SUNDAY DISPATCH, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2012
Fox Hill foursome is still shooting in the 90s By JACK SMILES firstname.lastname@example.org
As he stepped to the no. 1 tee at Fox Hill on the morning of his 90th birthday, Louis Mischianti was the youngest guy in his foursome. Mischianti was golfing with three of his long-time friends Elmo Clemente, Howard Rottman and Sam Gelso - all World War II veterans, successful retired businessmen and regular golfers. They were all of born in 1922 and turned 90 years old this year. The four have been Fox Hill members for a combined 211 years. Gelso, who grew up in the Oregon section of Pittston and lives in Jenkins, has been a member for 63 years. Gelso graduated from old Pittston High in 1940, where he was a 140-pound guard on the football team blocking for Charley Trippi. “He used to say, ‘Sammy, gimme a foot.’ He’d slice through and be gone.” Gelso and Trippi, who lives in Georgia, are still friends and talk to each other regularly. Gelso was a Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Corps in WWII, serving in England and Germany. He and his father ran the No. 14 Coal Company in the 1950s. At peak production, they employed 550 men and pulled 1500 tons of anthracite out of shafts in
Ports Blanchard. Later, he owned the Brocca Garages company. He also built and owned Avenue Lanes in Exeter, now Modern Lanes. Gelso and his wife, Theresa, have a son, a dentist in Massachusetts and four grandchildren. Howard Rottman grew up in Wilkes-Barre and lives in Kingston. He’s been a Fox Hill member for 58 years. In WWII, he was a Tech Sergeant in the Army Air Corps stationed in Cairo, Egypt assigned to the Air Transport Command. He owned and operated the Wyoming Valley Garment Company, a manufacturer of men’s trousers, in Kingston. His wife is deceased. He has a son and four grandchildren. Elmo Clemente grew up in Wilkes-Barre and lives in Kingston. He and his wife, Terry, have five sons and three grandchildren. Elmo’s brother was well known in Pittston where he ran Pat’s Shoe Repair on Broad Street. Elmo was a partner in the accounting firm of Snyder and Clemente which has 28 employees. “I still go in once a week to get a check,” he said, cracking up his buddies. Clemente’s been a Fox Hill member for 50 years. In WWII, he was a Navy Lt. First Grade serving in the Pacific as an Executive Officer on board an amphibious assault ship or LSM
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Ninety-year-old golfers, from left,Howard Rottman, Elmo Clemente, Sam Gelso and Louis Mischianti enjoy a day at Fox Hill Country Club.
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See FOURSOME, Page 7
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(Landing Ship Medium) and landed tanks and combat troops during the assault on Okinawa. Mischianti said to Clemente, “Maybe you landed me.” Maybe he did. Mischianti was a Marine combat PFC who fought in the most famous Pacific battles at the Marshall Islands, Iwo Jima, Saipan and Tinian. Mischianti’s first wife is deceased. He lives in Plains with his second wife, Jan. He has three children, eight grand children and five great-grandchil-
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After a year in the apartment, Best bought a house in Pittston Township where she lives with her roommate Teka, a female 3year-old black lab service dog. “Oh yeah,” she said of how Teka has changed her life in the year and a half she’s been with her. “It was kind of scary at first. We had to develop a bond and learn to trust each other. She’s given me a lot more freedom and independence. I used to use a cane and I’m amazed at how much faster I’m able to get around now.” Best enjoys activities like “watching” TV and movies, using a computer and traveling. “I’ve gone to a lot of big cities and enjoy traveling, though sometimes I have to ask people for help reading a street sign,” she said. She can use a computer with special software that magnifies the screen. “When I watch TV, I’m pretty much listening to it,” she said. She can see big screen movies better. “It might seem weird,” she said, “but I really like, art, photography and tattoos.” She said at an art show, she can see the exhibits if she can get close enough. “If not, I have one of my friends describe it to me.” She’s also a hockey fan and goes to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins games. “Everything looks like blobs, but I pretty much can see what’s going on.” One of her favorite pastimes is listening to music. “I love music. Alternative, metal, punk and Japanese music.” Her current favorites are the Japanese band Chemical Pictures and the Ataris. Best is still debating with herself about what she will say in her acceptance speech at the Blind Association dinner. Maybe she’ll tell them the story about the third eye.
plan and prepare this year’s menu, which includes tripe, sofritto, gnocchi, meatball platters, porketta sandwiches, sausage and pepper sandwiches, portabella mushroom sandwiches, pasta fagioli, as well as Italian pastries, including cannolis, biscotti, cheesecake, cookies and the pizza fritta. The extensive menu is designed to satisfy the estimated 15,000 people who will be stopping by over the weekend. “It gets very busy,” said Chris-
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Foursome Continued from Page 5
dren, one of whom is a college student. He’s an avid reader and is currently reading the newlyreleased Joe Paterno biography. Mischianti has been a Fox Hill member for 40 years, which means, unlike the other three he has to pay dues. Fox Hill waives dues for 50year members. Mischianti joked that he was going to get the other three to chip in for his membership. Mischianti grew up in Old
Forge. He owned and operated Hi-Grade Pants in Taylor. The golfing buddies also enjoy playing gin at the club and poker at Mohegan Sun. The obvious question for the foursome: Can you shoot your age? Clemente pointed at the birthday boy Mischianti and said, “Louis can.” Mischianti laughed and said, “It’s easier now that I’m 90. I don’t have to shoot in the 80s.”
