Monday, October 25, 2010

Clairton football, etc.

Clairton: City of Prayer and Stalwart People

Lancaster’s Grand Dame: We’ve written before about the amazing Lancaster family of Clairton. Type Amazing Lancasters in the blank space in the upper right corner of this blog (just to the left of the word share), click on the magnifying glass icon and that post will appear. Elmer Rowan Lancaster and Dorothy Pauline Cooley were married back in the days when men were men and women were happy about it. They moved into a humble home n what was then called Woodland Terrace. Ron was the first born and would go on to become the most famous through the medium of football – a hall of fame player, coach, and sportscaster in Canada. After Ron there followed a passel of kids to include Jean, Allen, Marvin, Carol, Bill, Betty, Dorothy, Janet and Shelby. But every Lancaster child after Ron might have not become if not famous in all of North America although each became fine examples of what kind, generous, successful people should be.

The scion of the family passed away in 1999 at the age of 83. Three of the four boys, Allen, Marvin, and most recently Ron, have passed away as well. But Mother Hen Dorothy keeps on keeping on even at age 92. Oh, she might not have quite the spring in her step as she once did (she now does most of her traveling in a wheelchair due to a hip problem) she still is a diehard football fan, and that means the Clairton Bears. For more than half a century Dorothy Lancaster attended every Bears home game and a few away games as well. Her four sons were all Bear players. Her six daughters were also HoneyBears and cheerleaders. In fact, Dorothy has been watching Bear football since she was a child. Clairton’s football team is undefeated this year and took the state championship last year. Part of the reason is great talent. Part of the reason is great coaching, and part of the reason is great fan support from Ms. Lancaster anad the Clairton High School boosters. RAH!

Speaking of Clairton football: The Bears played Fort Cherry last Friday. It was senior night and the team started out a little sluggish. The opponents actually launched a nine-play 75 yard drive to go ahead of CHS by a score of 7-0. Then the Bears came out of hibernation, shook off much of the lethargy, and scored the next 42 points. Final score: 42-7. Running total for the year: Bears 423 – Opponents 19.

Adding insult to injury: The Bentworth High School football was not looking forward to their game with Clairton. CHS was a powerhouse. A juggernaut that chewed up its opponents and spit them out, and BHS was not particularly strong this year. But off they went like sheep to a slaughter and indeed it was a 52-0 slaughter. That would have been bad enough, but when they returned to their locker room they discovered it had been burglarized. Seems a replacement custodian who had worked that night did not realize the door should have been locked and some thieves took advantage... a crime of opportunity. Clairton Superintendent Lucille Abellonio said the district will compensate the Bentworth players and staff after a final inventory of stolen items has been completed.

Where’s the fire: Clairton fire chief John Lattanzi, a 22-year fire department veteran, made about $40,000 per year. Not an exorbitant amount for a fire chief, but a bit rich for the struggling Clairton budget. So next year when the new budget goes into effect the fire chief position will be relegated to volunteer status and the money that had been the salary will go into the general fund. The rest of the firemen are volunteers.

Thar’s gold in them thar rolling hills: Between the Clairton turnoff and the Blue Flame on route 51, there is a turnoff for the Expressway that will meander down to West Virginia. The toll booth on Rte. 43 collects four bits (that’s 50 cents in western talk). And West Virginia wants their piece of the action so they recently passed legislation to collect a toll on their side of the highway. When the WVA portion of the highway opens next spring there will be a toll booth to collect a buck a car - $4 for trucks. Fewer than 4 miles of the 75 mile expressway lie in West Virginia. Keep a cache of quarters in that cup holder.

A personal memory: I’ll close today’s blog with a personal memory of Clairton. I grew up on the last block of St. Clair Ave. There was no Ravensburg Bridge and the road from Rite Aid (nee Gumbles Chevrolet) onward was unpaved. It was an ash road, covered with residue from the mill that was pulverized into dust as cars drove over it. In the summer tar was spread over the pulverized ashes which kept the dust down but drove our mothers crazy as the kids tracked tar into the house.

There were only a few boys in that last block; Louie (who died suddenly and unexpectedly at age 13 or so) and Butchie (who has spent most of his life behind bars for bank robbery and assorted other charges) and me. Johnny and Kenny were little twerps too young to hang with the big kids.

The last house on the street belonged to Mr. and Mrs. G. They had no children and she was a grandmotherly type from whose lips came the sweetest words – until Mr. G. came home drunk – which was nightly. Then she would unleash a litany curses at him that would make a sailor blush.

My good friend Carol who was Louie’s sister, along with little sister Sassy, and I would often watch Mr. G come home after a hard day of working and drinking. He would aim his panel truck at the open door of the one-car garage then BOOM! He’d hit the side. Then he’d back up, take aim again and head into the garage… BOOM! He’d hit the other side. All the time Mrs. G. would be shouting vulgar curses at her drunken husband. The ritual would continue until he was finally able to navigate the truck into the garage. Across the street, through the picture window, we would howl with laughter each time he missed the garage. There was little concern in those days about the perils of drunken driving and indeed Mr. G. lost his life when he presumably misjudged the onset of a bridge and drove his truck over a cliff. The days of innocence were not without tragedy.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Those Were the Days,” by Mary Hopkin.
Dr. Forgot

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