Mary Swigle's Tavern razing
elicits memories of bygone era

Letter #384, April 9, 2012

Oh, wow! I was never inside the Swigle's tavern—it was one of the bars that I didn't deliver The Nanty Glo Journal to. I was inside one of the rooms Mary Swigle rented out. There was an alleyway between her tavern and the next building going out of town (Shoemaker Street, I think) and Mary Swigle rented out rooms (by today's standards, it was a slum). My friend asked me to go there with her to visit a sick friend, who turned out to be related to the man she later married. My parents would have been very upset if they knew I ever went there because that was considered to be a rough neighborhood, although I remember my mother taking us to the Barn [Liberty] Theater which is now the Historical Museum. My eighth-grade graduation was held in the Barn. The thing that worried her about that theater was that rats ran through it.

I delivered papers to Mike and Hanks, the VFW, the [bar] around the corner from Kozlovac's restaurant on Chestnut Street (going toward the baseball field and park) and some others I don't remember [the names of]. The tips were more generous in the bar rooms. You would get a dime or a quarter and the paper only cost seven cents. Of the seven cents collected, the Journal got 4.5 cents and the carrier got 2.5. Some people didn't pay and you carried them but you had to come up with the 2.5 and sometimes they never did pay you. The payoff came near Christmas because people would give generous tips then and you might get close to $100. I remember carrying 106 papers. I delivered to my neighborhood, then went First Street to Ivory Hill, up Barker Row to where Irene Deskevich lived and onto Cardiff Road, to where Bernot's had their store and along Cardiff road to home. I remember walking along the railroad tracks one winter after a big snowstorm and falling into a ditch and not being able to get out of the hole. A coal miner on his way home from work lifted me out and told me to get out on the road so I would get home safely.

I remember when there were as many bar rooms in Nanty Glo as there were churches. One of the great observations made by me, ta da. I remember the big hullabaloo about Rev. Kerns of the Lutheran Church going into the bar that was in the building where the old Heisley Company store had been. He went in and sat down with one of his parishioners to convince him to come out to church on Sunday morning. That was when the Lutheran Church was in an old wooden school the street above where the Wagner School buildings stood. I attended Luther League there with a friend and we had great times. I remember going on a hay ride and stuffing the pastor with straw that fell out onto the floor of the Dairy Dell in Ebensburg when we stopped for ice cream.

There were three movie theaters in Nanty Glo when I was growing up, a teen canteen under the fire hall where we could play board games, ping pong, or dance (supervised by Kathryn Trombley, the school secretary), dances in the Miner's Hall, and we would be allowed to loiter in the drugstore while we had a nickel Coke or, with flavoring added, a six-cent Coke. There was plenty for kids to do.

Sue Webb


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