Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Lost Children of the Poconos

There are many people that I grew up with who met with a tragic end very early in their lives.  I pray for a large group of them daily.  There are several of them whose deaths have truly haunted me over the years.  I've since reached a time in my life where I want to remember and memorialize these people, so I started a group on Facebook for this purpose and named it "The Lost Children of the Poconos".

One of my first posts was about a young man named Michael "Rover" Rovlenchik.  Michael was one of a group of us who lived at the Tobyhanna Village Apartments in Tobyhanna, PA back in the 60s.  He also belonged to a smaller subset of us who attended Pocono Central Catholic School (PCC) in Cresco, PA.  Michael was almost a decade older than me, but we all used to ride a big Army bus to school daily, courtesy of Colonel Edward Holland, Post Commander at the Tobyhanna Army Depot. Back then, people from Grades 1 through 12 rode the bus together, which was a very interesting experience.  Michael was also a member of St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church, which is where my family and I went to church.

Michael was a very nice young man and was well liked by all who knew him.  One evening during the 4th of July weekend in 1968, Michael and his friend Billy Flaherty were hanging out at Gerrity's, which was a greasy spoon restaurant in downtown Tobyhanna back then. Apparently they were having a great time and didn't realize how late it had become.  According to my brother-in-law Blake Flaherty, (Billy's brother) they were worried about violating their curfew, so they both started running on foot to get home.  They split off at the corner near St. Ann's Church and their last words were "see you tomorrow".  Micheal's way home up to the Tobyhanna Village Apartments involved crossing the railroad tracks and running mostly uphill along about a mile of a very dark road with double lanes.

The 10:07 PM train was riding through Tobyhanna as Michael approached the railroad tracks and apparently he thought that he could safely make it across the tracks. Unfortunately, he misjudged the train's distance and was hit and killed.  Billy said that he heard the train's whistle right after he and Michael split up.  The whole community was stunned by his death!  Micheal was the first person that I knew to die and his death really rocked my world!

One of the girls who lived in the Village at that time and a PCC alumna said that after Micheal's death, his parents moved away from Tobyhanna because they couldn't bear the sound of the whistle of the 10:07  PM train as it rolled through town every evening.

Another one of our PCC Alumni said that Michael used to date the girl who lived next door to him in Gouldsboro. He said that he could hear that ten o'clock train whistle blow that tragic evening back in 1968 and Mike's girlfriend being brought home that night crying uncontrollably.

Here is a tribute page dedicated to him in the 1969 PCC Yearbook:

Micheal's Tribute Page in the 1969 PCC Yearbook - Courtesy of Danielle Rake

I'd like to thank my PCC alumna Danielle Rake for being so kind and taking the time to go to the school's library and scan this memorial out of the 1969 Yearbook!

Here's the article in the Pocono Record, which I clearly remember reading back then.  

WARNING:  This article is extremely graphic about the details of Micheal's death!!!!  If you're sensitive, please don't read it!!

Pocono Record Article about Micheal's Death

Michael was laid to rest in St. Catherine's Cemetery in Moscow, PA, which is the same place where my mother, father and brother John are buried. 

He is gone but not forgotten!

DAVID ALLEN GROSS 

Birth: Aug. 2, 1956
East Stroudsburg
Monroe County
Pennsylvania, USA
.Death: Aug. 10, 1977
Delaware Water Gap
Monroe County
Pennsylvania, USA

David Gross was a young man that I knew from High School who died tragically at a young age.  He  was the cousin of Janice Gross, a friend of mine in the 5th grade at Coolbaugh Elementary School.  He also dated a High School friend of mine named Jaye Ann Miller.  

The last time that I saw Dave was at the graduation ceremony for my class, the Pocono Central Catholic High School Class of 1977.  He and his parents came to see Jaye Ann graduate from High School.  After the ceremony, Dave walked up to Jaye Ann and handed her a present and she was really nasty to him!  It made me feel pretty bad, partially because of something that occurred earlier on that year.  My Aunt Mary Jeanne was really good friends with Dave's mother Pat.  Sometime earlier that year, Pat had complained to my Aunt that she was tired of Jaye Ann making food for Dave at their house and leaving a mess in the kitchen. My Aunt told my mother and I about this one evening at our dining room table.  Unfortunately, I ended up telling Jaye Ann about it and she went ballistic!  She ended up breaking up with him not much longer after that. I hope that my telling her about that wasn't part of the reason for their breakup! 