ation is confident this year will be as successful as in year’s past, they aren’t resting on their laurels. In an effort to improve on the yearly event, this year the festival will include the inaugural Race for Our Lady of Constantinople. “I wanted to do this way back,” explained Lou Terruso, race coordinator. “This year I finally decided I want to try it.” The two-mile race and fun walk will be held on Sunday, Sept. 9, beginning at the Old Forge High School football field, located at 301 1st St., and ending at the Felittese Chapel grounds, 145 3rd St., Old Forge. Prizes will be given to the top finishers in each age group. Registration will begin at the high school at 8 a.m., with the race scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Cost to participate in the race is $15. Proceeds from the race and the festival will benefit Our Lady of Constantinople Chapel, Prince of Peace Parish and local char-
Charles Saleski preparing the food at a previous festival. PHOTO PROVIDED
ities. For more information on the Festival of Felittese, visit http:// www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/ events/110422559104909/ For more information on the race, email Felitteseassociation@gmail.com.
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tina Mordente, vice president of the Festival Felittese. Mordente and the other volunteers are confident they’ll have enough food to cater to the crowd, having most of the cooking done, with 2,400 pounds of gnocchi, 7,000 meatballs and 600 pounds of tripe all ready to go. The homemade dishes, as well as the live entertainment, have helped make the festival a success over the last two decades. This year’s lineup includes performances by Fuzzy Park on Friday, Gold Dust on Saturday and The Poets on Sunday. All performances begin at 6:30 p.m. And, even though the associ-
SUNDAY DISPATCH, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2012
SUNDAY DISPATCH, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 201
5 0 Y E A R S L AT E R
The monster that ate seven towns Jointures ended the small town school By JACK SMILES
ifty years ago, September not only brought the beginning of the school year, it also brought the beginning of the end of the small town public school systems as they had always been known. In 1962 the seven east side communities surrounding Pittston City were merged into the Northeast School District. Barbara Gatto, then Barbara Randazza, was in that first Northeast senior class. The previous year she had been one of13 juniors at Hughestown High School. As a senior at Northeast she was one of more than 200. “It was kind of scary,” she said, “I was really nervous. I didn’t know anybody and I didn’t know what to expect.” The Northeast School District centered around what had been Duryea High School. High school academic, or college prep, students from the seven towns – Duryea, Dupont, Avoca, Hughestown, Jenkins Township, Pittston Township and Yatesville – were bussed to Duryea. Commercial course students went to Hughestown. That breakdown made the transition harder for Gatto as eleven of her Hughestown classmates chose to stay in Hughestown as commercial students. “My girlfriend and I were the only two from Hughestown going to Duryea, then she quit and I was the only one.” Gatto said she didn’t feel the Duryea kids looked down on the kids from the other towns, but at the same time cliques did evolve and she didn’t have an easy time making friends. The Northeast merger was the result of Act 561 passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature in early 1961 which mandated
This illustration on the first two pages of the 1963 Northeast High yearbook shows a map of the newly formed Northeast school district. JACK SMILES/THE SUNDAY DISPATCH
sweeping consolidations of schools that would have quickly eliminated hundreds of small school districts. Act 561 was repealed in 1963 and replaced by more moderate legislation working toward the same goal, but giving the school districts more time to comply. But the 1963 law did not affect the Northeast towns, which jumped in head first right after the 1961 law took effect. The merger plan was proposed as a referendum question on the ballots in the seven towns in general election of November of 1961. With the strong backing of state Rep. James Musto the measure passed, surprising some local political pundits. Northeast Area officially came into existence on July 1 in 1962, the beginning of the fiscal year for school districts. Northeast was one of the earliest merg-
Northeast Area officially came into existence on July 1 in 1962, the beginning of the fiscal year for school districts. Northeast was one of the earliest mergers in the state, and, based on the number of towns involved, the biggest. ers in the state, and, based on the number of towns involved, the biggest. All 37 of the school directors from the seven towns were on the first Northeast school board. The plan was to reduce the board as the directors’ terms expired and then hold a board election with a clean slate in 1967. As Duryea was easily the most populous of the seven towns and had the biggest high school building it became the district’s center, a fact that didn’t sit well
with many of the adults and students from the smaller towns. Northeast adopted Duryea’s school colors, blue and white, and nickname, Wildcats. The Duryea football coach and music director, Clem Resavage and Charles Mustinski, were appointed to the same positions at Northeast, as were Duryea’s superintendent and high school principal. While the football team, band and cheerleaders helped bring the district together a degree, they were also a wedge issue for some of the athletes, especially those from Avoca, who felt Duryea athletes were being favored. Gatto quit the cheerleaders for the same reason. Over 90 kids turned out for the first football practice, 45 of them from Duryea. The band and the cheerleader squad were also huge. The home opener, a 7-2
