Doin’ Dunmore: Remembering the “Dick Clark” of Dunmore

By Steve Svetovich

There was a time in Dunmore when New Year’s Eve was celebrated in November. 

And it lasted for almost a quarter of a century. 

That was when Dunmore’s Billy Weller celebrated his birthday and invited over 500 of his best friends, many from Dunmore, to his annual “Weller Bash” held each year in late November from 1979 into the early 2000’s until his passing. 

Billy was in his early 60’s when he died suddenly in the early 2000’s ending an era of great kinship among close friends.

“It was like New Year’s Eve,” former Dunmore Councilman Joe Tomko said. “I never missed it.”

And once you were invited to the annual Billy Weller Birthday Bash, you were invited for life.

Weller, who worked in the dietary department of the Moses Taylor Hospital and was a statistician for over 30 years at Dunmore’s Schautz Stadium, would hold the annual event for himself and invite over 500 of his best friends at no charge. He expected no gifts.

He would hire eight rock bands who all performed an hour each. The rock bands performed at no charge and were considered his guests. A hot buffet, drinks, cake and all different kinds of pizza and wings would always be served to guests. 

“It was like the Who’s Who,” said former Dunmore Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney who attended every event since its inception.

“It’s something you start looking forward to in September,” he said. “People start talking about it. By October you really look forward to it. It was better than New Year’s Eve.”

The annual birthday celebration began in 1979 at the Steering Wheel, Moosic, where it was held through 1985. Then it was held at the old Palms, Keyser Avenue, Scranton, from 1986 through 1990 before moving to the old Gallagher’s, South Blakely Street, Dunmore, from 1991 through 1998 when the establishment closed. The last several events were held from 1999 until the early 2000’s at St. Stanislaus Hall, Old Forge.

“I never receive regrets,” Weller once said. “And if I invite you once, it is like a lifetime invitation.” 

The initial gig began with about 35 people, but grew over the years to over 500.

Weller called it “a reunion of friends” and for his friends to meet and have a good time.

“Billy had so many friends from so many different walks of life,” Tomko said. “I would look forward to it every year.”

The guest list included Tomko, former Dunmore Mayor Loughney and his wife Donna, former Dunmore Councilman Paul Nardozzi, former Dunmore Councilman James McHale, Jr.; late Dunmore School Director James McHale, Sr.; late Dunmore School Director Al Frioni, Sr., former WBRE-TV weatherman Vince “Said it would be like this” Sweeney who always attended with his sister, local TV photographer Tony Ingargiola, former Dunmore Police Chief Sal Mecca, former Moses Taylor Hospital President Andy Anderson, local community activist Chris DiMatteo, Mike “Sid” Hallinan, Rose and William Grochowski, Michelle and Teddy Gresko, Billy Deininger, Larry Sykes, Steve Gall, Stella Nardozzi, Laurie Nardozzi, Mike Ducas, Matt and Rose Michalek, Dunmore school teachers Richie Sluko, Bill Ross and Bill McDonnell, John and Frannie Loughney, Mark Greenfield, Mike and Sally Celano, Atty. Joe Ferguson, Amy Witko, Tom and Alicia Hallinan, John Farris and various members of local bands.

The lineup of bands included East Coast, Kartune, Take Five, Jim Cullen, Deuce, Double Take, Dakota, Roy Propes and his Elvis Show, Weller’s niece Jennifer Taylor, Billy Sullenberger and his Stones show and Charlie Newcombe, an annual guest who provided the lighting and sound system. One highlight came in 2000 when a couple members of The Buoys,,a high profile rock band of the 1970’s, performed their signature hit, “Timothy.” 

Weller was also a popular local disc jockey who loved music. He enjoyed reading off the list of musicians and usually had a surprise each year to mention during his annual pre birthday bash interviews with The Dunmorean.

His guests usually attended the annual eight-plus hour event from beginning to end, dancing and enjoying the food and drink while not wanting to miss the listed bands perform for an hour each. Billy would end the night with great enthusiasm, as was his nature, prancing, dancing and singing his signature song, “Teenager in Love.” No one wanted to miss that ending.

And if you thought the late Warren Zevon on was “The Excitable Boy,” you should have seen Billy Weller. Another signature moment would come mid way through the event when Billy did “The Twist,” with guests dancing around him. 

Billy hoped to continue with his annual bash into his late 70’s and beyond. “I look at this as a gala,” he once said. “It it like a wedding, a New Year’s Eve event, It is quite an endeavor.”

Weller was the DJ for many years at Dunmore’s annual Crime Watch event. He performed at local weddings, special events and block parties in the Dunmore borough.

