Sgt. Francis Chesko
From Barry's to the Bulge
December 16th marked the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, perhaps the greatest land battle in American history. On Saturday, December 13th the Mahanoy Area Historical Society honored Sgt. Francis Cheko in a program at the Mahanoy City Public Library. Sgt. Chesko fought in the Battle of the Bulge and in four other European campaigns during World War II and thus is the recipient of five Bronze Stars. Sgt. Chesko also received a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained in France shortly after D-Day.
Francis is a regular visitor to the historical society, usually on Friday when Tom Ward is on duty. Tom was the force behind the program to honor Francis. Tom organized the program and lined up a dozen individuals and organiztions who presented plaques or citations to our ninety year old World War II hero.
Currently Tom is recuperating after a stroke. Hopefully he'll be back at his Friday post in the historical room before the robins start singing.
To view the slide show, Sgt. Francis Chesko, From Barry to the Bulge, that was presented at the library on December 13th, click on the link below.
80 Years Ago- Remembering the Class of 1935 MCHS
The images below were captured from a 16mm video which was brought to the historical society by Francis "Red" Burke.The Individual frames of the 16mm reel were scanned with a slide scanner . The historical society is previewing films in this manner in preparation for possible digitization.
I've added some information from the 1935 Maroon and Black yearbook in case you want to search for names to go
with the pictures.You may see your parents or grandparents in some of the frames.The video was shot right in front of the high school at Fifth and Centre. It's amazing to see Coach John Goepfert, Miss Stella Hinch, Howard Amour, Bill Becker, Garf Lewis and others in action. Look carefully for basketball great George Senesky among the eighth grade basketball players and take a close look at the band as they march east in the four hundred block.
It's interesting to note that in the days before television, computers and cell phones the Mahanoy High School students of 1934-35 found time to put on two plays: "The Patsy", which was the Senior play and the Gilbert and Sullivan Operatta ,"Iolanthe", which was performed by the Junior and Senior classes. The Junior class also performed "A Christmas Carol" on December 21, 1934.
After looking at the pictures you can read a copy of the December, 1934 Nugget. Eighty years ago this month the staff of the Nugget would have been preparing the Nugget's Christmas edition for publication at the Record American.
Thanks to Shirley Ryan for digitizing all of the Mahanoy City High School Nuggets ( 1927-1959). They are available for purchase on a DVD from the historical society. Cost is $10.00. The historical society also has available a digitized version (CD) of any Mahanoy City High ( Maroon and Black) and Mahanoy Township High ( Corinthian ) yearbook. Cost is $10.00.
Click on the newspaper below to read the PDF Version
Memorial Day 1952
The pictures below were scanned from a 16mm video using a Wolverine Slide Scanner. The historical society has a number of reels of 8mm and 16mm videos that are being previewed and prepared for eventual digitization. Part of the previewing process sometimes involves looking at individual frames of film using the slide scanner. I was able to identify the marchers in the picture below with the help of Marilyn Miller Evans ( MTHS-'53 ) and the 1952 Maroon yearbook.
Click on the pictures below to expand and/or view the slide show.
If you recognize anyone in the pictures below please let me know by using the CONTACT page of this web site.
McCann's School of Business Summer Program 1963
In the summer of 1963 students from McCann's School of Business Summer Program gathered at the Mansion Restaurant for the group photo pictured below. I can recognize many faces in the group which is made up mainly of students from Mahanoy Area and Immaculate Heart High Schools.My brother is pictured as well as a few of my classmates who were about to begin their fresman year at IHHS. How many do you recognize?
Click on the picture to enlarge.Then click the "X" on the upper right to enlarge further.
Remembering North Main Street
At one time or another the North Main Street area had : a brewery, two railroads, a bus barn ( trolley barn),a water company office, two collieries, a dress factory,a shirt factory, a bottling business ( besides Kaiers ), five slaughter houses, a stockyard, a national meat packing chain, at least eight bars, at least five hotels, a gas works, an electric plant and numerous other businesses both wholesale and retail. I estimate that that small area of town employed almost 2000 persons at its peak. The Mahanoy Colliery and the North Mahanoy Colliery alone employed over 1600 workers around the turn of the century. Much of that was gone by the time I arrived on the scene in 1949, but my dad worked at Kaiers and I remember miners returning from the Mahanoy Colliery in the early 1950s and I remember Centaks, Mickey Pucks, Nick Botocks, Murphys, Pasiekas, Brennans, Fogartys, Dorandas, Schaars, Fogel Bros, Mahanoy Wholesale, the bus barn, the dress factory and the P&R RR.
