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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  July, 2008

Did You Know?
By Al Owens

…one of Hollywood’s richest stars once brought his talents to Uniontown?

Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, who was also known as Stepin Fetchit, and also known as “Hollywood’s favorite colored comedian,” appeared at the Lucky Star Inn in Hopwood, in April of 1938.

Perry’s onscreen persona had not been one that had endeared him to some audiences. His character was frequently referred to as “The Laziest Man in the World,” which fed white stereotypes of African Americans.

Yet, off screen he was anything but lazy. Even as he was working as comic relief in movies, he was also writer. He wrote columns for the Chicago Defender newspaper. He was also the first black film performer to become a millionaire.

Did you know that a local jilted lover once made nationwide news after he’d shot his school teacher girlfriend at a Uniontown school?

The September 12th, 1940 edition of the Oakland (California) Tribune reported that a coal miner had walked into a school, shot and killed his girlfriend (because she wanted to end their romance) and then turned the gun on himself.

The police said that the horrified students either jumped out of their first floor window, or they huddled in corners during the assault.

Did you know that at one time Uniontown was predicted to be part of the “Greatest City” on earth?

Well, that’s at least the rather imperfect prediction of a writer back in the late 1920’s.

According to the San Mateo (California) Times and Daily News Leader on May 7th, 1927, a writer had somehow looked into the future and said that 50 years later Uniontown would be the most eastern part of a “continuous city” that would stretch westward to Flint, Michigan.

The writer said the industrial based city would be four hundred miles long and 60 miles wide.

The last time I looked, Uniontown was still about 400 miles from Flint.

Did you know that all you have to do is score 167 points in a high school basketball game, and you can get noticed all over the country? Albert Gallatin’s High School basketball team did just that in February of 1971. When Albert Gallatin beat West Greene High School by a score of 167-30, the Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville, Arkansas) reported the event on its sports page. It also reported that Stan Boskovich had scored 54 points for the Colonials.

Did you know that a Connellsville man once outwitted a couple of thieves and made nationwide news? The Valley News in Van Nuys, California reported on its front page on November 10th, 1977 that William Durbin of Connellsville told police that when two robbers approached him in the parking lot of the Venetian Restaurant in Uniontown, they demanded his wallet and his checkbook at gunpoint.

After they took 35 dollars from his wallet, he asked the bandits to return his checkbook. When they fled, they had no idea he’d concealed another 400 dollars inside that checkbook.

Did you know that a Hopwood woman figured prominently in an event associated with an assassination attempt on a U.S. President?

In November of 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists staged an assault on Blair-Hill House (which was being used as a temporary quarters for President Truman at the time).

One of the attackers was arrested and tried. The other was shot and died. But he had also fired back and mortally wounded a White House guard, Pvt. Leslie Coffelt.

Coffelt had been in Fayette County just three days earlier, with his wife, Cressie (the daughter of Smith Morgan), of Hopwood.

After the assassination attempt, Mrs. Coffelt was asked by Truman to visit Puerto Rico, where she received condolences from the leaders and citizens.

She delivered a speech that was meant to absolve the people of the island of any blame for the attack.

While there, she was given a heartfelt gift from the school children of Puerto Rico – $4,816.57 in pennies. Cressie’s responded with her sentiments: "I, like any other American, cannot hate a country for an act committed by one of its citizens. I shall always remember the kindness shown to me by the Puerto Rican people."

Did you know that at one time local movie theatres used to show “moving pictures” of Uniontown High School’s football games?

From the December 29th, 1929 edition of the Uniontown Daily News Standard: The Dixie will show at every performance, Kenneth Woodward's moving pictures of Uniontown High School and the football team of 1919—also pictures of "Armistice Day."

Did you know that the famous bandleader who coined the phrase "Is Everybody Happy," once used that phrase on stage in Uniontown?
It’s true, and I’ll tell you about it next week.