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Looking back to look forward to positive days once again

Submitted - Flood scenes from 1936 in Connellsville. View off the Pennsylvania Railroad bridge toward Connellsville's West Side.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>Flood scenes from 1936 in Connellsville. View off the Pennsylvania Railroad  bridge toward Connellsville's West Side.
Submitted - A youthful John Woodruff of Connellsville strides to the finish line and gold medal fame in the 800-meter at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Woodruff died several years ago. The city hosts the yearly John Woodruff 5-K run/walk, held in his honor every July. The former North End Community Park now carries his name.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>A youthful John Woodruff of Connellsville strides to the finish line and gold medal fame in the 800-meter at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Woodruff died several years ago. The city hosts the yearly John Woodruff 5-K run/walk, held in his honor every July. The former North End Community Park now carries his name.
Submitted - Before the late Florentine Pistilli became a photographer who owned Windsor Studio, he operated this Connellsville shoe repair shop at the same location (208 S. Pittsburgh St.),next to the Christian Church. Here, he waits on an unnamed customer around 1932.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>Before the late Florentine Pistilli became a photographer who owned Windsor Studio, he operated this Connellsville shoe repair shop at the same location (208 S. Pittsburgh St.),next to the Christian Church. Here, he waits on an unnamed customer around 1932.
Submitted - I.N.Hagen Ice Cream and Milk plant on West Crawford Avenue around 1930. Sold in 1936 to R. Bruce Fike of Uniontown, who operated it until 1939. Today it houses Bradley Paint Company.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>I.N.Hagen Ice Cream and Milk plant on West Crawford Avenue around 1930. Sold in 1936 to R. Bruce Fike of Uniontown, who operated it until 1939. Today it houses Bradley Paint Company.
Laura Szepesi | For the Daily Courier - At 90-plus, Fotenie Melassanos Mongell of Connellsville has plenty to be proud of, including the memories of growing up at The Star Cafe, a North Pittsburgh Street restaurant operated by her parents from 1917 to 1957.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Laura Szepesi | For the Daily Courier</em></div>At 90-plus, Fotenie Melassanos Mongell of Connellsville has plenty to be proud of, including the memories of growing up at The Star Cafe, a North Pittsburgh Street restaurant operated by her parents from 1917 to 1957.
Submitted - This sewer was laid on Newmeyer Avenue in 1938 by Works Progress Administration crews of Connellsville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>This sewer was laid on Newmeyer Avenue in 1938 by Works Progress Administration crews of Connellsville.
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By Laura Szepesi
Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

After decades of decline, a spark of redevelopment and renovation has been lit in Connellsville in recent years. Dilapidated buildings are coming down or — as in the case of the old Aaron's Furniture building — being renovated. New buildings and businesses are opening. A hotel near Yough Park is right around the corner. Young people are getting involved in city matters. The list goes on and on.

Things are definitely looking up. However, to really know where we're headed in 2014 and beyond, we must know where we've been. The past is prologue, or so the old saying goes.

In keeping with that, on Monday, the Daily Courier begins “The Way We Were,” followed by “Where We're Headed,” a series of articles tracing Connellsville's past through the eyes of residents who lived it. From the 1930s through the New Millennium, “The Way We Were” will give a human perspective of Connellsville's boomtown years as well as its hard times and will end with a flourish, focusing on good news — we hope — for the future of our town in particular and Southwestern Pennsylvania in general.

Interviews for this series began this past summer and have continued ever since.

The Daily Courier thanks all those who agreed to interviews, those who provided photos and took photos and those who assisted with historical data.

We hope that readers will view “The Way We Were” and “Where We're Headed” as a special holiday treat and that they enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoyed compiling it. With that, read on…and on…and on, towards a brighter future.

Laura Szepesi is a contributing writer.

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