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Museum hosting “Seldom Seen Images of Sayre”

SAYRE – In the twilight of a late summer evening on August 26, rare images from Sayre’s history will come alive on an outdoor screen at the Sayre Historical Society. The free program will feature Sayre’s Maria Sanphy presenting a prelude of Celtic and Americana music leading to a program by James Nobles on “Seldom Scene Images of Sayre.”

CAPTION: A special evening program at the Sayre Historical Society on Saturday, August 26 titled “Seldom Scene Images of Sayre” will feature live music and images like the scene from the open-air swimming pool at Sayre High School in 1963. The program starts at 7:15 p.m.

Guests are invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets for the evening of music and history which starts at 7:15 followed by the history program at 7:45 p.m. On that same night, Sayre Borough is hosting the annual Back to School fireworks show at nearby Riverfront Park. The fireworks show is scheduled to start at 8:45 p.m.

Light refreshments will be offered for sale.

The evening history program will cover a variety of interesting topics from Sayre’s past.

“The program will feature some seldom seen images of Sayre from both the recent and distant past and for whom the streets in Sayre are named,” said Nobles, a retired Sayre High School teacher and founder of the Sayre Historical Society. “Pictures will include the open air swimming pool near Sayre High School constructed as the War Memorial Swimming Pool, the neighborhood schools which predated the H. Austin Snyder Elementary School, a progression of fire apparatus showing the evolution of fire fighting in Sayre, the busy downtown with traffic signals, various aerial views showing the expansive railroading in Sayre, the merry-go-round of Keystone Park, floods, and many additional vintage images.”

Nobles said many of the streets in Sayre are named after notable people in the town’s history but some of their accomplishments are unknown or unrecognized.

“As we evolve further from our founding days we are losing track of the people for whom Lockhart, Wilbur, West, Elmer, Thomas, Hayden, Shepard, Frank, Tuscarora and the Iroquois Confederacy streets, and many other streets were named, as well as some buildings,” he said. “Each person will be identified, some with their picture.”

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers and supported by members. The organization receives funding from the Bradford County United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency. Dandy Mini-Mart and Carl Etshman Co. are contributors to this event.

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History Under the Stars 2017

Sayre museum hosting Genealogy Workshop

SAYRE – Preparations for the Genealogy Workshop to be held on Saturday, July 29 at the Sayre Historical Society have brought to light the thrilling World War II story of Sayre’s own “Hometown Hero” J. Francis (Banny) Cain.

CAPTION: Sayre resident J. Francis (Banny) Cain was a hero of World War II after he escaped during the Japanese capture of Corregidor in the Philippines in 1942. Cain was the son of John and Ellen (Coveney) Cain of Sayre. The Sayre Historical Society is hosting a Genealogy Workshop on Saturday, July 29 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The workshop will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. in museum building located in the historic Lehigh Valley Railroad Station located in downtown Sayre. Admission is free.

A variety of scrapbooks, directories, yearbooks and railroad rosters will be available for individuals interested in exploring their own genealogy. The workshop will be conducted by board member Henry Farley, a local historian who is also president of the Bradford County Historical Society.

Cain was the son of John and Ellen (Coveney) Cain and a 1929 graduate of Sayre High School. He was a member of the Army Air Force stationed in Hawaii when he was assigned in 1941 to Clark Air Force Base in Manila, Philippines with the 14th Bombardment Group. His amazing story of resistance and escape began after the fall of the island fortification of Corregidor on May 6, 1942. According to his obituary in the February 25, 1974 Evening Times newspaper, American forces at Corregidor were forced to surrender to the Japanese but Cain and several hundred others managed to “disappear.”

“For the next several years, he lived as a fugitive in the jungles, dodging Japanese patrols and cooperating with other American guerrillas and Filippino underground fighters,” according to his obituary.

With his training as a radio man in the military, Cain was able to construct a crude radio from parts gleaned from downed aircraft, according to the obituary. He then made contact with authorities in Australia and began secretly communicating crucial details of military operations on the island during the siege.

“After he had established his identity through a rigorous security check, he was given instructions for his future activities – and for the next two years worked with other guerillas in harassing the Japanese, and even more important, maintain a ‘coast watch’ of Japanese shipping along the coast of Mindanao Island – a watch that aided American planes and submarines in inflicting heavy losses on the enemy vessels,” according to the obituary.

