Dunmorean of the Month: The late “King Joe” Amendolaro

By Steve Svetovich

If you grew up in Dunmore, you knew King Joe.

He is a Dunmore legend.

“King Joe” Amendolaro died this past July 29 at 94.

For decades, he ran a mom and pop store at three different Drinker Street locations in Dunmore.

King Joe earned numerous weightlifting titles on the world stage.

He helped countless Dunmore football players with strengthening and weight lifting programs for about three decades in his basic Drinker Street gym.

His family helped him run the store. And that was 365 days a year. That meant Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and the Fourth of July.

He was open every single day for his customers. Just in case they needed anything.

The third and final location of the business was at 622-624 E. Drinker St., Dunmore. King Joe occupied that location from 1971 through 1995, but was in business since 1954.

“The large gamut of inventory in the 2,400 square feet came to be because if a customer asked for something my dad didn’t have, he told them he would do his best to get it,” said his son Joe.

The cross section of inventory you could purchase at King Joe’s included aspergum,.22 bullets, Gravy Train dog food, Progresso soup, Sports Illustrated, spools of yarn, a dozen eggs, gallon of milk, Parodi cigars, packs of Marlboros, Hershey’s ice cream bars, bags of coal, cases of water, blocks of ice, Matchbox cars, boxes of Life cereal, shoelaces, a watch battery, Oscar Mayer hot dogs, a road flare, Tastykakes, get-well cards, bottles of Pepsi, a key made, baby formula, Silence is Golden cough syrup, pieces of Profera’s pizza, a plastic model of a 1970 Chevy Camaro, or even developing for your Kodak Instamatic pictures.

If you needed it, King Joe had it.

“My brother Tony is fond of telling the story about when a customer came in looking for a pair of drum sticks for a drum kit,” recalls his son Joe. “My dad bought a drum kit for one of us at Christmas. My dad wasn’t sure, but he came back behind the counter, rummaged through all the stuff and, sure enough, came up with a pair of drum sticks. When asked how much he was going to charge for them, my dad told the customer, “‘How can I charge for something I didn’t know I had?'”

His son Joe shared another story.

“Dad had a doll of a newborn baby wrapped in a blanket hidden behind the counter. If a toddler was acting up in the store, he would go behind the counter and start making sounds of a crying newborn. As he came out from behind the counter, he would lift his head from the doll, look at the child and say, ‘Shhh, you will wake the baby.’ The toddler would then become silent. It worked every time.”

King Joe was often misunderstood for promoting healthy living and exercise, but he did not want people to miss the opportunity or privilege of being well.

He had his rituals.

“On a Friday or Saturday night during the summer,” his son said, “after we closed the store at midnight, Dad would grab a creamsickle out of the ice cream freezer and tell my brother and me to throw the the ice tongs in the cab and we would drive to Moosic in a truck to a place that made block ice.

“The keys and access were at the rear of the building for after-hours business. Stored inside and upright were nearly 300 pound cakes of ice at five-feet tall. We would take at least a dozen with the help of a hydraulic platform and load them on the truck.

“Through the honor system, dad would slide the cash or check in a slot in a wooden box. To stop melting, we would cover the ice with a tarp and hope the wooden planks and cinder blocks on top would keep it from blowing away.

“When we got to the top of Drinker Street, we would hear the water dripping off the back of the truck. It was a reminder we were working against the clock. Once we got there at 1 a.m, someone would be in the truck cutting the blocks into manageable pieces. Another would take the blocks to the door of the ice house. And someone else would be hunched over inside in charge of storage.

“The three of us loved it and whoever came along made it that much more special.

“We would sell the ice in denominations of 25 pounds and had a crusher on the dock if the customer wanted it so.

“My dad always put on a clinic in customer satisfaction.”

King Joe was raised in Dunmore and left school in the 10th grade because he had to help his immigrant dad with his business, the Gold Medal Bakery in Scranton. He had to help out on the baker truck. King Joe’s dad had one leg and raised six kids on his own during the Depression after his wife died. King Joe was only 11 when his mom died. His parents were from Italy.

King Joe enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Alaska for two years before coming back to Dunmore and beginning his lifelong business ventures.

King Joe’s originated in 1956 as a general store/newsstand.

At the final location, King Joe had a gym in the back of the store where Dunmore football players were welcome to lift weights and train. He would bring thermoses of juice for the Dunmore football team to drink at halftime during home games. He filled up Dixie cups of juice for each player as he promoted healthy hydration. He showed Dunmore football players the benefits of Olympic weigh-lifting as opposed to power-lifting.

“He had great pride in football and Dunmore High School,” his son said.

King Joe is survived by his wife of 61 years, the former Annette “Tootsie” Scartelli, and his sons Joe, 61, and Tony, 59, both graduates of Scranton Prep.

Former Dunmore standout named coach of Lady Bucks

By Steve Svetovich

Carrie Bowen Toomey is a basketball lifer.

And a former all-state basketball player for Dunmore.

For years, she has been one of the biggest supporters of the Dunmore basketball programs.

For the past three years she served as assistant basketball coach at Dunmore under Ben O’Brien who last month accepted a position as coach of the University of Scranton Lady Royals.

So it was not a surprise when Bowen Toomey, 51, was named last month as the new coach of the Dunmore Lady Bucks.

“It’s an honor to be chosen,” she said. “I prepared for this for an entire lifetime. I have more to give and I’m very excited.”

Her daughter Ciera Toomey will be a senior forward/center for the Lady Bucks this season. She will begin the season out with a knee injury, but is expected to play under her mom at some point during the season.

