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The comments below were sent by email starting from January, 2007. Some have been edited. Although the main thrust of each email was left in tact. 

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Celebrate! Celebrate! Dance to the music....it's finally safe for us liberals to come out of the closet. Obama has made us "cool". I was elated to read your column this morining. For years I've felt like I was unamerican or weak because of my liberal views. To me liberal doesn't mean weak; it means compassionate.

This spring I got fed up with my country and started knocking doors,making phone calls and registering voters for Obama. It was so addictive that I didn't stop until Nov. 4. I'm a 58 yr. old white female high school teacher and, believe me, I made some enemies and got very, very tired. It was all worth it, though, when the election results came in. Of course, I was disappointed in Fayette County, but John Murtha called it right. Anyone who doesn't believe him should go out knocking doors like I did.

This Thanksgiving I had a lot to be thankful for. Obama and I didn't have to read Ann Coulter. I was close to canceling my subscription when they dropped her.

Keep up the great work with your column. I read and enjoy it every day.

Linda Girard

Mr. Owens,
I am writing again to compliment you on the "Did You Know" articles you write for the Uniontown newspaper.  I just thouroly enjoy reading them.  I can really relate to the going back in time thing as I am into researching my family's history.
Which leads me to this question.  Would you be so kind as to tell me how you are able to research and find the things you write about?  How do you get something that some smalltown newspaper from 'California' wrote about?  And did you ever discover why these far away papers were writing about something that happened here in Fayette County?  I often wonder about that.
Most weeks I can't wait from one Monday til the next to see what you come up with in the next article.
David Whipkey
Ohiopyle, PA.

Thanks for this story. What memories it has brought.
I lived in West Brownsville from 1935 to January 1944 and remember our hide and seek games in the summer months.
There's just no place like southwestern Pennsylvania.
Grace Alexander, San Mateo, Ca.

Hey Al,
Loved your article in today's paper. Brought allot of memories back. You mentioned the balloon in the bicycle wheel , we also would put one of our baseball cards on the spokes to make noise. HUM ! wonder what some of those cards might be worth today. I remember we would leave in the morning and head to the Playground, come home for lunch , then back to the playground until it closed again for supper, go home eat supper and right back to the playground. As you said we stayed out all day until dark then we would go to the bottom of our street and stand under the telephone pole with a light on it and sing oldies ( songs of the time then ) until one of the neighbors would holler out " ok boys its time to go home now", at which time we would.
Also those great night time games, hide n seek and release. Both were fun to play.
Keep up the great articles.
Gerald Lombardo (Lomp)

My question is "How many people remember that returning a pop bottle meant 2 cents"  When I started to read your article to my wife this morning I told her how we used to ride our bikes all over town,, I had a real nice english model (3 speed) I purchased with lawn cutting money from Franks Auto for 48 bucks... It had chrome fenders and white wall tires,, had a litter generator on the back wheel that when you put it on the tire, the light worked... We would go to Berkeley and Craig playgrounds to play basketball.. sometimes Gallatin,,, It was not much use to go to the east end,,, we were not good enough to ever make those courts... Your article made me think, you never see any kids riding bikes and we rode all over town,, I guess kind of sad,,  Trip Radcliffe was the director at the Boyle playground,,, you guessed, he rode his bike from Grant Street to Boyle..  When the City Playground Basketball league would come to Boyle,, (This did not like that court as it was not level) a crowd would come to watch those games... All a thing of the past...

Hi Ed,
Bob Pegritz here, Uniontown High Class of 67.  It's always so nice to see someone write about their home and especially what they did as a child.  Everything you described has been done by this writer.
One of the most important things that you mentioned is "make-believe".  That's where we get to be creative using our minds instead of using a computer, television, I-Pod, cell phone or CD/DVD player.  And, I believe that the reason that a lot of 50 somethings and 60 somethings are where they are today is because they used their minds to imagine things.  And once in a while, an idea would happen which would then be converted to reality.
Today, our kids are being spoon fed garbage for the most part.  Sure, they can turn on their electronic devices and get good honest-to-Pete knowledge but those things have other not so productive uses too.
My main purpose to stop by at your mailbox is to say well done and thanks for the brief trip in the Way Back machine.
God bless,
Bob Pegritz


