Friday, May 14, 2010

Daughters of the American Revolution

Patriotism and Philanthropy - Not Dead
By Brianna Cain

Edited by Ruby Nemec


Through our veins runs blood rich in history; some scandalous and some legendary. As we look in the mirror, we wonder where our brown wavy hair and green eyes came from. We wonder how our family inherited an old dairy farm, and also how difficult our ancestors had it when they made their voyage to a new country. Whatever the reason, we have unique motivations that serve as a catalyst to discover our lineage that are exceptional to each individual. The local Braddock Trail Chapter of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) serves to help preserve this history and make it accessible for research.

The sun shines down on the old painted brick and cobblestone of the Samuel Warden mansion on the southwest corner of South Church and Walnut Street in Mt. Pleasant. The washed out, wrought iron fence encompasses the property thwarting trespassers. Over one hundred and twenty years ago, the Victorian mansion was erected as the home place for Samuel and Margaret Warden, two influential nineteenth century innovators that laid the groundwork for the inclusion of the coal industry to a formerly agricultural-specific town (Gombach). The house now shows its age, as the wallpaper is faded and the twelve high vaulted rooms are dimly lit. The furnishings are reminiscent of the late 1880’s, with antique pieces and decor. The sheer essence of the home has been restored and maintained by a local group of women who embraced the old mansion as a chapter house, dedicated to the preservation of history and patriotism. Ironically, a home that holds such historical significance could not have fallen into better hands.

The Braddock Trail Chapter house is always crowded on Saturday mornings. Women from all ethnic backgrounds crowd into the front chapter room and hurriedly take their seats. The meeting commences as the group stands and Carol Pack-Urban leads the pledge of allegiance, with support from the entire assembly. After the pledge and recitation of the DAR motto, the women take their seats and begin their meeting.

The Braddock Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) houses members from the western Pennsylvania area. Their ancestral roots in the community run deep, rich with historical significance and patriotism, a value they cherish. They are just a small portion of the larger, nationwide organization of the Daughters of the American Revolution; an organization that strives to help preserve the historical significance of our descendents through various community activities and projects. More specifically, the DAR is a genealogical-based organization consisting of one hundred and sixty five thousand national female members that strive to promote literacy and education, patriotism through volunteer military loyalist programs, and the preservation of national historical artifacts and genealogical libraries.

The DAR, along with the local chapters, strives to promote literacy and education. According to the Braddock Trail Chapter, they integrated the principles of George Washington from his farewell address. His mantra was “to promote, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge” (Washington). The journey to attain a better understanding of history and education will provide the people of our county with the opportunity to have a stronger public opinion and self awareness.

Opportunities to learn will be “affording to young and old such advantages as shall develop in them the largest capacity for performing the duties of American Citizens” (Pack-Urban). In order to achieve this goal, the DAR offers scholarship opportunities to the public. “Each year, one hundred and fifty thousand dollars is awarded in scholarships and financial aid to high school and college students” (Ashmun). The philanthropic actions of the DAR are rewarding in itself. However, the organization does much more to service the community.

Patriotism is another quality the DAR possesses. They participate in many volunteer programs nationwide to help support the men and women who actively fight in our Armed Forces. “We have public outreach programs to help our veterans. Our chapter collects donations to sponsor the local VA hospitals for better care and treatment” (Proud). Yet they don’t stop at just monetary contributions and fundraisers. The DAR also participates in local nationalistic services. They march in the local patriotic parades and participate in the flag placement program. They uphold these values according to their mission: “To cherish, maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom, to foster true patriotism and love of country, and to aid in securing for mankind all the blessings of liberty” (DAR Motto).

The DAR also participates in a patriotic award program that recognizes and honors local patriotic acts. The community service program honors locals who show an extraordinary effort in volunteerism, civil acts, or heroic behavior for the betterment of the community. “The DAR also hands out good citizens and citizenship awards to high school students who strive to enhance their community” (Ashmun). Even though patriotism is an integral part of their organization, the DAR spends a significant amount of time, resources and effort to protect and promote the integrity of historical records and artifacts.

Historical preservation is very important. As stated in the DAR’s Mission: The DAR serves “to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American independence; by the acquisition and protection of historical spots and the erection of monuments; by the encouragement of historical research in relation to the American Revolution and the publication of its results; by the preservation of documents and relics, and the records of the individual service of Revolutionary soldiers and patriots; and by the promotion of celebrations of all patriotic anniversaries” (DAR Mission).

The DAR has a national museum that houses more than thirty thousand historical artifacts including quilts, ceramics and paintings that date back to pre-industrial American history ( The local chapters have extensive research libraries that are open to the public for personal research. These records include vast genealogical resources like wills, deeds, birth and death certificates, and microfilm from local newspapers. “We open our resources to the public in an effort to promote the interest in genealogical research. It’s this interest that keeps our organization alive” (Ashmun).

“Some of the most common reasons for researching a family tree include: to satisfy a curiosity about yourself and your roots; to create a legacy for future generations; to compile a family medical history; to preserve family cultural and ethnic traditions; to write and publish a family history book; to confirm a family legend or verify descent from a famous individual; or to qualify for lineage or heritage society like the Daughters of the American Revolution” (Powell).

The terms for membership in the DAR are simple: “You must be a female that is at least 18 years of age. You must be able to identify your patriotic ancestor and provide proof for their involvement in the American Revolution through military records or widower’s pensions. Then you must find a local chapter to join, such as the local Braddock Trail Chapter in Mt. Pleasant. Then you must compile all of your research and fill out an application and send it in to the national committee for the verification process” (Pack-Urban).

Though it sounds like a daunting process, the ladies of the DAR are there to help you research your ancestors. Members like Rosalind Ashmun and Gertrude Proud, dedicate their free time to help recruit new members to keep the organization alive and growing. They volunteer time in the upstairs of the Warden Mansion, which serves as their library. They help procure documents necessary for membership as well as locate the cemeteries of the actual ancestral burial spot. If a burial place is found, the members even order a patriotic flag with the regiment of the veteran for their grave site.

This amazing organization is within reach for many young women that have an interest in their community or their historical descent. Membership is an honor that can help promote pride and loyalty. They look for young women that are willing to make a commitment through service and volunteer efforts. They encourage active membership and hope that their association grows with interest. Ironically, the women of the Braddock Trail Chapter have a meeting place that helps foster and encourage this venture. The Warden mansion is a great surviving example of how our historical past lead to the present day and its indications of historical awareness for the future. The DAR has open arms for all interested individuals and hopes to achieve their goals on a national and local level.