Who Are These North Main Street People?
Remembering Past Lithuanian Days
by Don Coombe
Don is a retired educator and a member of the Mahanoy Township High School class of 1949.
During my growing up years, Lithuanian Day was one of the big days of the summer. You see, I was born and raised barely a football field distance from Lakewood Park. I found employment there each summer from the age of nine. From an economic standpoint, Lithuanian Day was by far the best of all the ethnic days ( Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, Slovak, Greek, Welsh --- and more I can't recall).
My fondest memories involved the years I worked at the marvelous dance hall -the dance hall was a classic '20's structure and hosted all of the era's big bands.... You name one -- it played the Lakewood circuit.
August 15, 1914, the 1st Lithuanian Day was held at Lakeside Park in Barnesville. It was organized by the Lithuanian Catholic Priests League. During those early festival years most attendees had to take the train & arrived at the Lakeside station pictured below.
In 1922, Lithuanian Day moved to nearby Lakewood Park where it remained for over 60 years 'til the park closed in 1984. The festival was then held at Rocky Glen Park in Moosic 'til it closed in 1987. Now, the Schuylkill Mall is home to Lithuanian Day.
Before the end of World War II, Lithuanian Day was held on August 15th. The mines would close on that day which was also a Feast Day celebrating the Assumption of Mary. We're told early festivals were often rowdy & extended into the wee hours--in keeping with the rough & tumble tradition of the coal region. Many said it was like having St. Patty's Day during the middle of summer. After World War II, Lithuanian Day was held on the Sunday closest to August 15th.
Lithuanian Day at the Schuylkill Mall has grown into a two day celebration of culture, cuisine, song & dance. On Saturday from 11:00 to 5:00 and Sunday from 12 noon to 4:00 you can enjoy traditional Lithuanian foods: Cold Beet Soup (Saltibarsciai), Potato Pudding (Kugelis), Meatballs (Kotletai), Lithuanian Sausage, (Desros) Potato Pierogies (Koldunai su Bulviu Idaru), Stuffed Cabbage (Balandeliai) Fresh Dill Pickles (Agurkas), and Sweet Sauerkraut Salad (Saldus Rauginti Kopūstai Salotos).
There will be Lithuanian music, displays, demonstrations, and boilo taste testing. The Knights of Lithuania Anthracite Council 144 has been the prime sponsor of Lithuanian Day since 1977 and has done an excellent job keeping this rich coal region ethnic tradition alive.
Note: The Mahanoy Area Historical Society will present a slideshow which features photos from the
Swirsky/Mack family in the 1920s, the Lobichusky/Alansky family in the
60s-80s and the Valinsky family 70s and 80s. There's even a photo of
the "tug of war" and some scenes from the Dance Festival in Lithuanian.
For more information on this year's 100th Lithuanian Days Celebration at the Schuylkill Mall go to the Events page of this web site.
For extensive information on Lithuanian culture click on the link below.
Seventy-seven Years Ago
Members of Mahanoy City’s Tyrian Club ( Masonic social club) enjoy an evening of “hausey” at Lakeside Grove on Tuesday, August 17, 1937. Hausey was played in many of the bars and clubs of Mahanoy City and the surrounding “patches” and a game of hausey was a common sight at picnics in any one of the many groves and parks that surrounded the town.
Pictured here from left to right are: shoe store owner Thomas Tregellas ( 1866-1966), Dwight G. McCann ( 1889-1956) president of McCann’s School of Business, druggist Phaon Snyder ( 1880-1976), barber Frank Oschman (( 1887-1963), Dr. Christian Gruhler , Shenandoah ( 1870-1950) and Dr. Fred Wagner ( 1876-1955), a well- known dentist who was burned out of his practice in the “Dipper Building” in the Memorial Day Fire of 1945.
Note: Hausey is played with a deck of twenty-four cards. The jack of trump is the high card ( e.g. Jack of Spades ) and the other jack of the same color is second high card ( e.g. Jack of Clubs ) followed in order by the A-K-Q-10-9. Hausey can be played individually or with a partner. In the picture above there are two games with four players each going on at the same table.
Forty-six Years Ago
World War II Flag Raising
Father John J. O'Shea, pastor of St. Canicus Church, sent this picture as a postcard to Private John Long , one of the many St. Canicus parishioners who served our country during WWII. It looks like the postcard traveled from Mahanoy City to Fort Knox and then to Fort Benning and Fort Bragg. Father O' Shea's message to John reads,
" Dear John, Your star is in this flag. You will always be remembered in St. Canicus Church. Best Wishes, Father O'Shea."