After he was reported missing in action by the military, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Cain, were privately notified that he was alive but they were given no information on his whereabouts or what he was doing, according to the obituary.

Had Cain surrendered, the article states, he would have been a captive and forced to walk in the infamous Bataan Death March which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of American and Philippine soldiers. After he was evacuated from the Philippines, he returned to the US in May of 1944 and received a hero’s welcome in the Valley, according to the obituary.

Cain’s story was recounted by Evening Times city editor Jack Beahan following Cain’s return to the U.S. The Sayre Historical Society republished the story “Behind the Lines” in a series of six articles in the Quarterly publication that ran from the fall of 1990 to the spring of 1992. The heroism of Cain and his fellow soldiers became known around the world and was the subject of several books and movies, according to Cain’s obituary.

After his return to the civilian world, Cain worked at the Remington Rand plant in Elmira but left when the plant closed, according to his obituary. While in Elmira, he had the opportunity to meet Gen. Douglas MacArthur who was visiting the Remington Rand plant after the war.

According to the obituary, “The two men got together for a chat about the time of their service in the Philippines – although Sgt. Cain’s experience was a lot more real than the general’s.”

One of Cain’s “most cherished” memberships was with the “Defenders of Corregidor on Bataan, Inc.” which was formed after the war. He even attended a reunion of the survivors which numbered 78 of the original 300 when they met in 1966, according to the obituary.

Cain is buried in Epiphany Cemetery, Sayre.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers. The historical society is member-supported and a recipient of funds from the Bradford County United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.

Gore’s “lost mural” featured in Summer Quarterly

SAYRE – A ten-panel mural that once decorated the lobby of the Wilbur Hotel in Sayre created by local artist M.L. Gore is the subject of a story in the Sayre Historical Society Quarterly magazine.

CAPTION: Valley artist M. Louis Gore is the subject of a feature story in the Sayre Historical Society’s latest Quarterly history magazine. The story focuses on Gore’s “lost mural” at the Wilbur Hotel in Sayre.

The “lost mural” featured local scenes such as the Robert Packer Hospital, the Lehigh Valley Railroad Shops, Belle Knitting and Ingersoll-Rand, as well as the Ulster totem pole, Turn-of-the-Rocks and “the crest looking toward Towanda.” Numerous photographs and sketches created by Gore were donated recently to the Sayre Historical Society by Frank Evans of Sayre.

The Sayre High School Class of 1967 is the featured photograph in the center section of the booklet which also includes the 1907 obituary of Sayre’s namesake, Robert H. Sayre, and a story on the scale model steam locomotive named “Donald” built in the early 1900’s by railroad engineer Michael Gorman.

The Quarterly, published four times a year, is mailed to historical society members as part of their membership benefits. Individual copies are available at Carl’s News Stand in Sayre and the historical society museum located in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger Station in downtown Sayre. Hours are Saturdays from 10 to 4 and Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m.

The story on Gore outlines the life of the well-known artist whose work is preserved in numerous paintings in private collections as well as the mural in Sayre High School depicting Shepard’s mill in Sayre.

Gore was born on February 4, 1877 in Sheshequin and was a descendent of Judge Obadiah Gore who served under General John Sullivan during the Revolutionary War.

“While a young man, Gore spent time abroad studying and returned to the U.S. where he became employed by J.R. Myers in Steubenville, Ohio,” according to the Quarterly article. “In that capacity, Gore did mural and decorating work in churches, theaters and libraries from the midwest to the eastern seaboard,” according to his December 30, 1967 obituary.

An undated newspaper clipping included in the sketches and photographs donated by Evans documents the Wilbur Hotel mural which was completed in the late 1940s and early 1950’s.

The clipping states that the work took about six months to complete and that pictures of the mural sections “would easily pass for pictures of the actual scenes.” It was stated that Robert Adams, proprietor of the landmark Sayre hotel, was planning “extensive improvements in the lobby to have it in keeping with the beauty of the murals,” according to the undated newspaper article.

In his full life, Gore participated in excavations at local prehistoric Indian sites including Spanish Hill. In 1951, Gore was the official advisor to the National Geographic Society during its expedition down the Susquehanna River commemorating General Sullivan’s military campaign.

“Mr. Gore was soundly grounded in local history and was contacted by many persons interested in the historical background of this community,” stated the obituary. “Until his last illness, he was adding to his collection of over 2,000 rare books among which are a predominant number covering the early history of Pennsylvania and Bradford County.”

