Sunday, May 2, 2010

Clairton Then and Now

Those Oldies but Goodies...

It was a very good year: The year 1917 is ancient history to most of us. U.S. enters World War I, the U.S. bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million, San Francisco launched its streetcars, illegal immigration bill was fought in Congress (regarding Chinese), Russian Revolution begins, Congress passes excessive profits tax on corporations, Raggedy Ann doll invented, women given the vote in New York, Father Flanagan forms Boys Town, and most members of the Clairton High School class of 1935 are born.

The air that we breathe: It must have been that good air that has permeated Clairton and surrounding communities. Perhaps it was the experience of living through two world wars and a Great Depression. But whatever the reason, several members of the CHS Class of 1935 plan to attend the multi-class reunion. To the class of 1935 I dedicate the following poem:

Mary had some little sheep
From Commencement ‘35
Some of them have lost their way
Others no longer alive.

Today I send an all points call
For any you might know
Please send anything you might have
Of recent contact info.

Apologies to any REAL poets: In this scenario, Mary is played by Jennie Peterson CHS alum, class of 1935 who is trying to get as many of her classmates together as possible for the lark in the park get-together September 4. Please forward any contact information you might have on the following CHS 1935 grads and I will forward it on to Jennie. Lost sheep include:

Bakori, Clara (Dewar)
Beattie, Elizabeth (Lee)
Brown, Ruth (Espey)
Caparosa, Rose (Cali)
Cavalier, Jean (Latterine)
Churley, Helen (Bacher)
Dalton, Tom
Decker, Dorothy (Phillips)
Dickson, Thomas
Donnelly, Mary Jane (Lynch)
Eames, Hugh
Evans, Helen (Fleegle)
Grenfell, Raymond
Harmon, Kathleen (Parish)
Havlick, Martin
Hendricks, Mary (Morgan)
Holshouser, Mabel
Jackish, Josephine (Vidnovic)
Jones, Alice
Kirmeyer, King
Kvasnak, Cornelius
Lucas, Reed
Malm, Paula (Weaver)
May, Ruth (Veronick)
Micka, Ann (Kosko)
Musser, Geraldine (Openshaw)
Newcomer, Mary
Patterson, Loretta (Sorg)
Phillips, Earl
Phipps, Edith (Shaffer)
Plavchak, Anna (Sides)
Rozmus, Irene (Haines)
Soltis, Mary
Sontag, Irene (Burliner)
Stich, Mary (Abramovic)
Toynbee, Richard
Zdrale, Michael

Job Vacancy filled: A job was recently advertised in Clairton. The job had been held previously by a blind lawyer (Lloyd Fuge), a woman whose name sounds like a flower (Rose Bush), and a host of characters and scallywags as well as upstanding citizens. And oh, yes, the job pays a whopping $250 per month.

The young man who was selected for the job was Clairton native Richard Lattanzi (photo above). As a youngster he remembers buying penny candy at Joe's, stopping in Marracini's grocery, borrowing books from Wilson Library and setting up duck pins at his father's Wilson Lanes. Every one of those establishment are now part of Clairton/Wilson history but are now gone. But Richard remains. After attending St. Paulinas school then graduating from CHS he became a pipefitter at U.S. Steel. Always interested in civic affairs he became a councilman and was named Citizen of the Year by the Clairton Chamber of Commerce in 2006.

When Mr. Lattanzi decided to run for mayor of Clairton he assembled his powerful political machine consisting of his parents, three sisters and their families, and his own three children. That way he was not beholding to any special interest groups. What a concept. I hope this idea catches on in Washington.

But back to Clairton’s new mayor. He works at Irvin Works and lives in the house he bought from his parents, rebuilt and refurbished. His main goal is to re-capture the Clairton of his youth and he is doing so in part by marketing Clairton to young couples via the internet, focusing on the fact that low cost housing is available for an average price of an inexpensive car ($28,000). His vision includes getting abandoned buildings back on the tax rolls, inviting grocery stores to set up shop in Clairton and having more home ownership and fewer rental units. Currently a comprehensive plan to revitalize Clairton is being underwritten by a government grant.

The Mayor recognizes that Clairton has an attraction matched by few communities in the area – Clairton Park, complete with swimming pool and shelters for picnics. That is a great start that he hopes will attract young professionals and working couples. We offer a tip of the hat and encourage all current and former Clairtonians to contact City Hall to offer suggestions and help. A tip of the hat goes to Mayor Richard Lattanzi, Clairton boy.

The Clairton web site is:

A little blogging music Maestro... “My Hometown,” by Bruce Springsteen

Dr. Forgot

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