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Old bottle unearths history

  • PHOTO COURTESY CHLOE GAYDA The immigrant Androkites family
    PHOTO COURTESY CHLOE GAYDA The immigrant Androkites family of Tamaqua is seen in this 1913 portrait with, front left: patriarch Androkites (first name unknown), daughter Frances and matriarch Teresa Rynkiewicz Androkites. Rear from left: Leah Androkites Yuskauskas, John, Anthony, Bolis and Tillie Androkites Shucavage. The patriarch and all five children in the rear row were born in Lithuania.
Published May 25. 2012 05:01PM

Three former Tamaqua businesses - the White Swan, Took One's and Androkites Bottling Works - have something in common.

Turns out, all were operated by members of the same family of Lithuanian immigrants.

That information was revealed by a family descendant Thursday evening after a story in the TIMES NEWS discussed the discovery of an old bottle unearthed in the community.

Earl Edmondson, Tamaqua borough worker, found the soda bottle partially buried in dirt atop Dutch Hill. According to collector Charlie Odorizzi, Tamaqua native now living in Omaha, Nebraska, the bottle is one of at least three types issued by the bottling business.

The discovery led to questions and speculation about Androkites Bottling Works, some of which have now been answered.

Chloe Gayda, Hometown, provided the TIMES NEWS with information about the small-town industry founded by Bolis A. Androkites.

"He was my great uncle," said Gayda. "Bolis never married and he died young," she explained.

Gayda is the former Chloe Andrukitis, daughter of Betty Hadesty Andrukitis and the late Charles Andrukitis. As noted in Thursday's story, members of the family traditionally have spelled their last name various ways.

"My father always used to say that his was the correct one," she said, adding that the spelling of the name was recorded different ways during the time of immigration.

Gayda and her mother, now 91, are able to provide insight into the family's early struggles.

Gayda's great-grandfather, whose first name is unclear, arrived in Pennsylvania from Lithuania. He was married to Teresa Rynkiewicz. Their son John joined his father in working for one year inside local coal mines to earn the money needed to summon the rest of the family who were still living in the Old Country.

As for son Bolis, he was born in 1896 and was one of several siblings. He founded and operated his bottling works adjacent to the Little Schuylkill River on a small street to the rear of the 200 block of Pine Street, says Gayda. The street is a dead-end alley now referred to as Water Street.

The exact years of the operation are uncertain, although it likely thrived during the 1920s-30s. It is known that Bolis passed away in 1934 at the age of 38 and is buried in SS Peter and Paul's Catholic Cemetery, Owl Creek.

As for the backward S used in the name as depicted on the bottle, family members have two theories. One is that Bolis and other family members came from a much different culture and were unfamiliar with use of the alphabet. The other thought is that Bolis used a backward S as his own special trademark.

Bolis' sister, Leah Androkitis, married Charlie Yuskauskas. The two were former owners of the White Swan, a popular tavern at the corner of Cedar and Greenwood streets.

Yet another sibling, Anthony, founded Androkites' Bar, where he routinely told departing customers to "took one."

The establishment later was taken over by Joseph and Margaret Androkites and renamed 'Took One's,' a mom-and-pop bar that became a hot spot, especially in the 1960s and 70s, drawing patrons from a wide region. Joseph Androkites passed away in 1993.

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