Works Cited

Ashmun, Rosalind. “Braddock Trail History.” Personal Interview. 5 Mar 2010.

Gombach, Julia. “Samuel Warden House.” Living Places. N.d. Web 16 Mar. 2010.

Pack-Urban, Carol. “Braddock Trail History.” Personal Interview. 6 Mar 2010.

Pack-Urban, Carol. “Chapter Beginnings.” NSDAR Braddock Trail Chapter. N.d.Web. 7 Mar. 2010.

Powell, Kimberly. The Everything Family Tree Book. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2006. Print.

Proud, Gertrude. “Braddock Trail History.”Personal Interview. 6 Mar 2010.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

John W. Heisman

John W. Heisman
By Daniel Shambaugh

Edited by Ruby Nemec


The little town of Titusville is home to one of the most recognized icons in the history of football. John Heisman moved there from Cleveland, Ohio. He grew up playing football, baseball and gymnastics for the local high school. He went on to change the game of football. Heisman will be remembered has one of the greatest coaches and biggest influences to the game of football. He contributed to the offense, statistics, and the legacy of college football.

Since the beginning of football in America, many say that a single players changed the game. Players like Sammy Baugh changed the passing game with the way he slung the ball around the field. College coaches try to change the offensive side of the game with running the spread offense which causes the defense to have to guess whether the play will be a pass or run. NFL coaches like Bill Walsh came up with the west coast offense centered on short crossing passes to move the ball. The little town of Titusville is home to one of the most recognized icons in the history of football. One thing almost every person that has been in the game of football has in common is that John Heisman is the reason the game is played the way it is today. John Heisman contributed to American football with advancements of the offense, development of the statistical part of the game, and the legacy of Heisman trophy.

John Heisman started contributing to football when he attended Brown University and then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania. He played football for both schools but graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a law degree. John Heisman was unable to practice law because of a freak football accident that forced him to wear glasses (Brandt 3). The accident led him to coaching football. Immediately after college, he got his first coaching job at Oberlin College, leading the team to win all of its seven games in only the second year of the football program (Whalen 12). As he continued to coach he became the innovator of the offense.

When the game of football began, the offense was played differently than it is today. The center always sent the ball back to the running back and he ran the ball the way the play was designed. The center sent the ball back to the running back one of two ways. The snapper would just roll the ball on the ground back to the running back. Sometimes he would toss it back, similar to the shotgun snap of the current generation. John Heisman was a lineman when he played football and came up with an idea to fix that type of snapping the ball.

Heisman suggested having the quarterback stand behind the center and stick his hands under and between the legs of the center to receive the ball. Since the ball was being sent right from the center’s hands to the hands of the quarterback, this style helped reduce the number of turnovers caused by the old form of snapping the ball. Along with snapping, the quarterback used a verbal cue such as the “hike” sound to get the center to snap the ball. The snap was a first of changes Heisman would make to the offense.

During the early years of football, plays only consisted of running the ball on every down. The only pass that was aloud was a pass backwards before Heisman. John Heisman was an advocate of trying to get the forward pass legalized. Since the forward pass was a new option in the offense, defenses had never seen it; they had difficulty defending against it. The forward pass gave a new way to advance the ball instead of just running which increased the yards gained during the games (Sampson). The passing game has changed drastically since the inception of the forward pass.

The passing game has taken the game over as the main form of moving the ball. Running the ball is considered to be the old fashioned way of playing the game. The Super Bowl is an example of how much the passing game has changed the game with Drew Brees tying a record for most completed passes during the game. Now quarterbacks are being protected so that the game does not suffer from the most influential players of the game getting hurt by late, illegal, or accidental hits. The forward pass is such a big part of the current game that college players are changing their throwing motion before the draft to suit the style that NFL teams desire. Some of the college quarterbacks deliver the ball in a slow long range of motion which in the NFL, will be easier for the defense to strip and see where the ball is being thrown. The passing game helped change the game but so would his offensive formations.

John Heisman is also credited with being the innovator of the wing T offense. Prior to his use of the wing T, most teams would line up the same on every play. Heisman’s offense gave him more options of how to line up his players in order to disguise the plays. The ability to disguise made it hard for the defense to read the offense. That is why Heisman had such a successful coaching career. While using the forward pass and wing T offense, he was able to set a record that will be hard to break. John Heisman led Georgia Tech to its record-setting score of 222 to 0 in 1915 against Cumberland (Clary 69). He helped the offense increase their yards per game and helped changed the statistics for the game.

The game was changing and Heisman felt the scoreboard should as well. He is credited with getting the game to be four, fifteen minutes quarters, instead of the two forty-five minute halves. John Heisman was instrumental in getting the scoreboard to show the down, distance, time, and score (Clary 69). He was trying to improve the game and make his players better. He wanted his player to work hard, just like their blue collar coach.

Eventually, John Heisman retired from coaching and moved to New York. The Downtown Athletic Club in New York constructed a skyscraper for adults who wanted to participate in sports. After the skyscraper was constructed, the club elected John Heisman to be the first athletic director of the Downtown Athletic Club. He was required to go to other athletic clubs in cities like Chicago, to find out how to best run the New York club. Through Downtown Athletic Club, Heisman organized and set into motion the structure and voting system to determine the best collegiate football player in the east. Though Heisman initially opposed pointing out an individual over a team, he ultimately felt it a consummate team accomplishment to have such recognition. The award was to be given in the club’s name and go to the best player east of the Mississippi River (August 20).

The award was first given in 1935 to Jay Berwanger. Before the second award was handed out in 1936, John W. Heisman succumbed to pneumonia. The officers of the Downtown Athletic Club unanimously voted to rename the Downtown Athletic Club Award, The Heisman Memorial Trophy that year (Whalen 12). The trophy is now voted on by members of the media and former winners of the annual award. There are players that have won the trophy and never played in the NFL, but then there are others that won and had great careers in the NFL. The trophy is to give the college football heroes a chance to be remembered. Heisman’s legacy will be carried on as long as the trophy is given to the best player in college football.

John Heisman grew up in a hard working town in western Pennsylvania. He coached similar to the way blue collar workers worked. The difference was that Heisman had attended two Ivy League schools and earned a degree from one. He changed the game of football just like his hometown of Titusville is credited with changing the oil industry. Heisman would be one of the first in a long list of great football players and coaches to come from western Pennsylvania, players like Dan Marino, Tony Dorset, Jim Kelly, Ty Law, and coaches like Bill Cowher.

Works Cited

August, Bob. The Heisman: Sixty Years of Tradition and Excellence. Bronxville, New York: Adventure Quest, INC. 1995. Print.

