In answer to last week’s question, “Who won the very first Miss Greater Pittston title in 1950?” Miss Anita Drexinger, of Exeter, was crowned the first Miss Greater Pittston and went on to Harrisburg to compete against 11 other contestants for the the title of Miss Pennsylvania.
1969 - 44 YEARS AGO
Greater Pittston residents were quite upset that they received their 1969 school “tax card” two months earlier than usual. Historically, property owners used the summer months saving to meet the obligation. A second ward taxpayer commented to the Dispatch reporter, “Never before in the history of our town did tax cards come out so soon.”
A Chestnut Street businessman stated, “Our elected school officials are encouraging tax revolts with their way of conducting the people’s affairs.”
Introduced by Luzerne County Commissioner James B. Post years earlier, a card representing borough and county taxes had its usual mailing in March with school tax five months later in September. Taxpayers were without explanation as to why tax bills were sent out in June and July in 1969.
Thomas Boshard, of Pittston, the last member of the Pittston Camp Spanish-American War Veterans, passed away. As was written in the Dispatch, “Tom was a frequent visitor to the Dispatch office when it was in the Kehoe Building and chronicled many tales.”
A veteran of three wars, Boshard assisted Master Sgt. Edward Bilder and Master Sgt. Frank Keder at the local recruiting offices.
Four residents perished in a tremendous natural gas explosion that destroyed the Winter’s Victorian-style Personal Care Home in Harding. Borough residents gathered at Harding Elementary School to hear authorities discuss possible solutions to the seeping natural gas, the underlying cause of the explosion. A two-year probe followed the tragedy, leading to Pennsylvania Gas & Water Co.’s indictment by a grand jury on four counts of involuntary manslaughter charges which were dismissed by a judge in 1972. Killed were Mary Hitchner, formerly of West Pittston; Margaret Pasalok, of Kingston; Reba Titus, of Wilkes-Barre; and Florence Trax, of Harding. Mary Tanza, Betty Hower and Mary Rizzo sustained injuries. Inspectors examined at least 133 homes in Harding and found explosive concentrations of natural gas in at least 29 . An inspector with the Pittston Gas Co. detected 100 percent gas in the cellar of one of the Winters’ neighbors, Eugene Capato.
Many residents were ordered to evacuate. On Sept. 24, 1969, the state Department of Mines and Mineral Industries released this statement: “It is our opinion that the increase in volume of gas liberated in the Harding area was the result of gas being injected into the underground storage reservoirs being tested on the Lackawanna County side of the river.”
1979 - 34 YEARS AGO
The much-anticipated Hughestown Fireman’s Picnic was stopped before it started as the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, along with Pennsylvania State Police, conducted a massive raid the first night of the bazaar. In a Dispatch article entitled “Are Bingos and Picnics the Real Trouble in the World?” the writer lamented the illegality of “a few ladies sitting around playing Bingo” while “men lose their home at the race track.” But Bingo wasn’t the only issue,. Apparently, the firemen decided to start their event one day early, a decision which was not covered in the initial three-day permit to sell beer. Agents confiscated the beer that was to be sold without a promise it would be returned.
The Sunday Dispatch Inquiring Photographer asked, “Were you concerned about Skylab falling on you or your property?” Frank Barnousky, of Duryea, answered, “I wasn’t too concerned, nothing ever happens in Duryea.” Ed Vogue, of Dupont, stated, “No, I had confidence NASA would take the proper measure to insure our safety.
Skylab was launched on May 14, 1973 and was the first space station operated by the United States. After six years orbiting Earth, it re-entered the atmosphere, scattering debris over the Indian Ocean and sparsely settled areas of Western Australia. To read more on the story of this first space station, log on to http://www.space.com/19607-skylab.html.
1989 - 24 YEARS AGO
The Aces of Hughestown Boys Baseball League captured their fourth straight league championship. Members of the team were Joe Sperrazza, Paul Melvin, Michael Lizonitz, Jim Shimonis, Joshua Shimonis, Pat Schwartz, Charlie McHale, Bryan Martin, Chris Menichini, Tim Menichini, Jeff Martin, Jason Gardner, Gene Molino, and Joshua LaBoskie. Team coachese were Joe Sperrazza and Charlie McHale.
“Don’t find fault. Find a remedy.” - Henry Ford