Remembering Summers Past
To see a large version of the photo click the ling below.
1922 State Championship Revisited
Compiled by 1956 MCHS grad Ed Conrad
HIGH FIVE WINS
STATE COLLEGE, April 1.
Mahanoy City won the high school
basketball championship of Pennsylvania here this afternoon by
defeating the Harrisburg Tech
five in a fast game.
The team thus earned the champ
ionship cup and each of the players
on the winning team was presented
with a gold medal.
WON IN FINAL 7 MINUTES
Mahanoy City pulled the game out
of the fire in the final seven minutes
Harrisburg led early in
the game and with seven minutes
to play in the second half led 17
It looked bad for the locals when
Courtney was banished after his
Kappo went in
for Red and later was supplanted
Leonard succeeded in getting in
a long side shot and was followed
quickly by Dawson with another
long shot from the field, tying the
score at 17 all.
Smith dropped in three fouls
and Leonard made the lead safe
by dropping in another field goal.
The team scheduled to arrive
home on the L. V. flyer
due in town at 6:08 p.m. Sunday.
Two thousand loyal followers of the Mahanoy City High
school basketball team greeted the new champs on their
return from State College last evening where they won
the tournament that places the Mahanoy five as the best
in the State.
The conquerors of Nanticoke, Newport, Mount Uniion
and finally Harrisburg Tech were accorded a great welcome
at the local train station, and each player was made to feel
the gratitude that the town felt to them for their wonderful
work in the championship tournament.
Tossed on the shoulders of their admirers, the long
procession ended at an automobile, and with George
Heinz, flag bearer, and a local "jazz" band producing
music, a triumphal march was made about the streets
Everywhere the cheers rang out for the athletes-heroes,
and everywhere were the highest honors accorded the
noble wearers of the Maroon and Black.
With Jimmy Deem, a sub on the team, and whose
long side shot tied the score in the game of games
carrying the ball that brought us victory, the march went on
until reaching the rooms of the B.P.O.E. where a chicken
dinner, with all that goes with it, was served to Captain
James Leonard, Thomas Courtney, Frank Dawson Edward
Tolan, Vladimir Smith, Peter Kapo, James Deem and
Edward August, all members of the squad, and to Coach
Johnny Goepfert, Supt. of Schools H. A. Oday, and Russ
"Bobby" Green of the Record-American force.
It was a great moment for the boys to cast all
training rules aside, and they certainly did justice to the
fare presented them.
RALLY IN FINALS, SEMI-FINALS
The last two games that brought the championship
of Pennsylvania to Mahanoy City were won only after
a great up-hill fight. More than ever "The Old Fight" was
needed in the game, and Mahanoy who was not even
figured in the finals, had the fight that carried them through.
Trailing for ever thirty minutes in each game, they
rallied, tied the score, and then passed their opponents
and rushed on to victory. They were men of iron in the
The Mahanoy team was the smallest of the four
teams that represented the sections of Pennsylvania.
Striplings compared to the brawny teams of Mount
Union and Tech, the locals had the support of the entire
Penn State student body, and sent the students wild as
they trallied and took the lead in the semi-finals and finals.
Fourteen hundred people saw the first game, while
a thousand were present at the second. The latter was
the best game of the series.
Mahanoy demonstrated in both games that they
were not a "one-man" team. The Mount Union game
was won only after a game fight, while the Tech game
was won under the same conditions.
Tech seemed destined for victory in the champion-
ship game but Mahanoy pulled out the victory with an
outstanding effort in the final seven minutes.
LEONARD THE STAR
Captain Leonard was a giant in both games, scoring
the field goal that downed Mount Union in the semi-finals,
and making four two-pointers in the title game (as many
as scored by the entire Tech team). The last one ignited
the rally that carried us to victory.
And then, when the praises of the boys themselves
had been sung, turn to him who has been their leader
and who has carried the boys thru the stormy season
preliminaries until at last they have reached the pinnacle
of success -- Coach Johnny Goepfert, the brains of the
team, who has delivered the goods for Mahanoy athletes
the past eight years.
"It's the proudest moment of my life," said Goepfert.
"Those boys are world beaters. Give them all the credit
in the world."
Tech had held the lead, 12-10, at halftime but the
second half was Mahanoy's.
With Tech leading 17-12 and only seven minutes
remaining, Deem sent the thousand spectators to their
feet with a roar as he dropped in the second of two long
shots that knotted the tied the score at 17.