Brandt, Nat. When Oberlin Was King of the Gridiron: The Heisman Years. Kent, Ohio: Oberlin College, 2001. Print.

Clary, Jack. Great College Football Coaches. New York: Gallery Books, 1990. Print.

Devaney, John. Winners of the Heisman Trophy. New York: Walker and Company. 1990. Print.

Sampson, Fred. Personal Interview. 8 March 2010.

Whalen, Robert B. “John W. Heisman, Innovator of the Game.” Heisman Journal 83.1

December 2008: 12. Print. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Small Town of Greensboro

The Small Town of Greensboro
By Kimberly Barton

Edited by Ruby Nemec


A small town nestled along the Monongahela River, once known as the village of “Delight” by the Mingo Indians, has an ensuing history behind it. It is now know as Greensboro, named by Revolutionary War Hero, Nathanael Greene. This once booming pottery town still preserves many historical buildings and artifacts. These breath taking pieces are a reminder of how this town came to be.

The small town of Greensboro is located in South-Western Pennsylvania, nestled along the Monongahela River in Greene County. It consists of around 117 households within the borough limits, as of the 2000 Census Bureau (Us Gazetteer files), creating a sense of security and closeness among the community. Greensboro is a town that is very rich in history and known for its distinctive pottery manufacturing that has grown to form a secure, family oriented community. There are many historical buildings and artifacts that have been preserved throughout the town that serve as a reminder of these times.

It was named the village of “Delight” by the Mingo Indians in 1752, in recognition of the rolling rich farmland inlaid with the Monongahela River, which was necessary access for trading. The Mingo Indians guarded the precious ground and heritage, but by 1752 the first white man began moving in to explore. The relationship between them began peacefully at first, but as the white man continued to infringe, fighting ensued resulting in the Corbly Family Massacre” (Waychoff).

This happened on Sunday morning, May 10, 1782, as the Corbly family was traveling to their place of worship where Reverend John Corbly was to preach. However, there was a group of Indians up on Indian Point, a hill that overlooks the Corbly residence, waiting to make their move. The Indians descended the hill and crossed the creek arriving about forty-nine rods north of the present John Corbly Memorial Baptist Church, the site where the helpless family was massacred. Delilah and Elizabeth, two of the Corbly’s daughters, survived after they were brutally scalped. Mrs. Corbly and the three remaining children were killed. “Only John Jr. escaped unharmed” (Waychoff).

On February 19, 1790 the growing village was named Greensburgh in remembrance of the Revolutionary War Hero, Nathanael Greene. By 1795, Albert Gallatin had purchased lots of Greensburgh. “He then met with head of a group of German glassblowers, on their way to Kentucky to start their own business, and urged them to settle in the area” (Early History of Greensboro). Albert Gallatin had hopes of industrializing the area and it paid off.

The glassblowers soon came to town to start their own companies. They operated there until 1805. By 1859 the town, now known as Greensboro, was flourishing with over five hundred inhabitants. This town’s success was due to the rivers easy access to travel and trading. Other industries also contributed, such as pottery and tile manufacturing. “Souvenirs from both types of industry are still displayed today in the form of Greensboro Crocks and roof tile with the inscription JBH-Patent 1871” (Schaltenbrand).

Today, Greensboro preserves its historical roots. There have been many improvements to the town. However, hardened economic times have caused small businesses to close. Thomas Barton, age 34, has spent the majority of his lifetime in Greensboro. He graduated from South-Eastern Greene School District in 1993, with a graduating class of fifty four students. It is the only school in the area, and several surrounding communities. Mr. Barton also contributed in reconstructing the historical log cabin.

Tom, being a long time resident, has a lot to say about this community.

"I have enjoyed growing up in Greensboro and feel that it is a strong community. However, our community could be improved by providing better road maintenance, more active community clean-up, and re-opening the gas station. Within the past fifteen years I have watched our local gas stations and little convenience stores close. This resulted in loss of job and caused people to leave the area" (Barton).

He also remembers Betty Longo’s Store as the oldest business in Greensboro that is still operational. “It still has the look of a late eighteen hundreds style building. It still has old style milk shake makers still used today," Tom says.

Betty Longo, age 73, has lived the majority of her adult life in Greensboro. She is on the borough council and is cofounder of the Nathanael Greene Foundation. She also is the owner of the oldest business still operating in Greensboro, Longo’s Store. It was built in 1890, and is preserved to display its original state. It was owned by one of the first French potters to come to this area, Alex Boughner. Many of Mr. Boughner’s records were found in the attic of the building and can now be seen displayed in Betty’s store.

Betty also said that Lewis and Clark passed through Greensboro prior to their expedition. The boats for their expedition were manufactured in this area. She expressed how nice it is knowing that the area had a contribution to their historical journey.

Betty Longo misses having a grocery store in Greensboro. “We are still lucky to have the Grocery Bag convenience store in town,” she says. A small little convenience store located at the bottom of the hill on main vehicular entrance that is easily accessible for everyone.

Since being on the Borough Council, Betty has seen many changes to the community. “We are having a ground breaking ceremony for the new Monongahela Trail. It is a mile and a half, black topped walking and bicycling trail running along the river.” This trail, she hopes, will help bring people to the area. Then, in late March they are having a dedication ceremony to Lydia Aston at the historical log cabin. Lydia is the founder of Cornerstone Care medical center, which has five other facilities, making it the largest business in the town. She is also recognized for saving a log cabin from being destroyed. The cabin was the home of John Ballet, a French fur trader and it is now a historical landmark. A plaque in Lydia’s honor will be hung up for display in the login cabin.

Greensboro is a town that has been able to preserve its history through artifacts and architecture serving as a reminder of the rising and falling of the industrial era. It’s nice to drive through this town and gaze at the buildings, attend local festivals, and see pottery still in scripted with JHB-Patent 1871. However, residents will agree that whatever the changes, Greensboro is still a “Delight”.

Works Cited

Barton, Thomas, 1994 Graduated of Southeastern Greene High School, Personal Interview. 24

February 2010.

“Early History of Greensboro.” Greensboro on line, 1981. Web. 3 March 2010.

Longo, Betty, Historian of Greensboro. Personal Interview. 22 February 2010.

Longo. Betty. Memories of Greensboro, Pennsylvania: A People’s History. River Run Books and

Print. Greensboro, PA. Published 2007.

Schaltenbrand, Phil. Old Pots: Salt-Glazed Stoneware of the Greensoboro New Geneva Region.

Hanorver, PA. Everybody Press, 1977.

“US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990”. United Census Bureau. 2005-05-03.

