Colin Dunlap is a Pittsburgh area writer and his High School Views weekly column appears only on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Web site. Two weeks ago, he wrote a column offering some tongue-in-cheek awards after the high school basketball season.

After that story, he invited readers to submit their own awards to him by e-mail, and he picked a few of the best and published them in his column last Friday. Our friend Bobby Greenburg of Hermitage, veteran area radio sports announcer, submitted the following:

“Thanks for the Memories Award: Farrell High School. The Steelers ended their long relationship with the WPIAL to join District 10. Farrell leaves with a record 13 district titles and seven state titles.” He was identified as only Bob from Hermitage.

Dunlap commented on Greenburg’s award:

“Indeed it is a sad day for the WPIAL to see Farrell go. Jack Marin, Julius and Jim McCoy, Brian Generalovich, Willie Somerset, Dave Johnson, Roland Shannonhouse, Lorenzo Styles and the list goes on and on.

“And let’s not forget the man who made Farrell basketball, Coach Ed McCluskey. For some, the drive up to Farrell was a little lengthy in terms of travel from the Pittsburgh area. But make no mistake, once arriving at Farrell’s E.J. McCluskey Field House, it was a special place, a magical place that will now only be spoken of in terms of WPIAL memories.

“It is almost surreal to me that Farrell basketball won't compete in the WPIAL –– that is kind of like UCLA not competing in the NCAA.”

Bobby G. and his brother Jeff, The Herald's political writer and former sports editor, have seen lots of Farrell games throughout the years, many before they began their careers. Their dad, Dr. Morren J. Greenburg, was on the Farrell medical staff with the late Dr. Joseph Madura in the 1960s.

The Greenburg brothers, like many others, know all about Farrell’s prowess in the WPIAL. “We had season tickets there, and I can remember going to Farrell games, starting the late ‘60s,” Jeff said. It will be a different ballgame next season to watch the Steelers compete in District 10.

The WPIAL owes a huge debt of gratitude to Farrell and neighboring Sharon. It was the two valley schools that carried the WPIAL on their backs in the early years and cemented it as one of the most powerful and respected leagues in the state.

From 1951 to 1960 alone, when the WPIAL established itself as one of the elite, Farrell played for the state championship six times and won five, losing in its first bid under McCluskey in 1951. Sharon played for the state crown twice, winning in 1957 with its undefeated team, led by Mark DuMars and the late Dr. John Fridley. Doing the math, two local teams played for the state title in eight of 10 years and won six in Pennsylvania’s highest classification!

Farrell leaves the WPIAL with 13 district championships, but more than that, exits as probably the most consistent team in league history and surely the most fabled. Since 1951, while many powers have come and gone to the bottom, you can count the number of losing seasons at Farrell on one hand.

The WPIAL has lost one of its giants, and the magic Dunlap recalls that went with it.

Lucas Lucas was our popcorn man

One of the things you find out when you write for a newspaper is that it’s a small world. Stories that you pen can spread from one end of the country to the other, and with the Internet, to all parts of the world.

I wrote a column last January about when I was a kid growing up in Farrell, everything we needed was within a block or two of our house in the 1000 block of Emerson Avenue.

One of the places that I mentioned was the popcorn stand at Spearman Avenue and Idaho Street, a stone’s throw away from the former J.A. Farrell Elementary School. I wrote about the “old man” who ran the stand and about how good the popcorn tasted, served for a nickel in a long, thin bag.

A friend, Shari Ray, sent me an e-mail several days after the column appeared, noting that she believed that the popcorn man was a Mr. Lucas, and that he was related to the late John Sava, who had been superintendent of the Farrell Area School District.

Several weeks later, I got a phone call from Victoria (Lucas) Kareklas of Columbus, Ohio, telling me on voicemail that the man who operated the Capitol Shoe Shine Parlor, Lucas Lucas, was her father.

After playing some serious phone tag, I finally talked with Victoria last Thursday. As it turned out, she was mailed a copy of my column containing Shari’s comments, and wanted to talk a little about her father, his shop and my January column

Victoria and her husband, Jordan, moved from Farrell to Columbus in 1959, making them gone for nearly 50 years. But in talking with Jordan as well as Victoria, they have fond memories of Farrell, and return occasionally to visit friends and relatives.

When in town, they stop by Victoria’s family homestead in the 600 block of Darr Avenue. One year when they visited, the owner of the house let Victoria in for a nostalgic tour. “It seemed like it was bigger when I was growing up there, but it sure was great to be able to see it again on the inside,” she said.

In addition to selling popcorn and roasted nuts, Lucas shined shoes at the hole-in-the-wall shop as well. “He cleaned hats in there too,” Victoria said.

At the urging of family, Lucas closed the shop and left Farrell in 1968 for California's better weather. He died in 1976 at the age of 75.



Jim Raykie is the editor of The Herald and writes this column every Monday. You can e-mail him at jraykie@sharonherald.com