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Seton Hill student takes on 'Trash Talking' on Facebook

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Young man about town, Jake Zelmore, is a 2010 graduate of Jeannette High School.

Zelmore was in numerous class plays and was very active in high school, but now he is probably best known for his recent tongue-in-cheek Facebook videos, which include “Jeannette Trash Talking.”

The video, a humorous take on the garbage bag situation in the city, can be found on YouTube.

Currently in his junior year at Seton Hill College, Zelmore is majoring in pre-law and political science.

“I always wanted to go to Seton Hill,” said Zelmore. “I turned down a full scholarship elsewhere because this place is special up here.”

Not only does Zelmore think Seton Hill is special, he also thinks his hometown of Jeannette is special. He owns a full collection of Jeannette High School yearbooks and this year, for a class project, he decided to do a paper on the glass industry in Jeannette.

While doing his research, he found a large project archived in the library, called “The Folklife Collection.”

These particular volumes were a joint venture between Seton Hill College and Indiana University.

According to Indiana University's website, “The Folklife Division of the Southwestern PA Heritage Preservation Commission was developed by the PA Heritage Affairs Commission in cooperation with the National Park Service and local cultural organizations.”

Beginning in 1990, the division worked with local organizations, retired workers, community members and historians.

The collection housed at Seton Hill features New Kensington, Jeannette and other local communities with Jeannette being most prominently featured.

The Jeannette collection contains audio interviews with women who worked in manufacturing in Jeannette and surrounding areas.

Not only is Zelmore doing a class paper on this collection, for his internship he is digitizing the entire collection, which is currently on cassette tapes.

He is also going to add his own volume to the collection.

The Folklife Project was done in 1993. In regard to Jeannette, the purpose of the study was to interview women who had worked in the glass and other manufacturing plants and see how they felt and how their lives had changed 10 years after the last plant closed.

“Almost every interview begins with the words, ‘After the factory closed…the town went downhill,” Zelmore said.

“The collection has pretty much not been looked at since it was done. I was the first person to show an interest in it. It is fascinating to listen to and read.”

The majority of the study focuses on women glass workers and African-American migration to Jeannette.

Jeannette resident and retired librarian Ann Porrecca suggested most of the interviewees.

In reviewing the interviews, it is apparent that all of these women did hard manual labor from packing trucks, to rolling glass on the edge of a belt to smooth it, to loading and unloading the lehr, a temperature controlled kiln.

One interviewee said in regard to her co-worker, “She would run home to nurse her baby on her break and then run back to work.”

Most of the women had children. Many relied on relatives or friends to watch them. Often a wife would work one shift and the husband another so someone would be home with the children.

Another woman said “I would get maybe 10 hours of sleep the whole week. It was hard, very hard.” In regard to the plant closing another woman said, “Everything was taken away.” She said of her husband, who also worked in the industry, “He laid on the couch for three years. We didn't know if he was going to make it or not.”

It is hard not to be touched by these interviews, and Zelmore with his love of Jeannette is honored to be working on this project. He said his family is marking their 100th year in Jeannette this year.

Zelmore resides with his mother, Kim Cramer Hoffer, his sister, Allyson Hoffer, and brother, Spencer Irwin.

His father is the late Jason Zelmore of Mt. Pleasant, son of the late auctioneer and musician Jake Zelmore. Zelmore inherited his grandfather's love of music and singing and plays 12 different instruments.

Zelmore also has three siblings that live in Mt. Pleasant — Zoey, Jordan and Brady Zelmore.

Zelmore's life is consumed by his college responsibilities. He is a past member of the Jeannette Historical Society and hopes to return to that organization in the future.

At school, he is on the Campus Life Resolution Board which deals with student issues, and he is an Orientation Assistant.

Zelmore said, “If something needs done, I do it. You're supposed to give back in life. If someone needs help, you should help them.”

In regard to his videos about parking in Jeannette and the garbage bag situation, he said he gets emails from complete strangers asking when the next video is coming out.

In his tongue-in-cheek manner, he said, “Being good looking and witty is a curse.”

To learn more about Jeannette history, or happenings in town, get to know neighbor Jake Zelmore.

Margie Stanislaw is a freelance writer.

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