I am originally from Uniontown. Went to N. Union for one sophomore year but grammar school was in Footdale and German Twp. for Freshman year before leaving for the tobacco fields in Mass. with the other school kids when I was 16. That is how we earned money for the following year for clothes for school. My parents moved to the Harrisburg area and I stayed here , married and had 4 lovely children who have produced 10 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren........ I think of those times on the farm when we did exactly what you said in one of your writings about the fire flies and playing hide and seek. It brought back so many memories that I wanted to cry.......... Now, at 68 years old, I think about the old days and wonder if I would change anything if I could go back to that time.
Thanks for all your stories............. I love them........Keep up the excellent work.....
Ruth Ann Matthews George

Hey Al,
you brought back a flood of great memories with the bike column. Thanks. I totally forgot about putting balloons on my bike spokes.
Joe Schiffbauer

Dear Mr. Owens,
I loved your article on riding your bike back in the day. The balloons on the wheel, I totally forgot about ! That reminded me of the cardboard we used to put on the wheel with a clothes pin to simulate the sound of the motor , that was when we did not have the penny for the balloons. The article also reminded me of how we used to decorate our bikes with flags and streamers for the Dunbar Memorial Day parade. There was also the time our Boy Scout Patrol rode from Dunbar back through the mountains to Fort Necessity and back in the same day ( those were the days you could go as a patrol of boys without an adult along to slow you down ! ). That was also the day the bull was standing in the middle of the road, as we toke turns trying to outwit the bull as we raced past him one at a time. Of course you had to muster up the courage to do it to show the others you were not a coward.
I thank you so much for jogging my memory about the good old days.
Sincerely, Les Rupert Sr., Dunbar, PA

I read everything you write in the Herald Standard and especially appreciate your editorial page commentary opposing that hawk nosed, stringy haired, bug eyed. neocon goof Ann Coulter. I know what you are thinking right now, why doesn't this guy just say what he really thinks of Annie the Hun, but that will be in another email. I really liked your wistful hearkening back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when penny candy, was, a penny. But what really struck me is the fact that you remembered fizzies. Without question, probably the most revolutionary invention in the annals of mankind. Thanks for stirring old memories and keep up the good work. We are counting on you.
Ray Barkley

Hi Mr. Owens:
I'm an 81 year old guy who spent over 40 years pulling wrenches and running service departments on Fayette St. in the good old days. (1946 thru 1990). You write good stuff, Al, but did you know that: (a) Congressman Snyder's first name was Buell and (b) the Franks ,Mother Irene and daughter Wanda attended Georges Twp. High at York Run, Pa. not German. How did I know this, you ask? I sat beside them for three years ! Keep up the good work, Al, you're an interesting guy.
Sincerely, Joe Angell

Dear Mr. Owens,
My husband and I are two of your biggest fans and read your commentaries religiously. Is there an online site where we can access your archived columns?
Several years ago I was introduced to you in front of Frances Market. Although I haven't seen you since, I'd love to see you again on January 20 in DC!
Susan and Pete Dandrea

Dear Mr. Owens
today's Herald Standard column was quite good--you got a lot into the space!--I appreciate the great memories-Sincerely-Dr. Michael L. Wilhelm--oh yeah--one of my favorite trivia questions--what was Jersey Joe's real name--and after someone lucks that one out--I ask what political office did he hold and where?--Arnold Cream and he was an elected sheriff in New Jersey.

I used to enjoy your columns,but lately you've been sounding more like your friend Ann Coulter.
Dr. Michael L. Wilhelm

Hello Mr. Owens,
I lived in Uniontown for 17 years. In 1958 I left and went to school in Pittsburgh. I lived in Pa. all my life until 6 years ago when I moved to Florida.. A friend of mine just led me to your writings and I want you to know that they are great. Right on !!! Thanks you, you write what most of us are thinking. I am so happy for Barrack Obama. I feel so proud as a white woman that I can finally sit back and see the progress our country is making regarding race. Lets face it, racism is alive and well in America but, this is one more step to show that some of us woke up and did the right thing when we voted. Let's just pray that more wake up and do the right thing in November. Thanks again for your writings..
Arlene Callithen