Waychoff, Andrew J. Local History of Greene County and Southwestern Pennsylvania. Parsons,

W.VA. McClain Printing Co., 1975.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

C. Vivian Stringer, Women's Basketball Legend

C. Vivian Stringer
By Diana Hutcheson

Edited by Vishal Jariwala


C. Vivian Stringer grew up in the small patch town of Edenborn, Pa. Her parents taught her that hard work and dedication would help her succeed. She started out her basketball coaching career by volunteering. Now, Vivian is one of the highest paid coaches at Rutgers University. With her daughter contracting meningitis and her husband dying suddenly, Vivian overcame the challenges to continue on with her successful coaching career.

Edenborn, Pa, is a small coal mining patch town in a German Township of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. If you are not from Southwestern Pennsylvania, you may not be familiar with what a patch town is. So, let me explain. A patch town is a settlement built by the mine companies near their coal mines, to provide housing for the miners that worked for them. Edenborn was a close, tight-knit community made up of various ethnic backgrounds where everybody looked out for one another. When it came to being a coal miner, your life depended on the person next to you.

"Everybody knew everybody in the community. You could not get away with anything without getting caught. But when you did something good, the whole town was proud of you" (Tokish). This is where the renowned basketball coach, C. Vivian Stringer grew up. Her given name was Charlene Vivian Stoner. But she has always used Vivian as her first name. Vivian credits her upbringing in a coal mining patch town as a big part of what made her who she is today. Vivian rose from a coal mining patch town through the professional and personal hurdles to be inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2009.

Vivian’s father worked in the local mine. Her family did not have much money but she never realized that they were poor until she left the area after high school. Vivian was the eldest of six children. Being the eldest child, her parents placed extra responsibility on her to be a role model to her younger brothers and sisters. “My parents always taught my brothers and sisters and me to think of ourselves as ‘less than.’ They told us that if we worked hard, didn’t look for excuses, and never gave up, we could do whatever we wanted to do, and become whatever we wanted to be” (Stringer 15).

Having grown up in the 50's and 60's, the idea of racial segregation was still apart of society. Vivian’s first encounter with such beliefs came when she tried out for the high school cheerleading squad. Her passion was athletics, especially basketball. At that time, there were no girls teams. So she figured the closest she could get to the court was by being a cheerleader. Her tryout went extremely well. In fact, she was told that her tryout was the best of all.

Despite that, she did not make the squad. The team consisted of all white girls. Vivian accepted the decision because she did not want to make trouble. But her father urged her to take a stand. She relented and appeared in front of the school board to protest. With the full support from her community at the board meeting, the board added her and a black friend of hers to the squad (Stringer 34).

It was a goal of her father to have his children go to college and not make a living carrying a coal bucket. Vivian received an academic scholarship to attend Slippery Rock University. She was the first person in her family to go to college. At Slippery Rock, she finally got to be involved in sports and also met her husband, Bill Stringer. She became so involved with Bill and sports that her academics suffered. Eventually, she lost her scholarship.

She felt deep shame because she knew what this meant for her family. Vivian did not have a job and knew that her family would not have the money to help her. She turned to her sister, Verna, who also attended Slippery Rock and was saving money by working two jobs. Verna gave Vivian money to pay for her classes. She never told her parents about losing the scholarship. In fact, she intercepted the letter the school sent home. Vivian brought her grades up, resulting in the dean’s reinstatement of her to the school. She eventually went on to get her master’s degree.

After college, Vivian accepted a teaching position at Cheyney State College. This is where she got started in coaching. She volunteered to coach three sports including basketball. At twenty-two years of age, Vivian was the youngest coach in the country, in a college that seriously lacked funds to support their athletic programs. They only had one leather ball to run practice with. The teams were transported to games in an old green bus that belonged to the university’s maintenance department. No scholarships were available to help in recruiting. But those obstacles did not prevent Vivian in building the coaching program into one that was respected nationally.

Cheyney went from being a small, Division III school to the one that played in the first ever women’s Final Four in 1980, but eventually losing to Louisiana Tech in the national championship game. Nevertheless, Vivian's career was going in a way that she could have never dreamed. Her personal life was equally gratifying. She was married to the man of her dreams, and had two children, David and Nina. But all that changed, when her fourteen month old daughter was diagnosed with a severe case of spinal meningitis. She would never walk or talk again. Nina would need specialized care for the rest of her life. Vivian was devastated. It heart-wrenching for her to picture her daughter not being able to run or laugh. Eventually Vivian turned to her passion, basketball to help her get back up and continue.

Through the years, Vivian had always received coaching offers from major universities but Cheyney was the only place, where she felt at home. The changes were taking place in college basketball that, however, was going to prevent small schools like Cheyney from competing nationally against higher division schools. To her, it felt like she was being squeezed out from competing against the national powerhouses. Vivian’s hand was being forced. It was time to move on. And so she ended up taking a coaching job at the University of Iowa (Stringer 124).

Unlike Cheyney State, the University of Iowa provided her with resources. She now had the funds and facilities to run her program like never before. The university medical school could give Nina the best care she could ever need. Bill also took a position at the university. It was around this time she became pregnant. It was a surprise to her because they had not planned on another child, especially at a time when she was starting a new position. But the university embraced her pregnancy. She had her third child. A baby boy, who was christened Justin (Stringer 139).

Everything started to fall into place. The basketball program grew steadily. Unlike Cheyney, Iowa had so much more to offer to potential recruits: scholarships, top notch facilities, and a rabid fanbase enabled her to attract some of the best talents in the country. But once again tragedy struck her family.

On Thanksgiving Day, her husband, who was a picture of health died suddenly at the age of 47 from a massive heart attack. Vivian's whole world fell apart. Bill was the love of her life, and her biggest supporter. During this time, she turned to her mother for strength and support. Her father was around the same age as Bill when he died. Her mother had to then become the provider for the family. It took strength and determination that pulled her mother through that tough time in her life. Her mother served as an example of strength and courage to get Vivian through tough times (Hall).

After taking some time off, Vivian found it difficult to return to work. But it was the court that served as an outlet to snap her out of her state and help her get back on her feet. That season she took her team and returned to the Final Four. Vivian became the first Division I coach to take two different teams to the Final Four. She coached another season at Iowa, but things were never the same after Bill died. Vivian felt it was in her best interest of her and her family to make a change. During her time at Iowa, Vivian appeared in the NCAA tournament 9 times, and won 6 Big Ten championships. Also, she was given the National Coach of the Year award twice (Johnson).