Carrie Bowen Toomey poses with her husband, Patrick Toomey, at right, as their daughter Ciera, at center, celebrates her 1000th point with the Ladies Buck basketball team. Carrie is taking over as head coach at DHS this season.

She is committed to play basketball for the University of North Carolina the following year. She averaged over 18 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 67.2 percent from the floor as a junior for Dunmore.

“We are hoping she plays,” her mom said. “If she does, it will be later in the season. She was thrilled about me being named coach though. I have coached her since she started playing basketball. We anticipate she can eventually play this year.”

Another daughter, Victoria Toomey, was a four-year basketball standout at Dunmore and is currently a senior center at Rider University.

Bowen Toomey was a four-year starter for Franklin and Marshall College. At 5-10, she played forward, was a strong rebounder and possessed a terrific jump hook shot.

The Diplomats were MAC-South champs in 1990 with a 25-5 record. During the next three years, Franklin and Marshall won the MAC-Southwesf title, losing in the league championship game each year.

Bowen Toomey was named to the MAC-Southwest Conference first team three years in a row and was the league’s MVP in her junior and senior years. She was named to the ECAC South first All Conference team her junior and senior years.

She was named to the WBCA Mid-Atlantic first team and received honorable mention All-American honors by the WBA. Gazette, the  women’s basketball magazine, named her third-team All-American.

She averaged 13.6 points as a college freshman. She improved to 13.8 as a sophomore, 16.8 as a junior, and 20.1 points per game as a senior.

She finished her Franklin and Marshall career second in school history in scoring with 1,686 points, fourth in rebounding with 821, third in assists with 276, third in steals with 226, fourth in 3-point goals with 54, and third in blocks with 141.

She is in Franklin and Marshall’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

She played professional basketball in England for one year with the Avesta Sheffield Hatters in the English National League. She averaged 14.0 points per game there.

“Being named coach of the Dunmore Lady Bucks is the biggest thrill of my coaching career,” she said. “It’s a great program and we all understand what comes with it,

“Our goal every year here at Dunmore is to win the Lynett title, the district title and the state title.

“I want to make a smooth transition from what Ben did here. And then I want to continue the level of play and success Dunmore is used to every season.”

Bowen-Toomey is a member of the Northeastern Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. While playing for Dunmore, she was the Female Athlete of the Year in 1988-89. She was Scranton Times All-Regional Player of the Year in 1988-89.

She was a part of four straight Lackawanna League South titles as a four-year starter for Dunmore. She was a big part of Dunmore’s District II title in 1986-87. She earned four straight Girls’ Lackawanna Southern Division first-team all-star selections while scoring 1,635 career points and hauling down 1,020 career rebounds.

She is the first female league president in the Dunmore Biddy Basketball League where she coached and served as board member.

She served as assistant basketball coach at Bishop O’Hara from 1997 to 2001 and coached the NEPA Elite AAU team and NEPA Flames AAU team for JB Hoops. She also has experience as a basketball trainer.

“This is a labor of love for me,” she said. “It’s a big job. We all know that. But it’s what I have been doing for my entire life.”

Athlete of the Month: Emily Sashko

Dunmore’s Emily Sashko one of top 25 Division 3 goalkeepers in country

By Steve Svetovich

Emily Sashko, Chestnut Street, Dunmore, was recently named one of the top 25 soccer goalkeepers in the nation for NCAA Division 3.

Daughter of Sheila Eboli, Dunmore, Emily, 22, graduated from New England College this past May. She earned bachelor of science degrees in sports and recreation management and communication studies. She finished with an impressive 3.88 grade point average.

Emily was a member of the New England College soccer team for four years, although there was no season in her junior year due to COVID.

Emily set a school record for goalkeeper saves with 199 in her senior year.

She recorded 47 saves as a sophomore and 27 saves in a part time role as a freshman.

She talked about what it takes to excel as a soccer goalkeeper.

“You need to have a lot of patience,” she said. “You never know when you are going to see action. It takes a lot of hard work to do it.”

Emily attended school in the Dunmore School District through the seventh grade. After moving with her mom, she graduated from Lakeland High School in 2018. However, she moved back to Dunmore two years ago.

The Dunmore native is currently studying for a master’s degree in sports industry management at Georgetown University.

She is currently a marketing assistant for the Georgetown athletic department.

Emily, always enthusiastic, has a love for hockey. Her goal is to eventually secure employment in the professional hockey industry. “I want to work in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a marketing assistant.”

The talented scholar-athlete said she used to keep score for the New England College hockey team. “Hockey is really big in the New England area,” she said. “I loved doing it.”

Emily credits her mom for much of her success in life. “I am very independent,” she said. “My mom taught me that. She teaches me to just do it. If there is something I want to do, I do it. She gave me confidence. She pushed me out of my bubble.”

An All-Region selection as a soccer goalkeeper at Lakeland, Emily was chosen Rookie of the Week in her freshman year and Player of the Week in her senior year at New England College.

Well-spoken and articulate, Emily said she has mixed emotions about setting the saves record at New England College. 

“Well, it came in my final game,” she said. “We lost the championship game to Lesley University, And that was my final game, so setting the record in that game was kind of tough. It was actually a bad feeling because we lost the game and my soccer career was suddenly over.

“It was bittersweet. Only days later did it set in with me that I set the saves record.”

Emily, confident but humble, said playing high school and college soccer was well worth it. “Playing soccer was a whole different experience,” she said. “I learned so much more at the college level. I certainly enjoyed it.”