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Say Hello To Pottsville

Ever heard of Pottsville, Pennsylvania?

Until last week, the answer to that question, for me, was a firm “no.”

Pottsville is the hometown of author John O’Hara, who wrote Appointment in Samarra. In the literary community, O’Hara is either loved or scorned (but mostly scorned) for being a brutal self-promoter. Though he’s widely disliked, his novels are impressive and played a major part in making him famous.

So when a famous author is from small town USA, you might think he might be the reason said town gets “put on the map.” But, in this case, you’d be wrong.

In fact, John O’Hara might only be the third most famous thing to ever come out of Pottsville. What are the two others?

The Pottsville Maroons

They were a professional football team that actually played in the NFL. Interestingly enough, John O’Hara covered the Maroons in a local paper.

Pottsville splashed onto the NFL scene in 1925, their first year in the NFL, when they won the championship. However, the league recognized the Chicago (now Arizona) Cardinals as league champions because of an exhibition game Pottsville played against Notre Dame in Philadelphia. The league commissioner had warned the team’s owner not to play in Philadelphia because the city was in the territory of the Frankford Yellow Jackets.

After the 1925 controversy, Pottsville played a few more years in the NFL before they were sold, renamed to the Boston Bulldogs, and eventually folded in 1930.

Yuengling

The other big thing Pottsville is famous for the Yuengleng Brewery—the largest American owned brewery established in 1829. Yuengleng is a little like a high-end Bud Lite. It’s a decent beer, but nothing to write home about.

Though it’s the oldest brewery in America, I had never heard of Yuengling until 5 or 6 years ago. That might be because they were a mostly regional beer until they expanded into the south over the last decade.

I really wanted to find some of O’Hara’s writings about the Pottsville Maroons, but I couldn’t find anything specific, just references to him having been the Pottsville “beat writer.”

Also of note: Pottsville inspired the fiction Gibbsville in O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra novel. It’s small town, country club gossip life at its finest.

I’ll review the novel next week.

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. YES!! Been there, have friends who lived there. A classic PA town full of beautiful old homes at the top of the hill and small, crowded row homes at the bottom.

    Liked by 2 people

    September 18, 2014
  2. Actually I have heard of Pottsville, and been there too! Although I had no idea that it was home to John O’Hara.

    Liked by 2 people

    September 18, 2014
  3. Sam #

    “Yuengleng is a little like a high-end Bud Lite. It’s a decent beer, but nothing to write home about.”
    I live in Michigan and we don’t have Yuengleng. When I visit family in Ohio, I send pictures to my MI friends that I’m drinking Yuengleng. I literally do write home about it.

    Liked by 3 people

    September 18, 2014
  4. 1banjo #

    Hailing from a city named Pottsville can only have added to the sense of social inferiority that gnawed at O’Hara like a rat in his vitals.

    Liked by 2 people

    September 18, 2014
    • I can’t get that rat visual out of my head now.

      Liked by 2 people

      September 18, 2014
    • Except Pottsville was a happening place back in the 20’s and 30’s, a serious boom town when Appointment in Samarra was written. Even then, O’Hara couldn’t help looking at the seedy underside. Some years later, Pottsville fell on very hard times. I won’t bore you with the history (it’s all about anthracite coal), but O’Hara never lacked for material.

      Liked by 1 person

      September 18, 2014
  5. 1banjo #

    Still.

    “Where are you from, Mr. O’Hara?”
    “Pottsville.”

    It cries out for a rimshot line, and I bet John heard them all.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 18, 2014
  6. I’m from PA… love Yuengling, though we just call it “lager” around here 🙂

    Like

    September 18, 2014
  7. I hate self-promoters, in fact, I write about them frequently in my blog, that I’d love for you to check out sometime.

    Like

    September 19, 2014
  8. Having grown up in NEPA (as it’s called), I’m familiar with Pottstown and its history (thanks to PA History class).

    Great post; thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Like

    September 20, 2014
  9. Yes been to Pottsville, PA.Actually, went there to dig up ancient family history. Cool place. Looking forward to your review

    Like

    September 21, 2014

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