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Monday, January 19, 2009

A Few Canonsburg Stories - Norma Jean

Hi Norma Jean, thank you for another interesting email, BTW, I did copy Donna on my previous Email to you, so hopefully she will respond with her pictures..

Boy I sure do remember Louis Prima and Keely Smith, saw them in Vegas, Wow could they entertain;  they sure made quite an impression on me as well.. Attaching to this email one of my favorite Louie Prima songs. hope it doesn't take long to download(4MB) and you enjoy.  Please send a copy of their picture outside the Colonial Inn for posting with this email on the  blog.

You guys must have been something and had alot of fun toolin around and up and down those hills around Canonsburg in that brand new(Stick Shift)  "Yellow VW Conv." 
Hadn't thought of the Circus that set up around Curry Field in a long time. Did it come town every year, growing up in close proximity, you must have alot of memories of it.


Dick Garboski
1978 Havenwood Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

On Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 6:36 AM, Norma Jean Salvino <> wrote:
Hi Dick
Donnas' e-mail is
If you want to contact her about any photos, do it.  She has the one of the gas station.  It is in the brown tones, on  a cardboard type mat.
We also owned the Colonial Inn, on Rt. 19 past Donaldson's Cross Roads.   It was a motel and restaurant that hosted many US Steel, and Jessop Steel and other big companies banquets.  We had famous people stay there.
Remember Louie Prima and Keeley Smith and their orchestra?  Well, Louie stayed there many times with his whole orchestra.  I have a photo of him and Mom on the steps in front of the motel door. I also had a 'crush' on Bobby Nelson, the trumpet player and have his photo.  They were driving those big long Nash cars that the seats folded all the way back.  I was 13 at the time.  WOW!  What an impression they made on me.  The band would practice in our main dinning room every day.  They rented the whole upstairs that was rooms for the motel.  They loved Moms home made cooking, the Italian way, and her pies. 
The first restaurant we owned was Chief's Restaurant at the Cross Roads.  Mr. & Mrs. Donaldson owned it and Mom rented it for 5 years.  I was five or six at the time.  They they went to Washington and rented the White House Restaurant, on E. Bowe Street.  There was no bar in that restaurant.  Dad built the Kroger store right across the street from the restaurant.  That Kroger was next to the Salvation Army building.  They had play ground equipment in the back of the S. Army bldg.  We used to ride the merry go round that you had to push with your feet.  Neither are there now.  They are offices or something else. 
They had that about 4 years then Dad bought the old building that he transformed into the Colonial Inn.  It belonged to Mrs. Beal - who had motel cabins behind our restaurant.    I believe those cabins are still there for rent.  Behind one of the fast food places.  The Colonial Inn burned between 1958 and 1960, I can't remember which, but it was April 19.  I was baby sitting for Jay Michael at the time.  It was his brothers birthday, that is how I remember the date.  The Andy Brothers had bought the restaurant & remodeled it.  The fire started in the kitchen. 
Well, I bent your ear long enough.  Did I ever tell you I used to drive Dolly Dobbins, (aka, Mrs. Bobby Vinton) to school on rainy days?  Saw her a few years ago.  She looks great.  Remembered me and Donna, as they were in Ellen H. Richards Club and Home Ec. together.
I had a Yellow Volkswagen convertible in 1958 and was dating someone from Bobby's band.  We picked Bobby up at the airport and drove him to Dolly's house, when she was living in Philly Patch.  Remember when the Circus used to set up their tents there?  I could see the circus from my bedroom room at the top of the hill - Curry Hill that is.  Now it is Morganza Road
By for now
Norma Jean

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Jim Gohacki Art Work

We all remember that Jim Gohacki was pretty good with a round ball, i.e. a basketball, baseball, etc. but maybe his real calling and talent lies in his ability to stroke a brush.

Check out this slide show of just some of his paintings he graciously provided to share with his Canonsburg Friends.

A Little MORE Sugar Lake Snow

From: Betty Bartok <>
Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2009 8:46:00 AM
We got about 5-6 inches of snow last night on top of the accumulation from before. That's my table on the deck. The other is my Spa seen through my screen door. Snow was against the door and couldn't get it open very far,. and of course Here's my beautiful Mom. The next picture is from my opened kitchen window. And the last is of some ice fisherman on the lake. Today is suppose to get warmer. In the low 30's. yesterday the high was 9 degrees. Go figure.
Love BJ

Post-gazette NOW
Canonsburg explores purchase of Armory
Sunday, January 18, 2009

Canonsburg Councilman Joseph Milioto, a former member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, describes the armory on West College Street as "massive" and "like a high gymnasium."

