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Facebook fans fancy 'I'm So Greensburg'

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 9:02 p.m.

Devotees fancy the Facebook phenomenon “I'm So Greensburg.”

Started as a friendly challenge in July between friends Erik Masaln and Joey Ramsey to determine who is a more true-blooded Greensburger, “I'm So Greensburg” boasts thousands of posts.

Followers range from Stanley R. Pittler, who recalls Lou's Pool Room and dance lessons on the roof at the Penn Albert Hotel, to Alicia Constantine and her Gen-X girlfriends who went to college with the inside of their lips tattooed with “15601.”

All celebrate the little city founded by Nathanael Green.

Gary Suehr remembers when the junior high band received their first brand-new uniforms, not hand-me-downs from the senior high. Gloria Casale and others can still smell the breakfast rolls with maple icing at Colonial Bakery.

John Myers posts about a childhood fascination with the rocket at the Spring Street playground, across from Narad's Barber Shop. Ed Dwyer recalls how kids would push and shove to get to the top.

Aaron Brahosky would bike through St. Clair Cemetery to the “Ho Chi Minh Trail” to Westmoreland Mall. Popular playground games were box hockey and Zell ball. Jim Schuck remembers rough-and-tumble games at Valley View Playground. Jennifer Guerin Overmoyer's favorite “playground” equipment was the cannon on the VFW's lawn.

G.R. Carroll adds that “we had the high ground on the cars and people walking up E. Pittsburgh Street on the low ground. Nobody overran our position. We were victorious and kept Tremont Avenue free for democracy.”

As Michael Tracey recollects that buddies Brian Bompiani and Anthony Bordinaro were “good skateboarders,” he asks if Bompiani still skates. Tammy Bompiani answers: The father of three little boys “traded his skateboard for the books and got his Ph.D. in religious studies.”

Several post memories of tobogganing and learning to ski at Mt. Odin Park. Sandy Block Mason owns home movies of her family sled riding on those slopes. Michael Arm and Terry Grindle recall ice skating at Roadman's along Slate Run Road, where a red ball was hung to signal if the ice was hard enough.

Clarence Stitzer recalls sledding behind St. Anne nursing home. “If it snowed enough, the cops would close off Park Street,” remembers Matthew Geary.

Mary Kay Radnich mentions excellent marching bands from Greensburg Salem High School in the 1970s. Band banquets at the former Harty's on Route 30 are fondly remembered by Joan Enlow Smeltzer.

Shawn Baer and Lynn Shuster reminisce about the Rustic Drive-In by the Westmoreland Fairgrounds, seeing “The Graduate” and “Jaws.” Schuck recalls the KQV Summer Shower of Stars, featuring The Young Rascals and Greensburg's own Shondells with Tommy James. (Debra Sabatine remembers cheering for them at the Civic Arena. Tickets cost $3, $4 and $5.)

Paul Strizzi posts about seeing Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and The Shirelles at the Red Rooster before it became Harty's. Others remember WHJB radio personalities Cowboy Phil and sports announcer Ralph Conde.

Teens back in the day hit the Pizza Shack on Main Street at the current site of Sun Dawg, Harry's Pizza (10 cents a slice), Four Star Pizza on Harrison Avenue, Rosie's Pizza in Hufftown and the Sunset, which is still crafting delicious pies.

Debbie Campbell says Sears was on North Main before moving to East Pittsburgh Street. Patricia Bair's husband worked at the Main Street location for 75 cents an hour, plus 1 percent commission, in 1947 while attending St. Vincent College.

“So Greensburg” is Louise Widdows that her dad ran Troutman's Sporting Goods from 1959 to 1975. Perry Colosimo says most of his Christmas wish list could be found there in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

Patricia Bair posts: “I'm so Greensburg I remember Saturday shopping downtown meant stops at Troutman's, Royer's, Bon Ton and LaRose Shop. For the little things we had a choice of Murphy's 5 & 10, McCrory's or Woolworth 5 & 10. Lee's had the best coffee. Isaly's the best chipped ham BBQ's and ice cream and Troutman's restaurant a great place to sit down, relax, and have something good to eat. If I was alone I always stopped at The Trading Post to check out new records (you could test play them before buying) and next door was Joe Workman's all in one afternoon.”

Scott Slosarik's picture of Fire House No. 8 on Broad Street sparks dialogue about the “best ever” Shuey burgers. Slosarik remembers his whole neighborhood smelling of fried onions during the summer carnival. There are fond memories of Brunetta's Market, formerly on East Pittsburgh. Colosimo's mother sent him there every day with a grocery list, “like a drug runner for the ‘Urania Avenue cartel'.”

