Sunday, May 26, 2013

Iron City (well it used to be)

Panorama of Pittsburgh
I peered out the second story window capturing images that I've held in my mind for 55 years. The tall smoke stacks with occasional flames popping out followed by the belching thick black smoke locally known as soot that layered everything within the city. Mount Washington was a poor settlement at the top of the public transport vessels called Inclines. An American version of the European Funicular. A few times a year my parents would drive the 60 miles directly south to visit my father's parents in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. I still hold the few images of my Grandparents dearly. My roundish Grandmother with a full apron and wire rimmed glasses provided cushy warm hugs while my Grandfather sat stoically in a rocker with cane firmly and prominently positioned in front of him. His full figure was clothed in the standard white shirt, gray woolen trousers held in place by  suspenders, and back shinny shoes. He was a teamster that delivered Iron City Beer by a team of Clydesdale. His famous quote in English (he spoke mainly German) directed to my mother, "Beer is to drink...vater is to wash your feet".

When I left Sharon at the airport I stayed an extra day in Pittsburgh to visit Mount Washington, the area of my Grandparents lived and to see a Pirates baseball game. The waitress at the Italian restaurant highly suggested taking in a Pirates game since they were playing at Heinz Field. So keeping that in my mind, I programmed by GPS for Heinz Field before leaving the airport. Minnie, my GPS, directed me downtown to the huge stadium with Heinz emblazoned on the building. I parked on the street across from the ticket office. I followed the sign instructing me to go to window nine. I noticed the building also boasted "Steelers" but I continued up and asked the gent through the glass that I would like to purchase one ticket for tonight's game...he laughed a bit and said the football season doesn't start til fall but if I meant baseball, then I need to drive a half dozen blocks behind me to "PNC" stadium. "There you can see a game tonight". I retreated like an Eastern Block foreigner to Cheeky and figured my way through the streets to PNC and purchased my ticket.

With six hours to burn I went a the search for my Grandparents neighborhood. Before I left for this trip I looked at a black and white photo of them on the porch steeps. If I saw the house I believe I could recognize it plus I still had the view from my childhood etched in my memory. Crossing a couple bridges and just before entering a tunnel I made a right turn, up a very steep road to the top of Mount Washington and began to slowly drive the street along the edge of the vista. Up and down a few hills and then I saw the white two story house with black trim. I continued on to make sure there wasn't another house with the same design but soon I realized that was it. I parked, walked back to photograph it and took a long look over the Three Point area where the three rivers meet. The view is different because of new construction across the street and all the steel mills have been removed. The downtown now is beautiful and vibrant unlike it's former self.
Grandparents house on the left

The Incline
I had a couple "Iron City" beers at an overlook bar and thought about my family and then retreated downtown to view more of the city and to catch the game. The same waitress at the Italian restaurant insisted I have to eat a Perogie and a sandwich that I can't remember the name. I entered the stadium one hour early making certain I experience the culinary suggestions. Walking along the semi-circle of restaurants, I reviewed all the posted menus and finally came upon Mrs T's Perogies. I ordered one and was surprised these delights were similar to ravioli. I downed the order and decided to not take in the other suggestion for my better health.

The stadium was half full but the enthusiasm of the fans made up for the empty seats. The Pirates were slow at first allowing the Chicago Cubs to quickly score three runs but the Buc's came back with a grand slam and added another run to end up winning the game.

The Perogie

The game

Pittsburgh has a surprisingly pleasing skyline


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