The Class of 1967 photograph was made available by the Sayre Area School District Archives and includes the names of each of the graduates. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1967.

The model of Lehigh Valley Railroad steam locomotive No. 218 has an interesting history which is recounted in the Quarterly. It was recently loaned to the Sayre Historical Society by Mick Koons of Pasadena, California, the great-grandson of Michael Gorman, the model builder who was also an engineer on the railroad. The name of the model memorializes Mr. Gorman’s young son, who died in 1909 at the tender age of five due to complications from Scarlet Fever.

The model has been displayed in a number of places along the route of the railroad. According to the Nov. 27, 1975 Star-Gazette, “It’s been a feature at a model railroaders convention in Niagara Falls, at the former Interstate Fair in Athens, in Cortland, at the Wagner Hotel in Waverly, in New York City several times, and in Ithaca, Buffalo, Lehigh headquarters at Bethlehem, Allentown and in Milwaukee, Wis., among other places.” It 1991, it was displayed at the first Sayre History Fair at Sayre High School.

A final feature of the Summer Quarterly are two scrapbooks items from the Robert Felt Collection. Seaman Second Class John Cannavino was one of five sons of Mr. and Mrs. John Cannavino of Sayre in the service. He participated in the Allied invasion of Normandy. Naval Aviation Cadet John Luczejko, son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Luczejko of Riverside Drive, Sayre was taking primary flight instruction in the Glenview, Ill. Naval Air Station.

A World War II-era poster for a block dance to benefit the Sayre Canteen and a 1953 local advertisement complete the issue.

A Genealogy Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, July 29 at the Sayre museum featuring local historian Henry Farley, president of the Bradford County Historical Society. A variety of resources including local directories, yearbooks, scrapbooks and railroad rosters will be available for research. Admission is free.

The Sayre Historical Society is a member-supported, non-profit organization and a recipient of funding from the United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.

Late Sayre man worked as a Hollywood make-up artist

SAYRE – Sayre native Charles Blackman made a long journey to Hollywood and along the way met movie stars, presidents and the Rev. Billy Graham.

CAPTION: Hollywood make-up artist Charles Blackman, a Sayre native, and his wife Gloria are the subject of a feature story in the Sayre Historical Society spring Quarterly.

His story, based on a 1993 interview recorded just after he retired, appears in the spring issue of the Sayre Historical Society Quarterly. Blackman passed away on March 7, 2016.

Other items in the Spring Quarterly include a story and photograph of a Fourth of July parade in Sayre featuring a scale model of a Lehigh Valley Railroad steam locomotive, a 1975 photograph of the Robert Packer Hospital, an account of Dr. Donald Guthrie on the occasion of his 30th anniversary in Sayre, and a photograph showing World War I Red Cross volunteers in Sayre.

The Quarterly, published four times a year, is mailed to historical society members as part of their membership benefits. Individual copies are available at Carl’s News Stand in Sayre and the historical society museum located in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger Station in downtown Sayre. The museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays from 5 to 7. A new exhibit titled “Answering the Call: A History of Firefighting in Sayre” opened April 1 and will run until September 6. Admission is free.

The illustrated feature story covers the life of the former Sayre resident who entered a “Draw Me” contest in the local newspaper and moved to California.

“I won the contest so I thought we were going to right to Hollywood but I got there and it was all filled up and I couldn’t possibly start until maybe six months to a year,” Blackman said. He then attended UCLA and following graduation started working as an apprentice under legendary Columbia Pictures make-up Clay Campbell. Blackman’s career as a Hollywood make-up artist covered 50 years.

While he worked on movies with such stars as Clark Gable, Charleton Heston and Marilyn Monroe, Blackman also was introduced to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Rev. Billy Graham at a golf tournament in Palm Springs. Over the years, Blackman attended annual Crusades that featured over the years ten American presidents.

“It was really something for me and I enjoyed being with Billy because I stayed with him for 25 years,” Blackman said. “Whenever he would go on a Crusade, he’d call and ask me to go. The Crusade probably would run 10 days and he would do maybe three Crusades a year, so no matter what I was doing, I’d always make time.”

Blackman, whose wife Gloria was also a make-up artist, worked on television shows and commercials as well as movies. Photographs included with the story show Blackman with actors James Garner and Charlton Heston. The pictures were provided courtesy of Chris Shaffer of S. Waverly, who is related to Blackman’s wife. Blackman’s father was Fred Blackman, an electrician with the Lehigh Valley Railroad and his mother was the former Helen Shaffer whose four brothers included Charlie, Clarence, Bob and Diddie Shaffer.

