Nov 112011

I found this other story online about the early history of Yatesboro, Pennsylvania, a coal mining community northeast of Pittsburgh, where the Palmeri brothers worked for a time. Pietro and Salvatore moved there soon after immigrating to the United States around 1907. They went to Buffalo sometime around 1915 or so. Angelo joined them in Yateboro for only a year before moving to Buffalo where brother Calogero was living and where he married Maria Giambrone, sister to Calagero's wife Barbara.

Yatesboro Memories, by Ida Enterline Millikin, as told to her niece, Mary Koma

The Enterlines were one of the first families of Yatesboro, Pennsylvania. This is a collection of memories from Ida Enterline Millikin and also includes history of Yatesboro. These are recollections of Ida Enterline Millikin, sixth child of Jean and Don Enterline, born 1927.

Yatesboro was founded in 1900 and built on farmland by Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company. The Blose family farm was on the south side, which was where the coal company building houses were built on both sides of the road from the Company store on Main Street up to the company barn on the back street.

The west side of the road on that south side was called the Flats. Only Ukrainians, Slovaks, Czechs and Swedish people lived there.

The east side of the black road (as it was called) was for the Italians. Most of the immigrants could not speak English. The Italians were called "Black Hands" like our modern Mafia – they made wine and whisky which was then called Moonshine.

The town cop would do raids of the "black hands" homes, but black hands were often tipped off about the raid and could hide their barrels and other ingredients. The north side of town was started first with a store, and a livery barn for their horses and wagons. The railroad station was opposite the store. The coal was transported from the No. 4 mine by small coal cars by a motorman to the railroad cars for shipment. Also, coal was shipped from the tipple that was located on the southeast side of town, later called "Tipple Alley."

The company had to build a water system with a pump house out by the mine's two large water tanks up on the hill behind Second Street. They built a dam by the mines to make its own power, which was 25 cycle. It was not a good source of electric. The power was off a lot. The town was supplied with gas piped in from New York State. The pipeline went through Yatesboro into Pittsburgh. Later they drilled local wells. The post office was located in Jake and Minnie Connell's building, which housed a candy store, pool room, lodge rooms and dance hall – with some apartments. This building was across from The Valley Hotel. The hotel was a large building with hotel rooms, dining room, bar room, barber shop. Mom and Daddy worked at the Valley Hotel as a young married couple, and had an apartment there where the first two babies were born, William and Samuel. Old folks would square dance in the dining room. Shy Bosack was the barber – and his patrons would put their horses in the company barn right next to it.

"Peddlers", as the salesmen were called, came to town by horse and buggy, the stagecoach line and the railroad. A barn for the horses was beside the hotel. This road was named Swede Alley. A row of houses ran northward toward the dam that was called "Number 4 Dam." Mostly Swedish residents lived on this street – thus the name "Swede Alley".

Summers at Number 4 dam were fun. We'd swim in that water until we were blue. We'd go the path behind the house, up over the hill and down to the dam. Hockey would walk across the pipe, Ethel would hang out with Pep and Junior, Peggy was always with Roy or Sylvester. Gibs was gaga over Husky, they used to neck down at the old bridge near Doc Griffith's house. None of us were afraid to swim in the dam. All memories of Number 4 dam were not all good though. Bertha Patterson lived next door to my sister Mary Ann and her husband, Bill. One day, Bertha, who was a young mother, walked up the road and never came home. When the search started for her, Bill dove into the dam and there she was, he brought her out. The other adults sent Peggy to get her teeth, not a good memory for Peggy. Jay Shields also committed suicide in the dam, they found his hat on the cement so they went diving for him. Mr. Kenjerski killed himself and there was also a carnival guy who fell backwards over the chute and died. The dam is no longer there, it is just a dry piece of land.

The Harkelroad farm was at the end of the dam on the north side of Yatesboro. Main Street started at the creek up from the hotel. The first house was for the company doctor, the next house was for the town cop, and next to that house was the house for the company maintenance man. He took care of the company barn, the horses and the wagons. He was the lawn keeper for the Superintendent of mines, the store manager, caretaker of the doctor's lawn. Later, when the big brick office building was erected, he was maintenance man, firing the furnace and doing the yard work. We referred to him as "Joe the Barn Boss". His name was Dantonio, but as children, we thought his name was "Barn Boss".

