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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  July, 2008

Did You Know?
By Al Owens

…Uniontown once witnessed a real-life “flying nun?”

In September of 1969, the Pasadena (California) Star-Telegram printed a picture of Sister Patricia Chenger as she was checking out the engine on her small plane at Connellsville Airport.

It seems Sister Chenger, who was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, Pa., had her own pilot’s license. She’d gotten her private license two years before, and she’d come to Fayette County to take lessons to get her commercial license.

Did you know that Muhammad Ali (known then as Cassius Clay) once fought, in part, to help Robena coal miners?

On January 24th, 1963 Clay defeated fellow heavyweight Charlie Powell at Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena.
He barely worked up a sweat. He knocked Powell out in the third round. Ten percent of his purse was donated to the Robena No. 3 Disaster Trust Fund.

Did you know that Uniontown’s favorite son, Gen. George C. Marshall was, at various stages in his career, a fairly frequent visitor to the area?

He’d left the city in September of 1901, and soon became a second lieutenant. He didn’t return again until September of 1939, after he’d been named Army Chief of Staff.

He was greeted at Connellsville Airport by a 17 (not a 21) gun salute as he was met by some of his childhood friends and local dignitaries.

The visit ended that year with a dinner Uniontown’s White Swan Hotel, and an appropriate farewell song – “Auld Land Syne.”

General Marshall returned to Uniontown in 1953. That’s after he’d been: the Secretary of Defense; the Secretary of State; served as a special Ambassador to China; authored perhaps the most important document of the 20th Century – the Marshall Plan; been Time Magazine’s Man of the Year – twice; served as the President of the American Red Cross; and three months before his 1953 visit, served as this country’s representative for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

It’s no wonder the headline over his large front page picture in the Uniontown Evening Standard read, “Welcome, General! Relax, Enjoy Yourself.”

And by all accounts Marshall did enjoy himself. After all, he was among friends again, as he walked through the newly reconstructed Fort Necessity.

Marshall returned the following year, and he’d still bring new honors with him. Just three months after he’d visited Uniontown in 1953, he’d been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

In 1954, it was yet another return to his boyhood home, and that time it was to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Fort Necessity.

It’s no wonder why President Harry Truman once said of Marshall, “To him as much as any man, the United States owes its future.”

Did you know that another Uniontown man once got a personal notice from a president, but of a different kind?
Uniontown barber James Cravotta sent President Roosevelt and his wife a Christmas card in 1934.
He probably didn’t expect a reply, but he certainly got one. Roosevelt’s private secretary sent Cravotta the following message: “The president was much pleased to receive your kind message of holiday greetings and has asked me to convey to you and members of your family his best wishes for the New Year.”

The Oakland (California) Tribune reported a rather happy bit of coincidence that took place in Uniontown in August of 1946.
It seems two Dvorchak brothers (Paul and Martin) had married two Nypaver sisters (Julia and Frances) on the same day, in 1936. The two couples each had babies on the same day, on August 10th, 1937.

If that wasn’t enough, the two couples went back to the Uniontown Hospital the day before that 1946 article was printed. They’d given birth to a set of first cousins again – on the very same day.

Did you know that Uniontown High School’s basketball team was so dominant in the early 1960’s, that a Red Raider loss – could gain national attention?
The Greeley (Colorado) Tribune featured a picture of a Uniontown cheerleader in tears on March 8th, 1963.
Patty Babchich, that cheerleader, certainly had nothing to be ashamed of appearing with a grimace that day.
Uniontown had its 36 game winning streak snapped by Norwin High School – and that names that still haunts Red Raider fans 45 years later – John Naponick.

For the record, I was there at the Pitt Field House that night and I cried that night too.

Did you know that one of the wealthiest men in Hollywood, with one of the poorest images once made an appearance in Uniontown? It’s true, and I’ll tell you all about it next week.