Smith then scored a free throw that gave Mahanoy
the lead, 18-17, and later added anotherr to make it 19-17.
Leonard made the lead even safer as he stood at
a point equal to the distance to the foul line (but in a
position near the boundary of the court) and tossed in
a beautiful one-handed shot for a 21-17 lead. Smith
added a free throw to make it 22-17 (the final score).
Tech missed three opportunities to score during
the final minutes and, as the clock was runnning out,
Mahanoy held the ball and THE CHAMPIONSHIP
For more about the 1922 state champions click the link below.
50 Years Ago
Beatles, Beach Boys, LBJ vs Barry Goldwater, Clay vs Liston, Summer Olympics in Tokyo - it's hard to believe that 50 years have passed . Click below to view Mahanoy Area's Class of '64.
Memorial Day Remembrances
Below you will find some remembrances of a few of the many young men from Mahanoy City and the surrounding "patches" who served our country in time of war.
Mahanoy City's VFW Post is named for George Reese and Joseph Hall who were the first from town killed in action in World War I.
Grier City's Harold Messerschmidt gave his life for his comrades in World War II and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor . Be sure to click on the link below to view a tribute to Sgt.Messerschmidt on the Armed Forces Network.
Steve Gavula endured 33 months of captivity in North Korea before returning to Mahanoy City in September of 1953. The huge parade in his honor is one of my earliest memories.
Six young men that many who view this page will remember well gave their lives in Viet Nam. May they all rest in peace.
Links to some other pages Memorial Day pages are listed below.
World War I
1937 Memorial Day Parade
World War II
Killed In Action - Viet Nam War
To read more about the Mahanoy Township Fire Click the Link Below
38 Years Ago- 1976 - Mahanoy City Celebrates America's Bicentennial
Lassie League 1963
In the summer of 1963 the Mahanoy City Lassie League players gathered in the East End Park for a group picture that would appear in the Centennial Souvenir Book later that summer. Click on the picture to view an enlargement.
The First House in Mahanoy City
The Story of a Log Cabin by Joseph H. Davies (1943)
Three years after the Victoria Theatre opened and one year after the first "talking picture" - Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer opened in New York, movies with syncronized sound came to Mahanoy City when the John Ford movie Four Sons opened at the Vic on October 1, 1928.
Four Sons wasn't a "talkie". Instead it had sound effects and music which were part of the film. This spelled the end of the days of the accompanying pianist. During the silent film era movies were accompanied by an a piano or organ player .
In Mahanoy City Michael Slowitsky and Charlie Domson were employed in this capacity. Slowitsky later became famous with the publication of his tune Once in Awhile which was a number one hit in 1937 for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
Charlie Domson worked his way up through the ranks at the Kaier Brewing Company and eventually became president.
"The Movietone sound system is an optical sound-on-film method of recording sound for motion pictures that guarantees synchronization between sound and picture. It achieves this by recording the sound as a variable-density optical track on the same strip of film that records the pictures. Although sound films today use variable-area tracks, any modern motion picture theater (excluding those that have transitioned to digital cinema) can play a Movietone film without modification to the projector. Movietone was one of four motion picture sound systems under development in the U.S. during the 1920s, the others being DeForest Phonofilm, Warner Brothers' Vitaphone, and RCA Photophone, though Phonofilm was primarily an early version of Movietone".Source: Wikipedia
Click below to view a short clip from Fours Sons and/or Michael Slowitsky's Number 1 Hit Once in Awhile played by Tommy Dorsey
Former Historical Society President Frank Selgrath has contributed thousands of hours of research in compiling hundreds of binders filled with historical and genealogical information. These binders are now located in the new historical society room annex in the Rhoades Building. Frank continues to research historical records and newspapers on a daily basis in the tenth decade of his life. He's a savvy computer user and today forwarded the collage of Record American New Year's banners seen below. Happy New Year, Frank
December 16, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the acceptance of the Petition for Charter for the Borough of Mahanoy City by the courts of Schuylkill County, thus establishing the legal existence of the borough. You can read the petition, view a list of the petitioners and a short biography of each person by going to the Mahanoy City Charter page.
75 Years Ago
1942 Fire on East Centre
Thanks to Janet Schock Kline for allowing the historical society to scan numerous pictures taken by her uncle , Bill Miles, in the 1930s and 1940s. Below are pictures from the Central Bowling Alleys fire in 1942 along with the Record American's coverage of the story. I'm amazed that some store fronts remain similar to the way they looked fifty or even one hundred years ago - even after a destructive fire.