The Catholic Church was built on the hill on First Street. Beside it was a large house for the priest. The school was built across from the church with large playground. The Presbyterian Church was in the middle row on Main Street. It was shared by Presbyterian and Hungarian. Presbyterian services were in the same church. This church burned in February, 19_____. The new church was then erected.

Main Street houses were built up to the Rural Valley line. The Central Hotel, now Avi's Tavern, was on the south side of Main St. at the Rural Valley line. Behind Main St. houses was the "Round Top". The Round Top was the "mountain" of Rural Valley, which in actuality was a large "hill". It was bordered by Dr. Krough's farm and was part of the Krough farm on the Rural Valley side. The east side of the Round Top was in Yatesboro. Krough farm later became Balough farm. The company had about 5 house plans, as the company carpenters built so many of each style. Twelve houses of one plan were mostly on First Street. One was built for the blacksmith at 210 First St. Four others of this plan were also on First Street, one by the church, one for the company store, one for the company store butcher, etc.

Second Street, on the north side of town, had 8 houses of one style – 4 bedrooms built first in 1900. A larger version of the 4 bedroom were built in 1916 on Second Street, six on the south side and two on the north side. Later, on Second Street, they built 4 small 3 bedroom houses. These had outhouses – the larger houses were built for the mine bosses and had coal furnaces and bathrooms with the first cesspools on this street. The first houses on Second Street were built in 1900 and had coal stoves and out houses. The company map has a planned 3rd Street with lots laid out. Only one house was ever built on this street.

The houses on the flat were single homes with outhouses. The other side were some single houses, and in the first two rows were three story double houses, three bedrooms each, all had outhouses. There were no furnaces or bathrooms in the houses on the hill.

The Company Store was like a department store, and sat on Main Street where the Post Office sits now. It was the only place in town there was a phone. The Company store had a butcher shop, a dry goods department, a candy and cigarette department, and sporting goods with rifles, pistols, fishing equipment, hunting clothes, hats, jackets etc. There was a grocery counter, a shoe department, a men's suit department, women's and kids shoes, "some" clothing as the women made their own dresses and all the kids clothes. A furniture department was on the second floor. Later, when a few people got cars, they added a gas station and a company truck for deliveries. A person would place their order for large items like sacks of flour, sugar, potatoes etc., which were delivered by truck. The office kept your book which you to pick up, go to each counter to shop, then return the book and your money. The money to pay this bill was taken out of each pay check. The company also took your rent out of the pay check, 50 cents for church, 50 cents a month for the doctor.

The Priest and Preacher received their pay from the workers – 50 cents per miner. The statement was at the pay office on pay day. If there was money left, you were paid in cash. If you bought more than you earned, you received a statement with a line drawn through it, they would say "You drew a "snake" this pay".

Old Doc Griffith's office was on the corner across from the Company Store. The doctor received a rent free house and 50 cents a month from each miner. This was for your Dr. visits, house calls, baby delivery, and the doctor gave you your medicine from the office. He mixed medicine in a small room in his office, and the medicine was free. I remember so well Dr. Griffith's office. When we were out sled riding, we'd get cold and go in to Doc Griffith's waiting room to get warm. When there were no patients, we'd sit on his red velvet love seats. There was me, Margaret Jean Smouse, Shirley Murray, Jean Solters, Lorraine Hilliard, and Betty Nelson.

Every house had a central path to the outhouse, with gardens on both sides that started at the back porch to the top of the yard. They grew as much as they had room for in their yard. The Company had judging for the best gardens, prizes were blue ribbons, and some received red ribbons if they like your garden best. Daddy always got a first prize for his garden.

Every coal town had a baseball team. Superintendent, old man Craig, loved baseball and he recruited men who were good players from as far away as Pittsburgh. If you played ball, you got a soft job in the tipple or carpenter or they were store clerks. They never worked in the mines. Some of the ball players worked as clerks in the store or gas station attendant. The bosses got the best houses with furnaces and bathrooms. Our ball field had a merry go round and a big curved grand stand. Homestead Greys was the team that came there to play ball, it was an all black team. We had several coal mining teams. Grandpa used to umpire, his kids would fight like hell with anyone who said anything about the umpire.