loss to Dunmore on September 21, drew 3,000 fans. A major logistical hurdle was busing. Before the merger, students – excepting a tiny minority of kids from rural areas of the townships – walked to schools in their neighborhoods. With the merger the opposite was true, only a minority of kids could walk to school. Making the Duryea and Hughestown buildings high schools created a domino effect which forced the busing of middle, elementary and even kindergarten kids to other towns. Predictably, when the Northeast school district opened for business chaos ensued. Buses were late, over crowded or noshows. In one of many antimerger letters to the editor to the Dispatch, a Dupont mother complained that her seven-year-old See JOINTURES, Page 11
Continued from Page 10
son had to board a bus at seven in the morning to get to a school where classes started at 8:15. A mother from Duryea told the Duryea correspondent that her seven kids were bussed on different
time schedules to four different schools, all of which were “dilapidated” compared to Duryea. A hastily formed Northeast Taxpayers Association met in the Duryea Town Hall and argued they were sold a bill of goods when told the district would cost less than the community districts. Taxes were set at 75 mills district-wide to pay for
the then unheard of $1.1 million budget, a large increase in each case. Pittston City’s school millage was 35. In West Pittston, considered the best district in the area, the millage was 44. On Sept. 16 the Dispatch published an edition with a frontpage, above the masthead editorial headlined “Merger: Too Soon, Small Kids to Face Hard-
ships.” But there was no turning back. Northeast lasted four years. For the 1966-67 year it merged with Pittston city to form Pittston Area. That same year Wyoming Ar-
ea opened on the West Side. In a span of four years the 11 school districts in the Pittston area had been reduced to two. State-wide school districts were reduced from more than 2,000 to 501.
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Barbara Randazza Gatto points to her photo in the 1963 Northeast High yearbook.
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SUNDAY DISPATCH, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 201
Moose getting long in the antler Moose Lodge 1207 was founded 100 years ago; open house set Dec. 8 By JACK SMILES
Most likely arriving by carriage or trolley and working by gaslight, 19 men met in Pittston 100 years ago next month to form the Loyal order of Moose Lodge 1207. Among them were J. Grant High, the national director of the 24-year-old service organization, and a committee from the Wilkes-Barre Lodge, including secretary J. G. Jones, who elected these Pittston officers: Elmer Rozelle, past dictator; Charles Stroh, dictator; D. J. Waldoner, vice dictator; Harold Casper, secretary; Bert Tennant, treasurer; Albert Evans, inner guard; Ralph Tench, outer guard; Hugh Hughes, Sgt-at-Arms, Bert Clark and trustees Isaac LaFrance, M. A. Kresge and George Dunn. (The designation dictator was changed to governor after World War I.) The officers installed 89 members in December 1912. A week later, 117 more candidates were accepted as members. The first Lodge was located in a space in the Stroh Building on Luzerne Avenue in West Pittston rented for $60.06 a month. The flat under it was rented for $16 per month as the club room where a pool table - bought for $88 on easy terms – was installed. Lodge membership grew in the early years. In 1913, the first member benefit – a $7 a week sick stipend – was offered.
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OPEN HOUSE The Moose Lodge 1207 will host a 100th anniversary party for members and their guests on Saturday, Dec. 8. The $25 ticket price includes an open bar from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., a hot buffet from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. and a 20 oz. souvenir etched glass mug. The menu includes beef stroganoff, meat ravioli, cheese ravioli, chicken tenders, seafood fra diablo with penne, sausage and peppers, meatballs, penne pasta with broccoli and garlic, mozzarella sticks, potato pancakes, anti pasta, pizza, rolls and butter. TONY CALLAIO/FOR THE SUNDAY DISPATCH
In February and March 1919, a bond sale raised money for a new Lodge. On April 16, 1919 the Lodge closed on the two-story Huber Building in West Pittston bought from G. J. Huber for $8,500. Buying the building required the Moose to obtain a charter in Luzerne County Court. Directors Tench, Stroh and Alexander Bryden applied and Atty. R. A. Huller represented the petition.
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On Saturday, December 8, the West Pittston Moose Lodge #1207 will hold an Open House from 1 to 5 p.m. for the public they serve. Food and beverages will be served. Souvenirs and historical artifacts will be displayed. The 100th Anniversary Dinner will also take place on Saturday, December 8. Shown in the photo are the planning committe for both events. Left to right: Stan Timinski; Bob Bartoli, Past Governor; Kevin Schwerdtman, Trustee; Bob Chairge; Dan Castner, Governor; Joe Gillespie, Bill Goldsworthy, chaiman.
The new quarters were shown to the public at an Open House on Oct. 22 and 23, 1919. In 1921, a block party and carnival raised $1,200 but a 163-day miners’ strike the next year set back the local economy, trickling
down to service organizations. The Moose recovered enough by 1924 to add a third story to the building and buy new furniture. Along with the rest of the country, the Moose Lodge survived the Depression and World
War II with belt tightening as most benefits were curtailed. After the war, returning veterans grew the membership and, with the post-war economic
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