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SNAPSHOTS OF MY LIFE

by

Emelio E. Rubbo

 


"If I Had A Gun... "

My dad, Dominic Rubbo, came to Twin Rocks from Freeport, PA back in 1902. He moved to the end of Twin Rocks that was called Tiger Patch. My mother came about a year later in November of 1903. I was born in Tiger Patch, Twin Rocks on April 20, 1906. When my mother came to Twin Rocks in 1903, there was no railroad station there; the train would just stop at the crossing. At that time, the train that passed through Twin Rocks had only one coach and some coal cars. The conductor told her that the box car with her belongings would come the next day. But it came that night, and they unloaded her furniture at the railroad crossing. The next day, my dad went down to the railroad crossing and everything had been stolen except a sewing machine and a 12-quart case of whiskey. My mother said to my dad, "If I had a gun, I would shoot you dead for bringing me to this place." "There is no road, no water, and no windows or doors in the house." She said, "I had a nice place in Freeport and I had a better place in Italy." The manager of the Company store in Twin Rocks gave them a new bed, stove, pans, and dishes - everything my mother needed to set up housekeeping. He did this because she kept four boarders. In those days, the mining company needed the men to work in the new mine, and the men needed a place to stay, so families would board people in their homes.

 

"A Thriving Business"

My dad worked in Twin Rocks until around 1911, and then we moved to a new town called Bracken, which was about two miles down the road from Twin Rocks. He worked in Bracken for over a year, but then a rock fell on his back and he could not work for six months. So he bought the store and Bake Shop in Twin Rocks about 1912. He had a good business. He baked 250 loaves of bread every day, all by hand. He had so much business because there were a lot of Italians in this town. There were so many that one or two parts of this town were called Little Italy.

My dad sold one box car of beer every week. He took orders on Sunday and Monday from people from Twin Rocks, Cardiff, Nanty Glo and Bracken. Every Tuesday, I had to go to the post office at 7 o'clock in the morning with the money my dad had received for orders, and send a money order to The Latrobe Beer Company. One morning, it was so cold that I said to my mother, "It's too cold to go to the post office." She said "I will kill you if you don't go and our orders miss the 8:30 train." I was so scared that I ran all the way to the post office to make it on time. The Beer Co. would get the money order Tuesday afternoon and a box car full of beer arrived at Twin Rocks Thursday night or by early Friday morning. A man would deliver it to all the customers by Saturday night. He had a big wagon pulled by two big white mules.

 

"Poor Emelio


Every fall, my father would order a box car full of blue Concord grapes, All the Italians bought grapes from him to make their own wine. So poor me, Emelio, had to deliver this entire box car of grapes! Each crate weighted twenty-five pounds. But I had a lot of friends to help me. We ate a lot of grapes while we were delivering them. We ate so many grapes, we looked like grapes! In about two days, I had all the grapes delivered.

 

"We Always Made Money"


All of us kids on this end of town would find some way of making money. There were a lot of blackberries on the hills of Twin Rocks, and all of us would pick blackberries and sell them to the train crews at the station. They would pay twelve cents a quart. My brother Mario and I picked twenty quarts every day. But we sold all of ours to the Shoemaker Hotel. One summer, we made over sixty-five dollars, maybe even, as much as seventy-five dollars. All of us kids would go to the railroad station and carry the suitcases for the agents who worked at the store. Some one carried the newspaper in the morning and another kid would carry it at night. One newspaper would come on the morning train and one on the evening train. One thing that can be said about us kids - we always made money.

 

"The Pittsburgh Baker"


In about 1915, they started to build the C & I Railroad. One day, an officer of this railroad came to the Bake Shop and asked my dad if he could supply the company workers with bread. He told the officer that he could not make any more bread by himself The officer asked him to get someone to help him, because they needed the bread for their workers who lived in camp cars along the new railroad. Dad called someone that he knew in Pittsburgh and told them to send him a baker. A man came from Pittsburgh and took a good look around the Bake Shop and said, "Where is your mixer?" I don't have one, I do all of my work by hand," my dad explained. The Baker replied, "I will not stay, I will go back to Pittsburgh." But my mother gave him his dinner and supper that night. She gave him all the wine and beer he wanted. This man liked to drink. He questioned my mother saying, "Will all the drinks be included if I stay here?" She said, "Yes, drinks are included in addition to your pay." He said, "Boy, I will stay 'til the railroad is built." So my Dad showed him how to make bread by hand. This baker could also make good cakes and pies. The C & I Railroad came to my dad's Bake Shop every day with a horse and wagon to pick up all of the groceries. In addition to the bread and groceries, they also bought beer and pop. They paid my dad for everything. They also paid the new baker his board, wage, and drink.

