Doin’ Dunmore: Bucktown Music Fest Kicking Off This Month

By Steve Svetovich

Ready for the music, fun and dancing? 

The anticipated Bucktown Music Fest will kick off at Dunmore Corners on four Sunday evenings July 11, July 18, July 24 and August 1, all from 5 to 8 p.m,

Admission is free. Those who attend are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to sit and relax, enjoy the music and dance in the streets.

Dunmore Councilman Tom Hallinan, former Dunmore Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney, and local Dunmore musician Brian McGurl are chairpersons for the event. 

Dunmore Borough is sponsoring the four Sunday evenings through a grant from the Lackawanna County Commissioners and donations from local businesses. 

“On behalf of Dunmore Mayor Tom Burke and Dunmore Borough Council,” said Hallinan, “we want to thank Lackawanna County Commissioners Notariani, Domenick and Chermak and the local merchants for their generous support of events. We will continue to accept business donations right through the Festival dates to help offset ongoing expenses.”

Opening night on Sunday, July 11 will feature music by the Luongo Brothers Band, Dunmore’s own Pat and Nick Luongo. The duo, formerly of The Poets, have been performing for decades. The Luongo Brothers will be joined by veteran favorites Alan Shield and Rich Marmo.

Sunday, July 18, will feature the Dashboard Mary Duo, the spinning grooves of the popular E.J. the D.J., and a special appearance from “Old Blue Eyes” himself in the form of Chris DiMatteo singing the hits of the late Frank Sinatra. Dashboard Mary features Dunmoreans Rob Roman and Joe Del Rosso who have been performing for the past three decades.

Sunday, July 25, will feature QBall with Dunmoreans McGurl and John Quinn along with Jim Davis and Bob Crossman. QBall plays classic rock, including the music of The Doors, Tom Petty, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. 

Sunday, Aug. 1, will be a “Dunmore Musicians Family Reunion.” Young musical performers will come together for three hours at Dunmore Corners to play together and entertain the crowd. It will be a true celebration.

Dunmore residents have filled the rosters of many of the area’s top bands over the past seven or eight decades. The Shindig shows at Dunmore High School in the 1960’s and 1970’s were incubators for so many talented performers. The same can be said for Dunmore’s marching band and school talent shows, class nights and plays at Dunmore and Holy Cross High Schools. Many young performers show talent and promise which will be exhibited Sunday, Aug. 1, at Dunmore Corners.

“I think it is going to be a great night of music for the young and old,” McGurl said regarding the final event on Aug. 1. “Everyone is volunteering their time and talent and it is going to be a lot of fun.”

Bands, singers and musicians slated to perform the final night include the East Coast Trio, The Violet Sisters, Corner Pocket Blues Band, The Mesos, Dashboard Mary Duo, Pappa, Beckage, and Boylan; English, Tim McGurl, Janice Gambo, Katie Errico, Donna Polizzi Loughney, Luke Tinklepaugh, Emma Pasko, Julia Pasko, Lenny Carlucci, Mike Kwaitek, Dan Zayac, Paul Arduino, Len Nole, Jack Garvey, Kevin Regan, Mike Seamon, Joe Pannick, Marty Ort, Chuck Scrimalli, Brian McGurl, Phil Rossi, Mara Hennigan, Dan Cox, Jim Kernan, Dom Fortese, Rob Roman and Joe DelRosso. 

“I first thought about this while driving through Dunmore Corners one Sunday about 5 p.m.,” said Hallinan. “It looked desolate, like a bit of a ghost town. I thought it would be nice to bring some life back to Dunmore Corners. What better way than with music?

“Music would be the best way to bring people back together after months of isolation due to COVID. I ran the idea through Brian McGurl. He thought it was great and we ran with it. 

“Now Dunmore Borough can’t wait for all of the music and entertainment. It’s going to be a lot of fun at Dunmore Corners.” 

Dunmoreans Vito Ruggerio, Sally Judge and Jean Hill also assisted with the coordination of events. 

Doin’ Dunmore: Court Jesters Put Basketball on Map at Penn State campus 

By Steve Svetovich

There was a time at the end of the 1970’s when the Court Jesters were running and gunning. 

