The Pittston Dispatch 03-18-2012

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The Pittston Dispatch 03-18
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  WILKES-BARRE, PA $1.00Sunday, March18, 2012 Millennium clockon Main Streetgets a face lift. >> PAGE 3 Tribute to Personsof the Year andSaporito recipient. >> PAGES 31-42 Perfecttiming Our flooded neighbors WESTPITTSTONTOMORROWPAGE5 PHOTO BY BILL TARUTIS         P       A       G       E       2      S      U      N      D      A      Y      D      I      S      P      A      T      C      H  ,      S      U      N      D      A      Y ,      M      A      R      C      H      1      8 ,      2      0      1      2        7        1        6        6       5       7        2       5        9        1        3        3   Call Karen Fiscus at 970-7291 Advertising deadline is Thursday at 3 P.M.Impressions Media Fax: 602-0184 I either remember this storyor I’ve heard it so often I think Iremember it. Either way, St.Patrick’s Day brings it to mind.I was in kindergarten, so itmust have been on or around St. Patrick’s Day of1954, whenthe teacher asked each child tostand up and say “what theywere.”There’s probably a column inthat itself.A friend once pointed outthis is the only place in Amer-ica where if someone asks“What are you?” people re-spond with a nationality.Any place else someonemight say “I’m a doctor” or “I’m a farmer.” Here, they say“I’m Italian” or “I’m Irish” or “I’m Polish.”And kids, apparently, aresupposed to know this, even inkindergarten.But I didn’t. And as my turnapproached, I grew more and more anxious.The teacher, whom I oncemisidentified in print as beingMrs. Hopkins but later wasinformed by Mrs. Hopkins’daughter Ann that it could nothave been her mom but was probably Mrs. Dessoye, wasMrs. Dessoye. Mrs. Dessoye, Iremember, was very tall.And on this day, she seemed taller than ever.All the other kids knew ex-actly what they were. And theywere so proud of it they didn’t just say what they were, they  proclaimed  it, which only mademe squirm all the more.“What am I?” I kept askingmyself.“What am I?”In my state of panic I heard one little boy say he was “half & half” and that’s when it hitme that I must be half & half too.So, when Mrs. Dessoye asked me the dreaded question, Ianswered with the same gustoas all of the others, “Half &half.”“Half what and half what?”she asked and panic set back in.But not for long. In a flashthe answer came to me.“Half up in Hughestown,” Iresponded matter-of-factly,“and half down here.”See, my family had justmoved from the borough of Hughestown to the Browntownsection of Pittston Township.I don’t remember Mrs. Des-soye falling on the floor laugh-ing, but if she did not, then thatwoman had incredible self control.I can surmise, however, thatshe told everyone she could find, including and especiallymy mom, and just like that, thestory became legend.My Mom informed me later that I was indeed “half & half” but that it was half Irish and half German.She wasn’t completely hon-est.I learned later I am actuallyone-quarter Irish and three-quarters German. I also learned that while my mom stronglyidentified with her Irish heri-tage, St. Patrick’s Day wasmore solemn than celebratoryin her family and thereforeours. Her dad, of German an-cestry, had died on St. Patrick’sDay in1936. My mom was13at the time and the eldest of sixchildren.The day became even moresolemn in my family when in1972 my mom’s mom, the for-mer Esther Moran and the con-tributor of the Irish genes to themix, also died on St. Patrick’sDay, 36 years to the day after her husband. We still find thathard to believe.So, other than wearing some-thing green, for most of my lifeI tended not to celebrate St.Patrick’s Day, but rather spend afew moments each March17reflecting on my maternalgrandmother, who loved mefully and unconditionally, and my maternal grandfather,whom I never knew.As an adult, I even passed upthe annual Greater PittstonFriendly Sons of St. Patrick  banquets despite the urging of many friends.But that changed a few yearsago when Charlie Grimes, then president of the Friendly Sons,invited me to be toastmaster.I always try to honor suchrequests and when I did thisone, I found attending the ban-quet was actually a way to hon-or my Irish roots, and hence mygrandmother and my mom.I’ve been to almost everyFriendly Sons banquet since,including last night’s at TheWoodlands, the 98th consec-utive one by the way.I tell everyone my favorite part of the evening is at the beginning of the program whenwe are asked to sing the Na-tional Anthem.It doesn’t take much coaxingto get men of Irish ancestry to belt out a song and when theyraise their voices in The Star Spangled Banner – 500 or moreof them – it, without fail, sendschills up and down my spine.It also reminds me they arenot really Irish and I’m not atall half & half.We’re Americans, the lot of us. And that is something worth proclaiming. Ed Ackerman, optimist eackerman@psdispatch.com Half & half  Millennium Clock..............................................3The new Napoli’s..............................................4War story...........................................................7Local Chatter....................................................8Matters of Faith...............................................10Editorial /Letters.............................................14Maria Heck........................................................15Nutrition............................................................17St. Patrick’s Day memory..............................16Peeking into the