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…

Doin’ Dunmore: Remembering a Time When Jazz was King on Christmas

By Steve Svetovich

There was a time pre-COVID when large groups of carolers would roam the streets of Green Ridge singing Christmas carols with a Dunmore native leading the way.

That’s when Jazz was King.

It was late 1972 Dunmore graduate Jim “Jazz” Dempsey who led the Christmas carolers on a jaunt strolling up and down North Washington Avenue and down adjacent streets not far from the childhood home of President-elect Joe Biden. 

Dempsey, known as “Jazz” to his many friends, was always the life of the party and his spirit grew brighter during the Christmas season. 

Dempsey, a legal studies graduate of Lackawanna Junior College, died at 55 in 2010. He left his wife Mary Walsh Dempsey, a local attorney, and his son and two daughters. 

He used to stage a night of caroling two days before Christmas in his Green Ridge neighborhood just a block down the street from Dunmore. 

The holiday season event was always held about 6:30 p.m. two days before Christmas. The large group of Christmas carolers would meet at the Church of Good Shepherd, North Washington Avenue and Electric Streets, close to where Green Ridge and Dunmore intersect. 

Hot chocolate, donuts, apple cider and Christmas cookies were served in the auditorium of the church. 

Dempsey, always a kindred spirit, always credited his wife Mary and mother-in-law Sally Walsh for coming up with the idea in the early 1990s before finalizing what was to become an annual spiritive event. 

Dempsey, who resided with his family on North Washington Avenue, Green Ridge section of Scranton, covered Dunmore Bucks football on Internet radio and was a swimming instructor for preschool kids at the Greater Scranton YMCA, Dunmore. 

He served the local youth as a volunteer for the Green Ridge Little League and Green Ridge Youth Biddy Basketball Association at Saint Paul’s Elementary School. 

He was president of the Green Ridge Little League for several years.

Following the initial success of the Green Ridge carolers, Jazz made sure it became an annual event. 

The festive group, which always included plenty of children, would sing the traditional Christmas carols while strolling up and down North Washington Avenue and adjacent streets. 

“We always wanted to make this feel like a traditional Christmas,” he said at the time.

Pat McMullen, the former owner and operator of the old McMullen’s Bar and Restaurant, East Market Street, Green Ridge, donated urns for the first event 20 years ago in 2000.

The caroling started and stopped at the Church of Good Shepherd across from Pretzel Park in Green Ridge.

“My wife and mother-in-law thought about this for years and then we put it into motion,” Dempsey informed The Dunmorean about 15 years ago. “It sure worked and we got the whole neighborhood into the Christmas spirit. People looked forward to it every year.”

The group would obtain flash lights and song sheets with Christmas music. The carolers would always festively decorate Pretzel Park.

The carolers, led by Jazz, would sing as well as possible. The songs included the traditional Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 

“Nothing fancy and no surprises,” Dempsey would say with his classic grin. “We don’t know what kind of singers we have.”

Jazz said December 23 was always the date “because that’s when people are in the Christmas spirit.”

And the annual event went on for a decade until his untimely and sudden passing.

And this Christmas during an almost yearlong pandemic, Jim “Jazz” Dempsey will be looking down from the skies above leading a Chistmas sing-a-long in hopes of bringing those here on Earth closer again like in the days when Jazz was King. 

Merry Christmas, everyone. Stay safe. 

Doin’ Dunmore: Passing the Torch in the Circle of Life

By Steve Svetovich

The circle of life has some interesting bounces.

There was a 16-year-old kid back in the day who had a love of sports, baseball in particular, and journalism.

Somehow the word got out to an old school scribe about the kid’s yearning.

The old school scribe pounded out his sports stories on an old school typewriter in a dingy newsroom for The Scranton Times. He was the man about town when I came to local sports. 

In those days, the only local sports guy who could compare to him was Dunmore’s Guy Valvano. 

He was so old school that he looked like a news man who popped right out of a black and white film, “The Paper.” 

And he had a presence at Dunmore’s Schautz Stadium which in the early to late 70’s was the place to watch a summer baseball game. After all, the Scranton Red Soxx of the old Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL) played an exciting brand of baseball.  And the crowd was always buzzing, old-school style.

The old school scribe was John McCormick, the sports editor of the Scranton Times at the time. And he played the part well. 

