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             Tuesday, January 21 2003  

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Where are they now? Helen (Bichko) Yaronczyk

Nanty Glo is the home town of this week's featured person. Born Helen Bichko July 17, 1934, she is a 1952 graduate of Nanty Glo High School where she was a member of the National Honor Society and called "Johnny" by her peers and her favorite quote was "boshe moi." In high school, she liked polkas and Johnny.

Helen Bichko Yaronczyk
high school photo        more recent snapshot

Helen's parents, John Bichko and Ann (Donley) Bichko, are both deceased. Her father, who died in 1980, was a Nanty Glo borough councilman from 1950 to 1962. A possibly lesser known fact is that he was a film projectionist for Thomas Bello, the manager of Nanty Glo's Liberty and Capitol theaters. Helen's mother, Ann, passed away in 1991, and two brothers, Bill and Martin, are also deceased. The surviving members of her family are her brother, John, Parma, Ohio, and her sister, Marsha Ressler of Medina, Ohio.

Married to Nanty Glo native John Yaronczyk, Sr., since June 28, 1952, she and John are the parents of three grown children. Son John, Jr., and daughter, Denise Szell, live in Ohio. Finally, son James makes his home in Alabama. The Yaronczyk's have six grandchildren: Jessica, Anita, and Chrystal Szell, and their son Jim's children, Samuel, David, and Isaac John.

Like many area young people looking for more diverse employment opportunities than the local area had to offer, Helen and her husband moved to Ohio, where in 1970 Helen was hired by the Brook Park Police Dept. as a dispatcher/clerk/matron. In 1982, Helen graduated from Case Western University of Cleveland where she earned an associate degree in jail officer and matron training. Helen is also trained in police officer techniques and firearms.

As a female assigned to to be a dispatcher, she on many occasions had to search female prisoners for weapons, drugs, and contraband. During the 1970s, she accompanied officers on drug raids where she was the female assigned to search any female prisoners. "I had to do the searches and there was always an officer nearby to ensure my safety," she says. "There are a lot of people from the Home Page area in Ohio, she says. "I worked with two officers who had family ties to the area; Dennis Oravec, whose father was from Vintondale, and Charles Griffith, who had family in Conemaugh." A fact Helen is quick to make known is that, "For 18 years, my Nanty Glo calendar hung on the wall of my office."

Helen retired in 1995. "I was the first female to retire with 25 years of service from the Brook Park Police Department," she says. "A lot of women retired from there, but I was the only one with 25 years of service. "Since her retirement, she has time to pursue her hobbies of needlework and spending time with her family.

Although Helen left the area in 1952, she hasn't forgotten the charm of home town Nanty Glo."One of my favorite memories was Park's Cafe on First Street. It had booths and a juke box. The Teen Canteen in the basement of the firehall was another favorite hang-out," she says. "Hagen's Restaurant had the best apple pie, and when my husband and I were dating, we would go to 'Slims' for banana splits, and we would walk the railroad tracks on what is now known as the Ghost Town Trail."

A name that will strike a familiar chord with readers is Snorky the cop. "Snorky lived near my family on Third Street, and when he would see us in town, he'd say; 'Hey, it's curfew...time to get going,'"she says.

"I haven't been home since 1996," she says. "And I miss the good people and their friendliness. They helped one another and looked out for each other...they came through when there was a need." Like many who moved away to build their lives in other places and know of the economic hardship of their former home town, she hopes for economic growth for Nanty Glo.

Anyone wishing to say hello can find Helen at HDY2181@aol.com.

If you have a suggestion for a subject for Where Are They Now, please write Judy Rose.

Click here for an index of all Where Are They Now profiles in this series.





—Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Thought for the day

What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism

—G. K. Chesterton
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