Sunday, December 5, 2010

100 Years of Clairton

The March to State Continues
To Date: Bears 662. Opponents: 26. Ten of their 14 victories this season have been shutouts, including this week’s 52-0 playoff victory over District 5 champ North Star on a snowy Somerset football field. How complete was this victory? Total rushing yardage for North Star: MINUS 31.

Showing class: Last week Clairton went to Heinz Field to defeat Rochester for the WPIAL championship. On the way to the game the team stopped at a local restaurant for their pre-game meal. The Blue Flame, a family-owned local eatery for more than a half-century has served many student groups and they are familiar with the pranks and rowdiness that often accompanies rambunctious students. We have it on good authority that the Clairton Bears football team was one of the classiest, most well-behaved groups that have been served in the restaurant. Some members of the team even made sure that plates were arranged for easy pickup after the meal. This group of football players are winners on and off the field.

But wait! There’s more: After the game the Honeybears, Clairton’s outstanding majorettes stopped at the same restaurant. The restaurant owner, a former Honeybear herself, expected no less that the level of class exhibited by the football team. She was not disappointed. The group, although excited by the victory, showed an equal level of class as had their team. Too often we read that the level of civility in Clairton has diminished over the years. The young men and women who represent the school speak loudly to that issue by their actions.

History in the making: A look at history of local football teams shows the top five unbeaten streaks all time in the WPIAL are held by Braddock, Greensburg (44, 1913-17), Jefferson Township (42, 1940-45), North Braddock Scott (41, 1932-36) and Clairton (36, 1926-30). But all of those streaks included at least one tie. Clairton’s current win streak is 29.

Back in time: As mentioned in earlier posts, Jim Hartman of the Mifflin Township Historical Society has provided us with many valuable photos and artifacts of historic Clairton. As we look deeply into the past, 106 years ago this weekend, to see what was going on in our community long before most of us or our parents were born. From the files of the 1906 Clairton Crucible, a forerunner of the Clairton Progress come the following snippets.

Amalgamated railways: Coal was the engine that drove the Clairton economy in 1906 and railroads delivered the coal. So when a dispute arose between railroads over which one would carry the cola, all mines were shut down for weeks until an agreement was reached to transport the estimated 3,000,000 tons of high grade coal. The West Side Railroad was acquired by the Wabash Rail Company. Once the coal dust had cleared Clairton miners breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The Wabash Railroad plans to open a new route that will connect Clairton to other coal mining and steel centers along the Monongahela River including Elizabeth and Monongahela. The new rail line will be more direct and not follow the banks of the river.

Stop, thief: William Rink, the butcher at Coatsworth Bros. was no sooner promoted to run their Clairton store, than he absconded with $120.00. He was caught, arrested, and found guilty of larceny and sentenced to pay a fine of 6 and ¼ cents and undergo imprisonment at the workhouse for 18 months. Coatsworth Bros. got back about $40 of their money.

Strike on the hill: On Tuesday workers on the Clairton Electric Railroad went out on strike. They had been earning $1.40 per day and demanded a ten cent per day increase in salary. The work force had been made up primarily of Italians and Slavs. The strike was organized by the Italians during lunch, according to the boss, James Nixon. The Slavs were willing to go back to work but were afraid of the Italians and their knives, so they all stayed away. The gang walked down the hill to State Street where they persuaded another gang to join the strike. No work was completed Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday workers gathered but were intimidated by strikers and no work was completed. The head office in Pittsburg (sic) refused to concede the demand and instead hired two additional policemen to guard workers. Work then continued on the project.

A real train wreck: A northbound Conway train loaded with coal smashed into a coke train that was at the water tank. The caboose and two cars of the coke train were demolished and the locomotive was thrown from the track. The cars were set afire and the coke continues to burn. Nobody was hurt. The wreck was not cleared byt the following evening but traffic continued to move as there are multiple tracks at the location.

Halloween pranks: Quoting directly, “Two boys and some young men were out for fun last Halloween night. Some of the things done exceeded the limits of good fun and partook rather of the nature of malicious mischief. Particularly was this the case when the delivery wagon of the Clairton Supply Co. was run back over the hill in the vicinity of the brick works nad badly wrecked. Some barricades were built on the street, signs exchanged nad other things that character perpetuated.”

MENDELSSOHN AND WILSON; News of the busy twin towns on the other side of the creek: D.A. Laughlin, principal of the Franklin School in Mifflin Township received injuries that necessitated surgery at the West Penn Hospital. Both teams played a rough game and several other players received injuries that will keep them out of the game for the rest of the season. Laughlin successfully withstood the operation and at this writing hs condition is greatly improved.

Finally, a horse belonging to Milton Bedell of Duquesne, and attached to a buggy was standing in front of Minford’s store on State Street when a small dog bit it on the leg. The horse dashed up the street. Mr. Bedell jumped out but the man that was with him stayed in the buggy until it reached Blackburn’s feed warehouse where the horse made a quick turn and wrenched itself loose from the buggy that was wrecked. The occupant was thrown out and received some bad bruises. The horse was soon caught and Mr. Bedell was not injured.

And that’s the way it was in Clairton 106 years ago.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Dreams to Remember,” by Otis Redding.

Dr. Forgot

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