What is Nanty Glo and why
does it have a home page?


By Jon Kennedy

Nanty Glo is a borough 12 miles north of the city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. During the 1950's when I was growing up in the area (about four miles north in Blacklick Township) it was possibly the largest coal-mining town in Western Pennsylvania, and certainly in Cambria County. But in the early '60's the entrance to the mine (formerly called the Heisley Mine) was moved a few miles south of town, mining continued declining as it had already begun in the area, and with the closing of Johnstown's major steel plants, in the next decade, Nanty Glo's population has declined from over 5000 at that time to 3190 in the 1990 census and to only 2,734 in 2010.

In my youth, Nanty Glo was a teenagers' paradise. The largest theater north of Johnstown—the Capitol—was there, with midnight shows on Fridays catering to teens and young adults. It wasn't unusual for Nanty Glo to host three weekly record hops (as teen dances were called in those days) on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday nights. Sometimes there were even competing record hops on the same nights (and many of us "cruisers" went to both of them, of course).

There were restaurants like the K&B and Mitchells' to hang out in, a pool room, and plain or pepperoni pizza was 10 cents a slice at Harry's Pizza. So was a bottle of Sundrop Cola, the best softdrink ever bottled (long since pushed out of many markets by Mountain Dew, a good but not-quite-as-good imitation).

I had the privilege of writing a column for teenagers every week in the Nanty Glo Journal, from the September after I turned 15. I wrote it almost without fail until a few months before I was offered a fulltime job on the paper, which led to my becoming its third editor, when I was 20 and at the end of my second year at what was then Johnstown College of the University of Pittsburgh (now UPJ).

My senior class picture. My editor considered it unrealistic.My photo usually accompanied the teen column, so I became well known at the theater and the hops, and I made some friends by offering to put their names in the column. I, and apparently some of them, fancied myself the Blacklick Valley's junior version of Walter Winchell. I conducted a weekly survey of the teenagers' 10 favorite pop songs for the column, which gave me entree to any peer I wanted to meet. Normally shy even now, it presented wonderful opportunities, and in all it was an awesome time. My life between 15 and 23, when I moved away never to live in Pennsylvania again, was literally a combination of Richie Cunningham's (of Happy Days) and John-Boy Walton's (even to the extent that, like John-Boy's, my mother was a pious Baptist and my father an agnostic).

I hadn't had any close friends (of the kind you pal around with outside of school) in my own school in Blacklick Township since junior high days. But I became inseparable with some Nanty Glo guys (and two Blacklick High peers who, like me, gravitated to Nanty Glo for our social life) for about four years. I still talk with one of them, whom I met at the Capitol Theater in 1958, by phone in Johnstown about once a month. So I've always had a place reserved in my heart just for Nanty Glo, which is why I wanted to create a Nanty Glo home page, seeing as how nobody else had yet done so.

My work for most of my life continued being mostly editing, with the title "technical writer" for a programmable logic company in San Jose, California (where I lived until 2013, when I moved to Northern Ireland). (Click here for my personal home page.)

So this is why someone more than 45 years and thousands of miles away started a Nanty Glo home page. But to make it interesting, I'd like anyone else who has ties to Nanty Glo, either past or present, to participate in it. Write me. Unless you tell me not to, I'll post your email to the Nanty Glo Forum. Send me the latest news and I'll publish it. Send digital photos of the area, and coverage of events there, both of times past or recent. Send links to your personal home page, or if you lack a home page, send your resume or concept and I'll create one and add it to this site for you, at no charge. The same goes for Blacklick Township, and Vintondale (my birthplace), too. We have separate linked pages for both of them, too; click their names atop the home page to visit them.

 

 


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Jon Kennedy 1997, 2013