One August evening several months later, the story is that Dave was seen flashing some money at a party.  Despite the fact that he had no apparent enemies, he was found beaten to death at 1:37 a.m. the next morning under a rubber tarpaulin in the back seat of his 1975 Chevrolet Nova hatchback. The car was in a parking area known as the Arrow Island Overlook at Delaware Water Gap. Somebody had bashed his head in with a tire iron. The method of murder definitely indicated that the killer was enraged.  To this day, I don't think that his killer(s) have ever been caught. Although I have my suspicions about who might have been involved in his murder, I'm just going to keep them to myself. What a senseless tragedy!

Here's David's senior portrait from the 1974 Pocono Mountain High School Yearbook:


David Gross in his 1974 Gradation Picture

Here is his obituary from the Pocono Record:

David Allen Gross, 21, of Winona Road, Mount Pocono, PA died on Thursday, August 10, 1977. He was a murder victim.

He was born in East Stroudsburg on August 2, 1956, the only son of George R. and Patricia (Kemmerer) Gross of Mount Pocono. He lived in Mount Pocono all of his life.

He was employed as a carpenter by Ervin W. Gross & Sons of Mount Pocono. He was a member of the Mount Allen Hunting Assn and was a graduate of the Pocono Mountain High School Class of 1974.

In addition to his parents, he was survived by his maternal grandfather, Norman Kemmerer of Allentown and his paternal grandmother, Mrs. Lillian Gross of Mount Pocono.

David was laid to rest at Arlington Memorial Park Cemetery in Whitehall, PA.

Rest in Peace, Dave!

DAVID CHARLES SCHMITT

Birth: Jun. 1, 1959
Death: Aug. 11, 1987

Dave Schmitt was a classmate of mine during Middle School at PCC. He and I learned to play guitar together from Sister Kathleen, one of the teachers at PCC during that time.  We had fun sneaking cigarettes, skipping an occasional class or two, and cutting up in class. He eventually ended up going over to Pocono Mountain High School and I think that he graduated from there.

Dave lost his brother Ned in a motorcycle accident in 1986.  This plus other events in his life led up to what must have been an extreme moment of despair on August 11, 1987, when Dave committed suicide at his home in Tobyhanna. 

Here are a few pictures that I got from Teresa Kelly, a girl who I sat with in Chemistry class at Pocono Mountain High School, who was close friends with Dave:


Dave Schmitt in 1978 - Courtesy of Teresa Kelly
Dave in a hat, circa 1978

Here is his obituary that was in the Pocono Record on Wednesday, August 12, 1987

TOBYHANNA - David Charles Schmitt, 28, of Tobyhanna, a singer and guitarist for several local groups, died Tuesday at his home from a self-inflicted injury.

Born in Bethlehem, he was a son of Edward T. and Olive (Schaffer) Schmitt of Indianapolis, Ind. He had been a Mount Pocono area resident since 1968.

He was a self-employed contractor, operating New Additions of Mount Pocono. He had been a singer and lead guitarist for "Golden Fleece", "Band Teaser" and "Sirens Cry." He was also an avid skier, golfer, fisherman and outdoors man.

He was a member of St. Mary of the Mount Roman Catholic Church, Mount Pocono.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by his paternal grandmother, Bertha Schmitt of Levittown, Long Island, N.Y.; and three sisters, Mrs. Arthur (Ellen) Anderson, Mrs. Gregory (Sally) Bush, and Barbara Schmitt, all of Stroudsburg.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 AM Friday at St. Mary of the Mount Roman Catholic Church, Mount Pocono, with Monsignor Arthur J. Kaschenbach as celebrant.

A viewing will be held from 7 to 8:30 PM Thursday in the William H. Clark Funeral Home, Stroudsburg, where a wake service will be held at 8 PM.


David was laid to rest next to his brother Ned in the Buena Vista Cemetery, Broadheadsville.

Rest in Peace, Dave!













 

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I joined the Air Force when I was 18 years old and very happily went far, far away from home.  I love to travel and have been to many places, mostly in Europe. I plan to go to many more exotic locales before I leave this earth.