Doin’ Dunmore: 40 Years of Writing and Not Near Done

By Steve Svetovich

Looking at the calendar recently, this scribe realized it was an anniversary of sorts.

It was in the late winter of 1982 when a now 40-year run of writing stories began.

Having finished studies at the University of Scranton mid-year, this student had an opportunity to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania on a graduate assistantship to study sports sciences with a concentration in sports management.

That was not to be.

A scholarship was also on the table to obtain a master of science degree in health care administration from Marywood University

That was also not to be.

After much deliberation, I decided to stay local, get a job, and try my hand at freelance writing.

I started by writing five sports columns during the spring semester for The Aquinas at the University of Scranton. My first published article entitled “Old Men Still Play Ball” focused on all of the MLB players who were still active at the time in their 40’s. That group included Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Phil Neikro, Gaylord Perry, Woodie “Old Folks” Fryman, Willie “Pops” Stargell, and Carl Yastrzemski among others.

Shortly after, my connection with the late John McCormick, then sports editor of The Scranton Times, led me to covering football games for several years for that newspaper.

After a grueling 10-month period of unemployment while writing freelance stories, Danny Ziobro hired me full time to work in the Mercy Hospital Central Supply Department in Scranton.

That allowed me to continue pursuing free-lance writing interests. This scribe latched on with The Pennsylvania Athlete newspaper covering all high school sports in northeast and central PA on a freelance basis. That relationship lasted from 1982 until the PA Athlete eventually folded in 1997.

During my time at Mercy Hospital, I met the late Jim Crowley, one of the famed members of The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. My recorded interview with him was published in various local newspapers, including The Times Leader and Pennsylvania Athlete.

I also wrote sports stories those years on a freelance basis for The Times Leader, The Dallas Post, The Wayne Independent and The Carbondale News.

After leaving the Mercy Hospital job and working for a short time in Seaside Heights, N.J., this scribe decided to pursue writing on a full-time basis.

In March of 1986, on a nice spring day with birds chirping all over Nanticoke, I interviewed baseball’s only one-armed position player, Pete Gray of the 1945 St. Louis Browns, on the back porch of his home. 

The interview got my name out there. It was heard on WARM Radio, published in the Hazleton Standard Speaker and The Baseball Bulletin, a national publication. It earned me a United Press International (UPI) award for best sports story in a small market in New Jersey or Pennsylvania and is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame where I was given a lifetime pass. The interview can be heard world-wide today on the Internet through the Society for American Baseball Research.

During the time I was trying to get the Pete Gray story published, a New York Times editor gave me a valuable piece of advice after reviewing the story.

He told me he read the story with interest, could not use it at the time, and was sending me a $75 check just for reading it.

His advice was simple and sweet. “Don’t beg.”

As a 25-year-old at the time, a strong lesson was learned.

I will never forget it.

Shortly after, I began writing a monthly column for The Baseball Bulletin.

I took a full time position at The Potter Enterprise in Coudersport, PA in October 1986. The experience in Potter County was fulfilling, but then a 10-month position opened up at The Scrantonian Tribune as a general assignment reporter to replace the late Robert Curran who took a leave to write a book. That assignment was extended an extra two months and it proved to be an enlightening and invaluable experience covering all aspects of news under tight deadlines. I will always be indebted to a certain group of editors who took an interest in me. That group included the late Doug Miele, the late Ray Flanagan, Joe Pesavento, Lew Marcus, Dunmore’s Guy Valvano, and Maureen (Garcia-Pons) Hart, who is now my editor at The Dunmorean.

Eventually, Curran came back and I was out of work.

But not for long.

I became a reporter for a six-month period with The Hawley News Eagle.

After a short stint with Telespond Senior Services, Adams Manor Nursing Home hired me as a social worker. My social sciences degree was put to work.

I then enrolled at Misericordia University in Dallas where I pursued a second degree in occupational therapy, graduating six years later. As a writer, you always need a backup plan.

Hal Lewis, the managing editor of The Scrantonian Tribune, made sure I was not away too long from that newspaper. He hired me as the Dunmore and Clarks Summit correspondent.

