Charles Cialella, “Lottery”, 27 October 1945

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Charles Cialella played football for New Castle High and worked for his family’s florist business until he joined the army air service, immediately after the attack on Pearl harbor. Two months after the end of the war, he was arrested for playing a numbers game. He was released without being charged.

He went to work with New Castle’s parks department and became supervisor of the Cascade park swimming pool when it reopened in 1952, offering a pledge that, following a programme of improvements, it would now be impossible for bathers to contract skin diseases or sinus trouble through use of the facility.

In 1968, Charles’s cousin, Carl Cialella, became mayor and appointed Charles superintendent of all the city’s parks. By the seventies, the administration had changed and Charles was made foreman of the city’s sewers. In 1976, he was working in a sewer in Winter avenue when he found a 1942 class ring inscribed with the initials MAS hanging on a broken tree branch. He called New Castle High, whose staff checked their records and told him that it must have belonged to Mary Agnes Schetrom. Charles’s friend, Frank Gagliardo, had been the Schetrom’s paper boy and still knew some friends of the family, who told Charles that Mary Agnes was living on Kenneth street. Two hours after he had found the ring, Charles returned it to Mary Agnes, who told him she had accidentally dropped it down her toilet in 1946 and had not expected to see it again.

Charles was a Republican committeeman and president of the local lodge of the Sons of Italy. He played golf, went bowling and raised funds for charity. His wife bred exotic plants and worked as an Avon representative for fifty years. They raised five children and were both over eighty when they died.

Sources: New Castle News (4 Nov 1938, “New Castle And Monessen Play Here Tonight”; 17 Feb 1942, “With Men In US Service”; 3 May 1952, “Cascade Pool Repairs Near Completion”; 14 June 1952, “Bathers Crowd Cascade Park Pool Friday”; 12 Oct 1959, “Bowling”; 28 Aug 1963, “11-Year Rarity”;15 April 1968, “Observe Construction”;10 Sep 1968, “Cialella Shifts Personnel”; 27 May 1975, “Believe It Or Not, People Still Care”; 12 Sep 1977, “Honored For Participation”); obitsforlife.com, Mary E Cialella obituary via obitsforlife.com.

6 Comments

  1. Mike says

    Looks like the Air Force taught him to stare impassively to his front while authoritah messed with him for no good reason. Apparently numbers games were also known as the ‘Italian lottery’ in some parts of the US and of course 25 years later the state was running the racket. Diarmid, do you know from your reading if the numbers games caused any harm in New Castle?

    • Numbers games seem to have caused trouble only to the people who were arrested for playing. The sums involved were really small — at least, in the cases that I’ve read about; there may have been bigger concerns that had enough money to pay for a blind eye to be turned…

  2. Excellent story as usual.

    Charles must have joined the Army because there was no Air Force until after the war.

    Best,

    Lance

    • Thanks for the tip, Lance! The paper that day says that he was in the US Air Service, which I assumed was the same as the air force, but which I guess was part of the army at the time. I’ll correct it immediately – thanks again!

  3. David says

    Perhaps someone who reads this can help me. I’m adopted and learned that my birth mother’s name was Dolores Schetrom. She was born in New Castle in 1932 and lived there until she was in her 30’s. She died in Los Angeles California in 2004 (months before I was able to locate her). She was deaf. Her father’s name was Charles. A 1939 article from the New Castle News said they lived at 23 Cascade Street in New Castle. I noticed that the owner of the ring in this story had the same last name and also that there are several people with that name still in the area. If anyone has any information or can direct me to someone in the family, I’d greatly appreciate it.

    • I hope someone gets in touch, David.

      If anyone wants to contact you without doing so on this page, they can leave a comment here and I’ll forward it to you without publishing it online. Good luck.

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