“He was the Dick Clark of Dunmore,” Nibs said. 

“He was 62 going on 16.

“He was really amazing, very special. And he is surely missed.”

Today the annual Billy Weller Bash is just a great memory, gone for the past two decades with Billy’s passing. 

But those who attended still smile and never forget.

Billy Weller impacted many. 

It truly was a wonderful life. 

And November will never be quite the same in Dunmore. 

Honeychild’s Legacy Remains on 100th Block of East Drinker Street

By Steve Svetovich

If you grew up in Dunmore and are over 35, then you knew “Honey.”

That was Mike “Honeychild” Cantarella who died in 1994. 

“Honey” died close to 27 years ago, but his family is making sure his legacy remains alive at 109 East Drinker St., Dunmore, the site for Honeychild’s Bar and Grill. 

It is the same exact site Honey occupied for close to four decades. 

But Honey operated what was called Trouser Outlet, later to be called Shar-Eles Jewelry. The Shar-Eles name was a tribute to his two daughters, Sharee and Michelle. 

Honey sold anything and everything, including suits, pants, jeans, trousers, shirts, socks, watches, belts, all kinds of jewelry and even 8-track tapes.

If you were looking for something, he probably had it. 

And those in Dunmore all knew Honey well. He was a fixture at Dunmore corners.

He was a great conversationalist, street smart and savy. He often wore a fancy, brimmed hat tipped a bit forward. 

And whether it was called Trouser Outlet or Shar-Eles, the regular customers knew it strictly as “Honeychild’s” or “Honey’s.” 

If you were from Dunmore, you knew why. 

Everyone in Dunmore knew Honey. 

After he passed, his family ran the business for a time and leased it out for a few years.

But 10 years ago his daughter, Sharee Cantarella Gentile, decided to renovate the building and turn it into a bar-restaurant. 

She named it “Honeychild’s,” as a dedication to her late dad.

“It’s a fun place,” said Dunmore’s Mike Jones. “The food is great, especially the wings.”

Honeychild’s has two floors, with the second for entertainment. There is an wide bar menu and seven flat screen TVs creating a sports bar atmosphere on the first floor.

The menu includes a large variety of wings, including honey, mild, hot, honey hot, garlic parmesian and the famous boom boom choice. Other menu items include the popular 8-oz. angus burger, a wide variety of fries, pizza, pierogies, calamar, homemade potato chips, the famous pot stickers, butterfly shrimp, chicken tenders, Italian platter, a wide variety of sandwiches and subs, soups and salads, chicken quesadilla, boneless bites and variety of handcrafted burgers. Grub hub is available nightly. 

And Honeychild’s is open seven nights a week. Catering is also available. 

“We try to make it a fun, warm, friendly environment with casual dining,” Sharee said. “Our customers mean a lot to us.” 

Sharee said she usually hires two or three-piece bands for musical entertainment on weekends, although not as much during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will certainly get back to that soon,” she said. “The second floor is for musical entertainment.”

All social distancing and COVID-19 precautions are strictly followed at Honeychild’s, said Sharee.

“I wanted to continue this as a family business in honor of my dad and that is why we named it, Honeychild’s,” said Sharee. “We wanted it to stay a family business. Everyone in Dunmore knew my dad and I am sure they still think of him when they come in here for a drink and a bite to eat. We want customers to relax and have fun here. We have a wide variety of food. 

“So in honor of my dad, this will always be Honeychild’s.”

Doin’ Dunmore: Lots to Wish for in 31st Annual New Year’s Wish List

By Steve Svetovich

With the world wide COVID-19 pandemic in full force and the arrival of a vaccine to help stifle the Virus, there is plenty to wish for in 2021 in the annual New Year’s wish list.

The annual New Year’s wish list first appeared in The Dunmorean in January 1991 and is now in its 31st year.