I was a social worker by day and news reporter by night.

I held that position until the Scrantonian Tribune ultimately folded in late 1989.

Former employees of the Scrantonian Tribune started their own publication, The Sunday Sun. This scribe became a big part of that as both sports editor and Dunmore correspondent.

The Sunday Sun eventually folded after a year.

Within a week, I made an easy transition joining former Scrantonian Tribune editor John Hart’s publication with The Dunmorean in 1990.

I have not left since. And I have John and Maureen Hart to thank for that.

And over 7,000 stories later from the first one 40 years ago, this scribe is still writing and shooting for another 7,000.

Doin’ Dunmore: Couple’s Fond Memories of First Swinick Home

By Steve Svetovich

The late Tom Swinick’s first Swinick home was built in 1987 for Robert and Mary Ann Fitzpatrick.

“A quality home is the only kind you can afford.”

Custom built. Choice lots. Fine features. The Swinick Development in Dunmore.

Swinick, who died this past Nov. 15, did not disappoint the Fitzpatrick couple, who are still enjoying their home to this day.

This house located at 421 Shirley Lane was the first sold by the late Tom Swinick in his new development.

The home is located at 421 Shirley Lane, Dunmore.

The home originally was supposed to be 401 Shirley Lane. But due to a simple error made in the County assessor’s office the address became 421 Shirley Lane.

Bobby Fitzpatrick, known by all of his friends as Fitz, explained. “The home is the first in that phase of the development,” he said. “It was originally supposed to be 401 Shirley Lane, but the individual in the County assessor’s office made a slight error by changing the zero to a two, so 401 became 421. No one corrected it, so the homes on Shirley Lane start at 421 rather than 401. Because of this, then that section of the development started at 421. People often ask why it starts at 421. Well, that is the reason.”

Fitz said he met Tom Swinick at the old Igoe’s Bar in Dunmore. “We were in graduate school at the time and would stop by once in a while after classes.

“When my wife Mary Ann and I decided to build a home we contacted Tom Swinick. Tom was such a great guy and very honest and hard working.

“We bought two parcels of land on Shirley Lane in 1987 from him. We decided to build our first home there. It was our first home and the first one Tom built for anyone.

“Well, for our wedding present, the late John Domanish, a local architect, designed our home for us.

“This was Tom’s first house to be built in the development, so he could not wait to get started on it. He was just as excited as we were. He was there everyday for the building of his first home. When it was completed, he was so excited and proud to hand us over the keys.”

And it didn’t stop there. Fitz said Swinick stayed in constant touch, always asking about the initial home and making himself available for any possible issue.

“He was literally there from start to finish, from 1987 until two weeks before he died,” Fitz said.

“Just two weeks before he passed away, I called him. I had a broken lock that I could not fix. Well, Tom came right over. He actually fixed the lock with the exact same apparatus he used in 1987. And that was not all he did. He went on to check every lock in the house. He found other locks that needed repair and promised to come back in a couple weeks to fix them.

“But then he passed away, But he kept his promise, because a few days after he passed I got a call from his son. He told me his dad made a promise to fix the rest of the locks.

“So his son came over to fix the locks to keep his dad’s promise.

“And that’s the kind of guy Tom Swinick was. True to his word and working from the day his first house was built in 1987 until two weeks before he died.

“He was just a tremendous guy right to the end. And we are still enjoying the home he built for us. He was so proud of it.”

Doin’ Dunmore: New Year’s Wish List Now in 32nd Year

By Steve Svetovich

It’s time for the annual New Year’s wish list for 2022.

It began with the 1991 issue of The Dunmorean.

And with a pandemic lasting two years now, and a year that ended with the passing of Betty White just 17 days short of her 100th birthday, there is plenty to wish for in 2022.

With thousands of lives lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, America still had Betty White.

Until the final day of 2021 when we lost the TV legend.

