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Readers siding with Ziskind on Memory Lane

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Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

It didn't take long for readers to respond the question about Joseph (Joe) Ziskind, the longtime Pittsburgh home repairs contractor.

And he's just one of the focal points of today's backward glance.

“My grandparents had aluminum siding put on their house by Mr. Ziskind sometime in the 1960s,” a woman in Donora recalled. “They heard his catchy commercials on the radio and also knew some friends who had work done by Mr. Ziskind and recommended him.”

Ziskind's popular ad jingle was heard by thousands of people in southwestern Pennsylvania during Pittsburgh Pirates games and on the KDKA radio post-game show.

Lou Sautel, who operated an ad agency in Pittsburgh, wrote the jingle, which featured a female singer and a piano player reminding potential customers: “Joe Sizkind takes your house out of hiding and brightens it up with beautiful siding. No money you'll be riskin' when you call Joe Ziskin.' So dial this number and do it quick – Hazel 1-7866.”

The jingle was presented with a Caribbean rhythm and was one of the most familiar in Pittsburgh advertising history.

Ziskind started the Joseph Ziskind Construction Co. in 1958 and gained a strong reputation for his quality and trustworthy work. He was hired for home repairs jobs throughout the region including assignments for many customers in this mid-Monongahela Valley.

He died at age 90 on July 26, 2001, while visiting family and friends in Burlington, Vt. He had lived in Popano Beach, Fla., for five years after retiring.

Set for new season

Eldora Park, described as being located outside of Donora on the way to Monongahela, will open its 1913 spring and summer season on Sunday, The Daily Independent of Monessen reported on May 10.

The newspaper said extensive improvements will “aid greatly” to the park's “attractiveness and general beauty.” It noted that park manager Tom P. Sloan and assistant manager Roy Sharpnack were getting final details shaped up for the opening date.

Traditional school picnics for children in Monessen, Donora, Monongahela, Charleroi and Belle Vernon will be held early in the season at Eldora Park. The Monongahela outing will be “a complimentary affair given by Claude E. Towner, one of the public spirited citizens of that city,” the Independent said.

The story also emphasized that a contract had been made with Mr. and Mrs. John Jenkins of Monongahela for conducting a dancing school and dance every Monday night at the park. The Delmar Club of Monessen also has secured a lease to hold dances once a week through the new season.

Pay to park

Monongahela's new parking meters went into use on Thursday, April 1, 1948, and Mayor David M. Gillie wasn't joking when he warned that parking regulations “will be strictly enforced.”

“There will be no need of anyone trying to get a ticket fixed,” the mayor said.

“The 223 meters located in the downtown area of the city will be in use daily Monday through Saturday,” newspapers reported. “They will not operate Sunday or holidays.”

C.E. Hill, a Charleroi salesman, was the first person to drop a coin in Monongahela's new parking meters when they went into operation at 9 a.m.

VFW officers elected

Meeting on Sunday, March 21, 1948, members of Cpl. Charles H. Allen Post 977 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Donora re-elected Dominic Amantangelo as commander for his second term.

Other administrative officers for the coming year will be James Robinson, senior vice commander; John Sabo, junior vice commander, John Fisher, chaplain, John Stiehm, quartermaster, Peter Francis, trustee, Albert H. Hill, judge advocate, and Dr. H.J. Levin, surgeon. Delegates from Post 977 to the Southwestern Counties Council are James Robinson, Louis Stiehm, Michael P. Kosh, Peter Francis and Michael Dutka.

Installation ceremonies will take place April 16 at the Lithuanian Hall.

Meanwhile, the Fashion Academy in New York City announced its annual list of best dressed women on Thursday, March 25, 1948. Among those gaining that distinction were screen actress Loretta Young, radio personality Mary Livingston, supper club star Hildegarde, champion ice skater Sonja Heine and debutante Virginia Leigh.

Happy landing

The Express Highway (now Interstate 70) served as a “landing field” on the evening of Thursday, December 18, 1952, when a U.S. Army plane piloted by Col. William Gunther of Washington, D.C., came down for refueling and because of poor visibility.

According to The Charleroi Mail report the next day, Mr. and Mrs. Allen Wiltrout, who “live along the dual-lane highway a short distance from Bentleyville,” were hosts for the Army officer overnight.

“Eugene Wiltrout, 23, and Alfred Wiltrout, 17, were driving home from work at 5:15 p.m. yesterday when they saw the plane land,” the newspaper said. “They helped the officer park the vehicle and escorted him to their home nearby.”

The plane, an Army Aeroscope, was being flown by Gunther from Washington, D.C., to a destination in Nebraska. He told the Wiltrouts that heavy cloud formations closed in on him while he was flying over the Allegheny Mountains. He also recalled that he was running low on gas and overshot his Pennsylvania refueling destination, the Greater Pittsburgh Airport.

“Sighting the long, straightaway of the Express Highway below him as he passed over Bentleyville, the officer set down the plane without incident,” The Mail reported.

Eugene Wiltrout took Gunther to Thompson Field (Scott Airfield on Route 51) in Rostraver Township and then into Pittsburgh to secure gasoline. He refueled Thursday night when they returned and took off early Friday morning “right from the highway,” Mrs. Wiltrout said.

The newspaper emphasized that “this is the first time a plane has landed on the Express Road” and credited Gunther as an “experienced flier” had “no difficulty” landing his craft on the half-mile stretch of highway just west of Bentleyville.

A first for police

Acting on the qualified advice and recommendation of Lt. Genevieve McInerney, head of Pittsburgh's school guards, Charleroi Borough Council on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 1956, appointed six “lady-cops” and set machinery in motion for their permanent assignments as school traffic aides.

Chosen at the suggestion of McInerney and two aides who screened 19 applicants for the jobs were Helen A. Cowell, Rose V. Winfield, Peggy R. Williams, Geraldine Stasicha, Katherine E. Woytovich and Melinda G. Mazur, all borough residents.

Council president R.L. Sphar and councilmen Americo Troiano, Pete Celaschi, James George, Pete Tihansky and Robert Rickard gave unanimous endorsement to the selections. Councilman Alex Luckasevic was absent from the meeting.

Council said the crossing guards will be paid $70 a month for a 15-hour working week. Charleroi School District will pay for four of six uniforms for the guards and the parochial school will foot the bill for the other two uniforms.

Ron Paglia is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media. Contact hime at or c/o The Valley Independent at Eastgate 19, Monessen, PA 15062.

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