In this concluding column, S.Sgt. Frank Csencsitz, of Northampton, a decorated combat veteran, 5th Division, Third Army under the command of Lt. Gen. George Patton, returns home Oct. 8, 1945.
After 27 months in Europe, he is welcomed by wife, Rose, and daughter, Rosemary, seeing her for the first time. When discharged at Fort Meade, Md., he receives $470 in back pay, later receiving $330 for 22 months overseas and $150 for domestic service.
Two brothers, Louis and Joseph, also return from Army service.
After a few days, a neighbor drives him to the Keystone Cement Company, where he was employed in 1937. Now a civilian, Frank would spend 43 years at the plant, mostly as a kiln burner. He was active with the United Cement, Lime and Gypsum Workers Union and served on many negotiation committees.
The home his wife resided in was owned by his brother Steve, a grocery store owner in the neighborhood. With the help of a VA loan, Frank was able to purchase the sturdy home for $8,500. A previous owner lost the home in the Great Depression. In order to update the home, a new bathroom was installed by a local contractor, Monroe Miller and Sons, for $480.
The family grew, with sons Michael, Greg and David. Frank finally was able to purchase a pre-owned 1947 Ford, with the help of another well-known World War II veteran, Danny Geiger. Our readers may recall when he operated a busy service station at Ninth and Main streets, Northampton. Mr. Csencsitz also worked part time at his friend’s station.
Both were very active with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4714 on Main Street. They held officer positions with the Post. Frank was also active with Catholic War Veterans Post 454.
Mr. Csencsitz organized a number of reunions for members of his 5th Division battalion in the Lehigh Valley. All were well attended.
After the war, many of the social clubs boomed in the area: St. Joseph’s, St. Nicholas, St. Peter and Paul, Liederkranz and St. Stephen’s Beneficial Society in Northampton and Coplay. Millions of veterans returned home and became active members of many clubs.
Greg and his brothers and sister are extremely proud of their parents – a mother at home with a daughter during the war and a father who fought to preserve our freedoms.
Greg, my friend and neighbor, was a student at Northampton High School, graduating in 1965. In order to pay his tuition at West Chester University, where he majored in math, he worked summers at Lehigh Dye and Drying, with the wage of $2.70 an hour; Furnco, working on Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces, at $3.10 an hour; and the Allentown State Hospital, $2.70 an hour, enabling him to pay tuition of $880.
Today, that wouldn’t cover the cost of books!
His first teaching position was at Salisbury High School. His salary was $6,400. Greg later learned the I.U. needed a teacher at the old Central building in Northampton. There, he started his I.U. career in his hometown.
In 1976, Greg’s life really changed. At a meeting of the I.U., he met a very attractive teacher, Catherine Swiderski. A romance blossomed and wedding bells rang loud and clear.
In 1989, Easton took over his I.U. unit. While there, Greg would coach the high school tennis team for 21 years, winning a district title. He also spent 16 years coaching girls basketball at Easton and Northampton. He retired in 2004 after 33.5 years teaching and 27 years coaching.
“I have always enjoyed coaching our young people,” he said.
Both of his brothers have spent years working in local industry.
Greg’s late sister, Rosemary, spent years at a landmark restaurant. Do you remember Roy Snyder’s, over Whitehall way? I do. She was our favorite waitress.
Frank Csencsitz experienced the horrors of war for 22 months from Normandy to V-E Day. Returning home, he raised a family of faith with strong values.
This writer spoke to Frank, my neighbor, frequently. He never talked about his World War II service.
A humble man, Frank would rather speak about his days at Keystone Cement, where he was a dedicated cement worker.
We thank Greg and Catherine for their cooperation and kindness in writing this series.
We will be back in two weeks.