I concluded last week’s travel with a trip to Pittsburgh to see my parents. They’re about to move to Florida, thus ending the Pittsburgh Years. The family homestead already has been sold. Now Mom and Pops are Florida bound. It seemed strange. In a lot of ways, I miss the ‘Burgh and felt a tinge of regret knowing that I’d have one less reason to drop by there once in a while. My brothers are still there, and I’m sure Pittsburgh hasn’t seen the last of me, but it still seemed like the end of an era. We ended my trip with a gathering of the Benz clan. Mom made stuffed pork chops. The niece and nephews where there. A good time was had by all.
Also swung by the Carnegie Library over in Homestead and and the Riverfront at Homestead. It was incredible. The site where the giant, hulking Homestead Works used to belch smoke and flame is now a strip mall that caters to yuppies. Barnes & Noble. Victoria’s Secret. P.F. Chang’s. All this where soot covered mill workers used to toil. I’ve been kicking around an idea for a novel that involves Homestead (and the Homestead Steel Strike of 1892) and I wanted to get over there to start doing a little research. I couldn’t believe how it’s changed since the days when I used to sit on a hill on the opposite side of the Monogahela, watching the entire river valley pulse reddish orange and listening to the giant reverberating crashes of metal crashing to the grown. Lot of fodder here for that novel. Also found a few books at B&N that’s I’d been looking for, including a copy of The Steelworkers, which chronicles the lives of Pittsburgh mill workers in the early 20th Century.
2 replies on “Pittsburgh, the last hurrah …”
hey, very, very cool idea. i’ve always been fascinated with the same stuff, being a native of north braddock, (another pittsburgh mill town).
did you ever read “out of this furnace” by thomas bell (it was belachak – but he changed it)? it covers the lives of 3 generations of millworkers in the braddock j&l plant from the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s… fiction – but strongly based on belachak’s life.
hey, you can always stay with us if you come back to the burgh…. if your cat allergies can take our 6 cats….
I have read “Out of this Furnace.” An incredible book. I’ve also found some neat books about Homestead and what it was like to live in a mill town around the turn of the century. Not sure why, but this stuff really fascinates me these days.
As for the cats, six might be more than I can handle. I really like cats and can be around them for a bit, but after a while it turns me into a sneezing, snotty mess. Not a pretty sight.