It was St. Patrick’s Day 1997 and Tom Kutza’s talk program on WISL hosted a very special guest for the holiday. His name was Joseph Shilpetski but on St. Patrick’s Day he called himself Joseph John “The Polish Leprechaun” and he was live and very much in color in the WISL studios at Rock and Sunbury Streets in Shamokin.
According to a 1991 article in the Allentown Morning Call, Shilpetski was born in Centralia, PA and left the area in 1952 when the last of the mines closed. He ended up moving to Lancaster County looking for work, but Centralia remained very much a part of him.
In the article Shilpetski was quoted:
“There are no other people like the people that came from Centralia, they’ll not be matched, I’m proud of them and this occasion (a reunion of former Centralia residents) fills my heart with joy.”
In this rare, uncut interview we are very privileged to get a glimpse into what life was like in Centralia before the mine fire and the relocation. Shilpetski sings a couple of Irish favorites and has a great time talking with Tom and former WISL owner Mick Haggerty.
“I’d like to tell all my friends up on Paxton Street, that I wish they could be my neighbors once more.”
The highlight of this clip features Shilpetski singing a teary-eyed rendition of “Give My Regard To Broadway,” rewritten as “Give My Regards To Centralia,” full of first-hand memories from one of Centralia’s own.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day we present to you Joseph John “The Polish Leprechaun.
Tom Kutza Interviews Joseph John “The Polish Leprechaun” March 17th 1997.