Morse Code operator during WWII


Philomena Rose (Pisacreta) Jones of Mount Washington, a self-taught Morse Code operator during WWII who also worked as a telegraph operator and translated Morse Code for play-by-play broadcasts of Bob Prince, died on July 19 at the Altoona Center for Nursing Care.

Philomena was a mother, grandma and great-Grandma-ma who gave the gift of unconditional love to all her family. She was the daughter of the late Gabriel and Rosaria (Marra) Pisacreta. She married the late Herman W. Jones in Wash. D.C. She was preceded in death by eight brothers and one sister.

As a young girl she attended St. Mary of the Mount School. She was a self-taught Morse Code operator. She retired with 20 years service from the B&O, Chessie System now (CSX RR), as the “First Woman Wire Chief” and a dispatcher and telegraph operator.

She previously had worked as a telegraph operator for 21 years at the Western Union including several years service on the “President's Line” in Wash, D.C. during WWII. While Philomena was a telegraph operator at the Western Union, she translated the Morse Code of “sports dispatches” into the exciting play-by-play descriptions of baseball radio shows. She would gather material from the Morse Wire for about half an hour during the baseball game and then turn it over to the local broadcasters. She decoded transmissions that provided raw material for the play-by-play reports of Rosey Rowswell, Jack Craddock and Bob Prince.

She was a member of the Victory Lodge No. 33, Italian Sons and Daughters of America and was the treasurer of the Florence Nightingale Lodge for eight years and she also a member of the Transportation Communication Union.

Philomena was a member of the Memorial Gold Cross Ambulance Corp, Co. D, during WWII. And to help raise funds for the local defense, they were featured in the first all-talking motion picture produced in Pittsburgh called, “It Happened in Pittsburgh” which played for weeks at the Nixon Theatre in May of 1941. She was also a member of an “All-Woman's String Band” where she played the mandolin.

She is survived by her sister, Rose Boyd and Lou (Toni) Pisacreta and three children: a son, Jonathen P. (Jeanie) Jones of Cumming, GA, two daughters, Janet C. (Ron) Brown of Aloona, PA and Verna L. Jones of Annapolis, MD

She is the step-mother of Jean Jordan and Beverly Gannott of Jacksonville, FL and the late Walter Jones of SanDiego, CA. Also survived by seven grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and numerous step-grandchildren, four late step-great-grandchildren and numerous step-great grandchildren.

After her retirement, she loved to teach knitting and crocheting and crocheted 50 afghans for the American Veterans in Pgh. She loved music, sports, baking and cooking.

Friends were welcomed at Wm. Slater & Sons, Inc. in Mt. Washington. Funeral Mass was in St. Mary of the Mount Church was on Monday, July 25. Interment in Calvary Cemetery.

The family request that donations be made in her name to the Hospice of the Altoona Home Nursing Agency at 201 Chestnut Ave, Altoona, PA 16601.


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