Farther up East Pittsburgh, Nikki Scott recalls, were David Weis and Service Merchandise, instead of the drivers license center. Driving tests were administered at the state police barracks.

George Nicolai's grandfather and Carolyn Felice's father-in-law were founding members of the Hilltop Italian Men's Club in 1935. At the bocci courts, a sign read: “No women or children after 9 p.m.”

Felice jokes she's “so Greensburg” she calls Lynch Field “Lake Lynch” because of frequent floods. Pam Kundrod Wolfe smiles when she recalls jaunts to the swimming pool, sometimes waving at Marsaln, who was mowing the Lynch Field grass. David Drew Hernandez made mischief by “tipping rafts during the 'Jaws' movie . . . at the night swim” at Veterans Memorial Pool.

Buzz revolves around Dead Man's Tunnel on the hillside above Lynch. Eric Schultz posts:

“I remember going swimming in the big old rock quarry near Dead Man's Tunnel! I remember it being crystal clear and very, very deep! Legend has it back in the '50s there was a train derailment around there. The train was carrying Hershey chocolate bars and kids came from all over town to scoop them up. ... Also, urban legend has it the Greensburg Scuba Team was diving there and they never found the bottom... .”

Mike Salvio remembers Saturday nights on the sidewalk in front of Murphy's and Briar Bowl when newsboys brought the Sunday newspaper to your car for a quarter. Deborah Spina recollects using the pay phone at Murphy's on the corner of Otterman and Pennsylvania. The box-like compartment had a sliding door.

Alice Damiano's 91-year-old father can remember walking into Murphy's with his mother to buy a belt, circa 1928. And Felice won't forget the pet department with the painted turtles under a plastic palm tree. “We never heard of salmonella back then and we all bought turtles.”

Chris Fox chuckles as he remembers thinking the hostess at Troutman's restaurant might have been the model for store mannequins. Gerry Smolka posts that she had to quit her job at the lunch counter at Thrift Drug on Main “when the uniform and apron got too tight,” when she was four months pregnant.

Christine Brewer, Marcie Woods and Pam DiPrimio Salensky relate Christmas memories of trips “uptown” to enjoy store windows painted by high school art students and the other decorations. Lance Fajt recalls dropping his wish list in the “fancy mailbox” in front of the courthouse. And John D. Lewis remembers the giant talking Santa.

Some posters reminisce about old movie theaters — the Manos (now The Palace), The Cinema and The Strand.

The Coliseum dance hall, once on the site of the Pershing Square apartment building, was a place for roller skating and dancing to the big bands, according to Bunny Conte. Ray Sirnic writes about the recent appearance of the Glenn Miller Orchestra at St. Clair Park.

A number of followers discuss the old jailhouse adjacent to the courthouse. Woods' “grandfather was the clockmaker whose job it was to wind the clock in the tower before it was motorized.” Lynn Shuster can recall prisoners sitting out in the yard.

Patricia Bair refers to a newspaper clipping about the last hanging at the jailhouse: “People came from all around the area to watch, bringing picnic baskets to enjoy the day. My husband's grandfather was the County Sheriff at the time, Sheriff P.F. McCann. His picture used to hang in the Court House, along with the pictures of all the former and later sheriffs. . .”

Conte remembers when street cars were “our only means of transportation.”

Chad Good provides a photo of a vintage street car. (While some contributors' names appear frequently, Benjamin Palmer points out Good may be the “most Greensburg” with his whopping lead of 2,839 posts.)

Joy Elaine Ross-Cramer confesses to playing hookey from school to visit the “brand new” Greengate Mall. AnnaMarie DiPrimio Bigi posts a poignant photo of the Sinclair Dinosaur hovering over Hornes's at Greengate.

Brad Conaway, Cindy Poli and others pay homage to the late pediatrician, Dr. Pascal Spino. Casale expresses the sentiments of many: “Dr. Spino was Greensburg. ... A book should be written about his life and how he gave 100 percent of himself to help a sick child.”

From Bubach, Germany, John Myers hopes that someone will remember the name of the penny candy store on Guthrie Street in Southwest Greensburg. Although she resides in Massachusetts, Susan Nowlin Batutis is proud to be a member of the Westmoreland County Historical Society.

Marveling at a sunset from his porch in North Las Vegas cannot deter Eron Smith from wishing he was back in the “burg” with family and friends.

Dave Knoepfle is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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