Very Happy Memories!

By   rlit50@hotmail.com

   I grew up in Conemaugh from 1950 till I left in 1968, and those were the best years! I remember brick streets (with beveled edges, in case horses still used them, though I never spied one), the local incinerator for burning "garbage", the Traction Co. buses with drivers like Roy Yeager, Don Seese, Herb Helsel and others. These fine drivers took loads of us to Penn Traffic, to Bishop McCort, and all over. Heck, they even put in "trackless trollies" for a few years! In town they had the REAL trollies as well as buses. Our Conemaugh Police Chief was George Fesko, who also delivered coal in his spare time. I attended Sacred Heart Church and school, and anyone there in the 60's-80's MUST remember Father Francis E. Kelly - somewhat strict, very large, but with a heart of gold as big as he was. Everyone toed the line in his parish! My mom was a third grade teacher in public school, so I also knew teachers and kids from there too. I remember Miss Reed, our wonderful kindergarten teacher at Conemaugh. After that, I was taught by the Ursuline Sisters.

   The OLD Johnstown Library was a great place, sort of spooky, I thought. Little did I know that there was even a pipe organ and a running track on the top floor. It was always closed off. I played some grade school football (not well), and then decided to try my hand at music lessons and languages. I took organ lessons from Ruth Kern and then from William Stahl in Westmont Presbyterian, and from Paul Fruth at Franklin Street Methodist. Of course there was the great park nearby Glosser's and the church, and I remember feeding the pigeons many bags of those hot roasted peanuts with my dad, when I was very young. We went many times to Point Stadium for games and the Rosary Rally, as well as up the Inclined Plane just for excitement.

   We went to Fun City and to Liberty for swimming, as well as the old YMCA for swimming lessons. The "Tops Diners" were my favorite eateries, and once after a BMHS School Spirit Parade, in which I rode on the back of classmate John Ondick's yellow car, dressed as Der Fuehrer (I was president of the German Club), I went into the Tops near Washington St, in full military regalia, and almost got belted by some WWII Vets until I explained why I was so attired. Another great place to eat was the Monte Carlo on Main Street, where the pizza was super. One last diner to mention - out on Franklin Street, across from the hospitals, was a place all us BMHS'ers called "Long's". I remember Penny the waitress; we all had crush on her! In high school there were John Uriah, the gym teacher; William Merkovsky who taught social science and was my sophomore HR teacher and the basketball coach; and many sisters, a few priests and even some attractive lady teachers, like Mrs Havas and Ms. Jamitis. We all remembered well Mr. Ronan's "green stick" and Sr. Georgianna's music practices. Fathers J. Clark George, Richard Hovanec, and James Bunn were the "Administration" from 1964-68. I remember fondly Mary Ann Clark, Maureen Klug, and Becky McAneny as some of the girls and Brian Cochran, (Fr.) Pat Leahy, Pat Brannigan and Mike Chanonich as some of the guys. Where did those good times go? We all listened to WCRO with John Rubel, bought "top 40" 45's as Weiser's, and had a great time!

   I miss Johnstown, though it has changed over the years. After visiting every so often, there is still part of me that wants to return and walk along downtown streets, imagining crowds at the Kresge's and Woolworth's, the State and the Embassy theaters, and hearing the bustle of traffic and the sounds from the once mighty Bethlehem Steel Franklin Plant where my dad and uncles worked. People older than I (only 51) often refer to Johnstown as the Flood City, and I still hear the slogan, "Don't spit on the floor; remember the Johnstown Flood!" occasionally. They know only part of it. We who lived there know more of the story and have seen the Josef Schantz monument and the Brown Metal Dog with the broken tail. But what I really think of is the sign on route 56, "Johnstown, the Friendly City!"

Proudly,
Richard Litzinger, Monroe, CT


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