Vivian decided to coach at Rutgers University, and headed east. She signed an attractive multi-year contract with the university. At Rutgers, her contract paid her more than the mens' coach in basketball, and football. Vivian’s first two seasons were losing seasons. She had been so busy in her early years at Rutgers that she put off her annual physical. When she did finally go, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She kept the news to only a few in her inner circle. Vivian received radiation treatment that took a toll on her both mentally and physically. After all that she had been through in her life, the cancer was not going to stop her. It did not. She has been cancer free ever since. After installing her system and recruiting her kinds of players, the team started to have success. In 2000, Vivian took Rutgers to the Final Four. It was the first time in basketball, men’s and women’s, that a coach had taken three different teams to that level.

The basketball team continued successfully. Vivian built the team into a national powerhouse. In 2007, she returned to the Final Four, and went on to play in the national championship game, losing to Tennessee. But Vivian and her team did not have time to celebrate their remarkable season, which she called the most rewarding of her career. Vivian was informed of the comments made by talk show host, Don Imus. He described the team as “nappy headed hos” and “wannabes.” This rocked Vivian to the core. She took pride in how her girls turned out and what they had become (Stringer 268).

Vivian turned to her family and some close coaching friends for advice in handling the situation. Most recommended that she say nothing and let it just go away. By addressing it, she was just adding fuel to the fire. But, Vivian felt that she could not just stand by and not defend her girls. So she chose to speak out. Vivian felt that “Imus’s comments had hurt us and I wanted to protect the players and the program from further damage” (Stringer 268). Vivian and the team had a press conference and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Later, a meeting with Don Imus followed at the governor’s mansion. Imus apologized to the team and all of their families, and they accepted.

Recently Vivian Stringer’s name appeared before the Albert Gallatin school board for the second time. One local resident has been petitioning the board to name one of the districts gymnasiums in her honor. "I want her accomplishments brought to the attention of all former, current, and future students of this school district" (Oravec). They feel that she has been a positive influence and it would be well deserved. After months of appearances before the board, the board has yet to honor that request.

Vivian Stringer has had a lot of challenges in her personal life. She found it was through her love of basketball that gave her strength and she has continued being a successful coach. Vivian had received many coaching awards throughout her career. But none has been like the most recent one: “On April 6, 2009, it was officially announced that she has been inducted to the Hall of Fame with the likes of Michael Jordan, John Stockton, David Robinson and long-time Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan” (Johnson).

Works Cited

Hall, Shauntia. Personal interview. 18 Feb. 2010.

Johnson, Anne. “C. Vivian Stringer.” 2009. Web. 10 Feb. 2010.

Oravec, Angie. "AG Board Member Backs Renaming Gym." Herald Standard [Uniontown, PA] 24 Jan. 2010: B1+. Print.

Stringer, C. Vivian, and Laura Tucker. Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Truimph. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008. Print.

Tokish, Anthon. Personal interview. 15 Feb. 2010.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Super Mario

In honor of the Pittsburgh Penguins, I'd like to share Matt Turka's expository essay featuring Hall of Fame player and current team owner Mario Lemieux. Let's go Pens!

Super Mario
By Matt Turka

Edited by Alicia Atkinson


Mario Lemieux has made a great impact on the city of Pittsburgh through his record setting performances on the ice and his compassionate selflessness off of it. He saved the city of Pittsburgh from heartbreak twice, when he prevented the Penguins from having to declare bankruptcy. His nonprofit, the Mario Lemieux Foundation has made great contributions to the health and well-being of the citizens of Pittsburgh.

“The Penguins won their third Stanley Cup in 2008-09, and Lemieux became the first person to win the cup as both a player and an owner” (Encyclopedia Britannica). Mario Lemieux has done a lot for this great city of Pittsburgh. He had many record setting performances as a player. He also heroically saved the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise from bankruptcy. His work through The Mario Lemieux Foundation has benefited many important charitable causes in the city of Pittsburgh. As a symbol for hockey and philanthropy, Mario Lemieux is an important figure in Pittsburgh’s culture.

Mario Lemieux was born on October 5th, 1965 in Montreal, Canada. He was born the third son of Jean-Guy and Pierrette Lemieux. At the age of three, he put on his first pair of skates, and began playing hockey (World Biography). In 1984, he was drafted to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the first pick overall in the draft (Encyclopedia Britannica). He lived up to Pittsburgh’s expectations, scoring his first goal on his first shift, of his first game (World Biography). At the end of his rookie season, he had scored one-hundred points, scoring forty-three goals and fifty-seven assists (Encyclopedia Britannica). For his performance he won the Calder Memorial Trophy for the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. He continued this trend through his next six years of play, scoring over one-hundred points in each season (Encyclopedia Britannica).

In the 1988-’89 season, he scored forty-one points in his first twelve games. During this season, he had eighty-five goals, and over one-hundred assists. He won the Hart Trophy, which was voted on by hockey writers, as well as the Lester Pearson Award, which was voted on by fellow players (World Biography). It was during this season that David Sarring’s favorite Lemieux moment occurred (Sarring). On New Year’s Eve, 1988 Mario Lemieux became the first and only player to score five goals, five different ways. He scored an even strength, or five-on-five goal, a shorthanded or four-on-five goal, and a power-play or five-on-four goal. Lemieux wasn’t done with the “Perfect Hat-trick.” He then scored on a penalty shot, which is awarded to a player when a penalty is committed when they are an on a break-away, or one-on-one, with the goaltender. He got his fifth and final type of goal scoring on an empty net, which occurs when the opposing team takes their goalie off the ice, for an extra skater (Five Goals). For this performance he won Pittsburgh’s Man of the Year award in 1989. Mario Lemieux became injured during the 1990-’91 season, which was a trend that would unfortunately continue throughout his career (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Mario missed fifty four games of the 1990-’91 season after having back surgery. He returned to the ice before the playoffs however, and played all but one game, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to their first Stanley Cup victory. He was awarded the Playoff Most Valuable Player for his performance (Encyclopedia Britannica). Lemieux continued his trend of greatness in the seasons to follow.

In the 1991-’92 season, he scored one-hundred and thirty-one points in sixty-four games (World Biography), and led the Penguins to another Stanley Cup victory. His performance in these playoffs also won Lemieux another Conne Smythe Trophy, for the Playoff MVP (Encyclopedia Britannica). The next season would prove to be a difficult one for NHL great, Mario Lemieux.

Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the lymph nodes, in 1993 (Lemieux Foundation). Although Lemieux missed twenty games during this 1992-’93 season, he still led the league in scoring, and won the National Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player. The next season he only played twenty-two games, due to his radiation treatment. He took off the 1994-’95 season, in order to focus on his treatment. In the fall of 1995, Mario Lemieux returned to the National Hockey League with a vengeance (Encyclopedia Britannica).

