Pages From The Past

Curated by staff librarian Brian Fulton, Pages from the Past is your outlet for regional local history stories, discussion and the treasures of the Times-Tribune archives.

Time Warp – Determination, fate bring Benetton store to Scranton

Time Warp – Determination, fate bring Benetton store to Scranton

November 1985

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A Nov. 22, 1985, advertisement for the opening of the Scranton Benetton store. TIMES-SHAMROCK ARCHIVES

A trip to Germany brought the colors of the world to Scranton.

Luciana Suraci spoke to The Scranton Times in 1986 about how she came to be the local licensee of a Benetton clothing store. Suraci told of a 1983 business trip to Germany with her husband, Anthony, during which she visited a Benetton in Hamburg that was filled with young people shopping. The idea was born to bring a Benetton to the Scranton area.

Suraci got down to business, not only contacting the regional headquarters in Washington, D.C., but also sending letters of intent to the business and hosting company officials to show possible locations for a shop in the area.

After all that, she received a letter from Benetton saying that it was “not interested at the time, maybe later.” This letter did not deter Suraci. She contacted a representative at the regional headquarters and asked why Scranton should not have a store. The representative agreed to review her proposal.

Suraci described what happened next as the hand of fate helping make this business deal happen. The representative was traveling in Bonaire, an island in the Caribbean Sea, and through friends was introduced to a family from Waverly Twp. The family helped convince the representative that Benetton would be a good fit for the Scranton area.

Suraci got her license. The Scranton store opened Saturday, Nov. 23, 1985, at 205 N. Washington Ave. Suraci later opened a second Benetton in Wilkes-Barre on South Main Street in August 1986 and third shop on Main Street in Stroudsburg in May 1987.

Man and woman standing in front of wall of clothing

TIMES-SHAMROCK ARCHIVES Luciana Suraci, store licensee, welcomes Luciano Benetton, left, co-founder of the store that bears his name throughout the world, to the downtown Scranton Benetton on North Washington Avenue on March 18, 1987.

Luciano Benetton, co-founder of the company that bears his name, visited the Scranton store in March 1987, during which he spoke to a Times reporter through an interpreter. “You have a well finished city,” Benetton said of Scranton. “There is (a) very good social climate here.” He also said that the Scranton store was doing great.

In 1995, Benetton moved from its original location to a new home at Lackawanna and North Washington avenues. Benetton then left downtown Scranton for a spot on South State Street in Clarks Summit in 2000. The store eventually closed and became the home of Classic Properties in 2013.

At this time, there are no brick-and-mortar Benetton stores in the United States. However, Benetton’s clothes are available for purchase online.

Contact the writer: bfulton@ (timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9140; (@TTPagesPast on Twitter

Gloria Vanderbilt: 1924-2019

Gloria Vanderbilt: 1924-2019

Gloria Vanderbilt – heiress, artist, actress and fashion designer – died today, June 17 at the age of 95.

A search of the Times-Tribune Archives turned up a great deal of information on Vanderbilt. Most dealt with the custody battle between her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and her aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, in 1934.

But there were two interesting articles from the 1950s that dealt with her acting career. In 1954, Vanderbilt made her stage debut at the Pocono Playhouse in Mountainhome acting in the play, “The Swan” by Ferenc Molnar in August 1954. 

Theater advertisement

A Pocono Playhouse advertisement from the July 26, 1954 edition of The Scranton Times announcing the stars to be seen that summer at the theater. In addition to Gloria Vanderbilt, there was Gypsy Rose Lee, Patricia Benoit, Charles Coburn, Peter Donat, Edward Everett Horton and Sara Haden. Times-Tribune Archives

The review in the Scranton Times gave the 30-year old actress who at the time was married to conductor Leopold Stokowski high marks for her debut.

After the show, Vanderbilt spoke with the Times. She said of her stage debut “everyone has been so kind and helpful .. a marvelous experience .. there were moments when I wasn’t sure I’d make it … what else can I say.”   

