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Showing posts from April, 2016

The Shamokin Circus Riot of 1913

When the circus comes to town, a good time is usually enjoyed by all. Unless that circus happens to come to Shamokin. Many coal region towns have a reputation for toughness, and Shamokin is no exception. Of course, as a Mount Carmel grad, I happen to think we're just a little bit tougher than our rivals in Shamokin (I could insert a wisecrack about the Coal Bucket here, but I won't). Nonetheless, the following story is pretty entertaining.

It comes from the June 14, 1913 edition of the Mount Carmel Item and, as you can tell by the reporter's opening sentence, it's plain to see that even back in 1913 there was no love lost between these two battling coal towns.

Shamokin Roughnecks Attack Circus Folks

Shamokin youths showed themselves in their true light again yesterday when they made things generally miserable for the members of the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus, which exhibited in that town yesterday, caused riots and endangered the lives of many people who attended the show.…

William Tell prank gone horribly wrong

Ask most folks who live in the coal region where Diamondtown is and they'll probably have no clue. But ask anyone who lives anywhere between Pottsville and Shamokin (especially an old-timer) where Diamondtown is and they'll tell you it's right next to Mt. Carmel. No, not that clump of houses to the west of Mt. Carmel (that would be Dooleyville and Connorsville). Not to the northeast of Mt. Carmel (that would be Atlas) and not to the south of Mt. Carmel (that would be Merrian).

Diamondtown, as everyone knows, was the home of Homiak's Bar, the fabled watering hole of the post-war era where (according to my grandfather) air hoses concealed in the floor blew up girl's dresses and you could enjoy a lobster dinner for under a buck.

Diamondtown was also the home of Harvey Wessner, who died in 1929 after 125 hours of unconsciousness, after his best friend whacked him in the skull with a baseball bat while attempting to knock a hat from Wessner's head.

Here's the orig…

How times have changed

The following appeared in the July 29, 1936 edition of the Mount Carmel Item and proves just how far we've progressed (or regressed, depending on your point of view) as a society. Today, any teacher who beats a pupil will probably face jail time. But back in 1936, a teacher could lose his or her job for not beating a student!

Decapitated by Dynamite

Decapitated by Beer Barrel

A century ago, it seemed that nearly every job could result in getting yourself killed, maimed, blown up, boiled alive, ground to pieces or, well, decapitated. Frankly, it's amazing that enough of our grandparents and great-grandparents survived in order to procreate and propagate the species, because when they weren't fending off mine cave-ins, train derailments or typhoid epidemics, they were getting their heads blown off by exploding vats of beer. The following comes from the October 23, 1905 edition of the Tyrone Daily Herald.

Decapitated by Elevator

Decapitated by Trolley

The following comes from the September 17, 1900, edition of the Reading Times:

Decapitation Week!

I'm not sure how many possible ways there are to lose one's head, but I'm determined to find out. Therefore, all week long, I'll be presenting interesting newspaper articles about, well, decapitation. Why, you ask? Because it's my blog and I'll post whatever the hell I want. So, if you're the squeamish type, you might want to check back next week.

And if you're not the squeamish type, I'm sure you'll look forward to reading about how certain folks from Pennsylvania's past lost their heads, like the following fellow: