Did You Know?
By Al Owens
…a Uniontown woman figured in one of the most famous ocean liner disasters in
The S.S. Andrea Doria, an Italian ocean liner was approaching Nantucket,
Massachusetts on July, 25th, 1956. It was mysteriously struck by the
Swedish-American liner The Stockholm, and immediately began to sink.
Fortunately, since the wreck of the Titanic in 1912, there had been universal
safety improvements that prevented massive losses of life. Only 46 of the 1660
passengers and crew members aboard the Andrea Doria died as a result.
Nearly a year later, in April of 1957, the final chapter of the Andrea Doria was
being written in Uniontown. The last remaining survivor of the disaster,
Angeline Grego of Short Street, died at Uniontown Hospital.
Did you know that there have been numerous visitors to the city by fictional
characters that still managed to draw large crowds? As part of the State
Theatre’s New Years Eve celebration of 1935, none other than ravishing cartoon
starlet, Betty Boop, made a personal appearance.
The ad in the Morning Herald claimed “America’s Sweetheart” would be singing
some of her movie songs and she’d be accompanied by 30 radio-stage and screen
stars - along with the Paramount Studio Band.
In August of 1963, Uniontown Mayor Watson Sembower had a good reason to smile
adoringly in a pictured appropriately titled: GIDGET COMES TO UNIONTOWN.
Cindy Carol, who’d taken over the role of Gidget, was being handed the Key to
the City by Sembower as part of the previous night’s World Premiere of the movie
Gidget Goes to Rome at the State Theatre.
Carol had won the role after 40,000 people had entered a contest to select the
successor to the two previous Gidgets – Sandra Dee and Deborah Walley.
Even though it was Carol’s first film role, the president of Cindy Carol Fan
Club, Uniontown’s Cheryl Lynn Lilley, was on hand to welcome her in front of 500
fans at the State.
The good thing about being a fictional character is you never have to worry
about getting any older. That’s certainly the case with Aunt Jemima.
Although the famous pancake and syrup lady was “born” as a trademark in 1893,
she hasn’t changed much over the years. (In fact, there have been plenty of
questions since here “birth” regarding the perceived stereotypical nature of her
However, in both 1938 and in 1939 Kaufman’s Department Store in Uniontown
welcomed Aunt Jemima with open arms.
Ads for both visits were quite complimentary of her cooking skills, and the
general public was given an opportunity to experience them as she cooked some of
her “southern recipes.” In one ad, she was even called a “pancake expert.”
Did you know that on October 7th, 1938 three things of note happened for local
Uniontown High School held its very first night football game; Uniontown’s
phenomenal halfback, Cornelius Turpin, ran a 47 yard touchdown that gave the Red
Raiders a 7-0 victory over Redstone; a future U.S. Supreme Court Justice
witnessed it all. Byron “Whizzer” White who was, at the time, a football star
for the Pittsburgh Pirates (the name they were called before changing it to the
Steelers) was introduced at halftime.
White would later become a Supreme Court Justice in April of 1962. White also
saw something a little unusual that night in Uniontown. Because night football
games were rare in those days, they played the game using a white football so
the 5,000 fans in attendance could better see it.
Did you know that a sitting U.S. Attorney General actually prosecuted a case
himself in Uniontown? There had been a mail robbery in Uniontown in the summer
U.S. Attorney General John Jordan Crittenden personally prosecuted the case, at
what was called the New Court House.
He won that case. The mail thief was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Did you know that according to the Northwest Arkansas Times in Fayetteville,
Arkansas in July of 1923, there was anything but marital bliss in the marriage
of a Connellsville couple.
It seems that a Connellsville woman filed for divorce because every night at
nine o’clock her husband turned on the radio news. It was then the woman and her
children were supposed to head for bed. According to the woman, “We had to be in
bed by the time the five-minute program was over.”
The judge, who apparently wasn’t much of a news lover himself, granted the woman
Did you know that Naugatuck News in Connecticut reported in November of 1961,
that a sign appeared at the private parking lot at Uniontown’s St. Peters
Episcopal Church that read: THOU SHALT NOT PARK?
Did you know that in May of 1905, according to the Bluefield, West Virginia
Daily Telegraph, a woman near Uniontown came across a rather interesting find?
Mrs. Lulu Engle found a pair of lady’s shoes in her yard. Upon closer
examination, she discovered one shoe had a heel that had been hollowed out, and
had been filled with dynamite exploding caps. The District Attorney was said to
have been investigating the strange find.
Did you know that the recent case of the man in Austria who kept his daughter in
a dungeon wasn’t the first such event? There was actually a very similar
occurrence in Uniontown a long time ago. I’ll tell you about that next week.