DALLAS TWP. — History buffs gathered Tuesday night to share memories of Dallas Township, many of which dated back nearly a century.
“I Remember When: A Dallas Days History Roundtable” did indeed bring about a dozen people to share their stories, their insights and emotions as they looked back on their lives and on the history of the borough.
The event was a collaborative effort of the Dallas Days Bicentennial Committee and Back Mountain Historical Association.
Many of the stories centered around home and family, filled with both fact and humor.
Lois Hardisky said she had the pleasure of sledding to her grade school, down smooth newly fallen snow which seemed to make the journey effortless and fun.
Until the day she hit a rock.
“I lost all the buttons from my coat and I got a fat lip,” she said. “But I still went to school.”
She also remembers bitterly cold winter days when school was cancelled.
“We didn’t find out it was cancelled until we got there,” she said, laughing. “And then, we’d have to walk back up the hill.”
At 93, Willis Ide shared a variety of stories that ranged from early journeys to school across the railroad tracks to his military service.
“There were seven boys in our family and we were all veterans,” he said.
When Ide graduated from high school, he had not yet turned 18, so he went to live with his sister in New York, got a job, and waited to become an adult.
“That’s why I enlisted in New York and not here,” he said.
Ide told of delivering ice for the Dallas Ice Company.
The ice, harvested from a local waterway, would be delivered to homes and placed in “ice boxes” where it kept food cold.
“We would put the ice in the ice box, take the money from the table and then lock the door behind us,” said Ide. “That was in 1940. I was 16.”
Bob Hardisky, who led the discussion, shared a story he had heard about the first telephone that made its way to the township.
“It was at the hardware store, so everyone went there to witness the first phone call,” he said. “When they heard the voice on the line, they couldn’t understand where it was coming from. They determined that the wire must have had a hole in the wire in Wilkes-Barre and someone was talking into the hole.”
Those gathered around the table shared memories, at times with great precision, and at times questioning exact dates, trying to place an historical event.
For example, no one could remember the exact date the Memorial Highway became a reality, but many remembered the impact it had on the area and its commerce.
Bob Besecker, who came equipped with many news articles that were passed around the table and carefully scrutinized by participants, spoke of his 60 years as a fireman
Besecker told the story of one particular fire truck every fireman wanted to drive.
One night when a fire call was received, he said, one fireman rushed to the fire truck, slid open the door excitedly and was greatly disappointed to find another fireman already sitting behind the wheel.
Bill Monk, who grew up in the township, came equipped with a scrapbook full of newspaper articles and a head full of facts and memories.
Looking at various obituaries that reflected the accomplishments of his family members, Monk said he appreciated the chance to look back.
He fondly remembers working at the Dallas Post as a high school student, which provided him with an understanding of the value of a newspaper and a great deal of respect for those who worked there.
Joe Hardisky said “not too long ago,” dairy and other types of farming drove the economy.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, sawmills provided income for local residents, taking advantage of hemlock trees that grew over 200 feet tall.
“It’s good to look back,” he said. “But, life was really hard back then. Men worked hard physically, women raised large families, cooking and cleaning for many people.”
Hardisky, a member of the Dallas Days Bicentennial Committee and Back Mountain Historical Association, is hoping to go beyond simply telling stories that reflect the history of the township; he is now hoping to memorialize them with a video.
Working with local videographer Kenneth Campbell, Hardisky is working toward putting together a video about Dallas Township history, complete with storytelling, photos and documents.
“Everybody has a story they tell around the dinner table or at the bar,” said Campbell. “We want to preserve those stories for future generations.”
Reach the Dallas Post newsroom at 570-704-3982 or by email at email@example.com.