Dear Al.
Once again I want to let you know how much I love reading your "Did You Know" column. It reminds me of my visits to the Penn Theater in my younger days when they had serials between the 2 regular shows. You always had to come back next week to see what happened in the last scene. I always think of your father when I read your column. We had some great talks when he and I worked at the Crystal. He was truly a gentle man. He also showed much devotion to my Godmother. He was very proud of his family and talked about them often. I am sorry that I wasn't home when he passed away.
I will tune in again next week to find out who the judge was who visited Uniontown.
Keep up the good work.
George Svokos... UHS 54
Also enjoyed your article about Sen. Byrd. How true. Reminds me of George Wallace who also changed his beliefs. Maybe they both wanted to go to heaven with a clear conscious.

I enjoy reading your Op/Ed pieces in the HS. As I live out of town most of the year, I get them on the HS website. Even though I don't always agree with all the pieces, I enjoy your passion.
Take care and be well.
J.C. Ball

Hello, Al.

I ran for my scrapbook after reading your article in today's paper.
I always enjoy reading your columns, but as you can tell, I can really relate to this one. Thanks!
Gloria D


Thank you for the memory.........I knew Disey Simon, he was also a basketball official.
Did you know that Uniontown hosted a Pro Basketball game? The Pittsburgh Condors played the ABA's team from St. Louis. Zelmo Beatty played for St. Louis and I think he scored 100 points to set the record in the ABA. The Condors were coached by Mark Binstein.
Kent Warman

My friend saw the article on Joe Louis in the Herald Standard on 03/10/08. She was happy that it answered some of her questions about an old photograph she found in her great grandmother's photo album of Joe Louis and a local boxer.
Thanks and have a great day..
Marissa Marian

Mr. Al Owens
First of all I would like to commend you on your articles, I enjoy them thoroughly.
Rick S. Sharp

I find Al Owens very uninteresting and boring. He has nothing to say. You know his whole column in the first paragraph.How about someone who is not so one sided and narrow minded.
Paul Lukac

The reason that I'm writing to you at this juncture is the ongoing left and right editorials printed in our local paper with yourself and Ann Coulter. Al, I think it's time for you to find someone else to compare opinions and ideas on issues with. My reason for suggesting this is very simple. After reading Ann Coulter's columns for quite some time(mainly due to my interest in what you have to say about what she has said in her column), I have come to the point where I really think that there is something mentally lacking in Ms. Coulter.
Bill Nudo

I just got done reading the artical that u had in the paper this morning and I think it was very interesting. Thank u so much for taking the time to get the information for us. I guess the early days of Uniontown were very, lets say for want of a better word interesting. I really enjoyed it-----
Agnes Soom, Meadow Heights

Dear Al,
I enjoy reading your insightful comments and articles. .Keep up the good work and fight.
Mike Pulley

I enjoyed your article about the cheese, and all of it.
We never got it unless someone gave us some. it was good.
Our phone number was 167 ring 22, party line.
You brought back so many memories, I have forwarded it to my sister and cousins far from here. but they remember.
now I am printing it for my scrapbook.
Fannie Watt

Your column on the Surplus Cheese was outstanding. Thanks for the Memories.
Dale Lockhart

I always enjoy your writing . You have the gift of bringing us all back I often think about the things you write but it is really nice to read about how we all felt about those days. Yes I did taste the surplus cheese and remember the trips to grocery stores where the welfare kids parents filled what they called orders back in the day. Thanks and keep up the writing on Red Raider Nation.

Thanks again and keep it up,
Bob Azzardi

Please do not forget the NEHI also you need to add a lot of bread
To those hamburgers as this was what held the meat together.
Pete purchased all of his meat next door at the Streamline Market.
I believe it was 6lb for a dollar or something in that area.
I worked at the store for a time.
Thanks for the great memory
Tom Swaney

Enjoyed reading about the surplus cheese etc. Although I am a little older than you, it brought back some memories of long ago. I hope our kids have memories like this when they become adults. About Pete s place, his name was Pete Metropolis and he lived on Lemon St. and walked to work everyday. He retired soon after he was robbed for the first time. His wife just died a few yrs. ago and was over 100 yrs. old. My father had a sandwich shop a few doors down toward Gallatin Ave. It was called The White Star Lunch. Once in a while, I had to go to Pete s to see what all the fuss was about. My father also had the Crystal Bar and a man by the name of Ed Owens who worked for G C Murphey worked for my dad and god father, Mike Petros. Mr. Owens lives on Baker Alley. Is he related to you?
Keep up the good work and know that I look forward every week in reading your column.
george svokos UHS, class of 54

