Emma CurtisComment

Gladstone History: 1950s and 1960s

Emma CurtisComment
Gladstone History: 1950s and 1960s
 

by JaQuay Edward Carter, Founder and President of the Greater Hazelwood Historical Society of Pittsburgh

On the afternoon of October 7th, 1954, Crossing Guard Captain, John Minadeo, was at his post on the corner of Hazelwood and Second Avenues.

A car at the top of Hazelwood Avenue lost its brakes and careened down the hill. The driver, trying desperately to avoid a car in the intersection of Hazelwood and Second, swerved to the right. His car popped onto the sidewalk, plunging straight into a group of school children. John Minadeo, in a last ditch effort, threw aside a number of children just before the runaway car crashed into him. John's actions that day saved four fellow students. Unfortunately, the crash still took the lives of John Minadeo and fellow Gladstone classmate, Ella Cornelius. 

Both local and national press outlets lauded John Minadeo for his heroic efforts. Gladstone Principal, Robert Creswell, said over half of the student population had been excused to attend either John or Ella's funerals. Over 7,000 community members attended John Minadeo's funeral, wishing to pay their respects. Mayor David L. Lawrence recognized John Minadeo's bravery, and, in 1956, then-Vice President Richard Nixon awarded Minadeo the Lifesaver Citation. In 1957, Minadeo Elementary School was opened in Squirrel Hill in honor of John Minadeo's sacrifice for his community peers. 

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There were no major changes or additions at the school for 30 years until plans were announced in October of 1957 that Gladstone would be adding grades 10-B in February of 1958 and 10-A in September. Until 1958 there was no Gladstone High School. An elementary school and a junior high school, yes. But no high school. "Taylor Allderdice got too crowded," explained principal, Arthur W. Thomas in 1961. "We had some empty rooms in our building. So we started our own high school." It made Gladstone the newest high school in the Pittsburgh Public school system and the only public school in town that can take a child in kindergarten and educate him or her through high school. 

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In April of 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been assassinated, causing wide-spread national racial tension and outrage. Rioting was erupting all over the country after the senseless murder of Dr. King along with the centuries of slavery, segregation, and suppression. Hazelwood was not spared, nor was Gladstone. The fighting lasted for months, culminating in a State Police probe into the racially charged series of riots at Gladstone between black and white students.