The Court Jesters were rockin’ and rollin’ on the hardwood. 

And coach Mike Abdalla was loving it. 

The Worthington Scranton Campus of Penn State University in Dunmore was in the ninth year of its basketball program. The team, coached by Abdalla, had only one losing season in the program’s first eight years. 

However, the team had not advanced to a state final yet. 

But the 1977-78 season quickly became something special as the Court Jesters won nine of its first 10 games. 

This team was having fun. Lots of fun running and gunning. 

The co-captains on the team were Scranton Central products Mike Harrington and Al Cappelloni. 

Kevin Southard, a Bishop Hannan product, was the team’s leading scorer.

Bill Ames from Kingston Area and Bill Donnelly from Scranton Prep were also a huge part of the scoring attack. Tony Andrejko, a Valley View product, was a key member of the team.

Other team members included Gary Bisignani from Riverside, Harold Cawley from West Scranton, Tim Egan from Scranton Central, Kevin White from Carbondale Area and Paul Mimidas from North Pocono. 

The Court Jesters were jiving with a run and gun offense that averaged about 103 points per game under Abdalla. 

The man to man defense was anchored by Andrejko. 

A major component of the Court Jesters was the fast break offense led by sophomore co-captains Harrington and Cappelloni and Southard. Freshmen White and Cawley played important roles. 

Ames and Donnelly were a big part of the offense.

The running Jesters average of 103 points per game was the highest in local Penn State history. The team shot 53 percent from the field and over 70 percent from the foul line. Abdalla attributed the scoring record to the team’s extreme and constant fast break. Abdalla said his team enjoyed the running game and had few inhibitions. Remarkably, five players averaged in double figures led by Southard at 20.6 points per game followed by Harrington at 18.0, Cappelloni at 17.8, Ames at 14.7 and Donnelly at 10.2.

Harrington was also a strong rebounder averaging 8.5 boards per contest. 

Abdalla continued to let his team thrive on the fast break offense, but also stressed man to man defense which he learned at Scranton Prep playing under John Gallagher. He used his quick guards Mimidas and Egan on the outside to play pressure man to man defense on opposing guards.

Southard scored 41 points in the team’s 129-107 win over Schuykill in the Commonwealth League contest. Harrington added 23. 

The 129 points set a new Scranton single game record.

Abdalla continued to point out his team was having fun with the fast break offense and the fun was leading to buckets and wins. 

The Court Jesters used its run and gun offense and man to man defense to defeat McKeesport, 109-100, to advance to the finals of the Commonwealth Campus State Tournament. Southard poured in 43 points while Harrington and Ames added 16 each. Cappelloni scored 14. It was Abdalla’s 100th win. 

It marked the Court Jesters first trip to the finals after five trips to the state wide event.

The Court Jesters lost the state title game, 109-103, in a hard fought battle against Ogontz-PSU. Southard finished with a game high 35 points. Cappelloni added 28. 

Despite being down 18-4 in the opening minutes, The Court Jesters battled all the way coming within two points late in the game, but eventually ran out of time.

Southard and Cappelloni were named to the All-Tournament team

The Court Jesters also set a record by scoring 100 or more points in 13 of 22 games.

It was a season to remember at the Penn State Worthington campus. The Court Jesters put basketball on the map. 

Doin’ Dunmore: The Bottle is Half Full

By Steve Svetovich

Life is a continuous series of changes. An old friend used to tell me that.

There was a young man only 21 who was trying to find his niche in life in the early 1980’s.

Life was confusing. 

He was like a chameleon trying to turn from a young man into an adult.

It didn’t look easy out there in the real world and there were a lot of anxieties. 

The transformation into the working world and learning how to fit in was something new all of a sudden.

The young man latched onto a job working in Central Supply at Mercy Hospital, Scranton. 

Fitting in and learning something new was a bit scary.

And then an old wise man came along.

He was 34 years the young man’s senior. Even older than his dad. 

But he never told his age. That was part of his persona. He was an enigma. He liked to keep everyone guessing. 

