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Features

Friday, May 16, 2014
This undated photos shows J.G. Scott painting in his office at Coaldale State General Hospital, where he served as superintendent from 1939 to 1956. COURTESY ROBERT STAUFFER

Nobody painted pictures of rosy-cheeked, cherub children quite like John G. Scott.

The Tamaqua commercial artist's talent was so well received during America's Golden Age of Illustration (1880s-1920s) that the Cream of Wheat Corporation selected four of his renderings for their advertising.

At the time, it was a very big deal.

The Cream of Wheat company was a pioneer in using warm, four-color illustrations to promote their product.

They carefully selected the nation's top illustrators to propel their wholesome image.

Friday, May 9, 2014
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS Auctioneer Dean R. Arner draws bids for a 1947 Studebaker pickup during Saturday's sale of the largest private collection of cars in Schuylkill County.

One by one, memory-filled pieces of automotive history rolled out of a large Taggartsville garage and through the streets of Tamaqua.

For years, the former Tamaqua Auction building housed a large portion of the private car collection of Richard Konkus.

Konkus, co-owner of Konkus Produce, was well known. He was one of the original vendors at the Hometown Farmers Market, selling homegrown corn since 1950. The business continues there every Wednesday.

But if produce was his livelihood, cars were his passion.

Friday, May 2, 2014
ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Eric Hoffman, assistant chief at West End Fire Company, talks about the Buffalo truck which was the first one purchased by West End.

Dong, dong, dong rang the fire engine bell.

Later a siren was added to West End Fire Company's Buffalo firetruck. But in the early years it was a bell that warned people it was coming.

The West End was a community in serious need of a fire company. The closest and still operating was the Blue Ridge Hook and Ladder in Saylorsburg. A company was formed Oct. 14, 1931, and the first truck was purchased the following year. The company was meeting in Altemose Hall over the Altemose Store on Route 209.

Friday, April 25, 2014
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS/LISA HILES  Hope of Christ Presbyterian Church was completed on March 22, 1896.

A team of tough, dedicated Panther Valley coal miners did the unthinkable in 1931.

The hearty, confident workers planted dynamite inside a tall and stately house of God and lit the fuse.

But they weren't bent on destruction. Instead, they used skills honed from the dark recesses of the earth to artfully carve out a basement beneath a church. Their sweat, ingenuity and faith created much-needed space beneath the priceless 1896 brick cathedral at the corner of White and Market streets.

Saturday, April 19, 2014
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS The Heritage Center of the Western Pocono Community Library opened Tuesday. It is a museum of cultural and historic artifacts of the West Endof Monroe County.

The Western Pocono Community Library has turned another page in its book. This one reads, "Heritage Center of the Western Pocono Community Library."

It's an exciting new chapter and is all about the history and culture of the West End of Monroe County. It comes in the form of an actual building. The new Heritage Center is located in the library's former Back Door Books store at the corner of Route 209 and Bond Lane in Brodheadsville. It opened its doors to the public this week.

Friday, April 18, 2014
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/DONALD R. SERFASS This illustration depicts what the 1928 Lansford wake observance may have looked like when rosary beads placed in the deceased's hands slowly began to bloom.

Two eyewitnesses have emerged to describe details of one of the most spectacular stories to come out of the town of Lansford, an event that captured world attention in the Roaring Twenties.

One witness, Mary (Paslawsky) Dirnberger, was a 10-year-old child who hiked with family members from Coaldale in order to view the Miracle of the Rosary. The miracle was a phenomenon in which beads burst into small flowers during a family wake observance and for days afterward.

"They started to bloom and they were white lilies," said Dirnberger. "The whole thing was blooming."

Friday, April 11, 2014
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS John Paul "Bussy" Jones, New Ringgold, began digging farm dumps and outhouses in 1980 and never stopped, amassing a collection of rare old bottles.

In some ways, it's a typical old bottle. But it's also the rarest of the rare.

Unearthed 20 years ago, it was previously not known to exist.

And nobody has come up with another.

When a bottle collector finds an example in a league of its own, well ... it's enough to become uncorked with happiness.

That's the case with vintage bottle aficionado John Paul "Bussy" Jones, who believes he owns the rarest bottle in all of Pennsylvania. Fittingly, he keeps it locked away in a safe.

Friday, April 4, 2014
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS From left: Stephen Bennett, Dina Depos, Amanda Carson, Micah Gursky and the team of Parker and Barker, Mormon missionaries who forgo the use of surnames. The group pauses after putting finishing touches on the Tamaqua artist-in-residence studio inside the Elks Lodge building.

A lucky artist will be awarded a downtown art studio for three months.

When that happens, it will help to establish his or her career and advance the reality of the Tamaqua Art District, a movement 10 years in the making.

Since 2004, several large downtown buildings in the center of the 55-block Tamaqua National Historic District have been repurposed as art venues, including former churches and meeting halls.

Friday, March 28, 2014
LIZ PINKEY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWSCoach "Wink" Kovalchick instructs swimmer Anthony Witczak on the finer points of diving.

Teamwork.

Ask any coach and they will tell you the success of their team depends not on the individual superstar, but on how well their team can come together and support each other. Good coaches also know that how their athletes conduct themselves off the field is just as important as how they conduct themselves on the field. In this case, however, the field is a swimming pool, but head coach Jennifer Paisley wants to make sure that both of these lessons are an integral part of the training her young swimmers receive.

Saturday, March 22, 2014
AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS Richard E. Forgay sits in his favorite seat in his home in Lansford.

When you walk into Richard E. Forgay's Lansford home, you are greeted by the warmth of love and memories of family that have settled into the walls over the decades.

Richard sits in his favorite armchair, a beige floral print high-back chair, enjoying one of his favorite beverages.

His eyes are kind, his smile inviting, and he is dressed like he just came home from a day at the office.

He is sharp as a tack, even at 84 years old, remembering the good ol' days as if they were yesterday.

Richard is one of the remaining gatekeepers of Lansford's rich history.