During the 1995-’96 season, Mario Lemieux again won the scoring title and League MVP. During the next season, he won the scoring title again, giving Mario his sixth scoring title in an illustrious career. In 1997, Mario Lemieux announced he would be retiring from the National Hockey League. Although there is usually a waiting period before a player can be inducted in the NHL Hall of Fame, Lemieux was inducted later that year (Encyclopedia Britannica). Without Mario, the Pittsburgh Penguins were heading into some troublesome times.

Ticket sales had dropped without the Penguin’s number 66, and they were forced to declare bankruptcy. There was talk of the Penguins being bought out to another town, but Lemieux would not have this happen to his team. Mario Lemieux had millions of dollars in unpaid salary from the Penguins, which he converted into equity (Encyclopedia Britannica). He got a team of investors together and purchased the Penguins in 1999. This was the second time Lemieux had saved the franchise from bankruptcy, as they were experiencing financial difficulties in the mid 1980’s until Mario was drafted (World Biography). He sparked more attention when during the 2000-‘01 season, Mario Lemieux put on his jersey and returned to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

His return made Mario the only player and owner of a sports team in professional sports history. His return was an instant financial success. It put fans in the stands, bringing the Pittsburgh Penguins out of their financial difficulties. Although not at the caliber when he was in his prime, Mario Lemieux kept playing in the NHL as a player and an owner until the 2005-06 season (Encyclopedia Britannica). He announced his second and final retirement, and his jersey number was once again retired, where it still hangs today in the Mellon Arena (Sarring).
He had placed ninth on the National Hockey League’s all-time goals scored list, tenth in assists, and seventh in the points list. Lemieux did all this despite missing a collective five seasons in his career, including his cancer treatment, his first retirement, and the NHL lockout in 2004 (World Biography). His career was brilliant, and he is one of the best players the league had ever seen.

His accomplishments did not stop when he got off the ice, however. Aside from saving of the franchise as an owner, Lemieux has directly done a lot for the city of Pittsburgh. In 1993, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, Mario Lemieux founded the Mario Lemieux Foundation. The foundation’s ultimate goal is to find a cure for cancer. Through all of their fundraisers, the Lemieux Foundation has made many charitable donations to worthy causes. They gave $5 million to the Mario Lemieux Centers for Patient Care and Research in 2001. They donated $2 million to the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh in 2005. The foundation also established the Austin Lemieux Neonatal Research Project, in honor of Mario and his wife Michele’s son Austin, who was born prematurely. This grant supports research at Magee-Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. The Mario Lemieux Foundation also supports the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, the McGowen Institute for Regenerative Medicine, The Leukemia Society, the Lupus Foundation, and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (Lemieux Foundation).

On or off the ice, Mario Lemieux has been very influential for the city of Pittsburgh. His great achievements as a player, his role in saving the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise, and founding the Mario Lemieux Foundation have been very beneficial to a great many people. Mario Lemieux is truly one of the greats and the most influential player to come through Pittsburgh. His drive and determination, even in the face of adversity, makes him a legend, and nobody will forget that.

Works Cited

“Lemieux, Mario.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010. Web. 07 Mar 2010.

Mario Lemieux - 5 Goals In 5 Different Ways. Youtube, 04 Mar. 2008 Web. 06 Mar. 2010.

“Mario Lemieux.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. 7 Mar. 2010.

Sarring, David. Personal Interview. 06 Mar. 2010.

The Mario Lemieux Foundation. Web. 7 Mar. 2010.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Excela Health: Sacrifices, Dedication, and Growth in a Tough Economy

Excela Health: Sacrifices, Dedication, and Growth in a Tough Economy
By Brianna Cain

Edited by Ruby Nemec


Excela Health is a new health system consisting of four hospitals in Southwestern Pennsylvania. They’ve been highly ranked, having made several improvements and gained innovative technology to keep giving the best care they can. They have volunteers ranging from teens to senior citizens and retired workers. Excela has remained flexible in its struggle to keep its patients and workforce happy. They’re looking to expand to meet the increased demand as the sole provider in Westmoreland County.

Looking back through the books of Pennsylvania history, one of the oldest non-profit institutions was created by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond; both raised money to help fund the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751. Back then and since then, wellness has been a crucial part of our culture. Helping people is what it’s all about. You can walk into any medical facility in our area and you will see many different people all together in one room, all waiting to be helped: an elderly man with a son and his teenage grandchild, a woman in a wheelchair with her sister-in-law, a husband with his expectant wife - all sexes, all religions, and all races.

Locally, Excela Health has its brand printed all over our region of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Walking up the streets of Greensburg, you will see a sunset view of a magnificent hospital looming on top of the hill. The streets are spattered with signs with the words “Excela Health” on them. What many may not know is that although we see these signs everywhere, Excela Health is quite new, it was freshly merged in 2004. Excela Health was built by striving to improve the health and well-being of every life in the community—through these efforts toward more accessible, innovative patient care and outreach services—maintaining its structure toward excellence and integrity for years to come.

Excela Health has made great progress in just six years. According to Answers Corporation, Excela Health is a relatively new health system consisting of four hospitals: Westmoreland Regional, Jeannette, Frick, and Latrobe. They also have outpatient treatment, women’s care clinics, specialty care in areas such as heart disease and cancer treatment, as well as physical rehabilitation. They offer home and hospice health care and even an ambulance service, not to mention a multitude of physician practices and businesses which serve Westmoreland, Indiana, and Fayette counties (Excela Health).

This health system has taken on a lot recently. According to Hospital Data, Excela has been ranked higher than the state and national average for heart attack and surgical care (Excela Health Westmoreland Regional).

Excela leaders are dedicated to making several improvements to keep up with giving the best care they can. They’ve added a new, lavish, maternity floor to their Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg, and according to staff writer A.J. Panian for the Tribune Review, Excela Health has taken in the latest in innovative medical technology.

A.J. explains, “The story I reported for the Sept. 19, 2009 edition of the Tribune Review on the da Vinci Surgical System was as interesting to work on as it was educational.” The da Vinci Surgical System is a cutting-edge technology tool for non-invasive robot-assisted surgery. “I learned a good deal about this cutting-edge surgical tool that, at that time, was to be the only model to have been used in hospitals region wide at Excela Health Latrobe Hospital.” A.J. says.

