Export Memories by Alice Sobczak

John, my brothers and sister and I all attended Export school, grades 1-12. Anyone who scoffs at the fact that Export was such a small school, I say shame on you. Maybe I didn’t think so at the time, but we had some of the best teachers, and most of them lived here in the town where they taught. Those teachers who lived in Export were: Miss Humes, Mrs. Bundy, Mrs. Wushinski, Mrs. Diffenderfer, Mr. Onder, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Kovacic, Mrs. Polk, Mr. McHail, Mrs. McHail, Mr. Lemmon, Miss Stepanek, Mrs. Godwin, Mr. Merrich, and Mrs Farough. And who could forget our janitor, Mr. Kendrella. Some of these teachers who taught us, were the same ones that taught our parents and later some of our children.

As teenagers it seems we always found someplace to be in Export. If we weren’t at home or at school, you could find us at Costell’s (Harry and Zelpha’s),

Schell’s (ma and pa), or Ginny’s. They put up with us being there even if we didn’t buy anything and we rarely did. Well maybe a Pepsi. Many of us young women worked at these establishments, including myself, giving us some spending money at a time when money was scarce.

We didn’t have home mail delivery back then, everyone walked to the Post office at the end of East main street to pick up the mail. Our box number was 732. Next to the P.O. was Mike’s Barber Shop and there were several barber shops in town, and Betty’s Beauty Shoppe for the ladies. We had many grocery stores; The A&P, Clover Farm Stores, Bachman’s, The American Store, Coopers, Henry’s, Lapcevic’s grocery and Berkewicz’s. And the one place that drew the children was McHugh’s Variety Store or as we called it Happ’s (Andy McHugh.) Thinking back, he was the most patient man I knew. When we came into buy penny candy with our pennies we would say, “I’ll take one of those and one of these, and no, I mean one of those over there, he would wait patiently until we decided on our final choices and put it in the little brown bag.

We had 1 dentist, Dr. Hamilton, I recall the steepest pair of stairs I had ever seen in my life as a little girl, climbing to my fate at the top. We had 2 doctors; Dr. Dixon and Dr. Krick. Next door was Wigle’s Rexall Drug Store and in between was Stanley the Florist.

The main entertainment in town was “The Ritz” movie theatre owned and operated by Mary and Joe. Most of us remember dish night when we went to the movies with our Mom and was given a free dish. Our clothing and shoe store was The Hub Store or Cohen’s and it was there as far back as I can remember. If you needed and appliance or T.V. you would stop by to see Mr. Duff at Duff’s appliance store or Ted Lattanzio at his store. If you were in need of a new or used car Watson’s or Fisher Pontiac was there to serve your needs.

There was Gray’s Hardware Store and Altman’s cash feed store and “John the Picture man”, Sartoris Photography Studio. Later the Moose Club opened a bowling alley which provided entertainment for our town and some of the surrounding areas. I don’t want to fail and mention that there were many bars and clubs in Export, I’m not sure I can name them all.  Our churches included St.Mary’s Catholic Church and the 1st Presbyterian Church of Export along with the Greek Orthodox Church in the eastern side of town. There were several auto repair shops, 2 dry cleaners, 2 shoe repair shops, and The First National Bank of Export……and well we had it all……

Many things, very important things happened before my time in Export and you can see how the little town thrived with so many hard working people living there. Many things have changed since I lived there, but the one thing that remains the same is the fond memories I hold in my heart for this small coal mining town, in western Pennsylvania “where everybody knows your name”. Happy 100th Birthday Export, Pennsylvania.

These recollections were from the 1950’s.

Posted in Export Stories.