Ernest Pokersnik’s father left Slovenia at the turn of the century and worked for forty years in Bessemer’s brick and cement factories. Ernest’s mother died when he was young, and he spent some time in Morganza reform school for larceny. His sentence was lengthened when he broke into the Croatian club to steal two bottles of beer while on parole.
He became a mechanic. During the war, he repaired fighters and bombers in an air field in the south of England. Just after he returned home, in 1946, he was arrested for stealing scrap from the Pennsylvania railroad yard. He was caught by Charles L Reese, who had been appointed constable of the third ward when the previous incumbent had been elected to the city council. Reese had been trying to become a councilman since the thirties. His campaign advertisements, printed in the New Castle News every election, listed his virtues. He was always the youngest candidate. He understood the needs of returning soldiers. He had fought in the first world war. He had been posted in Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, China and Russia. He had wide experience of tree surgery and landscaping. His slogan: “If you live in a city, live for it. If you work in a city, work for it.”
Reese told Ernest that, if he gave him $200 and pled guilty, he would use his influence to make sure the judge kept him out of jail. Reese paid him what he asked and did what he said. He got an $85 fine and was sent to the county jail for four to eight months.
At the end of summer, when Ernest got out, he told the district attorney what Reese had done. Reese confessed and was fined $200 and given six months in the workhouse. He never achieved elected office.
Ernest died in 1988, at the age of seventy.Sources: New Castle News (20 August 1938, “On Court House Hill”; 9 August 1941, “Charles L Reese Council Candidate”; 13 September 1944, “In U S Armed Service”; 16 June 1945, Charles L Reese For Council”; 16 October 1946, “Constable Is Given Sentence”; 24 December 1956, “Deaths Of The Day”).
Thank you for posting these stories! They are quite interesting and I look forward to reading each one.
Good to know the work’s appreciated, Marty — thanks!