Excela was set to become the first health system in Western Pennsylvania to bring da Vinci to its floors. The da Vinci can reach into parts of the body that were not easily discovered with just surgical scalpels. This technology will be especially beneficial for surgery focused in the abdominal and pelvic area. Therefore, it is said that these non-invasive surgeries will yield quicker patient recovery time and the possibility of post-op complications and infections (Panian). In my interview with A.J., he went on to tell me about Excela Health’s employees, “Excela Health’s officials, staff, and doctors were extremely helpful in conveying details about the da Vinci and why its use at the facility was so important.”

Speaking of employees, many may not know, but the Excela Health Board of Trustees are actually a group of community leaders who work without pay; they see Excela Health as a community asset for Western Pennsylvania. As seen in the Daily Courier, a Murrysville man is joining Excela Health's board, his name is Ronald Ott. He has been named the first president of both Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg and Jeannette Hospital. Like Franklin, Ott began from the ground up. He actually worked as a nurse assistant at St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh and after working with patients, he realized he could do more for them by going further with his medical career. "Westmoreland Hospital has become a major player in the health care industry," Ott said in the Daily Courier article (McGee).

The Excela Health System is truly becoming exceptional in several areas, gaining several rewards and gaining some recognition for their efforts. Presently, Excela’s Frick Hospital has about one hundred volunteers that range in age from teens to senior citizens, including retired workers, who want to contribute to something worthwhile. Another story in the Daily Courier, described the great outpouring of volunteers they have coming in to help at Frick Hospital. Here, volunteers greet the public, escorts patients, and help with errands (Forbes). This gives many in the community a sense of empowerment and purpose in their later years. Excela truly has grasped this idea from the get go.

Along with all the volunteers, Excela also has a steady workforce. In that workforce are thousands of health care workers who seek to impact the lives of others. One of the recent recognitions was a Gold Star Award for outstanding care that was given to Excela’s Special Care Nursery by Unison. Unison's Gold Star program was designed to reward health care providers for a commitment to professional excellence and Excela's Special Care Nursery is one of nineteen across Pennsylvania to be honored with this prestigious Gold Star (Excela Health Nursery).

Regardless of the workforce, Excela also has three sustainable charitable foundations. These foundations exist to benefit Excela Health's hospitals and health care services. They are the Frick Hospital Foundation, the Westmoreland Hospital Foundation, and the Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation. These foundations have distributed millions of dollars to enhance services and equipment through the donations of generous area residents, businesses, community foundations, and others (Giving). It is truly the basis of any non-profit and is a proud example of who the community of Excela Health is.

Although Excela Health has accomplished a lot over the few years it has been merged, like every great brand, it has come across some pitfalls and made some sacrifices along the way. Excela Health will eliminate inpatient services at its Jeannette hospital as it adds sixty beds to its Westmoreland Hospital. Excela’s Jeannette Hospital will instead be used as an outpatient diagnostic and imaging service, while its emergency department will be turned into a full-service urgent care center (Paterra). Although these changes are unfortunate, they may impact Excela’s community in a more efficient way, by making direct emergency care more accessible for everyone without wasting money for unproductive services.

Excela Health has remained flexible in its struggle to keep its patients and workforce happy. Although changes like this will ultimately lead to layoffs, the organization managed to break even in the fiscal year of 2009 despite a bleak economy, as reported in the Tribune Review (Reeger). Excela is even looking to expand the emergency department at its Westmoreland Hospital as part of a five million dollar project intended to meet increased demand for that area. With this expansion project, Excela Health’s Westmoreland Regional Hospital is especially thriving, due to its proximity to Route thirty in Greensburg/Irwin (Stiles).

Excela Health is the sole provider of health care in Westmoreland County, the largest county in the state, which explains the great need and struggle for this brave, young health care system. In less than a decade, Excela Health has made a huge pursuit in a multitude of ways. This medical group has not cut corners; they have been flexible for the sake of their groundswell of patients, their streams of employees, and their network of regional players. Excela Health has truly demonstrated what a non-profit is and what a successful non-profit can do for a community in need.

Works Cited

“Excela Health Careers and Employment.” Indeed, 2010. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.

“Excela Health Nursery earns gold star.” The Daily Courier, 28 Dec. 2009. Web. 28 Feb. 2010.

“Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital.” Hospital Data, 2010. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.

“Excela Health.” Answers Corporation, 2010. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.

“Giving.” Excela Health Corporate Services, 2010. Web. 28 Feb. 2010.

“The Pennsylvania Hospital.” Independence Hall Association, 1995. Web. 6 Mar. 2010.

Forbes, Marilyn. “Unselfish acts help Excela Health Frick Hospital.” The Daily Courier, 26 Dec. 2009. Web. 28 Feb. 2010.

McGee, Tom. “Murrysville man named Excela president.” The Murrysville Star, 16 Apr. 2009. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.

Panian, A.J. “Excela gets latest technology for minimally invasive procedures.” The Tribune Review, 9 Sept. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.

Panian, A.J. The Tribune Review. Personal Interview. 6 Mar. 2010.

Paterra, Paul. “Inpatient services out at Excela Health's Jeannette hospital.” The Tribune Review, 27 Jan. 2010. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.

Reeger, Jennifer. “Excela Health grateful to break even during downturn.” The Tribune Review, 18 Dec. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.

Salamon, Lester M. America's Nonprofit Sector: A Primer. New York: The Foundation Center, 1999. Print.

Stiles, Bob. “Excela plans expansion of Greensburg hospital's emergency room.” The Tribune Review, 21 Nov. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mount Pleasant and Its Glorious Glass

I'm excited to share my students' work with you all, finally. It has been a long, tough semester. My Advanced Composition students at Westmoreland County Community College in southwestern Pennsylvania have truly challenged themselves. With each essay, they wrote and revised and continued working to improve their writing skills and refine their essays.

These first essays I'm sharing with you are from Essay 1. The assignment was to choose a topic that connects to local culture in some way and write an expository essay on that topic. Students were encouraged to show rather than tell their audiences about the topics. They were encouraged to explore their hometowns and surroundings in a way many of them had never done before.

Today's essay was written by Julia Rutkowsky. Her essay is so relevant to our region because it tells the story of Mt. Pleasant, a town that saw a growing industry raise the spirits of its residents, provide jobs and security, and eventually diminish, leaving it its wake citizens struggling to find another means of employment and essentially life. Although the town is named and the industry is glass, this story is similar to so many others in the river towns surrounding Pittsburgh who were once home to booming steel, glass, and aluminum industries.

It's a sad story, Julia. But thanks for sharing.