Past......................................17Town News......................................................58Sports..............................................................55Obituaries.......................................................66School menus.......................................Social 2Birthdays................................................Social 3          I         N         S          I         D         E VOL. 66, NO. 6   S  UNDAYDI    S P AT  C H  , S  UND AY  , MAR  C H1    8  ,2  0 1   2 P A G E   3  W hen did the revitaliza-tion of Pittston’sdowntown begin?TobepreciseonSunday,April30,2000at1:20intheafternoon.That was when the city un-veiled the Millennium Clock atthe corner of Main and Broad streets and then mayor MikeLombardo called the clock “asymbol of the city’s rebirth.”Last week the clock itself had arebirthwhenrepresentativesof the clock’s manufacturers, Ver-din Clock Company of Ohio,came to Pittston and refurbished it.City street department head Sam Valenti arranged for theclock makers to use part of thecity’sgaragewheretheclockwasupdated inside and out. Workingaround the clock – literally on both counts – the workers gavethe clock face new glass panelsandthebodynewpaint,letteringand gold trim, completing thework in 48 hours.The clock was fitted with anew master controller which issynchronizedtotheofficialtimeand will keep the clock tickingduring a power interruption and automaticallyresetitfordaylightsavings time.Lombardo said the clock needed a facelift. “It’s been 12years already. It’s a high trafficarea and it got nicked up.”The idea to have Verdin cometo the city sprang from a chancemeetingofJimZarraandVerdinrepresentatives at a conventionin Las Vegas.The new controller is insidethe clock. The older, much bul-kiercontrollerwaslocatedinsidethe adjacent Joyce Building.Another update for the clock,whichiscomingsoon,isadigital pad device that will allow theclocktoplaythousandsofsongs.As it is it has a 400-song capac-ity.TheupdatewaspaidforbytheCity Redevelopment Authorityand the Tomato Festival Com-mittee.Coincidentally the restorationof the clock comes100 years af-ter the Miners Savings Bank  pedestalclockwaserectedonthesame corner in 1912. The bank clock stood until 1956 when itwas dismantled and scrapped atthe Al Miller junkyard and re- placed by a modern hangingclock on the bank building.The Millennium Clock wasdesigned as a much larger hom-age to the Miners Bank clock which was five-feet high. TheMillennium Clock is 17-feet-high.The $30,000 srcinal cost of the clock was funded as a com-munity project. Names of thosewhodonatedmorethan$250areinscribedonaplaqueatthemar- ble base of the clock. Names of those who donated at least $100areinscribedonbrickssurround-ing the clock base.The marble base was donated and constructed by Bob Pu-gliese.More than 200 people attend-ed the unveiling in 2000. City is on time with clock restoration Millennium Clock, dedicated in 2000 on Main Street, gets facelift By Jack Smiles   jsmiles@psdispatch.com Workers remove the Millennium Clock in downtown Pittston for repairs.This photo on the front page of the Sunday Dispatch Jan. 8,1956provides graphic evidence of the fate of the landmark clock atMiners Bank on Main Street since1912: is was unceremoniouslydeposited in Al Miller's junk yard.         P       A       G       E       4      S      U      N      D      A      Y      D      I      S      P      A      T      C      H  ,      S      U      N      D      A      Y ,      M      A      R      C      H      1      8 ,      2      0      1      2 Looking at the façade of Na- poli’s Pizza at 26 South MainStreet is like looking back intime.Thenewlycompletedexte-rior of the building is a restora-tionof,oratleastaverycloseap- proximation of, what the build-ing looked like100 years ago.Details like the wood panelsover brick base on the front and the faux oil lamps over the win-dows are architecturally authen-tic. The ornate window corniceson the upper floor were restored and repainted. The brick cross-walk and period streetlight outfront courtesy of the streetscapecomplete the effect as seen fromthe front.Originallythesouthsideofthe building abutted another build-ing. When that building was de-molisheditexposedablankwall.The final exterior touch will beto paint faux windows on the blank side to look like the realwindows on the north side.Inside, owner Antonio Casti-glione restored the srcinal tinceilingandinstalledthetilefloor and counter.Askedhowhelikedtheoveralllooked he said, “Very good, myfriend.”On Tuesday the redevelop-ment authority got more good news when re-bids were opened for work that had come in over  budget two weeks ago. The newlow bids for HVAC and façadework on the Pittston DentalBuildingandfaçadeworkontheold Bottoms Up Bar borderingthe Tomato Festival Lot wereawarded.Valley Refrigeration got theHVAC contract. Multiscape gotthe façades bid.For now the authority refers tothe bar as the Tomato Bar. Own-erMikePartashsaidhe’snotsurewhatitsfutureis.“We’rewaitingfor the construction to get thingsgoing. We’re up in the air. Wegutted the inside so we could doanything. It could be the TomatoBar or something along thosesame lines.” Next on the city’s new-look agenda is a request for bids onthe pocket park between Napo-li’s and Pittston Dental. At Napoli’s everything new is old again Main Street improvements continue, more on the way By Jack Smiles  jsmiles@psdispatch.com Napoli Pizza restaurant on Main Street has been completely refurbished.Napoli Pizza before the restoration project.
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