Theater advertisement

A Pocono Playhouse advertisement from the Aug. 27, 1956 edition of The Scranton Times promoting the current production of “The Bad Seed” starring Louise Allbritton and announcing the upcoming show “The Spa” starring Gloria Vanderbilt, Turhan Bey and Violet Heming. Times-Tribune Archives

Two years later, Vanderbilt returned to the Mountainhome stage to star in another play. This time she starred in “The Spa” by Edward Chodorov in September 1956.

Speaking with the Times again she said “there’s nothing quite like appearing before a live audience. But, at the same time, nothing more demanding.”

Just weeks before here appearance in “The Spa”, Vanderbilt married director Sindey Lumet. She divorced from Stokowski in 1955. Asked about their honeymoon, she said “naturally, our honeymoon has to be on a delayed basis. Things have been in such a whirl we haven’t even had a chance to figure where or when.”

With stars on the stage, there was a major star in the in the audience on opening night of “The Spa.” Playwright and actor Noel Coward was in attendance. Following the performance, Coward posed for a photo with Vanderbilt, the playhouse’s owner Rowena Stevens, and Turhan Bey.

two men, two women standing in a row

Noel Coward, British playwright and actor, paid surprise visit to see Gloria Vanderbilt at the Pocono Playhouse in Mountainhome. She was appearing with Turhan Bey in a new pay by Edward Chodorov in September 1956. Shown from left: Turhan Bey, Noel Coward, Gloria Vanderbilt and Rowena Stevens, owner-producer of the Pocono Playhouse. Times-Tribune Archives

Vanderbilt according to her obituary would continue to act. She would star in several television programs such as “Playhouse 90” and “Studio One” and on Broadway in “The Time of Your Life.”

Chart Toppers – Popular Songs this week in 1969

Chart Toppers – Popular Songs this week in 1969

Here are the top seven songs for the June 8 – 14, 1969 in Scranton –

Get Back by The Beatles

Romeo & Juliet theme by Henry Mancini

Love Can Make You Happy by Mercy

Gitarzan by Ray Stevens

Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival

In the Ghetto by Elvis Presely

The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel

Time Warp – Stone Temple Pilots, others rock Harveys Lake

Time Warp – Stone Temple Pilots, others rock Harveys Lake

July 30, 1993: There was no reading from the Torah, but their was first-rate alternative rock at the Harveys Lake stop of the Bar-B-Q Mitzvah Tour.

The concert — featuring Stone Temple Pilots, the Butthole Surfers and the Flaming Lips — took place at the Bud Light Amphitheater on the grounds of the former Hanson’s Amusement Park.

As soon as the Flaming Lips strummed the first chords, the dancing and moshing began. The mosh pit was filled with bodies dripping in sweat from the heat and dancing. The Lips played a set filled with songs from the group’s new album, “Transmissions from the Satellite Heart,“ including “She Don’t Use Jelly,” “Turn It On” and “Superhumans.”

Stone Temple Pilots took the stage next.

“We try to display a very intense musical and emotional power, but that doesn’t mean playing as loudly and heavily as we can from the first song to last,” Stone Temple Pilots lead singer Scott Weiland told the Citizens’ Voice. “We don’t want to sound just one way. We like to paint different soundscapes to create different moods. It’s not just plug in, crank up to 10, let’s rock. Our music has more sides to it.

During the set, Stone Temple Pilots stayed true to Weiland’s statement, playing such songs as “Creep” and “Plush” and as well as tunes from the band’s debut album, “Core.”

The Butthole Surfers ended the night before the 3,500 people in attendance.

When leaving the venue, one concert-goer remarked, “and that’s rock & roll man, at its finest!”

80 Years Ago – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth depart from Hyde Park, NY

80 Years Ago – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth depart from Hyde Park, NY

June 12, 1939

King and queen depart Hyde Park

King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, departed after spending time with President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt at the president’s family estate in Hyde Park, New York. Before arriving in Hyde Park, the royal couple visited Washington, D.C., and New York City. This visit was the first time a reigning British monarch had visited the United States.