 

"Bootleggers"


In 1919, during the Prohibition Era, all of the bars and hotels closed. Places that sold alcohol were no longer allowed to be in business. But then people started to make "moonshine." My dad ordered very small raisins that came in twenty-five pound boxes. He sold a lot of these small dry raisins to people who made moonshine. One day my uncle Tony, who lived in Charles, brought my dad a copper kettle to make moonshine. My dad started to make moonshine in a back room in his Bake Shop. One day, Mr. Shoemaker, the Hotel owner, and my dad got to talking about how to get real whiskey. My Dad knew someone from Nanty Glo who had two one-ton trucks with hard rubber tires and wheels who would help them. One night, they went to Freeport and picked up two truck loads of good whiskey, My Dad drove his 1916 Buick in front and they followed him all the way home with two trucks loaded with whiskey. My dad was able to get this whiskey because he knew all the people who worked in the factory. He knew them because most of them were fellow Italians.

One day the Ebensburg Judge, the Sheriff, a Detective and the Constable stopped in to see my Dad in the Bake Shop. He did not want them in there because they would smell the moonshine. To get them out of the Bake Shop, he took them into the house. He got a quart of whiskey and my mother went downstairs and got brick cheese, Genoa salami, olives, bread, and pop made in Twin Rocks, and brought them upstairs. He told them to eat and drink all that they wanted. Someone asked, "Mr. Rubbo, where did you get this good whiskey?" My father said, "Never mind." "Eat now, because I have to get the bread out of the oven." "If you want more, mother will get it for you." The Judge, Sheriff, Detective, and Constable had all they wanted to eat and drink and then left. They never said another word to my dad about having alcohol.

 

"I've Been Working On The Railroad"


After 1922, the economy got so bad that my dad had to close the Bake Shop. He had to close because a baker from Johnstown and a baker from Altoona were taking away his business. Times were tough: the mine only worked a few day a week. At this time, I got a-job on the railroad. I was sixteen years old. At age eighteen and a half, I was made Assistant Foreman. I had this job for many years. In 1931, the railroad laid off a lot of men because of the Great Depression. All Assistant Foreman were told that they would receive labor wages even though they still had to do the Assistant Foreman's job. I had to move to Seward. My job was to patrol the railroad. I would get on the 7:00 am train and ride to the S.G. Tower. I would get off of the train and walk back to Seward three days a week. One day each week, I would walk to New Florence and take the 3:30 PM train back to Seward.

When the 1936 Flood came, the General Manager of the railroad from Philadelphia, PA put me on as Foreman. He gave me twenty-five men and told me to build up Track 45. He assigned another Foreman twenty-five men and told him to help me. We had three crane cars loaded with big stones that came from the Twin Rocks cut. We started west of Johnstown and worked all the way to Seward to build up the # 5 track. The track had been all washed out, and it took us all summer to build it up.

After the main line was done, a lot of Foremen were laid off. The agents wanted to lay me off, but no one would because I had been given this job by the General Manager of the railroad from Philadelphia. I had this foreman job from 1936 to 1967. In 1967, 1 got sick and the doctor told me that I should retire.

 

"The Jackson Coal Mining Company"


Tom Curry opened up the Jackson Coal Mine in approximately 1914. Mr. Curry, who was the Superintendent, had already opened up a few mines on the Coal Pit Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He located the Jackson Coal Mine on top of Jackson Hill Mountain. Tom Curry built a tipple on top of the mountain and a tipple on the bottom. As you can see on the display, they built an incline on which one thirty-ton car loaded with coal would come down and pull the empty car back up.

The ground that the mine occupied belonged to the McFadden Estate in Philadelphia. Fred McFadden, the owner of the mine, came to Twin Rocks from Philadelphia to run the mine. They built a house with two rooms for the Jackson Coal Mining Company office and a home for Fred McFadden. He took over the office work. Around this time, they opened a new mine directly in back of his house and build a blacksmith shop. When Fred McFadden saw the mine in his backyard, lie closed it at once. No coal was ever brought out of this mine. He was the Boss, and he would have no mine in his backyard. The blacksmith shop was later converted into a house.

In 1915, Mr. Curry built a house on the other side of the road in Blacklick Township for his family. A house was constructed in about 1906 for the Railroad Station Agent whose name was George McCreery. Mr. Elmer Gotshall, a stone mason, built a home in 1889. Mr. Gotshall served as Constable of Twin Rocks for many years. A merchant named Joe Goal constructed a store in 1898 or 1899, with a Bake Shop behind it. These houses were the only ones present in Twin Rocks at that time. These houses are depicted on the model,

They also built six houses on the Jackson side, but they all fell into disrepair after the mine closed. Eight additional houses were constructed on the Blacklick side. Of these eight original houses, only seven remain today.

When the workers were building the big tipple at the railroad, teams of horses and wagons were used to haul the construction logs to the top of Jackson Hill. The trestle stood nearly forty feet high. Once, when a team of big, white horses was uncoupled in order to unload the logs, something spooked the animals. The horses bolted and ran off of the end of the tipple and into the river below, failing forty feet to their deaths. I witnessed this accident when I was only nine years old.

After the mine was operating profitably, Fred McFadden asked my dad to open a store so that the miners could buy groceries. So he did. It was like a company store.

