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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Road Trip Up 309 to Hazleton

It's past 2 am and I've just returned from Hazelton. I was there tonight to watch Allentown Central Catholic and Dallas High Schools play each other in the state 5A boys' basketball tournament. My grandson Dat got himself into early foul trouble and spent most of the night riding the bench. But Keeshawn Kelman and Jay Vaughan saved the day and eked out a 61-59 victory in double overtime. Morning Call sportswriter Keith Groller called the game a classic. The Vikings advance to the quarter-finals on Friday night, where they will face #1-ranked Bonner-Prendergast. We'll find out where the game is being played tomorrow.

This story is about the road trip to Hazleton, taken with a prominent local attorney who grew up in the coal regions. He's a big fan of the Vaughans (Jay, Sammy and Emily) as well as Chad Kratzer.

We tooled up 309 North and I received quite the history lesson en route. We passed near the scene of the Kelayres massacre. That's where five Democrats were shot and killed in 1934 when the passed the home of "Big Joe," the local GOP boss. He wanted to stop there, but I passed.

I'm a Dem, and Big Joe might still be around.

We also passed near the site of the 1897 Lattimer Massacre. that's where 19 striking miners were shot and killed by a sheriff's posse. Though evidence showed that most of those killed had been shot in the back, the Sheriff and his posse were acquitted. The barrister wanted to stop there, too, but I said it's too late to pass out cards now.

We passed through economically depressed McAdoo and Tamaqua and along slag heaps left from strip mining. We passed an old company town, Audenreid, in which workers would be forced to spend all their earnings and never get ahead.

We also discussed the Molly Maguires and whether they received a fair trial (I said they didn't, he said they did).

We passed near the site of the Sheppton Mining disaster, in which two miners were rescued but a third was never found. Some think the surviving two miners ate him. This barrister suggested we stop there. "Not on an empty stomach," I answered.

Speaking of empty stomachs, we did stop at a great Italian restaurant called Ovalon. That's been there forever, and would rival any restaurant in the Lehigh Valley.

Though it's right by us, the coal regions are another world.


Anonymous said...

Coal crackers ruined the Lehigh Valley.

Anonymous said...

The same can be said of the Marcellus gas patch. It's just a little farther up the line. But it's a whole different world that few down here understand.

Anonymous said...

I am sure it is a typo, but it is Kelayres, not Kalayres.

Anonymous said...

Great game, watched on SE 550. We have similar cultural/physical observations of "Anthracite" country on out Summer trips to Knoebels through Pottsville, Schuykill Haven, Minersville and Carmel etc. It's a bit depressing now, but the good times must have been really great and many older natives of this area must have many fond memories. It's Yuengling country for sure.

Anonymous said...

Oh My God Bernie! Thank God your alive. You could have been pulled over and arrested for being an "illegal" up there. After all your a Democrat in Lou Barletta's front yard and your a Nazareth transplant living in a humble hoval. They don't take well to southerner's there-

Anonymous said...

Wow... going up 309 must have been like 512 to Bangor. Depressing and dating your sister. I am so happy that ACC won! They are on on the move and a path to bigger and better things in life. I appreciate your keeping us abreast of the team and Dat's success.

Anonymous said...

That was a fun game to watch. Also interesting to hear that Dallas' high scorer going to Lancaster Bible College.

Also, don't forget the Allen Canaries are still alive too!

Anonymous said...

That was a fantastic game to watch!
Congratulations to the team and coaching staff!

Deep into one of the OT sessions in the guts of the game, a timeout was called. The players sat and coaches huddled and came up with a strategy. What stunned me was that Coach C handed the clipboard to his assistant, the former Muhlenberg Head Coach and he diagrammed the play.

I admired his delegation and leadership
skills as he empowered his staff to work for the betterment of the team!

A lot can be learned from that single moment!

Anonymous said...

Shamokin once thrived of a population of 50,000. The town was so ahead of its time, they commissioned Edison to electrify parts of the City. First electrified Church in the US. A bank, church and bar at every intersection at the time.

I believe, this Sat March 17 at 1pm, the Lehigh County Heritasge Museum has a presentation about the Lost Coal Country. The Heritage museum offers first class events

Bernie O'Hare said...

" it is Kelayres, not Kalayres."

OK, will fix.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"That was a fantastic game to watch!
Congratulations to the team and coaching staff!"

I hated the game. I prefer blowouts. They are easier on my heart. Also, Dat got into foul trouble right off the bat and was essentially a nonfactor. That happened to him once before this season. You can say the refs are being unfair, but they are calling the game, not me.

Now that the season is winding to an end, along with Dat's high school career, I can say the coaching staff is excellent, from Csenstis all the way down.

Anonymous said...

You can have your March Madness with all those three-month college enrollees waiting to springboard into the NBA draft at the end of the season. The best show on hardwood is local HS playoffs. Blowouts are fine. But the nail-biters make you feel like you actually lived. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, Bernie. Good stuff. Go Central. And go NDHS boys tonight!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I wish NDGP the best.

Anonymous said...

Interesting vignettes, Bernie. I knew someone in Hazleton once, and she had family in the mines in the old days. Her mom still carts coal to the coal stove in their home. I didn't come close to hearing about all these incidents.

That crusty old actor, um... (Googling) Jack Palance, was from Hazleton. My friend said that as a person he was the nicest guy in the world.

Anonymous said...

Too bad you didn’t get into a deadly car crash on your way back from watching your so called “grandson”. In Hazleton. Oh well, hopefully next time!

Bernie O'Hare said...

A person who seeks the death of another is already dead himself or herself.