During the royal couple’s visit to the Hudson Valley, they were treated to a small dinner party at the Roosevelt estate, Springwood, and a traditional American picnic at Top Cottage, another home on the Roosevelt property.

Five people sitting a row on a home's front porch

An interesting family group, taken during the week-end stay of the King and Queen with the American President, his wife and mother at Hyde Park, the Roosevelt family home overlooking the Hudson River, in New York, on June 11, 1939. Left to right; Eleanor Roosevelt, King George VI, Sarah Delano Roosevelt, President’s mother, Queen Elizabeth and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. (AP Photo)

The 150 guests at the picnic enjoyed such items as hot dogs, baked beans, ham, turkey, cakes, doughnuts, beer, iced tea and soft drinks.

During their visit, the royal couple also attended Sunday services at St. James Episcopal Church with the Roosevelts. Despite a request for a low church service, the service still had three ministers, the Rev. Frank R. Wilson, the church’s rector; Bishop Henry St. George Tucker, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in America; and the Rev. A. Raymond Smith, rector of St. Anne’s Church in Campobello, New Brunswick, Canada.

It was reported that people started lining up outside the church as early as 2 a.m. on the morning of June 11 to catch a glimpse of the royal couple and the Roosevelts.

Following their departure from Hyde Park, the royal couple returned to Canada to continue their tour of the provinces.

Man’s face slashed in brawl at bar

A brawl at a North Scranton bar overnight ended with a man being sent to the hospital with a gash on the left side of his face. According to Scranton police, the fight broke out at the D’Aqunio Club on Providence Road. When they arrived, police discovered Anthony Marinucci with a large gash to his face. He was taken to the State General Hospital, were he received 37 stitches to close the wound.

Police later picked up Nicholas Mangieri of Dunmore as the suspect in the assault on Marinucci. He later posted bail on the charges.

50 Years Ago – Dunmore teachers stage sick out

50 Years Ago – Dunmore teachers stage sick out

June 11, 1969 

Sickout in Dunmore School District

Schools throughout the Dunmore School District were dismissed at 9 a.m. because 93 teachers called in sick.

The sickout came after the Dunmore School Board refused to meet with the teachers union representative to discuss salary increases following a vote by the state Legislature to increase the minimum pay level for teachers statewide to $6,000.

The teachers were seeking to maintain the district’s pay scale of $500 above the state minimum. Dunmore Superintendent William Redesco canceled school for June 12 in case the teachers called off again. The school board called a meeting with the teachers union to discuss the salary issue. After the meeting, the teachers said they would be at school June 13.

City mayor’s office to supervise planner

Scranton City Council passed an ordinance that moved the supervision of the city planning office to the mayor’s office.

The ordinance also moved funds in the 1969 budget to pay the $16,000-a-year salary for a city planner. Prior to the new ordinance, the planning office was supervised by the city planning commission.

Two previous city planners, Sam Boyd and Einar Finnson, supported the move because they felt that the planner’s office would work more efficiently under the supervision of the mayor’s office than it did under the planning commission.

bicycle

Portion of a Globe Store advertisement – June 11, 1969 – The Scranton Times

Sale at the Globe

Bicycle with training wheels for $29.99 with trade-in; Hi Rise bicycle for $34.99 with trade-in; three-horsepower lawn mower for $37.99; backyard swing set with slide for $28.99; all-purpose steel backyard shed for $86.99; charcoal grill with electric rotisserie for $9.99.

60 Years Ago – Temperatures reached into the 90s

60 Years Ago – Temperatures reached into the 90s

June 9, 1959

Vandals hit junior high school

Over the course of a month, 197 windows were broken by vandals at South Scranton Junior High School. In response to this staggering amount of broken glass, the Scranton School Board moved to hire a special policeman to patrol the area around the school. Cyril Moran, chairman of the school board’s building committee, reported that it costs $6.20 to replace each broken window at the school.

He said the vandals were using all sorts of items to smash the windows, such as rocks and milk bottles, or they were using slingshots or air rifles.

