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The Pittston Dispatch 08-07-2011

The Pittston Dispatch 08-07-2011

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Published by The Times Leader
The Pittston Dispatch 08-07
The Pittston Dispatch 08-07

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Published by: The Times Leader on Aug 07, 2011
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02/02/2013

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WILKES-BARRE, PA $1.00Sunday, August 7, 2011
Local family loseshome, belongings,dad’s dream car.
>> PAGE 3
Fred Gedrich anddaughter Darlenevacation in Peru.
>> PAGE 9
Fire takeseverything  Visit landof the Incas
COUPONSAVINGSINSIDEWORTH$435.28
PHOTO BY BILL TARUTIS
 
       P       A       G       E
      2      S      U      N      D      A      Y      D      I      S      P      A      T      C      H
  ,      S      U      N      D      A      Y  ,      A      U      G      U      S      T      7  ,      2      0      1      1
        2        5        9        1        3        3
 
Call Karen Fiscus at 970-7291
Advertising deadline is Thursday at 3 P.M.Impressions Media
“I hope Sheila’s there,” I said to Mary Kay as we wound our way up Route 92 heading toBartolai’s Winery in Hardinglast Saturday night.My wife knew I wasn’t talk-ing about my sister Sheila butabout Sheila Gelb, whose hus- band Bill was the reason wewere going where we weregoing.Bill, who’s got a few years onme and I’m 61, has just started a band, if you can believe that.It’s called “Bill Gelb and theBanana Hammocks” and Bill,an accountant by day, is not themost unusual member. Thatmight be the funeral director onelectric bass, or maybe the highschool basketball coach on lead vocals, or maybe their father onguitar. But that’s another storyfor another day. For now, it’ssufficient to point out that the band was playing that night atthe winery and I made it my business to see them.“It would be really neat if Maureen and Charlie show up,”I went on as we drove along. “Ihaven’t laid eyes on those twoin years.”Maureen and Charlie areSheila’s and Bill’s kids. They’reall grown up now but I remem- ber when they were born. Heck,I remember when Sheila and Bill got married.Sheila and I worked together at this newspaper for manyyears starting when she gothired in1968. I was only18 butalready had been on the staff ayear. She was Sheila McKeownthen, of West Avoca, and don’tforget the “West” if you knowwhat’s good for you. Our mostcommon bond was classic rock ‘n’ roll music. We’d hear a songon the radio at work and try torecall who recorded it. Sheilaand I were working side by sidethe day Elvis died. She brokethe news to me.We played a little joke onSheila the day before her wed-ding. She was – and is – a tinylittle thing but she drove a big pink Cadillac about a block long. I made a sign that read “From Here to Maternity” and hung it on the driver’s side door of the car. The whole staff stood in the parking lot and called her outside. Everyonehad a good laugh, photographer Kenny Feeney took her picture,and then, before going back inside, Sheila looked straight atme and, pointing her thumbtoward the sign, said, “Now getit the hell off there.”I did. And promptly hung iton the passenger side door.Sheila drove all the wayhome not knowing it was there.Well, it turned out Sheila
was
at the winery on Saturday. And so were Maureen and Charlie.And seeing them, in itself,made my night. How fabulousthe band turned out to be wasmerely a bonus.But this isn’t exactly aboutBill Gelb and the Banana Ham-mocks, or about Bartolai’s Win-ery, or even about my old friend Sheila, per se. It’s about nick-names, actually. See, any con-versation about nicknamesalways makes me think of Shei-la.It’s often said everyone – well, every
guy
– who grew upin Greater Pittston has a nick-name. I never did but I might be the only one.On page 24 today, you’ll find a list of some 300 nicknames of guys who are natives of or areconnected to the town of Avoca(not to be confused with WestAvoca, right, Sheila?) compiled  by five fellas who call them-selves the “Romeo Club,” anacronym for “Retired Old MenEating Out.” Chief Romeo JayDelaney asked me to publish it.Looking over the list mademe think of Sheila and a day atthe Sunday Dispatch back in’70 or ’71. No computers inthose days. We’d write our stories on typewriters – minewas a manual – and hand themto typesetters to be keyed intothe system. Sheila was re-typ-ing a story I wrote about aslow-pitch softball game whichincluded more than a handful of nicknames when she stopped cold and said aloud: “
 Bananas
LaNunziata,
Pickles
Alaimo,
 Peanuts
Trotta … this soundsmore like a grocery list than asoftball team.”The story didn’t but could have included guys like
Beefer
Loftus and 
Peanutstick 
Cawley.A funny thing about nick-names, by the way, is that a lotof guys have no idea how theygot them. One who does know,however, is Sheila Gelb’s hus- band Bill, whose nickname is“Handsome Bill.”He knows how he got it be-cause he gave it to himself.For as long as I can remem- ber, this is how Bill has in-troduced himself: “Hi. I’m BillGelb but everyone calls meHandsome Bill so you can too.”He usually follows with: “My birthday is February14 … yes,Valentine’s Day. Wouldn’t it benice if you baked me a cake?”You’d be surprised how many people do.Which suddenly makes methink of one of the few femalesI know with a nickname: Cathy“Cakie” Lawler. Wonder what became of her?
Ed Ackerman, optimist
eackerman@psdispatch.com
On old friends and nicknames
Hughestown Fire..............................................3Local Chatter....................................................8Matters of Faith...............................................10Editorial /Letters.............................................14Maria Remembers...........................................14Smiles and Frowns..........................................15Nutrition............................................................15Peeking into the Past......................................17Sacred Heart Picnic.......................................28Schools...................................................Social 2Town News......................................................34Sports..............................................................40Obituaries........................................................52Weddings.................................................Social1Birthdays................................................Social 3
         I         N         S          I         D         E
VOL. 65, NO. 26
 
