Did You Know?
Did you know that before television, the only way to “see” local news events was
at Uniontown’s movie theatres? During Thanksgiving week in 1926, the movie “The
Ace of Cads,” starring Pittsburgh’s Adolphe Menjou, opened at the State Theater
in Uniontown. That was only part of the bill.
The State also featured “complete pictures” of the Uniontown versus
Connellsville football game that was played that year. The following year, on
October 24th, 1927, Adolphe Menjou had to share his top billing when his movie
“A Gentleman in Paris” was shown along with the local movies of the “Laying of
(the) Cornerstone at (the) new County Building.”
Movie audiences were frequently treated to local and national news of the day at
movie theatres back then. Usually, the timeliness of the news wasn’t nearly as
important as the mere showing of the events. However, on April 1st, 1931 the
State Theater announced a real “scoop,” if only by coincidence.
Legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne had died the previous day in an
airplane crash outside of Kansas City. The following day, the Uniontown Daily
News Standard carried the front page story of how, on that day, the State
Theater was going to show “a complete, all-talking subject showing KNUTE ROCKNE,
famous football coach, in sound and action training the renowned Notre Dame
football team. The pictures made shortly before his fatal accident yesterday,
are probably the most graphic record of the most beloved coach ever made.”
Did you know that if you take a close look at any period in Fayette County’s
history, you can discover a remarkable wealth of interesting information? Allow
me to take you back to the summer and fall of 1939. On July 5th of that year, 20
thousand Fayette County residents watched as Jack Zack took home the winning
trophy in the annual Soap Box Derby.
Elizabeth Spiker was there to see it all. That may not have been noteworthy, if
it were not for the fact that Mrs. Spiker was 104 years-old. That day, and also
on the front page of the Daily News Standard there was a letter from the newly
named U.S. Army Chief, Gen. George C. Marshall.
Gen. Marshall had received many letters of congratulations from his friends in
Uniontown after he’d been given his new post. He personally thanked one man,
Register of Wills George F. Sterling, for his letter of acknowledgement. It
seems as a small child Marshall used to watch Sterling play baseball, and he’d
looked up to him. “I am quite certain at the time that I would have considered
your position as catcher much more important (than his as Army Chief of Staff),”
Did you know that Gen. Marshall wasn’t the only U.S. Military Chief of Staff
with a Uniontown connection? On August 1st, of that year, Admiral Harold “Betty”
Stark of Wilkes-Barre, was named Chief of U.S. Naval Operations. His daughter
was married to Edwin Semans of Berkley Street in Uniontown.
Did you know that on the day Marshall officially took over as U.S. Army Chief of
Staff, his new duty assignment was overshadowed by something of world wide
On September 1st, 1939 the huge headline on the front page said it all: WAR!
England had officially entered World War II. Yet, even with the ominous events
taking place in Europe, Marshall still decided to honor a pledge he’d made a few
On September 9th, he came to Uniontown to visit old friends and to renew old
friendships. Another notable Uniontown native, during that same period, had to
cut short his visit to the city.
One of the greatest mystery writers of all time, John Dickson Carr, had to
return to England on the day Gen. Marshall came for his visit. Carr, who would
eventually write 60 novels had planned visit to Uniontown for several weeks. He
still lived in England, so when war broke out, he could only spend a few days in
the city, before he felt he and his wife needed to return to Europe to look
after their young daughter.
He did manage to take a tour of the News Standard facilities and to write an
article in which he said, “The old town looks fine to me.”
Did you know that Carr, who’d lived on Ben Lomond Street, wasn’t the only writer
of note who’d grown up on that street? Dr. Weston LaBarre, a noted
anthropologist at Duke University, was considered a pioneer in the area of the
applications of the plant known as peyote also grew up on that street.
His 1950 book titled “The Human Animal” became a global best seller. From the
Long Beach (Ca.) Independent, on October 10th, 1966: "With the knowledge now at
hand a person would have to be crazy even to contemplate the use of LSD under
any but the most controlled medical conditions," he wrote.
Did you know that LaBarre’s son David, who visited Uniontown with him in July of
1951, was once mentioned as a replacement for the notorious District Attorney
Mike Nifong, who’d been removed from office as a result of his involvement in
what was called the Duke Lacrosse rape case? Judge LaBarre tells me he
However, did you also know that, Judge David LaBarre and I have a rather unusual
connection? In 1882, LaBarre’s great grandfather, the Rev. Francis B. LaBarre of
Great Bethel Baptist Church, helped a young minister organize Mt. Olivet Baptist
Church. That young minister happened to be my great grandfather – Rev. Thomas H.