He and others in the borough want to investigate whether the borough can purchase it.

The red brick, two-story building is expected to be up for sale by the end of this year or early next year. If the borough can find the money, it will have the opportunity to buy the building for use as a senior citizens' center, police department or municipal offices.

The armory is where Guard members assemble on drill weekends and train, said Mark Austin, director of facilities and engineering for the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The building is owned by the state.

More than 100 soldiers of Company C, 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry in Canonsburg and Waynesburg will be moved to a new readiness center in the EverGreene Technology Park in Greene County. Ground was broken for the $9.5 million building in November.

Mr. Austin said a modern, larger building is needed. The Canonsburg armory is less than 10,000 square feet.

"It's just very antiquated," he said.

According to a historical marker outside the building, the armory was erected in 1938 for Hospital Co. 108, 103rd Medical Regiment, which became part of the National Guard in the mid-1920s.

The lot had been the site of the house of the president of Jefferson College and the house was built in the early 1840s.

The state will give the opportunity to the borough, a community group or nonprofit organization first, provided the purchaser pays fair market value, Mr. Austin said.

During a council meeting earlier this month, borough Manager Terry Hazlett brought up the subject of the armory after receiving a letter from Mr. Austin.

Mr. Hazlett said a former councilman, James Romano, told him when the armory was built in the 1930s, there was an agreement allowing the borough to purchase the building for $1 if it ever went up for sale. Mayor Anthony Colaizzo also said he's heard the same thing.

However, Mr. Hazlett hasn't found any evidence of such an agreement and Mr. Austin said there's no such stipulation in the deed.

If the borough can purchase the building at a reduced price or through securing some state funds, the basement could be used for the police department while the rest of the building could house council meetings and borough offices, Mr. Hazlett said.

Then, the borough could rent the current municipal building once the Greater Canonsburg Public Library relocates to its new location, although construction hasn't started yet on the library building.

Council President Daniel Caruso said the armory could accommodate a new senior citizens' center because it is closer to a high rise where seniors live than the current location near the municipal building on Pike Street.

A committee of councilmembers and Mr. Hazlett are examining what to do with the library space once it's vacated and to consider the issue of buying the armory.

"We're just trying to get our ducks in a row in case we do want to buy the building," Mr. Hazlett said.

Mr. Milioto, who was a guardsman in the 1960s, said he hasn't really looked around the building since 1970 but remembers the interior had high ceilings and the lower level was used to house weapons and trucks and had offices and a kitchen.

He wants a "full investigation" into the possible purchase.

Mr. Milioto said the building may need to be renovated and probably will cost a great deal to maintain, especially for heating. He's wary about making a purchase using borough funds.

"For taxpayers to take on something like that, you have to proceed with caution," he said.

The building is used as a voting precinct. It was a dance hall in the 1960s and has been the site of events such as a battle of the bands and summer camp, and has been a gymnasium of a middle school, Mr. Hazlett said.

The building could be used for community events, after-school activities or a YMCA, Mr. Austin said. The large drill court is good for basketball.

Mr. Austin said former armories have been sold in other communities for about $150,000, although the price for the one in Canonsburg won't be determined until after it's vacated and appraised.

Freelance writer Crystal Ola can be reached in care of
First published on January 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Joey Powers

This recent Canonsburg related article intrigued me, for I had never heard of Joey Powers. Anybody familiar with him, or his story? (More information detail, including hearing his song by clicking on links highlighted in blue below)

National music spotlight fell on area thanks to Vinton and Powers

This article has been read 989 times.
For a brief, shining moment in early 1964, Canonsburg was the focus of the nation's music industry. Two natives of the town of 12,000 people - Bobby Vinton and
Joey Powers - owned the Top 10, and in some cities, had both the No. 1 and No. 2 songs. Forty-five years later, such a feat (or lucky coincidence) would have been noted on "Entertainment Tonight," "People Magazine" and dozens of other pop culture-obsessed entities. No doubt it would have been a delicious tidbit for Casey Kasem as well, but his "American Top 40" had yet to begin.

Even then, though, the "teen idol town" was mentioned in pop magazines of the day, even if reporters were a bit careless with the information.article

Powers, for starters, was not a native of Canonsburg, but of Washington, although he indeed had Canonsburg connections. As a high school student in the 1950s, he had competed in sports in Canonsburg, he had at one time played in a band with Vinton and Andy Balent and he had Canonsburg native Perry Como to thank for his recording career. But he never called Canonsburg home. (The teen magazines weren't the only publications to get it wrong. Norm N. Nite's critically hailed rock encyclopedia, "Rock On," claims Powers was born in Canonsburg, and that his hometown was "Little Washington.")

