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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  September, 2008

Did You Know?
By Al Owens

Did you know that a Uniontown native once fought a former world boxing champion – and won?

Jack Rodgers was known as the “Battling Shoe Salesman” locally. (Although he was known nationally as “Handsome”)

He’d been undefeated when he faced ex-middleweight champ Joey Giardello at Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena on May 22nd, 1967.

Rodgers, fighting as a light heavyweight, beat Giardello that night. Although the ten round fight had ended in a unanimous decision, Giardello publicly disputed it.

The following day, a report of the fight appeared in the Fairbanks (Alaska) News-Miner. Giardello was highly critical of the judges. “I have never complained in my life,” Giardello said. “This just makes me disgusted.”

Rodgers’ victory over Giardello was his 23rd in a row. Unfortunately, he lost to Giardello in a rematch in Philadelphia five months later.

It would be the last fight in Giardello’s long career. Rodgers, after his first fight with Giardello, would only fight seven more times. He would only win one more of those seven fights.

Rodgers would later die as the result of stab wounds in 1973.

Did you know that in July of 1912, widespread flooding across Western Pennsylvania produced nearly two dozen deaths in and around Uniontown?

The Gettysburg (Pennsylvania) Times reported on July 25th of that year, that 40 miners were trapped, and that 14 had already died when a massive cloud burst hit the region. There were also fears that the reservoir at Coolspring couldn’t withstand the rush of waters.

2000 people were said to have been stranded by the flood waters in Westmoreland and Fayette Counties.

The following day, the Anaconda (Montana) Standard reported that 15 miners had actually died at the Superba mine. Dunbar, too, was said to have been in jeopardy.

There were also reports that four miners had died at the mines in Lemont.

Did you know that while the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney “Phil,” has been in the business of predicting weather conditions since 1886, a Connellsville groundhog, known as “Pete,” was once known for his similar skills?

On October 22nd, 1936 the Anniston (Alabama) Star reported on the preparations being made by Groundhog “Pete” to enter his hibernation period in advance of his own prognostications.

The Uniontown Morning Herald reported that “Pete” had taken up residence under the Murphy Ave. porch of Connellville’s Clark Pope’s home for eight years. “Pete,” however, didn’t resort to shadows or sunlight to make his predictions. He used onions, straw and food items. If he collected lots of those things, it was a clear sign “Pete” was preparing for a long hibernation period, and thusly a long, long winter would follow.

We are certainly living in a time when, as Americans, we’re certainly more mobile than ever.
But, did you know that a long time ago, at least one young woman took her forced mobility to court – and apparently for good reason? The Anaconda Standard published the plight of Mrs. Thomas Stockton of Uniontown, on February 4th, 1906. The 19 year-old bride had gone to court to seek a divorce because she claimed her husband was a “mover.”“Oh, he insists on moving at least once a month, and twice a month is really what he wants,” she told Judge Dawson. Mr. Stockton had, according to his wife, moved 10 times since they were married a year before.

Not only that, after she went home to her mother but, “He followed and threatened to kill me if I didn’t come and help me move,” she complained.

The judge ordered her husband to jail for the threats. The outcome of the divorce proceedings weren’t reported.

If you get email, there’s a good chance you get SPAM. And if you get SPAM, there’s a chance you’ve also gotten what is widely known as “Nigerian Fraud.”

That’s emails that try to con unsuspecting recipients into sending only a few thousand dollars, so that they’ll actually reap the millions of dollars.

Did you know that a similar model for that kind of nefarious scheme can be found in Connellsville in 1874?

The Steubenville (Ohio) Herald reported in its October 27th edition, that Dr. William Parker of Connellsville had been arrested after he’d sent a number of letters to London, England.

It seems Parker had sent those letters, claiming that the wealthy recipients had destitute relatives living in the United States. Parker, being the supposed kind soul, claimed he was in need of money to take care of them.

Instead, he was facing a prison term, after eight of the bogus letters were intercepted.

Did you know that a jaywalking charge in Uniontown once made international news?

That happened. I’ll tell you about it next week.