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Where Are They Now?
Jean (Fontana) Cronauer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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
you have a suggestion for a subject for Where Are They Now, On Their Way, or "Mom
and Pop Businesses," please write Judy Rose.
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