Mt. Pleasant and its Glorious Glass
By Julia Rutkowsky

Edited by Vishal Jariwala


The reason that the Mt. Pleasant Borough was able to flourish in the 1900s is said to be partly credited to a man by the name of James Bryce. The glass industry as predicted by Bryce was a huge success within the community and with the individual families. But by the end of the 1900s the glass factories almost became extinct, leaving the borough and the families that depended on them devastated. Despite the demise, citizens still honor what the glass industry did for their small borough

The coming of the glass industry was said, by many, to be the bright new beginning that the small borough of Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania needed. People in the borough did not hesitate to embrace this new opportunity that created jobs for nearly half of its residents (Collier). As Mount Pleasant began honoring the great heritage that built its local economy, the industry began to decline. Like so many river towns in western Pennsylvania, the small borough experienced the rise and fall of its sole employer but through respect and appreciation continues to celebrate the glorious glass to this day anyway.

The birth of the glass industry within the borough began with a 10-year-old boy by the name of James Bryce. Bryce came to Mt. Pleasant borough from Scotland in 1827, and brought along with him the fascination of making glass and a dream of creating the glass industry, which would become the new way of life for the inhabitants of the small borough. James Bryce had the belief that glass was the future, and that he was the man who would help bring this new era (Mellon). When he was 77 years of age and on his death bed, Bryce was finally able to witness his lifelong dream becoming a reality, when his two grandsons built the first glass company called Bryce Brothers in Mt. Pleasant borough. Bryce Brothers still stands today but is better known as Lenox Crystal named after a man who bought into Bryce Brother’s company in the 1960s (Edgar).

The wonderful handcrafted, blown glass and the increase in revenue it generated was an eye opener to many. The Bryce Brother’s success encouraged a young man by the name of L.E Smith to devote his time to becoming the founder of the next glass company, L.E. Smith Glass, which was just as prestigious within the borough (Forbes). Smith wasn’t the only one to acknowledge the Bryce Brother’s triumphs. Within the next few decades, glass factories such as Jeannette Sheet Glass and Anchor Hocking were emerging in many of the surrounding communities (Mellon).

With Bryce Brother’s and the other companies taking off, the glass industry was the main reason for the survival and growth of these small communities. In 1896 when the first glass company was started the population for the borough was estimated to be between 800-1000 residents; within three decades that population almost tripled to around 2200-2400 residents (Bryant). The rise of the glass companies is also credited for a giant spike in the borough’s revenue. People were drawn from all over to purchase the unique, fine, exquisite glass art.

Not only did the glass industry benefit the community by expanding its revenue and population, but it also served many of families by giving them employment opportunities that spanned several generations. Throughout the 1900s the glass companies were responsible for employing almost 40% of the boroughs residents (Collier). With that in mind, it would be quite accurate to say that the socioeconomic status of individual families depended on the glass factories. Until the 1980s the majority of Mt. Pleasant Borough’s families only had one working family member. Still, the family member was able to provide for a family of 6-7 with ease on the wages provided by the glass companies (Mellon). A former Lenox employee recalls his financial situation, “I started working at Smith Glass when I was about 20, when my first son was born. I was able to provide for my 6 kids and wife on my wages alone” (Shubek).

The community and the employees of the glass companies were not arrogant to the fact that the glass industry was one of the most influential factors that allowed their small borough to flourish. Seeing the effect of the glass industry, in 1984 the borough decided to give recognition to the industry, by holding a weeklong festival in its honor referred to as the Mt. Pleasant Glass and Ethnic Festival (Collier). The festival was first started to celebrate the tremendous impact the glass industry had on the borough and to admire the fine art of such an industry. At the festival you are free to roam up and down the Main Street of Mt. Pleasant and get lost in the numerous delicate glass treasures produced by not only the local companies, but also by private producers and companies from different areas (Thomas). The festival showcases an exhibit of fine glass artifacts, and a history of the glass industry throughout the years. “It was just a way of remembering what made Mt. Pleasant what it was” (Thomas).

This celebration was started in the early 1980s, but ironically by the end of that decade, the glass industry was on the verge of extinction. The glass companies of Mt. Pleasant Borough were once so commemorated for their high employment rates were then being scrutinized for their high unemployment. With advances in technology glass products were able to be made all over and for less cost. The decrease demand led to poor sales, which did not generate enough revenue. Lenox, the former Bryce Brother Company, was forced to lay off over half of their employees (Edgar). These unemployed workers waited nervously hoping to be called back to work. In the next few years to follow very few were called back only be to be laid off at a later time. Unable to thrive in the current time Lenox was shut down leaving roughly 4,500 people without jobs (Bryant). The unemployment rate for the borough reached an all time high when Lenox shut its doors, just the opposite of what it did when it first opened in 1896 (Mellon).

In the 1990s, Smith, a neighboring glass company, seemed to be adjusting to the changing time, and it seemed that they would come out on top. Many previous employees of Lenox were now employed through Smith. “It was all I ever did; it seemed like the most logical decision to work there” (Thomas). Although Smith outlasted Lenox, it was only by a few years. Smith in the years to follow began to feel the changing times and found that it was unable to keep up. Smith eventually began to lay off people and it too closed its doors leaving many people jobless and scared. Workers who had spent 5, 10, even 50 years doing this type of work were forced out, made to start all over. Incomes were decreased and families struggled living pay day to pay day. “There were times I would write a check knowing that by the time they would cash it my unemployment check should be there.” Some people, who were let go, were unable to find another job because of their age, or lack of experience.

The glass industry without a doubt helped to mold Mt. Pleasant borough into what it is today. It was responsible for supporting not only the individual family, but also the entire community as well. Throughout the 1900s the glass companies of Mt. Pleasant served the people of the town with not only its fine glass but with its fine opportunities. So when the end of the 1900s came, the devastation faced by so many was inevitable when the factories shut their doors. Although the glass industry no longer dominates the borough, the borough does not forget the time when the industry thrived. Residents continue to celebrate glass and the history of it by holding the annual glass festival. “I still go to celebrate, even though I was one who lost my job. I look at it as a way to honor what gave so many of us such wonderful opportunities” (Thomas).

Works Cited

Bryant, Joseph R. “A History on the Glass.” December 2007. Web. 24 February 2010.

Collier, Drew. “Celebrating Glass.” July 2009. Web. 24 February 2010.

Edgar, Ryan. “Bryce Brothers Company Carries on Old Tradition.” Mount Journal 1 May 1984: A01. Print.

Forbes, Marilyn. “Mount Pleasant Festival 23 Years and Growing.” Tribune Review 20 September 2009: B2. Print.

Mellon, Steve. “Born in W. Pa., Glass Gobblers Hold Tradition.” Pittsburgh Post Gazette 8 November 2007: D12. Print.

Shubek, Martin. Personal Interview. 1 March 2010.

Thomas, Frank. Personal Interview. 4 March 2010.