Hi Al
Enjoyed reading your story about surplus cheese and hula hoops. It brought back memories of when I was a kid growing up in Johnstown in the 1950's.
When I lived in Uniontown during the 1970's, my friend, Vince Santello, who used to own the Tropical Fish Bowl on Morgantown Street, bought me a Pete's hamburger served through a hole in the window, and I was hooked. I think Pete's son eventually took it over, and I was a customer until it closed. I was hoping the place would reopen somewhere else, but it never happened. I especially liked the hamburgers served with green peppers.
You really hit the nail on the head describing the cheap cereal box toys!
Good job on the article.
Dave Dragovich (Herald Standard Auto Racing Reporter)

Hi Al,
Read your article this morning. Brought back many memories. I have to disagree with you though on the hamburgers. I think James Place had the best, you know the one on the other end of Peters st. The wedge as we called it. To me he had the best burgers in the world. To this day i still tell people about his burgers....Anyway great article. Ph and yes i remember waiting in line for the cheese also.
Gerald L

Great article, Pete, on Peter Street sold hot dogs too. I think his sandwiches were 15 cents each or 2 for a quarter. After he closed we went to the Tasty Lunch, Star Lunch or Three Sister's Restaurant, but it wasn't the same. Remember the Arcade on Peter Street ?
Personally, I liked the powdered milk and always wondered how my mom came up with the 101 ways to serve the "surplus cheese."
Thanks for the memories.

I ALWAYS laugh when I read your column, but this morning, at about 6:00 AM, I was HOWLING, LAUGHING OUT LOUD. You've outdone yourself this time!

First, the colonoscopy war plans....I KNEW that's where they came from, Al.
Just KNEW it! But President Puddinhead had me crying. The PERFECT name for that man!! I can just hear Barbara calling him in for supper, "Get in here, puddinhead before the caviar gets warm!" And of course at college
graduation: " Congratulations, Puddinhead. Glad they let you out of rehab to accept this fine diploma your daddy bought for you." Anyhow, I needed a good laugh this morning and I sure got one!
And by thee working to get B Hussein Obama into the White House. Hope you will be, too! way, me & my family ar
Wanda Coneybeer

Just a note to tell you how I like to read your material. This morning I was laughing out-loud when I read your line about choices from the Democrats when you said we even have a Martian (Kucinich) as an aspirant. Now, that is funny. How about the way the guy dresses? Certainly all he wears is wrinkle-free. How could I vote for someone who can't even put an outfit together in the morning ?
Dr. Peter Belch

Good job on the article! Thank you for taking the time to profile such an amazing woman.
Stacey Brann

Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your article about Vivian Stringer. It is always nice to hear about people from Fayette County that have done are are doing well. I was very proud when I heard that Vivian was from our area. Everytime that Rutgers was on T V., I would tell people that the coach from near here. I am a UHS grad from the class of 54. I also student taught at Uniontown in 1962 under Mr. W. K. Power. I look forward to your articles because it brings back memories when I hear the names again. Keep up the good work. I also like your Raider Nation website
George Svokos "54

Dear Al:
I look forward to reading your columns every week and even tho I don't always agree with you I still enjoy them.
I do want to tell you tho, I really liked the articles concerning "Spider" Minor and George Petro. They were both in my graduating class at good old Uniontown High.
Keep up the good work.
Bill Conn's favorite aunt
Meribelle "Baba" Cole

Talk about a "QUEEN RAT". I can't believe that some people want ANN out of our newspaper. I would miss all the fun of reading your response to her asinine articles. I just love to hate her. After reading today's article I think she needs to get back on her medication.
Keep them coming,
Rose Sokol

Mr. Owens,
I enjoy your rebuttals to Coulter, who, in my opinion is a classless, exploitive, egomaniacal parasite. You refer to the sponsors who dropped advertising on her website. I'd be interested to know what sponsors she has currently. Thank you.
Jane Sheehan

Thanks for the Sat. morning humor. I can't believe that anyone takes this woman seriously. Is it me or does she resemble (in some photos) the character that Felicity Huffman played in "Transamerica"?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article this morning; it brought back so many wonderful memories from growing up here in Uniontown, Pa. during the 50's and 60's. Thanks, so much!
Bob Allison

Read your recent column about the dearth of “penny candy.”
However, I did track down some jujubes. They sell them in boxes at the Rite Aid store on Connellsville Street, for 99 cents per box. I also used to eat them at the movies, but I have way too many fillings in my teeth to eat them nowadays.

