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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  July, 2008

Did You Know?
By Al Owens

…while it is common knowledge that Fayette County is the birthplace of: two Heisman Trophy winners (Johnny Lujack and Ernie Davis); an Olympic gold medalist (John Woodruff); an Olympic silver and bronze medalist (Paul Wyatt); a Nobel Peace Prize recipient (George C. Marshall); an astronaut (Robert Cenker) and a number of All-Americans (Sandy Stephens, Wil Robinson and Francis “Moose” Machinsky among them) many people may have not known that’s it’s also the birthplace of a Knight.

Sir Percival Phillips, a Brownsville native, was conferred a knighthood by King George of England in March of 1920.

Phillips was born in 1877, and he later moved to England where he would eventually cover eight wars as a war correspondent.

According to a column written by his former editor that was published in April of 1925 in the Uniontown Daily News Standard, “Percival Phillips haunted my newspaper office in old Brownsville back in the ‘nineties. He was a handsome, eager-eyed youngster, with the urge to write. I gave him a try at local happenings: he developed; it was him; he was a born reporter.”

His reporting in several British newspapers from hotspots around the world, helped earn him acclaim – and of course his knighthood.

Did you know that another writer, John Dickson Carr of Uniontown, also tried his hand at writing for a local newspaper before gaining worldwide attention as a mystery writer?

Carr would eventually write more than 80 mystery novels under his own name and the pen names Carter Dickson, Roger Fairbairn and Carr Dickson.

He was considered one of the greatest mystery writers in history.

He was born in November of 1906, he moved to England in 1931, after his first novel “It Walks by Night” was published in 1930.

It earned Carr a lot of attention in Uniontown’s newspapers.

In fact, Carr himself wrote an extensive column in the Uniontown News Standard about mystery stories in general in its February 24th, 1930 edition. “The children love ghost stories and pirate stories and tales of goblins who live under the stairs. And detective stories are only fairy-stories for those of us who have grown up.” (Did you know I never thought about it that way? And come to think of it, Carr was right)

Carr had certainly earned the kind of esteem to have waxed philosophical in his hometown newspaper.

But it wasn’t always that way. While still in his teens in May of 1922, he’d been a “second assistant sporting editor” for the Daily News Standard when it was announced that he was leaving on a one day fishing trip.
When he returned he was expected report on his experiences. According to that announcement his stories would be “rigorously and vigorously censored, however.”

Did you know that I’ve been fortunate to have won three Emmy Awards?
Well those are nothing compared to the Emmy haul of one Connellsville native.

Connellsville’s Justin Deas has won a total of six Daytime Emmy Awards for acting, and that ties the record for the most such awards. Deas has starred as Frank Achilles "Buzz" Cooper Sr. on the soap opera Guiding Light since 1993.

That show, by the way, is the longest running drama in television history.

Deas had already been an acting veteran when he took the role on Guiding Light. But he still caused quite a stir when he started working on that show. According to the Monessen Valley Independent on March 5th, 1993, “We’ve never seen such an astounding entrance on a soap as that of Justin Deas as Frank “Buzz” Cooper, Sr. recently on GL. In his first week alone, he not only stole the show – he put it in his pocket and he took it home.”

Did you know that sometimes when I find an old news event and include it in one of these articles, some of the people who were involved in one of them – actually makes contact with me?

That’s the case with Jacob Oberly of Uniontown. A few weeks ago I wrote about a shooting that took place in a local school back in 1941. It was a story that made national news because it took place at school with school children still in their classrooms.

Well Oberly happened to be one of those children. He still vividly recalls the incident because when the shots rang out, he and one of his friends were forced to leap out the schoolhouse window.

He escaped unharmed, and he says he ran all the way home.

Did you know that the 1965 Uniontown Red Raider basketball team still hold the record for the most consecutive wins in WPIAL history? But, did you know that another Uniontown basketball team won nearly as many straight games the better part of a hundred years ago? It’s true, and I’ll tell you about that next week.