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How great we once were |

How great we once were

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Those of you over 50 will remember our city, and our country, as being much different than they now are. We had no need to lock our homes or our cars. We walked anywhere, day or night, without hesitation.

Plush theaters lined Broad Street. The Family and the Feeley theaters on Wyoming Street had vaudeville available on weekends. Admission seldom rose above 25 cents and they gave a piece of beautiful dinnerware with each ticket.

On Alter Street, the Alton and Diamond theaters generally catered to the younger set, with cowboy movies, cartoons and the unforgettable “Movietone News.” The admission was as low as 15 cents, and again, a free piece of colorful dinnerware came with each ticket.

Special presentations of “The Three Stooges,” “The Marx Brothers,” and “Laurel Hardy” had the young audience screaming with joy.

The hallmark of all our theaters was the Capitol Theater on Broad Street, just east of Route 309, with an opulent entrance, plush carpet, luxurious reclining seats and all the blockbuster hits of the day. Lines of moviegoers, to around the corner, were not unusual.

They had biblical masterpieces such as “The Ten Commandments” and “Ben Hur,” plus Broadway hits brought to the screen such as “West Side Story,” the Clint Eastwood westerns, the James Bond “007” thrillers, and the two James Dean movies that made him an immediate icon — “Rebel Without a Cause” and “East of Eden.”

In July 1957 we were privileged with Hazleton’s centennial celebration. What a proud and wonderful time. All the men grew turn-of-the-century beards, and Broad Street was blocked off for many weeks of fun and games.

In the 1960s, Hazleton was considered the “All-America City,” and rightfully so.

The Barlettas’ Angela Park was in full swing. The pool and rides were first class and well maintained. Whenever the sun shined, it always shone on a full poolside at Angela Park, everyone’s favorite venue.

What a glorious time to be living in this, the highest city of Pennsylvania.

The younger people today have no way of knowing how good this city once was. They have no way of knowing how great this country once was. That is a pity.

Franco Umbriaco


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