Another issue that arose at the school board meeting was requiring students to use mouth guards while playing certain sports. Director Douglas Jenkins said Philadelphia schools found that the mouthpieces reduced tooth injuries and concussions. Board President Thomas Hogan said he would recommend to the superintendent that the mouthpieces be made mandatory for student athletes.

Hot, hot, hot

The Weather Bureau’s station at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport reported that the high temperature reached 90 degrees. The forecasters believed the fair and hot weather might be turning to humid conditions with showers the following day, with temperatures in the mid-80s. The previous day, the mercury reached 91 degrees — just 2 degrees shy of the record high of 93, which was set in 1925.

At the movies

“Alias Jesse James” at the Comerford,

“Thunder in the Sun” at the Strand,

“The Hangman” at the Riviera,

“Compulsion” at the West Side,

and “That Naughty Girl” and “Hells Canyon Outlaws” at the MidValley Drive-In.

50 Years Ago – Nellie Rodreguez, an exotic dancer, shares the ups and downs of her career

50 Years Ago – Nellie Rodreguez, an exotic dancer, shares the ups and downs of her career

Woman standing with one arm raised

Nellie Rodreguez. Times-Tribune Archives

June 8, 1969

On the job with an exotic dancer

Nellie Rodreguez said that exotic dancing “is the sensuous living music, the feeling of sound and the excitement of freedom.”

Rodreguez spoke to The Scranton Times about the life of an exotic dancer. She said that during the past five years she had worked as a go-go dancer, a stripper and an exotic dancer. She said she enjoyed exotic dancing the best.

Rodreguez, who at the time was performing in Hazleton, made $200 a week as a dancer working in cities big and small. She said that when she performed, “I don’t take it off, so they wait and watch.”

But there were drawbacks, she said. “People tend to look at you as some kind of sex symbol,” she said. “The women in the audience are prone to shouting rude remarks at me.” She said that during her dancing career, only about 20 men had tried to get onto the stage with her.

“She’s a fabulous performer,” said Stanley Slazak, Rodrequez’s manager and a Dupont resident. “Everywhere she appears they always want her to come back. She’s putting a new life in the ancient art of exotic dancing.”

Park in disrepair

Connell Park in South Scranton was once an oasis for city residents. But that was before it was filled with bottles, cans and car parts. The pavilion was covered in vulgar graffiti and the remains of smashed picnic tables. And a car with smashed windows had been parked in the park’s driveway for some time.

Park Superintendent Thomas Coyne said “we’ll clean and fix it up and the park will be ready to open June 21.” He added that “a good share of this destruction and littering is done by adults.” Coyne said residents living around the park needed to call police when they suspected vandalism was going on.

BRIAN FULTON, library manager, oversees The Times-Tribune’s expansive digital and paper archives and is an authority on local history. Contact Brian at bfulton@timesshamrock.com or 570-348-9140.

90 Years Ago – More warrants issued following opium raid

90 Years Ago – More warrants issued following opium raid

June 10, 1929

More warrants in opium case

After the raid of an opium den at 425 Wyoming Ave. on June 5, the U.S. attorney’s office issued warrants for Cletus “Hickey” Moore and Betty Moore, also known as Betty Price.

The pair were wanted by federal authorities for alleged possession and use of the drug. Federal narcotics agents said the pair fled during the raid on the Scranton property.

Arrested during the raid, authorities said, were Philadelphia racketeer George Fischer and Mr. and Mrs. Russell Cripe. Also during the raid, the feds seized a large quantity of opium and five opium pipes.

Mrs. Cripe was released from federal custody after she agreed to be a material witness in the case when it comes to trial. Russell Cripe posted a $3,000 bond and was released. Fischer was unable to post bail.

Bootleggers get jail

Lackawanna County Judge George Maxey sentenced two out-of-town bootleggers to 90 days in county jail after they were found guilty of making a beverage found to contain wood alcohol and other dangerous ingredients.

