Grand marshal Knoebel brothers recall time as youth in Shamokin
ELYSBURG - The name "Knoebel" is synonymous with Elysburg, due to the popular amusement resort and lumber yard of that name.
But there are smiles on the faces of Richard "Dick" and Ron "Buddy" Knoebel when they talk about times they spent in Shamokin during their formative years.
The brothers, current patriarchs of the Knoebel family, will lead today's Anthracite Heritage Festival of the Arts parade as grand marshals.
"When (parade organizer) Pam Burns asked us to be the grand marshals for the event, we were extremely flattered," Buddy Knoebel said.
For the brothers, this will be their first visit to the festival in its nine-year history.
"This weekend is usually one of the busiest weekends for the park," Dick Knoebel said. "The Ralpho Township Alumni Association also holds its annual reunion this weekend too, so we've got a lot to do."
The brothers recall happy times in Shamokin visiting relatives for holidays and during the summer.
"I used to love going to the Capitol Theatre on a Monday," Dick said, noting the cost was 9 cents.
"Our grandmother married a butcher, W.A. Moody, who had a store on Walnut Street," Buddy recalled, "He made the best fagots, souse and scrapple around."
The Knoebels talked about their ties to the coal industry, as some of their lumber was used to make the beams that hold mining tunnels in place.
"Our family would sell Christmas trees in the Lincoln Street school yard," Dick said. "Our grandfather would use neckties to tie the trees together for shipping."
"One person came to the lot, looking for a double-spruce tree, and there was no such thing," Buddy recalled. "My grandfather got one of his ties, tied two trees together, and there it was - a double spruce."
Both Dick and Buddy helped out at the Christmas tree lot and delivered trees to homes.
"It always seemed like the people that wanted the biggest trees had the smallest homes we delivered to," Dick said.
Jeanne Shaffer, executive director of the Northumberland County Council for the Arts and Humanities, said she could not imagine two better people suited for the grand marshal honor.
"Knoebels contributes so much to the area we live in, and has been a real champion in promoting this area through tourism and employing many people," she said in the announcement of their selection earlier this month. "It is long overdue that we honor them."
Past grand marshals include WISL disc jockey and talk show host and retired Northumberland County tourism director, Tom Kutza; former Shamokin Mayor Ron "Lum" Bradley and Coal Township Commissioner Albert Santor; television meteorologist Noreen Clark; William Shaw, a helicopter pilot who flew for four presidents; war veterans Jarrod Scandle and Julie Nicolov; entertainers Vic Boris and Irvin Liachowicz, and Frank Schmidt, and William and Dr. Mary Schmidt, grandchildren of Max Schmidt, co-founder of the F&S Brewery, of Shamokin.
"I've talked to Frank Schmidt," Dick Knoebel said. "He mentioned how much of a great time it was for him, so we are looking forward to it."
The parade will begin at 6 p.m. today at the intersection of Rock and Water streets. The route is the same as in previous years. (See Page 10 for details.)