Though the ballfield had a merry go round, our playground at the school had nothing. But we were always happy playing such games as "Run Sheep Run", "Tag", "Hide and Seek", or just a simple game of baseball.

The R & P Company had its own band. They practiced on the 3rd floor of the "office building" across the street from the company store. It was built a couple years after the company store was. They called the 3rd floor the "lodge" room. That was where the band practiced.

Grandma and Grandpa wallpapered for people, they had two horses with planks between to reach the walls. Us kids would use the horses and planks to make homemade see saws, when they weren't wall papering of course. Grandma and Grandpa also worked at the Valley Hotel at one time.

Uncle Joe Bofinger lived next door to us. He owned an old jalopy, Model A Ford with a rumble seat. By the time he got down the stairs, Bubba, Peggy & Bob Enterline would be sitting in the rumble seat. They'd go to Dayton, the car would smoke, they'd all get out and put some water in it, jump in, off they'd go again.

Sgro's was a few miles up the road, and that is where we went dancing. They got great bands in such as Guy Lombardo, Tommy Dorsey, The Sheffields… We hung out in groups then, Ethel and Peggy were always with Dick and Jack Lavosky. Pep who hung out with our crowd was a 6'2" good looking Italian. To get to Sgro's to go to the dances, we'd hop on the Coal Miner's bus at the Company Store and ride along with the coal miners who were on their way to work. Girls never wore slacks then, only skirts, blouses, flat shoes, never heels, and most hairdos were page boys. We had so much fun, and if we weren't at Sgro's dancing, we were stealing grapes and apples from Bill McCarten, tomatoes from the Smouse home and Murray's, more apples from Maw Burns, Aunt Margaret, Ann Kashur. At Harry Peter's house, we'd dump out all his garbage cans, climb in, and put the lids back on. Then one of us would bang on his door and run. We'd make noises in the cans – just to torment him.

Life was good then, it was simple and we didn't "want much" or "want for much".

Early in the nineteen hundreds, when the work was slow, people didn't work, so there was no money to pay the rent. The company sent the company wagon and horses and moved everything you owned, took your belongings to the outlaying farms and dropped you off on the farmer's property. These were called "Shanty Towns" where the people cooked on their wood stoves outside the barn and slept in the barn or out buildings on the farm. The men helped with farm chores for food and shelter. When you were back to work, the company moved you back in your old house that sat empty until you returned.

The company ran the school in the early days. Teachers were educated in what was called "Normal Schools" in Indiana and Clarion. About 6 months schooling gave you a teacher's job. Some of these teachers spent their whole life at the same job. The female teachers were not allowed to get married. If they married, they lost their jobs. This was Jim Craig's rule. Jim Craig was the Superintendent sent from Indiana Company from R & P Coal Co. He was like a dictator. He hired, fired, and told you where you could or could not live. He had the whole town under his rule. People who settled here from Europe would send to Scotland, Hungary, Italy for their relatives to come here for jobs. They came in the lower part of the ships, their passage was classified as steerage, the same as the animals they had on board. The people stayed with their relatives until they got enough money to get a house. The men then sent for their wives and kids. Every house had a lot of kids, plus the relatives who they called "Boarders".

Ma Burns took in boarders like the doctors, the butcher, Company store clerks who mostly came from Indiana County. Dad hurt his leg in a rock fall in the mines and could not work, so Ma supported the family by keeping boarders. Times were very hard in the early days. When the young people of the second generation got married, they usually started their early years in a couple of rooms in someone's house until they had kids and had to relocate in a single house.

There was no welfare in those days. People helped others when they could. The second orchard of a farmer's property was up the hill behind Second Street. The kids picked apples, pears, cherries, for canning pies. This is where we also picked blackberries and blueberries for pies and jelly.

