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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  August, 2008

Did You Know?
By Al Owens

Did you know that it doesn’t pay to leave your wife for nearly three decades, and then return with the hope that nothing has changed?
That’s the experience of a Uniontown man, who left his wife for 27 years. What he found when he got home – made national news.
In the October 7th, 1937 edition of the Anniston (Alabama) Star, it was reported that the husband returned to Uniontown to discover that his wife had remarried twice, and that he’d actually become the step-father of eight children while he was away.

He did make his way to the garage where he found his real son. He introduced himself, but his son’s reply was simply, “You’ve had one too many mister. My father’s dead.”
Did you know that if you pitch a no-hitter, you’re supposed to win? Well, in July of 1939, Bruno Vitz of Lambert in the Frick League did, indeed, pitch a no hit, no run game – but he still didn’t win the game against the team from Smock.
The game was such an oddity, that an account of it made it into the Modesto (California) Bee
The reason the game got that kind of attention across the country, was that the pitcher from Smock didn’t give up any runs either. The game was called after the ninth inning due to darkness, but without Vitz’ no hitter producing a win.

Did you know that a professional basketball team once battled a local team – and lost?

In fact, pro teams made Fayette County a frequent barnstorming stop during the first half of the 20th century.

In January of 1927, for instance, the defending world champions – the Cleveland Rosenblums - beat Uniontown’s sandlot team, the Five Horsemen by a score of 37-21 at Gallatin Gardens.

It was a game that was marred by fighting.

The account of the game the following morning in the Uniontown Morning Herald claimed the Rosenblums weren’t in world championship form, but rather they “looked like champions of Pea Ridge.”

Despite the hostilities in 1927, there were a number of subsequent games involving pro basketball teams in the area.

In January of 1930, the Rosenblums needed a strong second half to beat the Scottdale Buicks at the Scottdale Armory by a score of 49-38.

One of the Rosenblums, Joe Lapchick, would eventually become a basketball hall of famer, and he’d gain as much fame for being one of the first athletes to endorse a product.

The Joe Lapchick canvas shoe was once every budding basketball player’s staple.

While many of the attempts by local athletes to defeat pro teams were unsuccessful, in December of 1939 the New York Celtics (not affiliated with the Boston team with the same name) faced the Uniontown Independents at South Union High School’s gymnasium.

Uniontown jumped out to a 10-2 first quarter lead and never looked back. Finally, it was a victory for local amateurs against the pros. The final score: 51-34. Uniontown’s future coaching legend, A. J. Everhart, Jr. scored 13 points for the home team.

Did you know that people around the world learned about a Uniontown kidnapping in 1991?

According to the March 21st Pacific edition of the military newspaper Stars and Stripes (Japan), pranksters “abducted” a seven foot tall plastic Big Boy statue from the top of the Elby’s Big Boy restaurant on Route 40.

The thieves put it in their truck and dragged the head on the road for about two miles before they released the statue. The police followed the tracks made by the dragged head and retrieved it.   

Did you know it’s never too late to find marital bliss? In 1979, readers of that Pacific edition of Stars and Stripes were made aware of a wedding in May of 1979 that may have broken some kind of record.

It seems that a 91 year-old man who lived on a farm near Uniontown, Lee Harbarger, had tied the knot with an 89 year-old widow from Miami. They’d met by corresponding through a lonely hearts club, and “didn’t want to live out their last days alone.”

Did you know that Stars and Stripes seemed to have had a fascination with marriages, in general, in Fayette County? In the German edition of that paper there was a story on February 15th, 1950 about a 79 year-old mountaineer from near Uniontown who’d married a 17 year-old from the nearby hills of West Virginia

He told a reporter they “found the love we have sought so long.”
Did you know that a Uniontown resident’s failed fight for equality made international news?

It’s true, and I’ll fill you about it next week.