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.
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.