The Hitchner Biscuit Company
"Many moons ago," he said, "a quarter could get you a bag of broken cookies. They sold 'em in a little room just off the loading dock." Roy Speece sat on the steps of his front porch, pointing directly across Ann Street at the derelict building. "I'd walk over there after school."
The Hitchner Biscuit Company baked its last cookie in the winter of 1951, ending a run of 42 years in the four-story baking factory. "I've spent 70 of my 72 years in this town, and it's always been there," Roy said. "The last place in there, they made plastics. But it's been empty for some time now."
Despite its derelict state, the grand old structure hasn't brought ruin to the neighborhood, Roy said. "West Pittston's a good area. Not as rough as some of the places in this part of Pennsylvania. It's one of your nicer towns."
Roy said he worked hard all his life, retiring only a few years ago. "My first job was at Firesigns Grocery as a delivery boy," he said. "I worked at a gas station for a while, but most of my life I worked as a mechanic at Walsh Steel." Roy still coaches mini-football. "I've been coaching the little guys for 36 years."
Roy's dad fought in the First World War. He was a Doughboy. "There's a picture of him in his uniform in the living room," Roy said. "His name was Samuel, but everybody knew him as Roy. He worked at Miner's Bank for 50 years. At least that's what it used to be called. They changed the name so many times, I don't know what it was called when he retired."
West Pittston sits on the right bank of the Susquehanna River. The town of 5,000 is a few miles south of Scranton. Pennsylvania Highway 92 runs alongside the biscuit factory.
West Pittston, Pennsylvania • August 13, 2009
Roy sits on his porch on Ann Street in the late afternoon.
D E A D L I N K :
'Right stuff baked in' — but the link is a cooked goose!
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010