Some questions answered
Letter No. 103 | April 28, 1999
The following responds to several of your questions:
Strip mines in the late '40s extended from Cardiff to the Twin Rocks Cemetery on the hillside above the Nanty Glo -Twin Rocks Road. Another strip mine tract extended beyond the western hills along the Jackson Township Road beginning at an entrance close to Twin Rocks - Vintondale bridge and stretching through the hills to the Lorain Road intersection. Several of my friends and I swam frequently in pools formed by the strip mines. It's best our parents never knew.
High school initiation was the tradition of upperclassmen removing a freshman's trousers on a busy downtown night, and have him go searching or begging to retrieve them. It was pure harassment and humiliation, but shows the frequent shallow thinking of those times. I don't think the girls would have gone for similar treatment.
"The old Cottage" was a popular spot where everyone you knew gathered. Pete DeBalli, the founder and owner, discovered the popularity of pizza long before Domino's or Pizza Hut. Peter died in his mid-fifties from cancer. There was a Teen Canteen beneath the firehall with several ping-pong tables and also a juke box with a dance area. It kept youths from loitering on the streets.
Regarding another older question, Joe Kovach ran a taxi service in Nanty Glo for years. When he passed away, a relative, William Kovach from Twin Rocks, took over. The taxi operation ceased after his passing. I was acquainted with his son, William (Bill) Kovach Jr., who resided in Ebensburg, and it was surprising to hear that Bill Jr. died about two years ago in his mid-sixties.
Well, Jon, I exhausted all the knowledge I have for now.
Webmaster's note: Ah, yes, now that you mention it...I remember it all well. Boy those strip mines didn't ruin the landscape forever nearly as much as we all expected, did they (but they were all refilled, I presume)? And Nanty Glo's idea of initiation makes me glad I went to Blacklick Township High School! Ours was for both genders and also humiliating (but not that humiliating), but on the whole benign and fun, ending with a night of organized antics and the first dance of the school year. I can't remember anyone really wanting to do away with it. Pete DeBalli, Jr., was a schoolmate of mine in Belsano for a while; before the Cottage, Pete, Sr., had Charley's Grove on the Cambria and Indiana County line on Route 422. His nephew, Dennis Misener, was in my class until fifth grade, when his family became the first I knew of to move to California (I managed to contact Dennis by phone in Sunnyvale, Calif., once after moving to neighboring Palo Alto in the early '70s).
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