The young man first met him two years earlier while working in Central Supply as part of a college work study program. Now he was his co-worker working with him on a full time basis. 

The old wise man quickly became a mentor to the young adult, a bit wayward and unsure of himself.

He became not only a working comrad, but a life teacher. 

He taught the young man a lot about life and how to cope in the working world. 

He was full of cliches: Life is a continuous series of changes; The name of the game is protect yourself (and this applies in all areas of life); Nothing ventured, nothing gained; Some mature and others grow old; There are those who love to tell everyone they work hard and there are those who say nothing and actually work hard; There are enough workaholics in a work place to do most of the work; When you are single, enjoy being single. And when you are married, enjoy being married; Sometimes you just need to shrug your shoulders and let it slide;  You need to develop a tough skin in life; Some people just have a major maladjustment; The definition of education is to bring the potential of the individual into actuality; There are grey areas in life. Not everything is black and white; Two plus two does not always equal four; Some look at the bottle as half full and others look at it as half empty; Did you ever go on a blind date and become blinded? 

The older wise man had a mysterious aura. He told many stories and many tales, but revealed little about himself. “It is good to keep a certain mystery about yourself,” he would say.

He told many stories of his days in the Air Force and spending time in Greenland and Iceland and getting to learn the culture of Eskimos. He talked about traveling in the south, visiting Mexico and living in Washington, D.C.. 

He was a dance instructor at Arthur Murray Dance Studio and basketball star at Scranton Central, but rarely spoke of his heroics.

With a calm and dry wit, nothing seemed to phase him.

He often spoke of an opportunity to become league scoring leader in high school basketball. It was halftime and his team led by a huge margin. He only needed two points to become the scoring leader, but the coach took him and the rest of the starters out instead. When asked if he was disappointed or angry in not having the chance to score two more points, he shrugged and said, “No, the coach wanted to get the reserves in the game. Instead of breaking the scoring record, I learned a lesson about the value of team work and being a good teammate.” His eyes would swell up when he told the story. 

He married later in life and raised two boys and a girl. They were his biggest accomplishments in life and his eyes glowed when he spoke of them. 

He cherished nothing more than his wife Jean and three children: Bill, Jr.; Chris and Jeannie.

He often told a story about walking into Farley’s in downtown Scranton. He asked for an egg, but was quickly told by the waitress one egg was not on the menu. “You mean you don’t know how to make an egg?” he asked before walking out. An example of his point that not everything is black and white. There are grey areas. 

He often took college classes for self fullfillment. Once asked my a college instructor if he wanted to become anything, he quickly responded, “I am something.” 

He took up Spanish and often greeted the young co-worker in Spanish. “Que tal, senior trabajador. Chico Rico.” 

The young man at the time was afraid to take chances, try new things. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” he would say. It made more sense as the young man began to take chances. 

On dating and being single, he would say to the young man, “When you are single, enjoy being single. And when you are married, enjoy being married.” Such sound advice, maybe easier understood as life experiences start to add up. 

When entangled with a smart aleck, he would simply shrug his shoulders and say, “Some mature. Others grow old.”

His simple words, “protect yourself” applied to a world where not all was good. In other words, not everyone is good and righteous, or as you want them to be. You must be prepared when life throws you a curve. You need to “protect yourself.” 

He provided the young man with a poem entitled, Desiderata. “Go placidly amidst the noise and hate and remember what peace there may be in silence.” Those were the first few words of the poem and that was the way he lived himself. 

The young man worked with this older gentleman for close to five years before moving on to a new career and raising a family himself. After all, “Life is a continuous series of changes.” And of course, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” 

Despite the 34 years in age difference, the two became friends for life and met for breakfast and lunch over the next four decades.

Eventually the young man became the age his mentor once was. The young man never fully understood all of the cliches when he was in his early 20’s, but every single one of them made complete sense as he went through the various stages of life. You learn through experience. 

Bill Hoppel died this past November just a few weeks shy of his 93rd birthday. 

He always told me we should celebrate death because you go on to an even better place. 

The bottle is half full, Bill. 

Your words make so much sense now. 

May you rest eternally in peace. Thank you for the life lessons.