On St. Patrick’s Day, Vice President Joe Biden will be speaking at the annual Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Lackawanna County dinner in Dickson City. This isn’t Biden first speaking appearance at the dinner or the first VP to speak at the dinner either.

The first vice president of the United States to speak at the annual dinner was Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Mr. Humphrey told the hundreds gathered at the Hotel Casey about the Irish connection to the Declaration of Independence (5 of the signers were born in Ireland) and how the Irish helped to build the great cities across the United States.

Here area few images of Vice President Humphrey’s visit:

In 1972, former Vice President Humphrey (later being re-elected to the U.S. Senate in 1970) would return the area on St. Patrick’s Day to speak at the Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinner at the Mayfair Supper Club in Yatesville. A bomb threat was phoned in to the owners of the restaurant and the building was evacuated while the State Police and local police departments searched for the bomb. No bomb was found  but several humorous suggestions were made to who could have called in the scare.

Vice President Biden actually spoke last year at the Greater Pittston Friendly Sons dinner. But this wasn’t his first time speaking at Friendly Sons dinner in our area. His first speech was in 1973 at the Friendly Son’s of St. Patrick of Lackawanna County dinner at the Casey Inn when he was new senator from Delaware.  While searching the archives for information on this visit, I turned up his speech from that night. You can read the speech here https://www.dropbox.com/s/hm4kdo73rl5jrah/Biden%27s%20Speech%2073.pdf?dl=0

Prior to speaking at the dinner then Senator Biden paid a visit to Marywood College.

U.S. Sen Joe Biden (D-Delaware), third from left, a Scranton native, pauses to talk with Marywood College officials during campus tour. Sen. Biden, who attended kindergarten classes at Marywood, speaks tonight at Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinner at Casey Inn. From left, Sister M.Josephine, dean of Marywood graduate school, George V.Lynett, copublisher of the Scranton Times and Sunday Times and dinner toastmaster; Sen.Biden, Sister M. Coleman Nee, college president; Judge Richard Conaboy, chairman, college board of trustees; Sister Gabriel Kane, vice-president of student affairs, and Dr. John A Quinn, Friendly Sons president. Date Published: March 17, 1973

He would make a second visit to the Friendly Son’s of Lackawanna County in 1998.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Robert Casey Jr. arrives at the Friendly Sons dinner along with Senator Joe Biden and Congressman Joe McDade. Times-Tribune Archives

Long before Vice President Biden was in politics he had a brush with the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinner and former President Harry Truman. When President Truman spoke at the dinner in 1956, a young Joe Biden was in the crowd while Truman motorcade drove through Scranton.

Joe Biden in the crowd gathered to see former President Harry S Truman arrive in Scranton on March 17, 1956. Times-Tribune Archives.

Speaking of Harry Truman, that was actually his second appearance at the Friendly Sons dinner. He first spoke in 1943. In addition to the former president, the Friendly Son’s of Lackawanna County have hosted  cabinet members, numerous members of Congress and several high ranking officials of the governments of Ireland and Northern Ireland at their annual dinner. You can view list here – https://www.dropbox.com/s/w2p3mksx5bsh5c0/Federal%20and%20Foreign%20Dignitaries%20Friendly%20Sons%20%20-%20Sheet1.pdf?dl=0

Happy St. Patrick’s Day,

Brian