Last updated: March 29. 2014 3:04PM - 2080 Views
By Judy Minsavage

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Test your knowledge of Greater Pittston:

From what territory was the borough of Yatesville formed?

In what year was The Pittston Gazette first published?

In what year was St. John the Evangelist Parochial School damaged by fire?

1952 -62 YEARS AGO

A story published in the March 30, 1952 Sunday Dispatch went something like this. A Lehigh Valley Railroader stood before a Pittston City Alderman, who had been known for his “tender heart.” The worker, accused of beating his wife and not giving her money to provide for their three children, explained that none of the things he had been accused of were his fault. Claiming his wife prohibited him from attending dances, allowed him only one case of beer in the house at the time and served improper food causing him to hoist a plate, which struck her in the head, the accompanying eggs landed on his cherished framed Trainmen membership certificate hanging on a wall behind her. The Alderman, moved to tears, rapped his gavel and reached into his own pocket to pay the offender’s $15 fine. In addition to this account were other remarkable stories, such as feuding politicians shaking hands, a city employee catching a fish with his bare hands and a Main Street fist fight between competing professional photographers. The headline across the top of the page, “More Fancy and Near Fact for April Fool Observance.

1962 – 52 YEARS AGO

The Area Redevelopment Act was enacted in to law in 1961. It was the first legislative result of President Kennedy’s “New Frontier” agenda. Under the new law and due in large part to the efforts of Guy Solfanelli and Fred Peters of the Bureau of Employment Security, Pittston Vocational School graduated 12 students after an eight-week welding course. Under the ARA plan, students received $32 per week while receiving training from instructor Dominick Stuccio. According to the website www.jkflink, “Public Papers of John F. Kennedy,” the following excerpt is from a letter dated January 25, 1961, sent to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House, urging enactment of a distressed Area Redevelopment Bill. “The proposed legislation will involve more than one existing department of Government. All must be drawn into the effort. In my judgment, the department best equipped to supervise and coordinate the program is the Department of Commerce. However, if the Congress should decide that a new agency would be more appropriate, I believe such an agency could also carry out the objectives I have outlined. In view of the high rate of unemployment and the long periods of idleness already sustained by so many persons in the communities the legislation will help, I urge prompt consideration and enactment of an area redevelopment bill.”

With every good wish,



1972 – 42 YEARS AGO

Taking first place in the Anthracite Regional Elementary Cheer leading Competition for the third year in a row, the St. John the Evangelist Grade School cheerleaders competed against tough competitors, St. John the Baptist School, Pittston, Wyoming Area Catholic, Exeter, Sacred Heart of Scranton and St. Jude’s, Mountaintop. Members of the squad were Sharon McCabe, Maureen Sheridan, Mary Alice Wagner, Maureen Finnerty, Margie Gavigan, Maureen Walsh, Renee Venarucci, Patti Smith, Eileen Gavigan, Rosemary Bilbow, Colleen Murphy, Susan McGarry, Sherry Booth, Kathy O’Malley, Kathy Donovan and Ann Richards.

1992 – 22 YEARS AGO

Eric Loyack, of Port Griffith, was selected as a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program. The distinction placed him in one-half of the top one percent of American high school seniors. According to their website, The National Merit Scholarship Program began in 1955. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test and by meeting requirements. The winner of 1992 competition was Stephanie (Morgan) Meyer, author of the Twilight series and film producer.


1. The Borough of Yatesville was formed from a section of territory taken from Jenkins Township on May 20, 1878.

2. The Pittston Gazette, the city’s oldest newspaper, was first published in 1850.

3. St. John’s Parochial School was extensively damaged by a fire on Feb. 19, 1960. The third floor of the building was totally destroyed and the bell tower fell to the street below. As elementary grades were phased out the school operated as Central Catholic High School and then as Seton Catholic.

“I think of life itself now as a wonderful play that I’ve written for myself and so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part.” - Shirley MacLaine

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