He heard about this young kid who loved sports and wanted to write. So he gave the kid a summer job as team statistician and official scorer for the Scranton Red Soxx of the ACBL. After the kid became acclimated to the job, even traveling with the team, the old school scribe even let the kid submit a few of the game stories along with box scores to the two local newspapers in town. 

It was a great learning experience for the kid who marveled at the managing and coaching of local legends Gary Ruby, Jerry Valonis and the late Bill Howerton.

And what a group of talented collegiate players such as Phil and Bob Rossi, Al Ottinger, Johnny DeRichie, Rich Piger, Joe Carroll, Jerry Dempsey, Bob Francis, John DiVincenzo, Dean Rick, Ken “Bovine” Veenema and Rick Lancellotti who later played for the San Diego Padres and SanFrancisco Giants.

Dr. Stanley Chickson, an older gentleman, was always there too. He threw silver dollars out at players who homered, made nice fielding plays or had a clutch hit. 

The kid learned a bit about the media and he had a pretty good tutor.

And despite his many duties as a sports editor, McCormick, old-school style puffing away on a cigar with a beanie type cap, was there for every game at Schautz. He was a co-founder of the Scranton Red Soxx summer team and served as its president. 

The older scribe also helped the kid pick up some extra summer cash as an official scorer for the Scranton Tavern League. 

When the kid turned 18, the long time sports editor gave him a part time role as a “stringer” for the Scranton Times covering and writing about local football games. Thanks to the master scribe, the cub reporter was able to get a byline for some of his published stories.

Now the kid was pounding out stories on an old type writer in a dingy newsroom. 

The long time sports editor tried to get the kid a full time job in the newsroom of the sports department, but the higher ups had other plans and it wasn’t meant to be.

So the kid took a job in a local hospital, continued to write freelance sports stories and eventually ended up writing for the competiting local newspaper, The Scranton Tribune, until it folded in 1989. 

The kid, now a young man, went back to college to become an occupational therapist while working in a local nursing home, but continued to write latching on to a new Dunmore newspaper. 

And he maintained a friendship with that old school sports editor who had left his newspaper and was now covering sports as a sportscaster for a local radio station. 

The old school sports writer eventually became involved as president for many years of the local chapter for Northeast PA Sports Hall of Fame.

And the young scribe began covering the annual Hall of Fame induction events for him, with the stories published in the Dunmore newspaper, The Dunmorean run by former Scranton Tribune editor/reporter, John Hart. 

As time went by, the older scribe turned over the reigns to Bob Walsh who is now president of the Northeastern Chapter of the PA Sports Hall of Fame.

About a decade ago, the aging but still mentally sharp scribe called his younger student of journalism, now in mid life, and asked if he would like to someday be a part of the committee for the Northeastern Chapter of the PA Sports Hall of Fame. 

“We are getting up in years and we need some younger, but experienced guys with fresh ideas,” he said. 

So, the idea was implanted. 

And just last year the former cub scribe, now older, was asked by Walsh to join the committee that ironically Valonis, the former Scranton Red Soxx coach and manager, serves on as one of the committee members. 

And just a few months after the scribe proudly joined this committee, his former journalism mentor and the past president of the committee, John McCormick died. He passed away this past Oct. 2 just a couple weeks shy of his 90th birthday. 

And in his honor, this scribe, will proudly continue to serve on the committee for the Northeastern Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. 

And so goes the circle of life. 

Thank you Mr. McCormick, for providing this scribe with a beginning. 

(Editor’s note: John McCormick was a Korean War veteran who served with the Seventh Army, V Corps in Germany. He received the Commissioner of Baseball Award for his contributions to college baseball, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons Media Award, Catholic League Coaches’ Association Service Award, 1973 University of Scranton Journalism Award, 1973 ACBL Media Award, 1982 ACBL Service Award, University of Scranton Media Award, PIAA Service Award for contributions to high school sports. He was inducted into the University of Scranton Athletics Wall of Fame, received the PA Sports Hall of Fame Meritorious Award and the Northeast PA Sports Hall of Fame Service Award. Past president for many years of the Northeastern Chapter of the PA Sports Hall of Fame, he also served as Regional Vice-President of the State Sports Hall of Fame and as president of the Babe Ruth Senior League. He was a committee member of the University of Scranton Wall of Fame.)