The pair, Joseph LaStella and Joseph Marino, were making their illegal brew in the woods near Old Forge. In addition to jail time, Maxey also ordered each to pay a $250 fine and court costs.

advertisement

A portion of an American Stores Co. advertisement – June 10, 1929 – The Scranton Times

Shopping list

Ceylon or orange pekoe tea was 60 cents per pound, a pound of coffee was 39 cents, two cans of peas were 19 cents, a 5-pound bag of flour was 25 cents, a 15-pound sack of potatoes was 53 cents and bacon was 30 cents per pound.

O.J. Simpson – 25 Years

O.J. Simpson – 25 Years

On June 12, 1994 – Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were killed. There bodies were found just after midnight on June 13 by neighbors of Nicole’s Bundy Drive condo.  Their deaths touch off a sensational trial in which Nicole’s ex-husband O.J. Simpson was charged with murder.

The case was filled with moments that people still talk about today such as – O.J. leading police on a slow speed chase on a Los Angeles freeway in his white Bronco, O.J. trying on of a piece of evidence (aka the bloody gloves) in court and the famous line by one O.J.’s defense attorneys Johnny Cochran”if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”   This trial captivated a good portion of the Unites States, included the writer of this post. I remember being let out a of college class earlier to hear the verdict read live on television in October 1995.

In July 1994, Times reporter Gina Thackara reported that few were watching the drama of the O.J. Simpson case. She spoke with the owner of Farley’s and he told her that few patrons barely glanced at the preliminary hearing coverage that was playing on the pub’s big screen TV. The Boscov’s electronic department saw the same interest or lack there of with shoppers. An employee said they usually have 10 to 15 people watching what’s one the televisions. But they added they that shoppers are usually trying catch a few minutes of there favorite soap opera.

Also in July 1994, Times’ columnist Joe Flannery wrote about the friendship between Scranton native Wendy Hiller Tohme and Nicole Brown. Mrs. Tohme, a graduate of Central High School, formed a friendship with Nicole through their sons being classmates in preschool.  She spoke about the friendship between there sons and how the neighborhood around their and O.J. Simpson homes has changed since the murder.  An interesting aside is that Mrs. Tohme’s husband is Dr. Tohme Tohme. Dr. Tohme was the financial adviser to Michael Jackson.

On January 22, 1995, the Scranton Times presented a O.J.Simpson Case infographic put together by the Associated Press. The criminal trial would be begin on January 24. The pages were filled with a look at the evidence of the case,  a timeline of the events of June 12, 1994, a graphic of the crime scene and a walkthrough of how the U.S. legal system works.

You can check out these pages by visiting  – https://www.dropbox.com/s/b00mbpvn9tfo31g/OJ%20Timeline%202.pdf?dl=0

The jury reached their verdict on October 2, 1995. The verdict was sealed and read the following day. O.J. Simpson was found not guilty. The Scranton Times went out and asked the 12 people how they would have voted if they were on the jury. He are their responses –

Following the criminal trial, the families of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman brought a wrongful death suit against OJ Simpson. On February 4, 1997 a jury found that OJ Simpson was liable for the death of Brown and Goldman.  The television networks were told the verdict was coming in 8pm East Coast time. The network waited by having news anchors and legal experts talk about the case. That same evening was President Bill Clinton’s State of Union address at 9pm. The networks left their O.J. coverage to air the State of Union. A few cable news networks stayed with their O.J. coverage.  The verdict didn’t come in until after the State of the Union was completed.

Locally, WBRE, WYOU and WNEP said they received calls from viewers complaining they were “sick of the OJ Trial” but most were asking why shows like “Mad About You” and “Promised Land” were pre-empted.  Also a crowd had gathered at Farley’s in downtown Scranton to watch the verdict but because of the delay in announcing the verdict the crowd slowly left the bar. At Whistle’s, sports and trivia games played on the bar’s 40 televisions. But an employee at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Wyoming Ave seemed to sum up how people felt locally, “Yeah, so? I don’t care”

In 2007, he was arrested as part of botched robbery in Las Vegas. He was found guilty of kidnapping and armed robbery. In October 2017, Simpson was released from a Nevada prison after serving nine years of his sentence.

Since his release, according to a June 10, 2019 Associated Press article, Simpson has been keeping a low profile living in the Las Vegas area.