In the fall, the apples were made into apple butter. This was a neighborhood project. The women peeled bushels of apples the night before and put them in the tubs of water. Next morning the men got the fire going under a large 30 gallon apple butter kettle that the whole neighborhood shared. This was an all day process. The stirring was done with a long handled wooden paddle. The women did the stirring which never stopped. Men kept the fires going. The apple butter was then canned for winter.

In the winter or early fall was time to butcher the pigs. The pigs were raised behind the houses on the hill. Daddy was the town butcher. He went from one house to another to help and show the other men how to kill, scald and hang the pigs. The pigs had to chill before being cut up to can, so this was a winter project. Thanksgiving Day was always butchering day. Daddy learned the trade as a very young boy. He helped on the Harvey Boyer farm and this farmer went through town with a horse drawn wagon, stopping at the houses to sell. This was called the "meat wagon". The kids would follow along, as this was entertainment for them. We also followed the ice wagon to get chips of ice. We had ice boxes and the iceman was a local farmer who had an ice house. He chopped blocks of ice from the dam for his ice house, in turn selling through town.

Farmers came into town by horse and buggy to sell eggs, butter, buttermilk, homemade cottage cheese and some produce. They had special days and regular customers. Us kids would walk to the upper end of Rural Valley to a farm for a gallon of milk. We also bought milk at the Wilson farm, about a mile on the West Side of the dam. No cars in those days, you walked to these farms. One farmer would come about supper time selling homemade ice cream, ringing his bell as he went along. You took a vegetable bowl to put the ice cream in. He didn't have bowls or containers, he counted out the scoops into your bowl.

We had oil lamps and only gas light on the kitchen wall until 1929. The bosses house next door had the first electricity. Daddy ran one electric wire to our house so Mom could get a Maytag washer, then one wire was extended into the living room for one lamp. Next we got a radio and some floor lamps for the living room. The neighborhood men did not have electricity, so to hear the ball games they came to our front porch to listen to the game. We would place our radio in the screened window of the porch.

Things kept getting better as the years went on. In 1936 we moved four houses over on the same street. It was the same kind of house, but it had a furnace, bathroom and electricity. The lady, Mrs. Woods, who left the house, had an electric refrigerator that we bought for $25.00. It was small and had a foot pedal to open the door. We now thought we were rich. We had ice cubes. When our grandparents got more money and could replace furniture, we got their old cast offs. We thought this was great! We did not have rugs though, nobody had rugs back then, it was linoleum, even in the living room.

Grandpa Enterline bought the first car in town. It was a nine passenger dark green Studebaker with pull down blinds on the back seat windows. The blinds had small felt balls on the bottom. There were small fold out benches in the doors for extra seating. Ma and Dad Burns then got a Model A two seated Ford. Neither grandfather learned to drive. That was left up to their sons. The only phone at this time was in the company store office. If you had a call from relatives out of town, someone came to tell you so you could go to the store and make a call. Later, Uncle Max Enterline was the tax collector and he got a phone, after him Grandpa Enterline got a phone. Some years later we got one, only because my sister Mary Anna was living at home and was pregnant. Her husband, Bill, was overseas. They were strict about who could get a phone. There was a phone office in Rural Valley with a Central Operator. She rang your number, ours was 14R2. One ring meant it was Uncle Max's phone, 14R1 was his number. The operator was a nosey old maid and she listened in on every call. Sometimes she joined in the conversation, then she told everyone in town what was said.

When World War II started, men were drafted who had less that 3 kids. High school boys were drafted from 17 years old. The factories were all producing tanks, cannons, bullets and armor for the troops. No cars were built from 1941 until 1946 – the steel was for war products. Food became scarce and each family was issued ration books. These items included meat, sugar, flour etc. If you used your coupons the beginning of the month, you waited for your new ration book. Manufactured clothing was no longer available. Silk hose were rationed. Shoes were hard to buy, nothing being made but war products. We had blackout drills, and when the sirens started you turned out all lights and had black material to pull down over your windows. When the curfew blew you could then put on your lights. They called those times our "Raid Drills".

The high schools had no boys except one, and he was a farmer's son who was deferred. A boy could also be deferred if he had a physical handicap. The prom was held at that time with girls only, no escorts.