So here we go with the 2022 wish list:

An end to the COVID-19 pandemic, omicron variant, or any other variant that mysteriously comes along…a cure for those seriously afflicted with COVID-19…unity and much less division among the American people…better and more effective vaccines…less haters…an entertainment and humanity lifetime achievement award named after the late Betty White…America celebrating Betty White’s momentous life in memorium this January 17…a Dunkin Donuts in Forest City…breakfast at Katrina’s Diner in Dickson City…Debbie serving coffee at Katrina’s Diner…a Sunday at The Roosey in Dunmore…Olena serving fresh drafts at The Roosey…Shania Twain anywhere…another Bob Dylan concert…Mick Jagger strutting and singing “Satisfaction” at 78…Keith Richards alive at 78…Charlie Watts pounding the drums in Heaven…breakfast at Neen’s Diner in North Scranton…Taco Bell…an Arby’s Gyro…Starbucks coffee…crumb cake from Cwikla’s in Avoca…a night with The Sperazza Band…a hike at Lake Scranton…Joe Tomko back in politics…Nardozzi’s Pizza…my dad’s chilli…a chili burger from Carawana Diner in Carbondale…Mary Tyler Moore reruns…Carol Burnett hosting Saturday Night Live…a special place in Musician’s Heaven for Johnny Cognetti, former guitarist of The Fabulous Fortunes…a recovery from a stroke for Art Stanton, former sax player for The Fabulous Fortunes…more band jobs for my dad, the leader and drummer of The Fabulous Fortunes who is in his 75th year of performing…Nicholas Pizza…a Keystone Diner texas wiener in West Side…a hoagie from West Side Flavas…a happy retirement for Gene and Maria of Roberto’s Pizza and Restaurant who served West Scranton for so many years…a Hank’s hoagie from Tommy Owens in Green Ridge…Green Ridge Pizza…a visit with Tim Wagner at his sporting goods store in Green Ridge…more books from Dunmore’s legendary Guy Valvano…another successful year for Dunmore’s Bob Walsh, chairman of the Northeastern Chapter of the PA Sports Hall of Fame…Ross Zanghi making the Northeastern Chapter of the PA Sports Hall of Fame…Todd Helton, Gary Sheffield, Jeff Kent, David Ortiz and Jimmy Rollins being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame…the late Cliff Branch in the Pro Football Hall of Fame…a special place in football Heaven for legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden…a night at Legends in Dickson City…a fresh Blue Moon draft…a night at Sanderson Street in Throop…Thunder Road…no road rage…Valerie Bertinelli back on a TV sitcom…Happy Days reruns…Barbara Eden in a Jeannie bottle…a German brownie from the Minooka Bake Shop…Honeychild’s wings in Dunmore…Mickey Gannon’s wings…a night at the Chestnut Street Tavern in Dunmore…dinner at LaCucina in Dunmore…breakfast at The Bucktown Diner…Eva Longoria…Alyssa Mylano and Tony Danza on a Who’s the Boss reunion…Laverne and Shirley reruns…Nibs Loughney back in politics…a solid quarterback to lead the New York Giants for Dunmore’s Paul Nardozzi, the team’s number one fan…Neil Young back at Montage…the peanut stick back at Krispy Kreme…Maroni’s Pizza in West Scranton…more good people like Dunmore’s Carol Scrimalli…good health to Dunmorean publisher John Hart and his wife Maureen…a lamb or chicken gyro from Crown Chicken in South Side…dinner at Ragnacci’s in Dunmore…a cure for M.S….good health to my great friend Jeannie Hoppel whose dad always taught me to look at the bottle as half full…lower real estate taxes…a lower Scranton wage tax…less pot holes…no animal cruelty…less desperate housewives…no desperate husbands…much lower water bills…Jimmy Connors singing Johnny B Goode…Roger Finnerty, Billy Woelkers and Jimmy Tigue back with the Fabulous Fortunes…good health and complete recovery from a heart ailment to Dunmore’s Gary Duncan…best of health to my beloved friend and former coworker Leah Cronauer who continues to kick cancer in the butt…a night out at the Waldorf Tiki Bar in East Mountain…a winning New York Mets season for Steve Gall…Robert Plant in concert…a