Bongiano families reunited in 1921 after separation of nine and 16 years

A look back at Laurel History: February 18, 2021
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Compiled By Kathleen Gilluly
Thursday, February 18, 2021
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The Empire Builder was just a concept at the beginning of 1946, although Great Northern Railway had already secured the 4,000 horsepower locomotives for the line, which when implemented connected Chicago to the Pacific northwest. The Empire Builder is now the only passenger train in Montana, running along the hi line.

25 years ago

Feb. 21, 1996

After meeting in executive session with its attorney, the Laurel School Board decided at its February meeting to offer a settlement to a former teacher who has accused the school district and its high school principal of “blacklisting” him. Jon Harris, a high school mathematics teacher and middle school wrestling coach, and his wife, Brenda, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. They sought unspecified damages from the Laurel School District and Principal Mike Michunovich for allegedly violating their civil rights and inflicting emotional distress. After reconvening in public following the executive session, the school board voted to offer a settlement to the Harrises. In the lawsuit, Harris claims the district and Michunovich have blacklisted him since he was fired for alleged sexual harassment of two middle school girls.

Shortly after 9:30 last Thursday morning, Laurel High School students reporting to their second-period classes were instructed to remain in the rooms with the doors shut. Moments later, four Laurel police officers, two county officers and a drug-sniffing dog named “Tracer” entered the building for the school’s first drug search by a canine. In the next 20 minutes, the Black Labrador sniffed for contraband in over 600 lockers. By the end of the morning, two girls had been arrested on drug-related charges.

Births were announced for twins Sean Tyler Kostelecky and Aron Taylor Kostelecky; Alex Nicole Ronan and Seth Jacob Shifley.

 

50 years ago

Feb. 24, 1971

Miss Mary Glynn George, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles George, of Laurel, commander of the University of Montana Angel Flight Drill Team, represented the University as its “Little Colonel” Queen candidate at the area conclave held in Moscow, Idaho. Miss George was crowned Queen Saturday night at the banquet after being chosen as one of four finalist by a university board. Miss George will receive an all-expense paid trip to Miami, Fla., where she will represent the Northwest Area at the national conclave in April. She will compete with 17 other “Little Colonel” candidates for the title of “Little General.”

Mr. and Mrs. John McFate attended birthday parties for two of their grandchildren. Earlier in the week they attended one for Matt McFate son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael McFate, of Billings. Saturday evening they attended a party for Stacie McFate, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Richard McFate, of Laurel.

Donald Lenhardt, Laurel police officer, has been named Jaycee of the Month for January, according to President Gary Pfaff. Selection is based on service to the club and the community.

Mrs. Victor Mitchell was the proud winner of a T.V., which was first prize in a cherry pie contest, held by the Good Year Company Friday. Mrs. Michell said her family was sure she could win but she was surprised when Lonnie Bell called her Friday evening.

 

75 years ago

Feb. 20, 1946

Peter Scherk, 26, recently discharged veteran of the war in the Pacific, died Friday night of an accident at the Laurel railroad coal dock. After serving nearly four years in the army as a technician fifth grade he had resumed the industrial occupations of peace only three days before the accident. He was working alone at the time and apparently was thrown over the side of the coal dock incline by the cable of a coal car. Death resulted from shock and a puncture of the right lung by rib fragments, according to Howard C. Smith, county coroner.

Crowds attending the first-day games of the district basketball which opened here Wednesday afternoon point to the best box office tourney the district has ever had. Roads and weather are ideal so far, permitting easy travel to Laurel from the surrounding 11 other towns comprising District 6. Wednesday night the gymnasium was nearly filled. It looked like a before-the-war championship crowd.

The Woman’s Society of Christian Service working with the official board of the Methodist Church in Park City is making extensive plans for redecorating the entire church within the next few weeks. The vestibule has already received attention. Walls and ceilings of the auditorium will be redecorated and the door will be nicely refinished. The pews are to be sanded and revarnished, new lighting fixtures installed, and the entire front of the church rebuild for the installation of a divided channel, altar table, cross and candles. Most of the work will be done by members and friends of the church, reports Rev. M.J. Wilcox, pastor. The board has also been considering the project of pointing up the stone structure on the outside, painting the roof and the windows this spring when outside work can be done.

W.D. Bitts exhibited a large egg this week which one of his buff orphinton hens had laid. It measured seven inches in circumference and was three inches long. It weighted three and a fourth ounces.

 

100 years ago

Feb. 23, 1921

Amid tears of joy, accompanied by a fusillade of greetings in a foreign tongue, two families were reunited in Laurel last week after having been separated by the rolling deep of the Atlantic ocean for periods of nine and 16 years, respectively. Wives, sons and daughters looked for the first time in many years on the faces of husbands and fathers, and meantime cast furtive and inquiring glances at the new and strange surroundings which they found of different from the tropic clime of southern Italy. Primo Bongiano came to America nine years ago, leaving a wife and two little daughters in Italy. In the land of promise he worked and saved, hoping to accumulate enough money to bring his family to America. At length he succeeded in acquiring the necessary funds, but before the family could start on the long journey, the world war laid its paralyzing hand on commerce, and the joys of a reunion were postponed from time to time. With Bongiano was his brother who has come to America seven years previous to Pirmo’s passage into the harbor of New York. The brother, too, had a family in the country of his nativity. The two brothers, relatives of the Succetti’s of this city and district, came to Laurel to work on the ranch the Succetti brothers had homesteaded many years ago. Imagine, then, the overwhelming joy of the two brothers when on the Laurel depot platform last week their fond hopes were realized and after a lapse of many years the two families stood face to face once more. Children grow rapidly and periods of nine and 16 years work wonderful changes in their appearance. The two little daughters were well advanced toward young womanhood, and the little son, who toddled at his father’s side at the time the head of the family left Italy, was now a man in statue and nearing the ago of 20. In consequence the mothers found it necessary to make introductions. The parental heart is large, however, and can accommodate itself to a full grown man or woman as easily as it can to a child. The trip to the Succetti ranch was made in grand style, in a taxi hired for the purpose.

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