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PEEKING INTO THE PAST: Fierce rivalry once ended in stone fights

Judy Minsavage Staff Columnist

July 12, 2014

Joe Gentile, of West Pittston, recently reminded us that in May 1964, West Pittston High retained its Class B District track and field championship behind an awesome performance by Dan Llewellyn. With about 1,000 fans in attendance, it was reported Llewellyn “literally stole the show,” setting district Class B records in the 120-yard high hurdles,180-yard low hurdles and the 440 yard dash. Records formerly held by West Pittston track stars Wayne Rickert, Jim McGowan and George “Bucky” Mazur. Llewellyn was clocked at 15.6 in the 120 and 21.1 seconds in the 180 yard and running the 440 for the first time, clocked in at 53.3.


Question:


In July 1963, why and of what facility did Pittston mothers ask the Sunday Dispatch to accompany them on a tour?


1953 – 61 YEARS AGO


The idea of building the Jefferson Park in Pittston began in Daniel Conti’s North Main Street barbershop. Interested residents met to formulate a plan to build the playground on a plot of land bordered by Cornelia, New and Wilford Streets. The area once was the location for the “Half Pint” coal breaker. R.N. Hunter and Angelo Petrillo, of Exeter, donated bulldozers. George Bone donated a scraper and operators, Frank and Stanley Serino and Mike Martinelli removed mounds of culm located on the site. Albert Serino, of New Street, donated 500 tons of topsoil. Serino and Peter Uritz sent trucks to haul the soil. Some of the many local businessmen and residents who contributed to the effort were John Viola, Nick Scaciafavo, Fred Galasso, John Saltis, Bill Williams, Frank Borsos, Joe Mancini, Ed Skursky, Ed Cumbo, Mike Loyack Vasco Chiavacci, Fred Demech, Howard Miller, Bill Delia, Leo McFarland, Ted Zagrahan, Daniel Tavalini, Mike Rich and Paul Loux. After the installation of playground equipment, a conservative estimate $10,000 was placed playground.


1963 – 51 YEARS AGO


The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked, “Should men wear Bermuda shorts in public?”


Ed Knitkowski, of Duryea, answered, “If it’s hot enough, I don’t see any objection.” John Llewellyn, of West Pittston, added, “I think they’re wonderful, but if some men could see themselves, I don’t think they would wear them.”


Close to 2,000 fans witnessed a baseball game between the Dupont Rebels and the Avoca A.C. Teams at Memorial Park. Each team had its own cheering section but some attending fans recalled that 40 years earlier the rivalry was so fierce, the games would end in stone fights. The Rebels beat Avoca, 15-13, taking possession of first place in the Suburban League. Fans were treated to an unprecedented run count against two of the best pitchers in the league, Lefty Huda and Duane Naugle.


1973 – 41 YEARS AGO


The Pittston Swim Club coached by George Cosgrove copped its second win defeating Nanticoke, 332-133. Tom Meade took first place in the one meter diving, Keith McDade took second and Rick Humphrey took third. Andy Healey, of Pittston, overtook the competition in the 400 freestyle. Kathy Healey won her second consecutive diving victory in the 12-year and under age group. Mary Lou LoBrutte and Kathy O’Malley took second and third place in the 18 and under group. Other standout girls on the Pittston team were Maureen Melita, Michele and Megan Maguire, Jennifer and Coleen Hanlon, Leah and Nina Stratton, Anne Knecht, Debbie Powell and Marilyn Bartley.


Mike Ristick, Ray Micheletti, Bill Gaffney, Jim Constantini, Bill Coleman, Dave Solano, John Timek, Jim Biscotto, Greg Noone, Jeff Mitchell, John Dean, Lenny Swiontek, Chris Constantini, Pat King, Frank Gayoski, Ralph Cernera and Mike Timek, members of the Jenkins Township Little League All Stars, were set to meet Wyoming-West Wyoming in tournament play.


Top 10 songs of 1973


1. Will It Go Round In Circles – Billy Preston


2. Kodachrome – Paul Simon


3. One of A Kind – Spinners


4. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy – Bette Midler


5. Wildflower – Skylark


6. Give Me Peace – George Harrison


7. My Love – Paul McCartney


8. Pillow Talk – Sylvia


9. Shambala – 3 Dog Night


10. Yesterday Once More - Carpenters


Answer:


Moms whose children would be affected by the closing of the Jefferson School organized a tour of Jefferson and the school designated to accept affected students, Fort Pittston. They invited Acting Superintendent Nello Riccetti, School Director John Barrett and a member of the Sunday Dispatch staff to accompany them. Concerns about the condition of the Fort Pittston School were evident as the mothers pointed out plaster falling from ceilings and walls, flooring, lighting and restroom facility issues. With the tour, the mothers proved their point that Jefferson should remain open and Fort Pittston should close.


“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” Harvey Fierstein