Must be tough going against Ann Coulter once a week. I seldom agree with her, but she does articulate her point (albeit erroneous) most of the time…mostly inflammatory to create buzz and sell her books.

I liked you column last Saturday about Barack Obama….let’s give him a chance. U.S. has been governed by Texas oilmen for the past 14 years, soon to be 16, and any change is welcome. Dubya consistently fractures the English language, shameful, especially from an Ivy Leaguer.
Good luck
Chuck Mortimer

Old Frothingslosh, a renowned beer in its day not to be outdone by carling black label beer. I still remember the old ditty, Mabel, Black Label, Carling Black Label beer. My mind is full of useless information on those days of old. It is amazing that the things people can remember with little more than stimulus from a sight, sound, or smell.. Like you, I am a Nam vet, so I know, you know exactly of what I speak. Consider, where were we when we heard Kennedy was shot, Nixon resigned, first man landed on the moon, all events we can recall without even thinking of em. Thank you for your response to my comments, again, hang in there, you are becoming an icon in the area. Great work.
Ray Barkley

Dear Al,
Loved your commentary about the penny candy! Oh what memories it brought back. I had completely forgotten about the turkish taffy, which I often bought at the movies (my usual purchases, though, were popcorn and the JuJubes).

There was a small grocery store on the corner between the elementary school and the junior high in Belle Vernon, and every day at noontime (those were the days, remember, when everybody went home for lunch) we would make a pit stop there with our dimes to get a little brown bag filled with all the penny candy we could fit into it. Most of the stuff was priced at three for a penny, so we did wind up with a pretty full bag. One of my favorites, which you didn't mention in your article, was the three-penny box of salted pumpkin seeds! And what about the little black licorice dogs (they were like gumdrops -- but shaped like scotty dogs)?

Thank you so much for bringing back wonderful memories of standing in front of that glass-covered display case, trying to decide which goodies we would buy. You made my day!

I read you column this morning. Yes it brought a smile to my face. I am inclosing a link to a site that has tons of the retro candy. I'm not sure if they have the JuJubes but they sure have allot. When i first found the site i bought a whole box of Mallo Cups and Chunky.. Two of my favorites. Although i really didn't need the extra calories i ate both boxes...LOL !!
Anyway here is the site and i hope you fine them in there.
Gerald Lombardo

Mr. Owens,
I do not want to annoy you, when I read your column, you do write the truth. Mr. Bush started this war and now he wants to lay the guilt on us. If we do not support more troops and his wild dictator behavior, we are called unpatriotic. Who is he kidding? He has alienated every country that were our allies, look at America now. Is Mr. Putin wrong in saying Mr. Bush has hurt our relationship with other countries? I think not.
I am sorry, I cannot agree with any thing Bush and his cronies say. They are not held accountable for their lies and cheating. The religious right supported this man, a man that new much about evil. I never heard evil and terror used so much until he became the leader. What can we possibly gain if the legislative body doesn't stand up and be counted? Thanks for responding to my e-mail and stand up to Ann Coulter. Good luck,
Carmella Hardy

Read your column "Please don't mess with Uniontown" and have a small issue with some facts.
You state, "When the Uniontown Red Raiders won the school's first state basketball championship in 36 years on March 24, 1963 . . . " it jogged my memory back to my graduation class of 1962 at Brownsville High School. I seem to remember the quintet of Yates, Fee, Curry, Sepic and Smith beating Plymouth-Whitemarsh for the state basketball championship in 1962. I also believe that that Uniontown graduating class also won the state football championship.

I love your writings and would suggest that you take some interest in the sad state of affairs in Brownsville and give us some of your learned opinon.
Keep up the good work.
August Corfont