Saturday, February 27, 2010
Patriotic For No Particular Reason
Thank you Putz Martin: Ten months worth of blogs ago in this space we honored the late Richard Martin. He had fought a gallant battle against cancer but lost. He was a Clairton lad who left his mark on the community as a law enforcement officer, including a stint as Clairton Police Chief. Richard had two brothers. Leonard, named after his Dad, took on the nickname Putz. He was a little stockier and shorter than big brother Rich. Jimbo, the youngest was a scrawny kid who came up to Richard’s shoulder. We all played football on Waddell Avenue, along with Franny Metro, the Pesta brothers, Larry Triglia, Mike LeDonne, Jim Beam, and others who wandered in and out. Somebody always had a football. The goals were the front bumper of Mr. Jone’s ’37 Ford and the telephone pole. The plays were, “Go to the front door handle, cut left, and I’ll throw the ball to the headlight.” Other days we’d play full tackle football in Mr. Jacob’s pasture at the end of Waddell.
Who’d a thunk there could be a 6’3” midget?: Putz contacted me recently and we reflected over the “good old days.” He emailed me a photo of three senior citizens – one in a police uniform, one in an American Flag shirt, and one in full uniform. The occasion was Memorial Day and the “short” person on the left was Richard, at 6”3.” Putz stood in the middle at 6’4” and little Jimbo, at 6’7” struck a handsome pose in his dress Army uniform. Putz also sent me a link to a virtual wall that lists Viet Nam casualties by last name and city. I discovered the following Clairton heroes who gave their lives for our country: PFC Terry Lyle Booth, PFC William Noel Cole, SGT Robert Doering, Spec4 Fredrick Paul Gillen, LCPL James Lloyd Pettiford, PFC Wayne A. Podlesnik, SFC Albert Edwin Smith, CPL David Leland Smith, and LCPL Dennis Michael Wargo. I thank the families of these brave young men and may they rest in peace. Clairton heroes all. And Thank Leonard “Putz” Martin for the link: http://www.virtualwall.org/istate/istatpa.htm
Clairton residents have long been patriotic: As a lad growing up in Clairton one of my most poignant memories is of the Roll of Honor that occupied the entire corner of St. Clair and Miller Avenues. On it were the names of the gallant servicemen who had served in the Second World War. The American Legion has also played a role for veterans to gather and for young people to learn of our country’s heroes. From the web page of American Legion Post 75 comes the following:
“The American Legion was incorporated on September 16, 1919 by an Act of the 66th Congress of the United States.
Daniel Keffer Post 75 was organized in Clairton, Pennsylvania, in June 1920 and received its charter in August 1920 with a community dinner held at the "Clairton Inn," afterwards known as the Penn Clair Hotel. The first commander was Dudley H. Polhemus.
Meetings were held for several months in the Municipal Building. Then portable buildings were occupied on lots located where the Clairton Post Office is now situated.
In 1933, following negotiations with the Carnegie Land Company, Daniel Keffer Post 75 gave up its location at the corner of Fifth Street and St. Clair Avenue, and occupied quarters at 540 St. Clair Avenue.
The Post operates under the original charter granted in August, 1920 and also a separate and distinct charter of incorporation granted by the Courts of Pennsylvania in 1933.
During World War II, Post officers and members were heavily engaged in the sale of war bonds, the operation of the various Rationing Boards, and the support of American Armed Forces abroad and on the Home Front. After the war, the Post saw a great increase in membership as the veterans returned home. Members established scholarship funds, contributed time and money to many community activities, and sponsored local sports teams.
On November 15, 1965 Post Headquarters at 540 St. Clair Avenue were vacated, and
temporary quarters were taken up at the Hirshberg Building on the corner of Large and Miller Avenues.
The present Headquarters at the corner of Mitchell and Miller Avenues were occupied on July 1, 1966,
To this day, Post 75 continues to be a strong force in the community, donating to many charities, granting scholarships, and helping to support the band, the sports teams, the firefighters and many other worthy organizations.”
Clairton has had its share of heroes, perhaps more than its share. It is the proud home of Congressional Medal of Honor winner Captain Reginald Desiderio as well as many service men and women, some of whom have returned home, others who have not. Clairton was featured as the hometown of Viet Nam war buddies and heroes in the classic 1978 film “The Deer Hunter.” Whether Clairton residents have remained in the area or scattered with the winds, all can be proud to have come from such a proud heritage.
A little blogging music Maestro… as a tribute to our proud Clairton soldiers we dedicate the Clairton High School fight song:
“It’s Clairton High School, it’s Clairton High School
The pride of ev’ry student here.
Come on, you old grads, join with us young lads,
It’s Clairton High School now we cheer, RAH, RAH
Now is the time boys, to make a big noise,
No matter what the people say,
For there is none to fear the gang’s all here,
So Hail to Clairton High School, Hail.”