Plaque Looks As If It Was Through The War

It Was
October 11, 1990|by KATHARINE McKEE, The Morning Call

Two Coaldale residents recently found a buried treasure right next to Borough Hall.

Ted Bortnick, a former Coaldale mayor, and Ernest Castagna found a 200-pound brass plate under layers of weather-beaten black paint.

The plate is the town's Honor Roll, a memorial list of the borough's veterans, erected in 1932 next to Borough Hall. The list has veterans from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and World War I.

Castagna said the the brass plate was painted black by the borough decades ago.

"It was probably turning green, and they just decided to paint it black. I don't know why they did it, but it's been that way since I moved here 27 years ago," he said.

Castagna lives across 3rd Street from the monument and Borough Hall.

"I've been looking out my window at it for years, and I got tired of seeing it look so bad. From my house you couldn't even tell it had writing on it," Castagna said.

Castagna and Bortnick decided one afternoon to see what they could do about cleaning up the plate.

"We didn't know what was under the paint. We took off one of the corner nuts and groundoff the paint. We were surprised to find it was brass. We cleaned up the nut, saw how nice it looked and decided to do the whole thing," Bortnick said.

The men contacted Coaldale Borough Council, Mayor John Radocha and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars for permission to remove the plate.

"They said to go ahead," Bortnick said.

Both men volunteered their services .

"The funny part is, none of us are veterans, and none of our relatives are on the list. We just got tired of seeing it look so bad and weather-beaten. You could hardly read the names," Castagna said.

Bortnick said it took four strong men to remove and carry the plate across the street to Castagna's garage. Coaldale residents Nick Segilia and Mike Bowman helped carry and clean the plate.

"We had to sandblast it to get the paint off. It took us about three days. Then we put two coats of sealer on it to protect it. This time the shine should last," Castagna said.

The men also plan to clean the rock the plate is mounted on.

"We contacted a mason, and it looks like we'll have to use acid to remove the spots of black paint from the rock," Bortnick said. "And now that golfing season is over, we should be able to tackle that project pretty soon."