So here we go for 2021: the first wish is an obvious one – an end the the world wide COVID-19 pandemic…raises in salary and national recognition for all of the essential workers, including grocery stores employees, police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, postal workers, teachers, DPW workers, all doctors, nurses, aides, therapists, technicians, X Ray personnel, home health and all other health care workers, who worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic…a special place in Heaven for Scranton firefighter Stephen Sunday who died at 28 due to complications from COVID…easier access to COVID-19 testing sites…free COVID-19 testing sites…quicker access for COVID-19 vaccines…a normal life for students at all levels…relief and long vacations for nurses and health care workers…continued recovery for my dad and sister Denise from the COVID-19 virus…crumb cake from Cwikla’s Bakery in Avoca…a German brownie from the Minooka Bake Shop…the peanut stick back at Krispy Kreme…a hot coffee with hazleton and toasted almond flavor from Dunkin Donuts…a Dunkin Donuts in Forest City…the late Jake Scott, Cliff Branch, Ken Anderson and Otis O.J. Anderson in the Pro Football Hall of Fame…Curt Schilling, Jeff Kent, Todd Helton, Omar Vizquel and Gary Sheffield in the National Baseball Hall of Fame…a baseball diamond in Heaven for Tom Seaver, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Whitey Ford and Al Kaline – all members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who died in 2020…a special bond in Heaven for NBA legend Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna who died together in tragic helicopter crash in beginning of 2020…a mantle in Heaven for all of the NBA championship rings earned by Boston Celtic legends Tommy Heinson and K.C. Jones who died in 2020…a chilli burger from Carawana Diner in Carbondale…Mickey Gannon’s wings in Green Ridge…pizza and a cold draft from The Roosey in Dunmore…breakfast at Katrina’s in Dickson City…the New York Yankees back in the World Series…a Hank’s hoagie from Tommy Owens in Green Ridge…a Hank’s Hoagie for president elect Joe Biden…a happy and successful retirement for Anne and Mike Brunetti…good health for Dunmorean publisher John Hart and his wife Maureen…Dunmore’s Patrick “Nibs” Loughney, Joe Tomko and Paul Nardozzi back in politics…season New York Giants tickets and a Giants playoff run for Paul Nardozzi…Joe Tomko’s Minnesota Vikings back in the playoffs…good health to former Dunmore Mayor Nibs Loughney and his wife Donna…my dad’s chilli…a cure for M.S….a special place in Heaven for my long time mentor Bill Hoppel who died last year close to 93 and always looked at the bottle as half full…health, happiness and joy to my special friend Jeannie Hoppel…continued work helping the less fortunate from North Scranton’s Tom Duggan…lower real estate taxes…no road rage…lower Scranton garbage fee and wage tax…lower water bills…more community minded people like Dunmore’s Carol Scrimalli and Jim McHale, Jr….less pot holes…Derek Jeter finally getting his day in Cooperstown, NY…a trip and night at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey…the return of live rock concerts, block parties and picnics…fans at baseball games, including PNC Field in Moosic…a bus trip to Yankee Stadium with JZ Tours…an elephant back at Nay Aug Park…Jimmy Connors back in politics and singing Johnny B Goode…Nardozzi’s Pizza in Dunmore…a Wendy’s frosty…Brett “Gardy” Gardner back in a New York Yankees uniform…Bartolo Colon back in the big leagues…Nicholas Pizza in Green Ridge…Dunmore’s Shannon Miele Grippi and her sister Michele dancing at the Waldorf Tiki Bar in East Mountain again…Barbara Eden in a Jeannie bottle and back at the Scranton Cultural Center…Carol Burnett hosting Saturday Night Live…Betty White back on a TV series at 99…Cat Stevens in concert…Bob Barker back on The Price is Right or even in another Adam Sandler movie…Mick Jagger singing “Satisfaction” at 78…Keith Richards alive at 77 and strumming guitar like there is no tomorrow…Bob Dylan back at Montage…Shania Twain anywhere…a bounce back season for local Mets fan Steve Gall…Sam the Greek back from Greece with his famous rice pudding…a walk at McDade Park in West Scranton…one more Bob Seger concert…a Pappas Pizza tuna grinder…a Friday night at Legend’s in Dickson City…Legend’s pizza…my dad’s pizza…A Robert Plant and Jimmy Page reunion…Brian Wilson back at the Kirby Center…a Paul Simon comeback…the late Jim Croce in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame…Straubs beer, honestly fresh…Madonna…more government funds, support and programs for childhood and adult autism…Everybody Loves Raymond reruns…A Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr reunion…Larry King and Barbara Walters doing interviews again…a Sirius XM radio in every vehicle…listening to the Mad Dog on MLB Sirius XM radio…Howard Stern on Sirius XM…a Keystone