Another error was the claim that the songs were simultaneously No. 1 and 2 in their hometown. It never happened. As was common in those days, Pittsburgh stations often jumped on new artists before the rest of the country, and Powers' "Midnight Mary" was up and down the chart before Vinton's "There I've Said It Again" climbed to the top. In the nation's music bible, "Billboard," however, Vinton was No. 1 and Powers No. 10 for two consecutive weeks in January.

Even locally, the feat was quickly overshadowed. After four weeks at the top of the nation's chart, "There I've Said It Again" was eclipsed by a new band - the Beatles - with "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

The Como connection

In a 1979 interview, Powers (real name Joe Ruggiero) explained how he got into the music business. "To put it simply," he told me, "I loved to show off. I loved applause ... I really believe you have to have that desire first. The creativity can come later."

Under the name Joey Rogers, he recorded "Who Can Explain?" at a local studio. It didn't do as well as expected, so Ruggiero left Washington for New York City in 1959. His parents had arranged a meeting with their friend, Como, who got him a job as a page at NBC. Eventually, Johnny Mathis's producer, Paul Vance, signed Ruggiero to RCA - and changed his name. "Jimmie Rogers was a big star at the time, and Vance was afraid there would be confusion." He got the 'Powers' moniker from the late actor Tyrone Power.

Sadly, none of Ruggiero's RCA recordings clicked, and he was dropped from the label.

The 'Mary' moment

In the early '60s, Ben Raleigh and Artie Wayne had written "Midnight Mary ," which was based on an Iranian girlfriend Wayne was seeing secretly. Despite Raleigh's credentials ("Tell Laura I Love Her," "Wonderful Wonderful,"), the song was uniformly rejected by record companies.

According to Powers, "It was really written for the Everly Brothers, but they turned it down because they had just had a hit with "Take a Message to Mary."

So Wayne, who had become good friends with Powers, had Joey cut a demo. It, too, was rejected. However, Jerry Landis (a.k.a. Paul Simon) suggested the demo be given to Larry Uttal who was starting Amy Records. He loved it.

"Two weeks after we cut the song, radio stations began playing it," Powers said. "It became the biggest song the label had." Unfortunately, that was essentially the end of Powers' recording career, although he did cut a second album with Roy Orbison and Bobby Bare called "Special Delivery" that was intended as a country-pop release.

Looking back on those halcyon in 1979, Powers said, "When I had the No. 1 song being played all over the country, I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have. I think you have to be a carnival person. No one in the recording part of the industry can be secure. When you're cold, there is no next paycheck."

Powers soon became a booking agent, and also operated a recording studio in New Jersey for many years.

Life after 'Midnight'

When we next talked with Powers in 1989, he was in the middle of another career phase - producing and recording music. He had produced Paul McCartney drummer Joe English's solo album, as well as managed Phantom's Opera - the pre-Bon Jovi band that included Richie Zambora, Tico Torres and Alec John Such. He also worked with Billy Falcon ("Power Windows") and did numerous Christian music albums.

He was most enthusiastic about his Christian music connection, particularly a band called Rosanna's Raiders. While he peppered his conversation with names of music industry friends such as Dion, George Benson, Jethro Tull and others, he seldom talked about his own career, which included fronting a band, "Powers Flower" in the late '60s and early '70s.

We were unable to reach Powers after '89, but located an e-mail address a few days ago while researching information for this column. Powers has not yet replied from his home of seven years - St. Petersburg, Russia, where he works in an orphanage ministry and has a recording studio for Christian music.

That's quite a journey from his days of seeking applause in the Washington Junior High School Chorus. As he said in '79, "I've had a very wild, hectic life, and I've never been tied down. That's always been most important to me. You only come this way once. And I want to try everything."

He seems to be fulfilling his wish.

Terry Hazlett covers TV and radio for the Observer-Reporte

Friday, January 9, 2009

1957 Juke Box

Date: Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 8:36 AM
Subject:: 1957 juke box

Good memories,  Canonsburg, PA 1957/1958 our Senior Year.  #97 is the Four Coins, just one of all the songs we will remember.  

Sara Nan Fischer Fartro

A few songs you may not of heard since you last heard it at George's or during the summer at the Pool, or when Porky Chadwick was pushing these platters on the radio, songs like: #38-Silhouettes, #58-Jamaica Farewell, #73-Little Bitty Pretty One, and #92 Bonnie Maronie 

Each song may mean something different, but it was our music that helped  make our world go around.

Click Here Jukebox