100 Years Ago in Mahanoy City
During Sesquicentennial Week a time capsule which had been buried in 1988 for Mahanoy City's 125th year celebration was unearthed.The Mahanoy Area Histoical Society received permission from the Sesquicentennial Committee to scan pictures which had been placed in the capsule 25 years ago before they are buried again along with items collected for the 150th celebration. I scanned about 140 pictures and will put them on this site in three groups. The first two groups can be viewed by clicking on the link below.
Picture of East End Park Pool taken by Elwood M. Young in 1928
“This is the second swimming pool in the East End Park. It was larger than the first by one thousand square feet. It was built in 1924 and dedicated on August 1, 1924.( Note: The first pool was dedicated on July 4, 1915.) Length from east to west was 116 feet; width from north to south was 73 feet. The depth ranged from 3 to 9 feet going east to west.
This pool was very popular for many years, and convenient for everyone…making it unnecessary to travel to Lakeside or Lakewood for a swim. Hundreds of children learned to swim at this pool…with swimming instructors giving lessons each morning during the summer school vacation periods. Special swimming events were held, especially on 4th of July and Labor Day holidays, with expert swimmers of town and vicinity participating. At various occasions champion U.S. swimmers were a featured attraction. Thousands of people would witness these events…taking a picnic basket to spend the day “At the park”.
Unfortunately the usefulness of the East End Park Pool came to a close in the late 1930’s. The settlement of mine workings under the park caused an opening on the surface which ran through the pool, making cracks approximately 2-3 feet in width in places, and the wall heaving or sinking in other sections.
The bronze tablet monument on this East End park picture was unveiled on June 11, 1920. The tree on the left was one of the memorial trees planted for each of the dead WWI veterans whose names appear on the monument. The trees were planted and dedicated on May 30, 1919. The World War I Monument is now in the German Protestant Cemetery situated on the Civil War Plot.”
Elwood Young Collection- Mahanoy City Public Library
East End Park 1940s.
The Class of 1963- Mahanoy Area High School
50 years ago this week the Class of'63 became the first class to complete four years as part of Mahanoy Area High School - the jointure of Mahanoy Township and Mahanoy City High
which occurred in September of 1959. The class of '63 was also the Centennial class, graduating during the 100th anniversay year of the borough of Mahanoy City.
History of Mahanoy City
Written in 1933-34
Most of the early history of Mahanoy City was taken from the account written by Mrs. T. H. B. Lyon. A great deal of information was obtained
by Garfield Lewis, Jeanne Faust, John Malone, Josephine Unsinn, Jane Glaudel, Elsie Oliver, Robert Lowe, Bertha Tulin, Jane Maher and Anna Ryan, from interviews with Mrs. R. P. Swank, Mrs. T. L. Thomas and Mr. William H. Boyer.
The history was compiled by Theresa Lusckus,
Lillian Bonavage, Charles Welsh and Charles Doorley. The typists were Theresa Lusckus, LillianBonavage, Freida Tulin, Leodania Wysocki, Josephine Matalavage and Anna Gnall.
Click on the Link Below to go to the History Page
Mahanoy City Then and Now - 100 West Centre Street
Daniell Brothers hardware store at 100 West Centre Street in the early 1890s. From left to right are: Bill(?) Moyers, Charles M. Daniell and George M. Daniell.
The Daniell Brothers moved from the anthracite coal region of Mahanoy City to the bituminous coal fields of West Virginia sometime after this picture was taken.
The store later became the O'Connor hardware store. See the picture below. The digitized picture was sent by Hanna Maurice, a descendant of the Daniell Brothers
This picture of O'Connor's hardware store at 100 West Centre Street was taken from a film that was produced in 1916. The film was found in the Lincoln School Building when the building
and its contents were sold at auction a few years ago.
The film was donated to the historical society by Larry Levy and digitized. The digital copy, 1916 Movie Memories runs approximatelt eighteen minutes and shows scenes of
Lakewood Park and Mahanoy City. I "captured" the image above from the digital copy.
Daniell Brothers and O'Connor's more than 100 yeras later. The bottom floor has a brick face, but notice the cornice work around
the second floor windows, and compare it to the 1892 picture.
There is still evidence in downtown Mahanoy City of the town's historic past.
The Last Duel In Pennsylvania
The last duel in Pennsylvania was fought on March 26, 1931 on a mountainside north of the 8th Street bridge in the vicinity of Pleasant Hill.
To read the full newspaper account from the March 27, 1931 edition of the Record American click on the links below.
Some Recent Articles That are Now in the Archives
Here a the links to some recent articles.