Doin’ Dunmore: Thanksgiving Day Football Memories

By Steve Svetovich

A new Thanksgiving Day rivalry emerged Thursday, Nov. 22, 1945, when Dunmore defeated West Scranton, 6-2.

The Dunmore win nailed down the Lackawanna Conference title for first-year head coach Tommy Silvano and the Bucks.

Dunmore finished 9-0 in the conference, but had to settle for second place in the Northern Division of the EIFC. 

Larksville represented the division in the championship game after finishing with a 6-0 record.

Former Sunday Scrantonian Tribune sports editor Guy Valvano, Dunmore, wrote a book, “Thanksgiving Memories,” in 2009.  

According to Valvano’s book, there were 7,500 fans on hand Thursday afternoon, Nov. 22. 1945, at Athletic Park. 

Valvano wrote Guy Ardizoni, one of the most talented running backs in the history of Lackawanna County high school football, ran 14 yards in the mud in the closing minutes. The score offset a 2-0 lead from a safety that had been held by West Scranton since the first quarter.

Valvano wrote Ardizoni was hobbling on a painful right knee that had been injured the previous game. The touchdown enabled the fleet-footed senior to finish the season with 114 points in 10 games, according to Valvano.

That eclipsed the record of 102 points he had set a season earlier, added Valvano.

Tech defeated Central, 6-0, on Thanksgiving morning that very same day at Athletic Park. Billy “Ging” Weiss, the smallest and lightest player on the mud-covered field, cut off tackle and scored on a 17 yard run for Central, wrote Valvano.

Five years later in 1950, wrote Valvano, Dunmore won the Lackawanna Conference championship by defeating West Scranton, 18-0, before 5,500 fans at home on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23, to finish with a 7-2-2 record, 

Dunmore had been hopeful of representing the Northern Division in the EIFC championship game, wrote Valvano, but the honor – much to the chagrin of Dunmore School District officials – went to Swoyersville. 

The Luzerne County school, wrote Valvano, nosed out the Bucks after being allowed to use the record of an opponent that had not played a minimum of five conference games as required by the EIFC. That opponent was Ashley, which was 0-1-1 in the conference.

The final standings showed Swoyersville as the first place team with Dunmore as the runner up. 

Swoyersville’s loss was to Southern Division member Coal Township, a team that was held to a 7-7 tie by Dunmore one week before the Bucks played West Scranton on Thanksgiving Day. Coal Township handed Swoyersville a 26-13 setback in the EIFC title game.

Coaches from Coal Township had looked at Dunmore as their potential opponent in the EIFC title game, wrote Valvano. The coaches of the Southern Division champion were scouting Dunmore that Thanksgiving Day, wrote Valvano.

When some Dunmore fans at the Bucks-Invaders game on Thanksgiving, wrote Valvano, asked Coal Township head coach Walter Marshall why his staff was not scouting Swoyersville that day, his response was that he expected the Purple Demons to be playing Dunmore in the title game.

In the 1950 Thanksgiving Day game played on the snow-covered field, wrote Valvano, Dunmore’s touchdowns against West Scranton were scored by Matt Soranno, on an interception return; Lou Costanzo on a one-yard run; and Pat Ferraro, on a 14-yard run.

The win gave Dunmore head football coach V. James Gatto his second Lackawanna Conference championship. 

The late Chic Feldman of The Scrantonian reported Dunmore had put the finishing touches to the most grueling regular season schedule in school history. The losses were to Lock Haven and Berwick, two quality football programs, at the outset of the season. Dunmore then went through the rest of the season without a loss.

Student Provides Selfless Service During Pandemic

Antonio Pugliese accepts pin signifying his receipt of one of the 2020 Brian Piccolo Scholarship Awards. Pictured outside the family’s shoe repair shop in Dunmore are, from left: David Passeri; Scranton Chapter President Gail Cicerini; Antonio; his father John Pugliese; and his brother Nico Pugliese.

The tradition of younger family members caring for their elderly relatives, while not exclusive to Italians, is nevertheless particularly prevalent in the Italian culture. One example is the devotion of a local student to his grandparents during the challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Antonio Pugliese, a 2020 graduate of West Scranton High School and now a freshman at Penn State Scranton, has put himself in virtual quarantine to help care for his paternal grandparents Clare and Nick Pugliese of Dunmore, especially aiding his grandmother tend to the needs of her husband, who since 2006 has faced significant health issues that require near constant attention.

Since the pandemic hit in March, Antonio has spent countless hours in his grandparents’ home and has refrained from any gatherings, including activities associated with his senior year, to limit interaction with other people and his chances of contracting the virus and passing it to his vulnerable grandparents.

“I had to stay disciplined to make sure I was not bringing the virus into their home,” Antonio explained. “What keeps me vigilant and what kept me okay with missing my final high school memories, while many people my age take their chances with the pandemic, is the thought that my time with my grandparents is much more limited and valuable than the time I could spend with people my age for the rest of my life. 

“My grandmother has worked more than enough throughout her life, and the work hasn’t stopped for her and becomes more difficult every day. So, even in the midst of starting my college career online, I try to do what I can to ease the burden my grandmother carries.”

