Few lifelong residents are unable to conjure up a memory of when they first learned to swim at Burgess Park or got a summer job as a lifeguard or hung out with their friends and family poolside throughout the decades. However, it is also likely few people remember when and why the Dick Kraffert pool came about.
Towering on a hilltop near Pittsburgh sat Dixmont Asylum for the Insane, later deemed Dixmont Hospital. Though Dixmont no longer looms in the minds of Northwestern Pennsylvanians today, it was both lauded and feared by residents in the late 1800s.
The night was dark and the snow fell heavily onto the moving train, slick tracks, and quiet woods along the Lake Shore Railroad from Erie, Pennsylvania to Ashtabula, Ohio. December 29th, 1876 was like many other winter nights, until at approximately 8:00pm, when everything changed.
The year was 1942. The United States had been at war for just over one year. Fighting was fierce in the Pacific, Africa, and Europe.On Saturday, December 26, 1942, The Titusville Herald reproduced an Associated Press story about how Americans were keeping the Christmas spirit alive on the homefront. The article read:
Despite the constant reports of violence we are inundated with every day, we live in a low-violence society compared to the 1800s in the Oil Region! In particular, 1874 was a very violent year.
It was the year after the Civil War. Veterans were still recovering. Thousands of Pennsylvanian children were in soldiers' orphanages as a result of the carnage, and three more children were about to be thrown to the winds as a result of their father's actions.
"Horrible Homicide!" the August 15th, 1872 edition of the Titusville Morning Herald screamed from page three. "A man had his head chopped off in the Corry Lock-Up. The Slayer an insane man!" Comforting words to read while sipping your morning tea, no?