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Webmaster's note: The following letter, received in three parts from George Dilling, who lived in Nanty Glo for 73 years, is the biggest "haul" of memories and facts about the town we've yet received. It's truly a treasure. Because of its length and our desire to make it available without delay, we posted it before editing, and apologize for any errors of spelling, typing, and fact that might have appeared. It is now (as of May 29) revised and edited, but that's no guarantee, of course, that there are not still some oversights. Enjoy; and I hope it spurs many others to send their remembrances and questions. —Jon Kennedy

 

Early Nanty Glo theaters

Dear Jon,

I have enjoyed the Nanty Glo Home Page very much. I arrived in Nanty Glo in 1917 at the age of 18 months. I lived there for 73 years. We first lived in the second tile house on Christoff Street. My father was the contractor for building them. We later moved to Second Street across from the Bapist Church until the large house next to the Nanty Glo Lumber Co.(Later Ragley Lumber Co.) was built. The Star Theater was on the next street (First Street). The pictures were on the silent screen and throughout the movie they had someone playing the player piano.

The Nickelodian was located on the corner of Lloyd and Roberts Street facing Lloyd Street. It took up one half of the building and the other half was a Ben Franklin five and ten cent store. There were apartments on the upper floor.

Just above this building was a small one where Nathan Asbel had his tailor shop, and after he moved to McCoy Street Joe Rabel's barber shop moved in.

My father was the contractor for the Capitol Theater when I was 11 years old and I worked there doing odd jobs--waterboy, mixing cement for "Houseman Prussia," soaking lime for the plasterers for the ceiling moldings.

I don't remember what happened to the Grand Theater but around 1931 or 1932 the sides of the theater were raised. I remember standing on a platform about six feet square and halfway to the top of the wall. The person on the ground would throw the bricks up to me and I would heave them up to the person at the top. It was frightening when, once in a while, a brick would fall down, but I never got hit. A winch was brought in to raise the steel girder to the top of the wall. They didn't have the cranes to bring in in those days.

I was acquainted with the Victory, Grand, and Liberty theaters.

Early Nanty Glo stores

Not having any of the family [working in the mines] I was not associated with the company stores. I remember the Springfield Store being above the Ford garage and the groceries were delivered by a team of mules and a wagon. The Heisley company store was located in the Luther building on Shoemaker Street. We called the hall above it where the high school played it basketball games "Luther's Hall."

Next to this building was a wooden structure in which Mrs. Hopkins had a restaurant. Directly across the street was Cherkola's restaurant. I remember when the Heisley store was moved just above the Grand Theater. I believe it was the building that Mrs. Hopkins had been in. I remember seeing it being moved. There were several railroad ties used and rollers in moving the building. I remember seeing it when it was in the middle of the street. I was seeing from the back side and I don't know what might have been pulling it. From there it went to the building on Lloyd Street that is now the Legion building.

I don't know whether the building on Shoemaker Street was torn down or what happened to it. The Sons of Italy had a building there before Sheetz moved in.

Revival crusades

A couple of weeks ago I came across your letter asking about the Joneses coming to Nanty Glo. I had forgotten about it until last week riding in the car I happened to have a tape that I started to play and it was a recording of some of Bert's songs.

Bert was an accomplished organist and evangelist. For several years he had a combination musical and scriptural program over the Apollo Radio Station and later we heard him over the Dubois station. After moving to Plum Borough in 1990 we could no longer get that station.

The Nanty Glo Ministerium held four townwide evangelistic services over the years. We invited Bert to be our Evangelist for the second one. The services were held in the VFW. There was some opposition to holding them there. Bert's sisters Carol and Ruth helped him with the special music. They were here for a week. They stayed with Pete Lanik who lived across the street from us.

Two of the meetings were held in the fire hall and one was held upstairs in the Miner's Building

The 'American' Store, and others

In one of the letters someone asked where the American Stores had been located on Roberts Street. The store was originally Kupp's Grocery Store. The American Stores took over in the late 20s. On the corner was Edelstein's Department Store. I remember going in the back of the store truck with Ben Edelstein and someone else to peddle circulars to the houses in Wehrum. It was easy because the houses were all in rows.

On the other corner in the present Library building was Herman Donofsky's clothing store. The American Store was located between these two stores, and later Shadden's.

After Donofsky's left, the A&P moved in there and after some time they moved to the lamantia building. Jack Lumley was the manager.

I worked [at the American Store] one fall into the following summer in the butcher shop for 50 cents a week. A helper came in on Saturdays for $5 a day. One Saturday, when the helper did not show up, the boss from Johnstown brought a beef quarter to the store and he asked the butcher if I could handle the work and when he said yes, I was raised 50 cents to $2.00 a week.

My hours were 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. then off to school and after school until 6:30 p.m. On Saturday it was 6:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. [12 hours total for weekdays, 17 hours on Saturdays]. When school was out I was required to work from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and the same hours on Saturday as before, with no increase in pay. One day some friends were going swimming and when I asked for an afternoon off the butcher said no, and he made me scrub down the large cooler. My dad said that if I quit he would pay me that much in a day, so I went to work for him. I did enjoy the work in the butcher shop.

Fred Edwards' Store

I noticed a question about the Edwards Store. In the building at the end of Roberts Street on the left side of the street at the corner of Roberts and Shoemaker, T.P. Burns had his market. T.P. owned a lot of land and along upper Rodgers And Roberts Streets was the Burns Addition. My home was on part of that addition.

The first recollection I have of the Edwards was when Fred Edwards opened his butcher shop where T.P.'s market had been. Later, it was located at the corner of Chestnut and Second street on the left side of the school hill. The final location was in part of his home on second street. Fred had a slaughterhouse and butchered his own beef. I was in there one time when he had just begun butchering.

George Dilling

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