The Jackson Coal Mine was always a union mine. It was the last mine to brake the union. Around 1933, the Jackson Coal Mine closed. In Nanty Glo, they broke the union in 1926 or 1927. The Vintondale mine never had a union. I remember this because there was a man who had lived above our Bake Shop and he moved to Vintondale because Vintondale miners worked every day. He owed my dad some money. He had written my dad a letter telling him to stop at his house to pick up the money. My dad sent me on the train to Vintondale to collect this money, When I got off the train, two Coal and Iron Police asked me where I was going. I told them the story and they escorted me to the man's house. He paid me the bill, and the police took me back down town. They told me to buy myself some ice cream or candy and spend some money in their town while I was waiting for the train back to Twin Rocks. At this time, Vintondale was a company town and they watched every one that came and went.

There was a store in Vintondale that bought 125 loaves of my father's bread every other day. We usually sent it down by train. Every once in a while, we missed the I I o'clock train, so I stayed home from school to deliver the bread by horse and wagon. The Coal and Iron Police did not stop me because they knew me.

At that time, six passenger trains stopped in Twin Rocks every day. One train would leave Cresson about 7:15 am and go to Indiana, PA and then back to Cresson. It would come through Twin Rocks at 8:20 AM and back at 4:20 PM every day except Sunday. You could go to Pittsburgh, PA on this train if you changed trains at Blacklick. The other train would go from Weherum to Cresson two times a day each way. At one time this end of town was a very busy place. All the people would come to Twin Rocks Station for their Freight and Express. I worked on Sundays. I would help Mr. Graffer because he lived in Ebensburg. I sold tickets on Sundays until Mr. Gaffer bought Toni Curry's house. Tom Curry moved to another town, so Fred McFadden sold the house to Mr. Gaffer.

I built this model completely from memory. While constructing the model, I was reminded of some childhood memories and what life was like growing up in Twin Rocks during the early 1900's. I remembered the people and landmarks of Twin Rocks with a fondness that I wished to share with those around me. After looking at the model and reading these stories, I hope that you can share in my appreciation of the rich history of this town.

 

Emelio E. Rubbo
Edited by: Trina A. Rubbo (Granddaughter)
Copyright 1995

 

Emelio Rubbo
Emelio "Pap" Rubbo of Twin Rocks died Sunday, March 31, 1996, at Memorial Medical Center, Johnstown. He was 89 and his death ended a marriage union of 67 years. Born April 20, 1906, in Tiger Patch, he was a son of Dominick and Lucy (Bertuzzi) Rubbo. Surviving are his wife, Anastasia "Mum" Babyock; daughter, Irene, wife of James Shrift, Summerhill; and Donald, married to the former Betty Thomas, Harrisburg. Also surviving are eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Mr. Rubbo went to work as a delivery boy at his father's bakery when he was 12 years old. By 15, he began his life with the Pennsylvania Railroad where he worked for 47 years and retired as a supervising foreman. In addition to working with the railroad, he and his wife operated a gas station in Twin Rocks for 29 years. Mr. Rubbo was a member of the Sons of Italy, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, R.R. Cresson Club and a trustee of the Nanty Glo Senior Citizens. He also was named to the Honor Roll in Philadelphia 30th St. Station and in the fall of 1995, was awarded a clock for being the oldest resident of Twin Rocks. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Tuesday, April 2, at Saints Timothy and Mark Roman Catholic Church, Twin Rocks, with the Rev. Matthew Misurda officiating. Interment followed in Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Cemetery, Nanty Glo. Arrangements were in charge of the Bowser-Ondriezek Funeral Home, Nanty Glo. A tree will be planted in living memory of Mr. Rubbo by the funeral home. (Nanty Glo Journal, Nanty Glo, PA, April 3, 1996)

Anastasia Rubbo
Anastasia "Mum" (Babyock), 92, Twin Rocks, died at 10:10 p.m. Oct.5, 2000, at Laurel Crest Manor. She was the last surviving member of the
Babyock family. Born March 19, 1908, in Nanty Glo, Mum was one of seven children born to Gregory "Harry" and Helen (Milan) Babyock. Mum eloped at
age 18 to marry Emelio "Pap" Rubbo and he was her devoted husband for 67 years. Mum and Pap ran the A. Rubbo Service Station in Twin Rocks for 29
years. Mum was a wonderful cook and talented seamstress who loved to play bingo in her spare time. She is the beloved mother of Irene, married to
James J. Shrift, Summerhill, and Donald Rubbo, married to former Betty Jane Thomas, Harrisburg. She has eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren
who will all miss her very much. Mum was an active member of several civic organizations which included Nanty Glo War Mothers, Nanty Glo VFW, American
Legion and Nanty Glo Fire Company Auxiliary. Friends will be received from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Bowser-Ondriezek Funeral Home, Nanty Glo.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at noon Tuesday at Sts. Timothy and Mark Roman Catholic Church, Twin Rocks. Interment to follow in Holy
Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Cemetery, Nanty Glo. (Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, PA, October 9, 2000)

 

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