Lunch Texas wiener in West Side…Taylor Swift…Pete Rose eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame…more Adam Sandler movies…David Letterman back on TV…a Carly Simon concert…Nina’s boneless wings in Dunmore…Crown Pizza in Dunmore…Taco Bell…breakfast at Marie’s Diner in Avoca…a Who’s the Boss reunion with Tony Danza, Alyssa Milano and Judith Light…Happy Days reruns…a Springsteen concert…a Guinness draft beer…Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes on a Jersey Boardwalk…Cher…Laverne and Shirley reruns…pasta from Fratelli’s in North Scranton…Jennifer Lopez anywhere…good health and happiness to my friend and former co-worker Leah who is kicking cancer in the butt…breakfast at Neen’s Diner in North Scranton…a hoagie from West Side Flava’s…Stuttering John and Jackie the Jokeman back on Howard Stern…more band jobs for my dad…my dad and son Ryan back playing a New Year’s Eve gig together…Jack Mead on sax…Ed Kosmahl on guitar…Firp on bass…Vince Parise on guitar…a reunion of the original Fabulous Fortunes with my dad, Billy Woelkers, Art Stanton and Johnny Cognetti…Chuckie Morris back on sax…Jimmy Tigue back on the keyboards…Roger Finnerty back on guitar…a visit with Tim Wagner at his sporting goods store in Green Ridge…good health for Dunmore’s Fran and Santa Burne…Cara Mia hoagies in Dunmore…Mary Tyler Moore reruns…Eva Longoria…a Marie Osmond diet…Rolling Rock beer…The Sperazza Band live…Olena and Beverly serving drinks at the Roosey…the return of cassettes…my dad’s stuffed grape leaves with lemon juice…D.J. LeMahieu back in a New York Yankees uniform…a trip to Santorini, Greece…The Wanabees at Backstreets in West Scranton…a fresh MGD draft…More songs written and another CD from my son Ryan…a Neil Young concert…more summer baseball games for my son Dylan…pasta at Soriano’s in Peckville…daydream believers…a Taurus Club hamburger…Maroni’s Pizza in West Scranton…more successful Dunmore Crime Watch programs for Gary Duncan…continued success for coach Ben O’Brien and the Dunmore Lady Bucks…a strong football season for coach Kevin McHale and the Dunmore Bucks…Cooper’s Maryland crab bisque soup…hot fries for my son Ryan…Granteed’s Pizza for my son Dylan…a special place in Heaven for late Dunmore community activists Addie Michalek, Carmel Arnone, Blanche Shaw, Fritz Voytek, Sam and Tom Cali, Leonard Verrastro, James McHale, Sr. and Al Frioni, Sr….Starbucks coffee…Dunmore’s Billy Weller spinning discs in Heaven…a night at Finnegan’s in Scranton…Green Ridge Pizza…Waldo’s wings…the return of the Hawley Winterfest…a special island in Heaven for Dawn Wells, Mary Ann of Gilligan’s Island…More of Mary Padian of Storage Wars…Chris DiMatteo singing Sinatra…Subway hoagies…Rod Stewart back in Wilkes Barre…Medicare at 60…lower college education costs…Teri Hatcher…less desperate housewives…less divorce…me and my buddies singing Thunder Road…clean water…another book from Dunmore’s Guy Valvano…a trip to Cooperstown with my boys and great friends Jim and Jake Decker…the return of Bartel’s beer…Yankees baseball on YES…breakfast at Abe’s Diner in downtown Scranton…the New York Yankees retiring Paul O’Neill’s number…Amanda serving drinks at Thirsty’s in Olyphant…a happy retirement for NBA great Vince Carter…Don McLean singing American Pie…an easier parking system in downtown Scranton…a Yankees bus trip with Eddie from Cookie’s Travelers…health and happiness to my friend Debbie Nesko…good health for my Aunt Annette…a return to health for my Aunt Stella…less hate and rioting…less divorce…toasted tuna fish sandwiches with onions and a pickle…little baby ducks, old pickup trucks and tomatoes on the vine…continued success in college for my nieces Mia and Livy…more cross country success for my nephew George, Scranton High freshman…good health to my brother George and wife Maria…a special place in Heaven for Maria’s dad and recently departed mom and her brother Nickie…a special place in Heaven for my uncles Gus, Art and Wally…hugs and kisses to my two grandmothers in Heaven…health and happiness to my sister Denise, the Mallory of Family Ties…continued improved health and happiness to my dad, the leader and drummer of The Fabulous Fortunes for 73 years…the most special place in Heaven and hugs and kisses for my late mom who always taught me to take a chance…my son Ryan on guitar, drums, piano, singing, writing and creating music and CDs…my son Dylan lacing line drives, stealing bases and chasing down fly balls in centerfield playing the summer game he loves…great happiness, peace, love and success to my two boys and to their mom Beth who is courageously and successfully fighting her battle with cancer…and a special place in Heaven to Beth’s late parents John and Elva Hoffman…peace, love and hope to everyone…life is short…nothing ventured, nothing gained…we are all still running against the wind…time is our most valuable asset…let’s kick COVID in the butt…Happy New Year, everyone…