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Oyler: Reaching into reader mailbox for feedback

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Feedback from our readers is always appreciated.

Because our column frequently appears in the Carnegie Signal-Item as well as in the Bridgeville Area News, some feedback is coming from the Carnegie area.

• We recently received a phone call from Carol Dlugos, on behalf of the Carnegie Historical Society. She reported that the society has received a request for information regarding a soldier named Robert Stewart who is buried in a cemetery in the Netherlands. He apparently died while incarcerated in a German prisoner of war camp on Nov. 7, 1944.

A French family has adopted his grave and would like to contact members of his family. We don't know much about him. His service number was 1308773. He was born on Dec. 19, 1919, and lived in East Carnegie. His mother died in 1922; her maiden name was Edda Tanner. It is believed that he graduated from Clark High School, Scott Township, probably in 1936 or 1937.

The Carnegie Historical Society would be pleased to hear from anyone who has information regarding Mr. Stewart. Individuals can email or call me if you have any memories of him or if you know of any surviving members of his family.

• Another call, from George Honchar, also involved East Carnegie. Mr. Honchar has a warehouse in what had been the Superior Steel complex. Someone told his that this property had originally been part of Carnegie and was donated to Superior when the steel mill was first constructed. He wondered why Carnegie would have given up valuable land to Scott Township, losing the opportunity to extract taxes from a successful steel company.

The most we have been able to determine about the history of this particular property is that it probably was within the original boundaries of Scott Township, across the creek from Mansfield Borough.

When the entrepreneurs planning to organize Superior Steel were looking for investors, Mansfield Borough did indeed make a substantial financial contribution to them, believing that the new business would benefit their residents.

• After reading our column on Amy Perkins' 99th birthday party, Betty Copeland called to advise us that it actually was a joint party and that Nancy Anderson had celebrated her 90th birthday at the same event.

Our thanks to Betty for this information and our congratulations to Nancy for her longevity.

• I recently stumbled across a group of photographs of Cabana Beach on the Internet. Some of them were taken by Joseph Katrencik Sr. in the early 1950s. They include pictures of his son, Joseph Jr., as a young boy enjoying a visit to the park. The photos show the swimming pool, the boating pond, the pony rides, and the concession stands clearly.

The Katerenciks were residents of nearby Hendersonville and enjoyed excursions there. Another set were taken in the 1970s by Joseph Jr.

By then the park was closed down and its facilities were in disrepair.

We know that Cabana Beach was originally a small amusement park named Rakuen Lake, in the 1930s and that it included some modest amusement park type rides – merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, etc. We also know that C. P. Mayer's grandson, “Buzz” Mayer was an aspiring musician and that he played with a small dance band there that was led by Billy Strayhorn.

Born in 1915, Strayhorn grew up in Homewood and attended Westinghouse High School. In 1935 he wrote a musical for the school called “Fantastic Rhythm.”

In 1937, he formed a trio called the Mad Hatters that spent the summer playing dances at Rakuen Lake. A year later, Strayhorn was a mainstay in the Duke Ellington Orchestra as a pianist, arranger and composer.

When I brought up the subject of Cabana Beach at an octogenarian brunch, most of the fellows remembered going there to swim. None of them remembered the dance pavilion at Rakuen Lake, but several mentioned the nearby Glass Bar as a popular place to go to dance.

Cabana Beach was located on the east side of the Washington Pike, just south of the county line. The Glass Bar was a short distance south beyond Cabana Beach. We welcome your comments on any of these subjects, especially Robert Stewart and Rakuen Lake.

John Oyler is a columnist for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-343-1652 or

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