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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
           Friday, March 28 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterMemories - 3

Last October a "long lost friend" came online, discovered the Home Page, and became an enthusiastic supporter of it. She wrote: "Do you remember when we were in the Young Democrats Club together at [Blacklick Township High School]? Mr. [Webster] Mahan was our advisor. What a speaker you were! I well remember how you 'wowed 'em' at the Twin Rocks Miners' Hall!" I found this bit of lore fascinating and delightful, because she may as well have been talking about someone else than your humble correspondent. I didn't recall there even being a Miners' Hall in Twin Rocks, much less my own having made a speech there as a high school freshman and the organizer of the Young Democrats.

I asked her (she's a bit "publicity shy" so I'm not using her name) to give more details, and she added this: "You and I were in the very first group of Young Democrats. In fact, we were the very first Young Democrats organized, according to Mr. Mahan. You were the Speaker of the House; I was the President. Sarah Toth Vanone was an officer, also, but I cannot remember what.

"Regarding remembering, I don't remember the $100-a-plate affair. Perhaps it was after my time. The Miners' Union Hall was next to Mike Cocho's home. Going out of Twin Rocks, there was Shadden's Store ... Goss's Gas Station ... you crossed the bridge (over the creek) ... Mike Cocho's home ... then the Miners' Union Hall. Across the street was where the old movie theater used to be, and to the right of that is the VFW. The Miners' Union Hall was used for everything in Twin Rocks. i.e., Christmas treats from Santa; committee meetings; politicians; surplus food distributions, etc.

"In my teenage years there were no other buildings for those activities. By the time I was growing up, the old skating rink was even long gone; it had been turned into a residence (next to the high school). When we were 'new' Young Democrats, the politicians made a big deal out of it; our pictures were in the Nanty-Glo Journal (that's the way it was spelled and what it was called then). I don't remember, though, if it was when I was a Junior or Senior in school; I think I was a Senior, so it would be either 1956 or 1957."

I'm not sure of the year either, and haven't been able to find the clipping I had for years of our photograph from the Journal. I believe it was the fall of 1956, which would have been not long after the beginning of my freshman year. Our goal in organizing was to get a "leg up" in the political world. 1956 was the fall when Dwight Eisenhower ran for his second term, against Adlai Stevenson who we, of course, supported, being Democrats. I had always been fascinated by politics as a child, it was a favorite topic of my father and therefore was a point of contact with him. I remember our being a small group and don't remember any other male members; I was too shy to recruit and it may have been Mr. Mahan who spread the word on my behalf, which led to the handful of young ladies in the group.

I "almost" remember Joe Yobaggy, the most connected Democrat in the township, arranging a free invitation to join the $100-a-plate fundraising dinner at the Oriental Ballroom in Gallitzin (I believe it was). That may have been held on the occasion of Thomas Jefferson Day, which I believe is celebrated by Democrats around February. I do recall that U.S. Senator Joseph Clark was the most high-ranking official there. I do remember being at another such event at which Governor George M. Leader was the top bill. I believe that I was disillusioned by some of the politicos' behavior (thinking, if my memory serves, that Senator Clark had too much to drink, though to me at the time, any boozing by a "role model" may have been perceived as too much). That may have been the end of my interest in Democratic politics in particular and political activism on the personal level more generally.

If that was the school year 1956-57, the following September would have been the month when my brother was killed in the crash at the Belsano underpass, and later the same month I began writing the teen column for the Journal. The next two years were, despite the good feeling for the column, mostly lived in a fog (grieving). And that's why, I believe, I remember so little about the Young Democrats.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 Deep thought

I have a new philosophy. I am only going to dread one day at a time.

— Charlie Brown

Lenten thought for today

When you pray...

do not try to express yourself in fancy words, for often it is the simple repetitious phrases of a little child that our Father in heaven finds most irresistible. Do not strive for verbosity, lest your mind be distracted from devotion by a search for words. One phrase on the lips of the tax collector was enough to win God's mercy; one humble request made with faith was enough to save the good thief. Wordiness in prayer often subjects the mind to fantasy and dissipation; single words of their very nature tend to concentrate the mind. When you find satisfaction or compunction in a certain word of your prayer, stop at that point.

—St. John Climacus, 525-605

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