LUZERNE — About 46 years ago, Helen Caruso found herself living in Luzerne Borough with her four daughters and an uncertain future.
Caruso, now 78, talked Wednesday about her home town and how she was embraced by its people at a time when she had nowhere else to turn.
That’s why Caruso was glued to her television last night, watching the premiere of “Our Town Luzerne” — the hour-long documentary about the town that she said she would never leave because of all the kindness she received over the years.
“I moved to Miller Street, and my neighbors were Ed and Laura Sidelko,” Caruso said. “They were so kind. They invited my daughters over to swim in their pool. I told them two of my girls couldn’t swim, so their children taught mine how. They said we were welcome anytime.”
Caruso said she struggled to get back on her feet when she arrived in an unfamiliar town, but she said the entire place seemed to want to help her.
“I was walking home one day and it started to rain really hard,” Caruso said. “A woman I had never met stopped her car and offered me a ride.”
That woman was Peggy Foglietta, Caruso said. The two women remain friends today.
And then there was Johanna Paraschak, who lived a few doors up from Caruso. The two women met at the elementary school their children attended.
“I told her I had to leave to walk to the laundromat to get my laundry,” Caruso said. “The next thing I know is Johanna pulled her car up to the laundromat to give me and my laundry a ride home.”
Paraschak also got Caruso involved with the Luzerne Borough Volunteer Fire Co. Auxiliary. They also bowled together in a league, and Caruso became a Girl Scout leader.
“Nobody knew me, but everybody did what they could to make me feel welcome,” Caruso recalled.
Originally from Washington. D.C., Caruso moved to Altoona, where she grew up, and then moved back to the nation’s capital where she married and had her four children. When the marriage failed, Caruso said she ended up in Pittston and then found a place in Luzerne.
“I came her totally alone,” she said. “I remember walking my kids down Main Street looking for the school to send my daughters. A few people directed me to where I needed to go.”
Caruso said Luzerne instantly became her home — she said the people embraced her and she embraced them back. She made friends she still has today.
Caruso read stories about the WVIA-TV documentary production, “Our Town: Luzerne,” and said she couldn’t wait to watch it Wednesday night to learn about the town she loves.
“As far as I’m concerned, there can’t be another town like Luzerne anywhere,” Caruso said. “This is the best place I’ve ever been. I will never forget how this town and the people treated me.”
Caruso found a job at the Social Security Administration, raised her daughters and made a life for her family in Luzerne.
“All my girls got married and everybody is happy,” she said. “I would never move from here.”
Caruso then sat back to watch “Our Town Luzerne.”
“I want to know all I can about Luzerne,” she said. “But what I do know is that I’m glad I found my home here.”