Home PageJump to Jonal EntryHumorInspirationUse this address for help with your membership.Home PageJump to Jonal EntryHumorInspirationUse this address for help with your membership.

Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Friday, February 11 2005

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Nanty Glo was rock and roll

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum was being planned, several cities competed for the honor of hosting it and the benefits they could reap in tourist income. Philadelphia, as home of American Bandstand, pressed its claim. Nashville, the home of Sun Records, seemed a likely candidate (except that it already had a lion's share of the music-industry tourism). Cleveland won, based on its being the radio home (WJW) of Alan Freed (a Johnstown native) when he coined the term rock and roll. But to anyone who grew up in the 1950s like I did, the home base of rock and roll was your own high school or your own home town. We in Blacklick Valley had not only a half dozen full-time AM rock radio stations from Pittsburgh and Johnstown but most evenings (after the smaller stations had signed off for the night) we could also pull in WABC New York, KBW Buffalo, and others from Cleveland and even as far as Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Boston.

By the Elvis Presley years in the late '50s, "rock and roll" was used to cover a wide range of music styles that were all more broadly known as "pop" or "top 40." Both the fast songs ("Blue Suede Shoes") and the slow dances ("Love Me Tender"), and even chalypsos ("Dream Lover") were part of the same music genre. At the roller skating rinks we skated to rock, and the teen canteens in Vintondale, Nanty Glo, and Twin Rocks revolved around it. At the lunch recess in my junior high school, most of us spent at least some of our hour at the Twin Rocks candy store with a jukebox and a small dance floor known as Seese's, on the basement level of the building that is now the GAL hotel. Though at seventh- and eighth-grade age hardly any boys tried to dance, in high school dancing was part of the phys-ed curriculum and the coach/gym teacher taught everything from the foxtrot to the jitterbug and polka.

Knowing how to dance became important in freshman year of high school because dances filled two important aspects of school life: the more apparent social one and the less apparent but no less important fund-raising one. At Blacklick Township High School we had about one dance per month and our senior classes always had the privilege of hosting weekly skating parties every Saturday at Ciceros in Ebensburg. The senior classes got a cut of all the tickets sold for the parties and had to arrange for a school bus to cover Belsano, Twin Rocks, Vintondale, and Nanty Glo to pick up skaters every Saturday. This was how the seniors made enough money to make their graduation-time trip to Washington affordable and it was so important to the skating rink owners that during the summers they sent their own bus through the valley to gather up the same young customers.

But despite all these other ways that rock and roll permeated our lives in rural Blacklick Township at the time (and in Jackson Township, too, I'm sure), Nanty Glo was our rock and roll capitol. The Saturday night hops put on by and benefiting the Eagle Scouts in town drew teenagers from a wide radius to dance on the basketball floor of the Union Hall on Roberts Street. Most Fridays nights in Nanty Glo were also used for fund-raiser teen record hops at the Slovak Club or another hall. These usually were served by Johnstown radio disc jockeys (most often Larry Ford of WCRO). Even on Thursdays there were frequent "hops," and on special weeks in summer, like Old Home Week and when the County Firemen had their conventions in Nanty Glo, teen dances were scheduled every night, usually in a set-aside outdoor area in the Firehall parking lot.

During carnival weeks, there were outdoor record hops every night.

All of these made Nanty Glo a magnet for older teenagers and college-age youth; it was a great place to meet new people and make friends. And in my teen years the Capitol Theater always had midnight shows on Fridays, which were attended by the same age demographic and was a popular place to unwind after an evening of dancing or skating.

I'm sure that these days in the Valley it's not unusual to catch a bit of hiphop audio in the air from cars and pickup trucks with young drivers. It harkens back to a different and I think richer era in the valley. For one thing, I think the "audience" for any such public airing of radio or CD blast is now only a fraction the size of what it was...back in the day.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005


3) "Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar." —Drew Carey

4) "The problem with the designated driver program, it's not a desirable job, but if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house." —Jeff Foxworthy

Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

Underpromise; overdeliver.

Tom Peters  

Top daily news stories linked from our sister webpage
Xnmp, news that signifies
The Nanty Glo Home Page and all its departments are for and by the whole Blacklick Valley community. Your feedback and written or artistic contributions, also notification about access problems, are welcomed. Click here to reply.

When subscribing or unsubscribing to the list, use the email address to which you receive mail.
No message text or subject are needed on the email.


Search nantyglo.com
Search WWW
Find a word

in Merriam-Webster's
online dictionary


Nanty Glo Home | Blacklick Township Page | Vintondale Page | Jackson Township Page