The Fourth of July parade story includes a 1908 photograph showing the model steam locomotive numbered 1776. The story, provided courtesy of Richard Palmer of Syracuse, N.Y., said the engine and floats were inspired by shop superintendent A.W. Whitford.

“The miniature engine was the one big hit of the parade,” the article stated. “It was numbered 1776, and was an exact model of the 1552 of J-25 class passenger engines. The engine was connected to the back wheel of the wagon with a belt and for every turn of the wagon the engine drivers revolved twice.”

The Robert Packer Hospital photograph is pictured in the center section of the Quarterly and is from the collection of the late Harry (Bud) Patterson, a former Sayre resident.

Dr. Donald Guthrie is recalled in an article that appeared in the Oct. 2, 1941 issue of the Valley Recorder newspaper.

“A strict adherent to the code of medical ethics, Dr. Guthrie has sometimes been a stumbling block for newspapermen in search of human interest stories,” the article stated. “During his many years that he has headed the Robert Packer Hospital there have been countless cases that could furnish material to give the limelight to any news hawk. But Dr. Guthrie has consistently held that, in most of these cases, the facts should be made to the medical profession and the medical profession only.”

A 1932 four-page program on George Washington staged by Sayre High School students is also reproduced in the Quarterly. The program was donated by James Nobles of Sayre.

The Sayre Canteen photograph, donated by Sarah Harrington of Cranford, N.J., includes Mrs. Harrington’s maternal grandmother, Sarah (Lennon) McMahon and other Red Cross volunteers. Mrs. Harrington also donated a Red Cross uniform worn by her grandmother and a 1919 booklet containing the names of local World War I veterans.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers and a recipient of United Way funding.

Sayre museum reopening with “Answering the Call!”
The Sayre Historical Society will open for the 2017 season on Saturday, April 1 with a new exhibit on “A History of Firefighting in Sayre” and a stunning restoration of the Sayre Theater’s old marquee.

   The hours are Saturdays from 10 to 4 and Wednesdays from 5 to 7 starting April 1. Admission is free and the museum, located in the historic Lehigh Valley Railroad station in downtown Sayre, is handicap-accessible.

   The newest rotating exhibit, titled “Answering the Call,” focuses on the long history of firefighting in Sayre. A treasury of historic photographs from the collection of the Sayre Fire Department and longtime Sayre historian James Nobles documents the entire history of the department.

   Rare images of the Robert Packer Hose Company, which was organized in 1885, as well as a collection of firemen’s convention ribbons dating back to the late 1800’s are included in the display. Other topics include the E.P. Wilbur Hook & Ladder Company, Milltown’s J. E Wheelock Hose Company, the Howard Elmer Hose Company and the Robert Sayre Hose Company. 

   Historic fires in the borough are also recounted including the 1933 fire at Robert Packer Hospital, the 1948 fire at the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s coaling station and the Bond Jewelry Store fire on Desmond Street in 1957, among others. Signature photographs of Stanley Stark, teenage mascot of the Wilbur Hook & Ladder Company, as well as volunteer “Smokey Joe” Kennedy are also included in the exhibit.

   The exhibit, running from April 1 to September 6, will feature a 28-page illustrated booklet available for sale at the museum in the Burkhart Gift Shop. 
   The newest artifact in the museum, a restored section of the Sayre Theater marquee, will also be premiered on April 1. Painstakingly reconditioned by museum volunteer Chuck DeRose, the section of the marquee, repainted and illuminated by lights, has been relocated to the museum’s lobby. An exhibit on the rich history of the community’s movie theater history will also be on display in the lobby. 
   For more information, visit the museum’s website at or go to the museum’s Facebook page.
   The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers and funded in part by the Bradford County United Way. The organization also receives funding from the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency which helped fund the new exhibit and the marketing efforts of the museum.

PHOTO CAPTION:   A 1916 photograph shows Sayre’s first motorized fire engine known as “Old Huldy.” Individuals from left are: Chief of Police Steve Evans, Council President J.E. Anderson, Burgess John Umpleby, Claude Nicholson (driver), Fred Curtis, Fritz Himmick, Jean Umpleby, William Grogan, Arthur Hickey and Dan Tierney. (Sayre Fire Department Collection)

Answering the Call - April 1 to September 1, 2017