 S  UNDAYDI    S A C H
 , S  UNA ,A U G  U S  , 0 1   1   A G 
 3 
Hughestown and Duryea volunteerswere the first responders to the fire at theDanaherhouseonParsonageStreetMon-day night in Hughestown at 11:55 p.m.The Hughestown Hose Company is lessthan a half-mile from the scene.Duetotheheatandhumidity,assistancewas requested. In all 15 departments re-sponded and firefighters worked in 15-minute shifts.Hughestown Fire Chief Jamie Merlinosaid the house’s double-wall, balloon-framing construction, common in older homes,madefightingthefirelaborinten-sive because flames get sucked into thespace between the walls and spreathroughout the frame.Witnesses at the scene said it took 18minutesforthefirsttrucktoarrive.Merli-no said any delay came before Hughes-town was dispatched. The HughestownDepartment’s log shows the departmentwas on scene in three minutes and twosecondsaftertheyweredispatchedby911.A Pittston Police cruiser happened by just as the Danahers were getting out of the house. One officer went into the Da-naher house while the other alerted theneighbors and got them out of theihomes.SamDanahersaidtheofficerwhowent into the house may have opened thecarport door, which may have inadver-tently accelerated the fire.Merlino said officer Justin Tokar did the right thing by getting the neighborsout of their homes. Calls were not return-ed to messages left for the Pittston Policeand the State Police Fire Marshal.
Hughestown fire chief disputes18-minute response time claim
 By Jack Smiles
T
he fire at 252 ParsonageStreet Monday night intoTuesday morning de-stroyed their home and virtuallyeverything Sam and Mary Da-naher and their four kids had.For nine-year-old Madison,theyoungestofthefourkids,theworst of the losses wasn’t her stuff, rather it was, she said,“Dad’s race car because he wasdreaming about it since he waslittle.”Her father Sam spent almosttwo years working on the car, aMonteCarlo,gettingitreadyfor his first racing season, a dreamhehad,ashisdaughtersaid,sincehewasakid.AnuncleinIndianagavehimthecarwhichhehadtorebuild it from scratch.“Every little penny I was ableto scrape up went into it,” Samsaid. “My uncle helped me over the phone from 250 miles away.We were getting competitive.My fellow racers were amazed.” Now the car is destroyed half-way through Sam’s first racingseason.Hewasranked11thinthestreetstockdivisionatMountainSpeedway in Butler Township,having made three top tens.One of his car sponsors isDiane’s Deli on Main Street. Afund raiser there last night wassupposed be for the race car, butwoundupasafundraiserforfirevictims.The fire, which was likelyelectrical,startedinacarport/ga-ragebehindthehouse.Maryand her son Adam, 14, were awakeand watching TV. The rest of thefamilywasasleep.Sometimebe-tween 11:30 and midnight Marywent into the kitchen and smell-ed smoke. She wasn’t immedi-ately alarmed as the odor of smoke wasn’t unusual in theneighborhood of backyard fire pits and cookouts.As the smoke intensified shegot her husband up. He went tothe basement, checked the fur-naceandhotwaterheater.Whenheopenedthedoortothecarportand peaked out he saw a wall of flame.Heclosedthedoorranup-stairs and got everybody out of the house, including the familydog, a golden retriever.Onceoutside,Sam,againsttheadviceofpoliceonthescene,ranaround back and jumped in thefamily car which was parked alongside the carport and droveit out of danger. “It was hot.Flames were barreling over thetop,” he said.Sam said he’s moved by thehelpandconcernofpeoplefromfriends and family to the Red Cross.“Youdon’tknowwhoand what you have until you have atragedy,” he said. “It’s amazing.”In the days after the fire,friends, family and even neigh- bors the Danahers didn’t knowthatwellshoweduptohelpcleanup and board up.Help is coming all the wayfrom Ohio, where Mary’s sister 
Home, race dream destroyed in fire
Hughestown family loses everything including dad’s dream race car
By Jack Smiles 
 Associate Editor
 PHOTOS BY JACK SMILES 
SamDanaherwithwhat'sleftofhisstreetstockracingcar.FriendsandneighborscomeouttohelpcleanupafterthefireattheDanaherhomeinHughestown.
SeeFIRE,Page4

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