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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  October, 2008

Did You Know?
By Al Owens

Did you know that a U.S. Coast Guard ruling once changed the outcome of a movie that was being filmed in Fayette County?

The movie Maria’s Lovers was being shot in Brownsville in the fall of 1983. According to the Monessen Valley Independent, the final scene in the movie called for a World War II plane to fly under two Brownsville bridges. The Coast Guard stepped in and denied the flight. Instead, the plane flew up and down the river.

That film, by the way, featured a number of veteran and upcoming stars, who all stayed at the Uniontown Holiday Inn. Oscar winner Keith Carradine, Oscar nominee Robert Mitchum, John Goodman, John Savage and Nastassja Kinski were all members of the cast.

In August of that year, they’d been welcomed to Brownsville by a crowd of 250 people. The Tyrone (Pennsylvania) Daily Herald reported that Mitchum was philosophical about his enduring sex appeal. He said it was like “Campbell’s Soup or Ivory Soap,” because middle-aged felt as comfortable with him as a brand name.

The film opened in January of 1985. But before it did, the Daily Herald reported that $30 thousand dollars worth of props used in the movie were placed in auction.

Did you know that a telephone operator at Uniontown Hospital once answered a call that would haunt her for the rest of her life?

According to the Fayetteville (Arkansas) Daily Independent reported in its December 9th, 1935 edition the operator answered a call about an automobile accident that had resulted in the death of a man. When ambulance workers took the body to the hospital, she discovered the victim had been her father.

Did you know that in July of 1965, a Uniontown woman confessed to killing two children by locking them in a refrigerator?

The Long Beach (California) Press-Telegram carried the story in its July 21st edition. Apparently the 38 year-old spinster had told police the deaths had occurred by accident.

But after Fayette County investigators discovered it would have been nearly impossible for the two boys to have closed the refrigerator’s door from the inside, the woman gave her confession, saying, “I feel a little better now since I got this off my chest.”

Did you know that a Fairchance woman once got a “pardon” from the governor of Pennsylvania, after she’d been jailed for killing a bird? Governor Gifford Pinchot ordered the release of the woman, after she’d been sentenced to serve 20 days in jail, because she’d killed a bird to feed her children during the Great Depression.

The Piqua (Ohio) Daily Call reported in its August 9th, 1932 edition that the woman had claimed her husband had been out of work for seven weeks and she had been desperate. She also claimed that she was from Italy and killing such birds (flickers or yellow hammers) was a common practice there. Gov. Pinchot also paid the woman’s fine.

Did you know that five men from Greece earned enough money shining shoes, to build a million dollar hotel in Uniontown?

The Bridgeport (Connecticut) Telegram carried the story in its September 1st, 1921 edition. The Gregory brothers had been shining shoes in Uniontown since they’d come from Greece 15 years before.

They’d saved up enough nickels and dimes to have been able to build a million dollar hotel in Uniontown.

Did you know that a man, who’d only wanted to become the best barber in his hometown, once brought his Grammy Award winning talents to Uniontown?

Pierino Ronald "Perry" Como, who opened his own barbershop shortly after he graduated from his Canonsburg high school.

Perry Como was the featured singer on stage at the State Theater on August 27th, 1941.

He was the lead vocalist for the Ted Weems Orchestra. 17 years later, in 1958, he’d win the Grammy for Best Vocal Performance of the Year, for his signature tune – Catch a Falling Star.

That single recording, by the way, was the first ever to be considered a Gold Record.

Did you know that a Fayette County teacher once defied a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and made national news because of it?

That really happened, and I’ll have the details next week.