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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  June, 2008

Did You Know?
By Al Owens

…a Uniontown woman figured in one of the most famous ocean liner disasters in history?
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 image)

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 sports fans.
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 of 1841.

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 a divorce.

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.