim Fitzpatrick, Phil Lafoca, Ray Lucarella, Hank Walker, Gene Thomas, Ed Knowles, Phil Clark, Wes Mugford, Bobby Knowles, Joe Taleroski and Bob Brown. The win qualified coach Jim Giardina’s team a chance at the annual High School Baseball Tournament Title at Artillery Park.
Doris Mae Keeler, of Hughestown, was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the Women’s Marine Corp. Keeler enlisted in 1954 and received basic training at Parris Island, SC. According to the website www.womenmarines.org, in 1918 Opha Mae Johnson was the first woman to enroll in the Marines. In 1950, the Women Reserves were mobilized for the Korean War and 2,787 women served. Today, women make up 6.2 percent of the Corps.
1967 - 46 YEARS AGO
Joseph Oprendick, a member of the Executive Prom committee at Pittston Area High School, crowned Joseph Healey king at the junior prom held at the Mayfair Supper Club. Barbara Musto, also a member of the executive committee crowned Patricia Wysowski prom queen.
Andrew Mihalko, Michael Onuschak, Andrew Vasil, Joseph Markowski, George Parulis, Raymond Falton, Elliott Pellegrini, George Race, Paul Petro, Thomas Battle, Steve Masley, Michael Dupock and George Vasil, members of the Exeter Memorial Post 6518 VFW, welcomed Sam Conigliaro as its first Vietnam vet during an installation ceremony.
Four deserving young women were awarded scholarships by members of the West Pittston Junior Women’s Club. Each year the club donated proceeds obtained during the club’s spring project to young women recommended by principals and guidance counselors at their respective school. In 1967, the recipients of the scholarships were Suzanne Hammon and Loretta Reddington, of Pittston Area High School, and Janice Romanowski and Barbara Memory, of Wyoming Area.
1997 - 16 YEARS AGO
Throughout the school year, members of the Pittston Area fourth and fifth grades studied the Civil War under the direction of their teacher Phyllis Biga. Going the extra mile, students were asked to immerse themselves in the subject matter and take on the roles of soldiers, families, doctors and nurses to better understand the effects of the war on people living in both the North and South. Biga designed her curriculum to reflect a “different aspect of American history by applying field trips, demonstrations and contests,” as well as a trip to Gettysburg. The year ended with students Kevin Musto, Brianne Smithonic, David Morreale, David Spak, Alexis Jesikiewicz and Steven Martin winning awards for their participation. This year we will observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. There are many websites and books dedicated to the subject. To read about Pennsylvania’s role and vast contributions to the war log on to www.pacivilwar150.com.
Three bags of Kehoe-Berge Anthracite coal were sent via American Airlines Air Freight from the newly-opened Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Airport to former Pittston resident David Carter in London, England. The “chestnut-sized coal” shipment was restricted in size due to export-import regulations. No reason was given for the shipment in an article published in the June 1, 1947 issue of the Sunday Dispatch. CoalaAsh trays were also shipped to various Senators and Congressmen in Washington, D.C. and New York City.