night at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park…Cher…Brian Wilson back at the Kirby Center…another Elton John concert…the New York Knicks advancing in the NBA playoffs…Brett “Gardy” Gardner back for one final season in a New York Yankees uniform…The Yankees retiring Paul O’Neill’s number…Marie Osmond and her Nutrisystem diet…Dunmore’s Shannon Miele and her sister Michelle rocking and dancing at the Waldorf Tiki Bar…Stuttering John and Jackie the Jokeman back on Howard Stern…a J.T. Concert…Bob Barker back on the Price is Right…Taylor Swift…a Pappas Pizza tuna grinder…a trip to Seaside Heights, New Jersey…a trip to Santorini, Greece…a Bengals game in Cincinnati…another great year from Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto…the New York Yankees back in the World Series…more government support, funds and adult transition programs for autism…Pete Rose eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame…a trip with my sons to Cooperstown…dinner at Fratelli’s in North Scranton…Old Forge pizza…Carly Simon in concert…Paul McCartney back in Hershey…Rod Stewart kicking soccer balls and doing back flips at 77…a Guiness draft…Sirius-XM radio in every vehicle…more of The Mad Dog on MLB Siriius-XM radio…good health to Dunmore’s Fran and Santa Burne…singing American Pie…Susanna Hoffs…Cooper’s Maryland crab bisque soup…Mike Sperazza strumming and singing Rolling Stones songs…Jennie Sperazza on drums belting out Zeppelin and Janis Joplin…Eric Sperazza on keyboard singing The Beatles’ Ballad of John and Yoko…my son Ryan on lead guitar singing “Oh Boy!”…a successful football season next year for Kevin McHale and his Dunmore Bucks…continued success for coach Ben O’Brien and the Dunmore Lady Bucks…continued success for coach Al Callejas and the Holy Cross Crusaders basketball program…success for all Dunmore and Holy Cross sports programs…a Dunkin Donuts hot coffee…an egg on croissant from Main Street Bagel in Dickson City…Odd Couple reruns…David Letterman back on TV…Jennifer Lopez…the Hawley Winterfest…a trip to Jim Thorpe…the Montrose Winterfest…a trip to Greene, New York…breakfast at Abe’s Diner…fresh water…a fresh Miller Genuine Draft…Yankees baseball on YES…my dad on drums…Jack Mead on sax…Tom Gavern on guitar…Jeff Lewis singing and on guitar…Firp on base…Ed Kosmahl on guitar…Vince Parisse singing and on guitar…a special place in Heaven for late Dunmore community volunteers and activists Addie Michalek, Carmel Arnone, Blanche Shaw, Philomena Errico, Fritz Voytek, Sam and Tom Cali, Leonard Verrastro, Billy Weller, James McHale, Sr.; and Al Frioni, Sr….no domestic violence…Dunmore’s Paul Nardozzi back in politics…risotto from Cafe Rinaldi in Old Forge…a romantic dinner at Carmella’s in Dunmore…good health to Dunmore’s Jimmy Burne…Nina’s wing bites in Dunmore…Kelly’s wings in South Side…a draft beer in the newly renovated Buddy Clarke’s in Dunmore…a special,place in Heaven for my Aunt Stella, a caregiver to her family for many years, who died this past year…a return to health to my Aunt Annette…a special place in Heaven for my late in-laws…continued recovery from cancer for my ex wife Beth who is winning the fight…a special place in Heaven for my uncles Gus, Art and Wally…a special place in Heaven for my sister-in-law’s parents and brother Nickie Stelmac…a most special place in Heaven for my late grandmothers…a most special place in Heaven for my late mom who always told me to take a chance…great health to my brother George, his wife Maria and three children: Mia, Livy and George…great health to my dad and sister Denise…great health and continued success in his job as a pharmaceutical sales rep for my son Dylan, the best center fielder I ever saw…great health and many more gigs with The Sperazza Band for my son Ryan, the best lead guitarist I ever saw…little baby ducks, old pick up trucks, tomatoes on the vine…life is short…enjoy life to the fullest…enjoy the simple things in life…Happy New Year, everyone.