By Steve Svetovich
Everyone has a favorite Christmas memory.
It was the Christmas season of 2003 and this scribe interviewed eight prominent Dunmore residents asking each to reflect on a favorite Christmas memory.
Three of the eight interviewed have since past away, but their life experiences and memories live on.
Here is a sample of those eight reflections of Christmas past.
“That’s easy,” said late former Dunmore council president Leonard Verrastro. “My daughter Carmel Ann was born Christmas Day at 10:30 a.m. We brought my wife to the hospital and she delivered. I celebrated Christmas in the hospital with my wife and newborn baby. I celebrated later at home with my first daughter Vita Grace.
“Vita Grace was named after my mom. Carmel Ann was named after my mother-in-law.”
Late Dunmore community activist Addie Michalek, a founder of the Dunmore Senior Center and Dunmore 50-plus club, was busy doing good deeds in the borough until she was 90. She also had a special Christmas memory.
“As a child,” she said, “all holidays are memorable when the family is together. You see Christmas in a different light.
“I was one of five children who came from a poor family, but my parents made sure we had enough food on the table and even extra special for Christmas. We would each receive one gift and we would be satisfied.
“We would go to Christmas Eve mass and on Christmas there would be music and singing.
“I will never forget a little Teddy Bear I received as a child. I mentioned it once to my grown children and then four years ago (1999) my grandchild had a special gift for me, a Teddy Bear. It’s very special to me.
“Gifts are more expensive today than my little Teddy Bear. In today’s society we put too much emphasis on how many gifts we receive. The simple things in life are the best. You don’t need riches. You need health and family.”
Late former Dunmore School Director Al Frioni, Sr., reflected on a special Christmas memory after returning home from heart surgery in late 2003. “I used to dress up and play Santa Claus in a few different places,” he said. “I came into this one Dunmore house dressed as Santa and my grandchild was there. He then went to a friend’s house. The friend was Jeffrey Jason. I went over, knocked on the door and shouted, Ho, Ho, Ho!
“About three minutes later, little Jeffrey looked at his dad and said, ‘I know who that is. He’s not Santa. He is Mr. Frioni. He has wing tip shoes.’
“Well, I always wore wing tip shoes. That made me get a pair of boots the next time I played Santa.
“Today, the Jason boy is owner and chef of the Old Brook Inn on Route 307 in Moscow. He will never forget my wing tip shoes. When I go there today, he reminds me.”
Former Dunmore School Director James McHale, Jr., had special memories of Santa. “I had many good ones and never went without,” he said. “My parents always made sure Santa was good to us. I remember thinking Santa was at my bedroom door looking at me. I thought I better get to sleep. I remember thinking I heard him.
“I have two boys , Jim and William, who still believe in Santa.
“I wish I still believed.”
Dunmore Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney remembered a special Christmas tree. “A few years ago,” he said, “my wife, the kids and I went for a Christmas tree. My wife picked it and I cut it down. When we put it up, we noticed a bird’s nest in it. We kept it up and put an ornament in it.
“As a kid, I remember my dad putting a train together. My brother and I took the icicles from the tree and watched them make sparks on the train. That was a lot of fun.
“And remember those rock em, sock em robots? We all wanted them for Christmas.
“Visiting Santa at the Globe Store was the biggest thing. Remember the little lapel pin you would get? Getting the lapel pin was a badge of honor. And then lunch at the Charlmont.
And remember when everyone would drive around looking at all the Christmas lights? Those were memories.”
Former Dunmore Police Chief Sal Mecca said his finest Christmas memory came in a pack of five. “The birth of my five children and their first Christmas experience were my best Christmas memories,” he said.
“It was extra special when they believed in Santa Claus. I remember their expectations of waking up and seeing Santa come down the chimney. The look in their eyes on Christmas is my fondest memory.”
Former Dunmore councilman Paul Nardozzi will never forget the Christmas of 2000. “I come from a large family, so many were special. However, the Christmas of 2000 stands out. It was the last Christmas with my dad. He died in August of 2001.
“We all knew he was ill in 2000. The odds were stacked against him. You would never know it by watching him. He was a pillar of strength for the whole family.
“He made sure no one was down. He helped my mom cook and made sure everyone had a good time. It’s a very special memory for me.”
Dunmore Attorney Melanie Naro remembered the Christmas of 2002 the best. “It was the blizzard that made it so special,” she said. “My sister Liz and I went to the 10 a.m. mass at Christ the King church. It was a beautiful mass and then it started snowing. The snow kept coming and coming.
“We spent Christmas Eve at my sister Eve’s house on Naphan Hill. It was real tough to get up the hill, but we made it.
“The blizzard kept us in. We stayed in together all day instead of the usual going house to house. My brother, two sisters, brother-in-law, the kids in our family and nieces and nephews were all there.
“We were all snowed in and it was a great family day. We were all together. I will always remember it fondly.”
Just a small sample of some great Christmas memories in Bucktown.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Merry Christmas, Dunmore.