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
Keep up the great work with your column.
I read and enjoy it every day.
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
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.
Thanks for this story. What memories it
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
Grace Alexander, San Mateo, Ca.
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
Also those great night time games, hide
n seek and release. Both were fun to
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...
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
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
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
My main purpose to stop by at your
mailbox is to say well done and
thanks for the brief trip in the Way
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
Ruth Ann Matthews George
you brought back a flood of great
memories with the bike column.
Thanks. I totally forgot about
putting balloons on my bike spokes.
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.
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
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
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
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..
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.
I ran for my scrapbook after reading your article in
I always enjoy reading your columns, but as you can
tell, I can really relate to this one. Thanks!
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
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..
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.
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.
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
I enjoy reading your insightful comments and
articles. .Keep up the good work and fight.
I enjoyed your article about the cheese, and all of
We never got it unless someone gave us some. it was
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
now I am printing it for my scrapbook.
Your column on the Surplus Cheese was outstanding.
Thanks for the Memories.
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,
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
Pete purchased all of his meat next door at the
I believe it was 6lb for a dollar or something in
I worked at the store for a time.
Thanks for the great memory
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
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
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.
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
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 the way, me & my family are working to get B
Hussein Obama into the White House. Hope you will
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.
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
I look forward to reading your columns every week
and even tho I don't always agree with you I still
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
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
Keep them coming,
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.
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!
Read your recent column about the dearth of “penny
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.
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.
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
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
Anyway here is the site and i hope you fine them in
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,
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
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.