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             Tuesday, March 9 2004  

Where Are They Now?
Jean (Fontana) Cronauer

This small in stature but big in heart gal was born November 16, 1927, and raised in Nanty Glo's "Little Italy" by her Sicilian parents. Like many immigrants who settled in Nanty Glo during the time when coal miners made meager wages, Luigi (deceased 1971) and Ida (Falsone) Fontana (deceased 1985) struggled economically to provide a home for their eight daughters.
Jean Cronauer, 1945, left, and in 2003, right, with husband Joe.

Jean is the"baby" in the Fontana family. Her older sisters are scattered from coast to coast and include Sarah Dino, Ebensburg; Rosie Vicini, Colver; Carmella "Carmel" Morganti, Cleveland; Angeline "Angie" Carpenter, Johnstown; Josephine Eckenrod, Fontana, Calif.; Christine Masic, Boca Raton, Fl., and last but not least, Rosemary Shaffer of Oceanport, N.J. The Fontana sisters manage to keep in touch with each other and get together several times a year.

Jean is a 1945 graduate of Nanty Glo High School where as she says, "I was very active." Her senoir yearbook bears witness to this. Besides the senior picture of a young raven-haired, brown-eyed, Jean Fontana called "Jenuits" by her classmates, is a caption that says: Commercial. Girl Reserves 1,2,3,4: National Honor Society 2,3,4; Commercial Club 3,4 (Treasurer); "N" Club 3,4; (Secretary); Dramatic Club 3; News Club, 4; Class Editor. "Presenting that scintillating, vivacious impersonation of Carmen Miranda"; a future rhumba queen.

Jean has been married to Nanty Glo native Joseph "Joe" Cronauer since June 18, 1955. Though both Jean and Joe Cronauer grew up in Nanty Glo, it wasn't until they met again in Cleveland that they took a second glance at each other. The Cronauers are the parents of four grown children: Michael, a safety engineeer for General Motors, lives in Rochester, Michigan; Sharon Porrello is part owner/operator of an upscale Cleveland jewelry store, and lives in Cleveland. Sharon's twin sister Sandra "Sandy" Homa is a housewife and married to the manager of a wallpaper and paint store and lives in Cleveland also. The youngest of the Cronauer's offspring is "Joe, Jr." who co-hosts the popular "Brian and Joe Morning Program" on Cleveland's WMVX 106.5 radio station. Young Joe also lives in the Cleveland area. The Cronauer's four children have given them eight grandchildren.

Of her Nanty Glo childhood, Jean says, "My parents had an 'arranged' marriage back in the days when arranged marriages were common. My father came to America first and then wrote to his mother telling her to find him a wife. My father then paid the fare for his future wife and her brother to come to America. They first had to go through Ellis Island and then on to Pennsylvania to meet the man who would be my father," she says. "My parents settled in Windber first, then moved to Nanty Glo's Second Street where they lived all their lives."

Small wages and lean times posed a struggle for the Fontana family. "I walked to school for years and had spaghetti every day for lunch when I was growing up," says Jean. "We ate it every way you could think of, and today I hate it." One of the better things she remembers from those long ago Nanty Glo days was the fact that her mother was a seamstress. "My mother was an excellent seamstress," she says. "I was a cheerleader for five years and my mother made all our maroon and gray cheerleading costumes because we couldn't buy them back then. If I needed a dress for a dance, my mother could make it without using a pattern. We didn't have much money but we had beautiful clothes." Dancing at the VFW and the Wagon Wheel were fun things to do too," Having lived away from Nanty Glo for many years, Jean says; "I miss my parents."

Her retirement in 1989 from Englehard Corp., a Cleveland-based chemical company ended a secretarial career that was born in Nanty Glo High School and began with her exodus to the city like many young people in post-war Nanty Glo chose to do. The bigger cities like Cleveland offered steady employment and a chance for a better life. "I started out as a secretary and worked my way up to office manager," she says.

These days, Jean keeps busy with her children and grandchildren. She and her sisters get together a few times a year to keep in touch and renew family ties. Anyone wishing to send greetings can send them to HRoses2@peoplepc.com for forwarding.


If you have a suggestion for a subject for Where Are They Now, On Their Way, or "Mom and Pop Businesses," please write Judy Rose. Click here for an index of previous Where Are They Now profiles.

Steven Wrightisms

24. Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Lenten thought for today

If we are to live unto God at any time, or in any place, we are to live unto Him at all times and all places. If we are to use anything as the gift of God, we are to use everything as His gift.

— William Law  

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