Family is the most important part of his life, Antonio added, and he feels “lucky and grateful to have four loving grandparents who taught me through their life stories the importance of working hard and enjoying the simple things in life.”

Antonio, the son of John and Rosanna Pugliese of Scranton, was one of six high school students to receive the 2020 Brian Piccolo Scholarship Award from the Scranton Chapter of UNICO National, the nation’s largest Italian-American service organization. 

The award honors students who have displayed the same qualities and characteristics of Brian Piccolo, the professional football player who battled cancer before succumbing to the disease at age 26. Piccolo exhibited determination, hard work, integrity, leadership, courage, loyalty, friendship, teamwork, dedication, sense of humor, anti-bias, strength, faith, goodwill and courage in the face of adversity. 

Coincidentally, Antonio’s service to his family mirrors that of his grandfather Nick, who many years ago exhibited similar devotion and experienced challenges when his mother was facing the end of her life in Italy.

UNICO Scranton Chapter President Gail Mason Cicerini discovered the story when she met David Passeri, a fellow traveler on a tour of Italy. Gail noticed a beautiful gold medal that Dave was wearing, and he explained that it was a gift from a Nick Pugliese – a gift of gratitude.

David and Nick worked at the Golo Shoe Factory in Dunmore owned by Arthur Samuels, whose son Lee and his wife Frances are members of the UNICO Scranton Chapter. As Nick’s mother’s health declined, he asked the foreman for time off so he could visit her in Calabria, Italy, from where he had migrated in 1961. 

The foreman refused, but David Passeri was the plant supervisor and he made the compassionate decision to allow Nick to go. Nick was able to spend time with his mother, and having seen her son, she spent her final days in peace.

Following his retirement from the Golo plant in 1970, Nick established Nick’s Shoe Repair on East Drinker Street in Dunmore and worked there part-time for 15 years while also holding a full-time job at a trucking company loading dock to support his family. 

After Nick had to leave the shop for health reasons, his son John took over the shop on a part-time basis, with help from his sons Antonio and Nicola, a junior at Penn State Main Campus. Nick’s Shoe Repair remains open Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Across the years and across generations, the Pugliese story typifies how families can care for each other under all sorts of challenges and circumstances.

Dunmorean of the Month: Alison Boga

 

dunmorean-of-the-month-alison-bogaBy Steve Svetovich

Alison Boga has always had an affection for senior citizens.

So it is not surprising when she accepted the position of executive director at the Dunmore Senior Center, 1414 Monroe Ave., Dunmore, this past December.

And the transition has been an easy one.

Daughter of Alice and the late William Boga, Alison succeeded long time Dunmore Senior Center executive director Jeanne Hugenbruch.

Boga worked under the highly respected Hugenbruch as activities coordinator at the Dunmore Senior Center from 2002 to 2007. She was an active volunteer at the Dunmore Senior Center until her recent appointment as executive director.

Boga, who graduated from West Scranton High School and attended Penn State University, has always found it rewarding working with senior citizens.

She worked as administrator of Amos Towers, Scranton, from 1995 to 2002.

“I have always gravitated towards senior citizens,” she said. “They are a lot of fun. I love to hear their stories and about what they did when they were young.”

Boga, who was a member of the marching band and orchestra in high school, worked as a financial assistant administrator for the Girl Scouts of America from 2007 through 2016 until her recent appointment.

She sees both old and new faces at the Dunmore Senior Center, also known as the Dunmore Activity Hub. “It is fun to be back here. A lot of people, sadly, are no longer with us. However, I do see a lot of familiar faces. I do love the new people and already feel like I formed a bond with them. It’s nice.”

The new executive director said she has many hobbies, including reading, gardening, the environment and running. She completed three straight Steamtown Marathons from 1999-2001. She also participated in numerous 5K runs.

She was co-chairperson of Scranton’s First Night in 2007. She ran the Senior Bingo in the second annual First Night and was an active volunteer from that point until the final First Night in 2016.

Boga was selected as Northeast Woman in November 2008.

She is looking forward to upcoming events at the Dunmore Senior Center, including the second annual Weekend of Arts Festival to be held October 13-14. The big event will be preceded by Purse Bingo October 1.

Another big event, said Boga, is the annual Pasta Dinner, May 11.

“The Weekend of Arts Festival was very successful last year and we are looking forward to it again.”

She is also looking forward to Summer Demo Days at the Dunmore Senior Center. “Members can try a number of different classes for free. They can try classes like Tai Chi or Oil Painting. There will be many options.”

She talked about the future of the Dunmore Senior Center. “The Baby Boomers are coming and they have a lot to offer. We want this to be the go to place for seniors. It is for seniors who want to learn and be innovative and progressive.”

There are currently 350 paid members of the Dunmore Senior Center.

Alison, who enjoys all kinds of music except country, said she always has been around seniors.

“I was always with my parents and around older people. It is just natural for me to be with older people. And I always found them interesting. I feel a certain bond with them. I honestly love being around them.”