Wednesday, December 29, 2010

About the author

Clairton post #100

On this last week of the year 2010 I post my one-hundredth blog about Clairton. Although my blog site includes nearly 450 total posts to date, 100 include my hometown and its residents past and present. Over the past three years or so of my writing this blog I have been asked several questions which I will answer today.

Question: “Where did you live in Clairton?” I was actually born in Clairton, not McKeesport Hospital as were so many of my fellow Clairtonians. I often tell people, “I was born at home because I wanted to be near my mother when it happened.” My parents purchased a lot at the far unpaved end of St. Clair Ave. in 1939 and built the house that they would live in until they passed away – Dad in 2002 at age 87 and Mom in 2006 in her 91st year. The street address was easy to remember, 900 St. Clair Ave.

Question: “Do you still live in Clairton?” No, I left in 1960 at age 17, the summer after high school graduation and have never returned to live on a permanent basis, although I frequently returned to visit my parents, sisters and extended family. Thus, I am 50 years removed from being a Clairton resident.

Question: “Why did you leave and where did you go?” As a youngster I was filled with wanderlust and by default, disdain for everything traditional. As a child we traveled on family vacations to Florida and Arizona, and I fell in love with everything not Clairton. My desire was to join the military service after high school and see the world but my father insisted I attend college and had me enrolled at Westminster College, not far from the City of Prayer. But I really wanted to get away so when a classmate told me she planned to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, 2,000 miles from Clairton, I too applied, and was accepted. Talk about a stranger in a strange land!

Question: “What was your college major?” From day one, I majored in Psychology. I was not sure exactly what Psychology was or what a psychology major did for a living, but Psychology was NOT an extension of English, History, Math, or anything traditional that I’d studied at Clairton High School. I stayed with it and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

Question: “So you became a psychologist?” Well, no. Once I graduated I discovered that a Bachelor’s degree in psychology was not something that most people hired. It prepared me to sell cars, be a custodian, or perhaps apply for a manager-trainee position at a department store, but unless I wanted to go on to graduate school and get a Doctorate in Psychology, I was pretty much limited in pursuit of job opportunities.

Question: “So you became a car salesman?” Actually, yes, for about two weeks until I was fired for telling a customer what was wrong with a used car that he was considering to buy.

Question: “Then what?” A friend of my family offered me a job teaching sixth grade in the first middle school in Pennsylvania. It was a bit of an experimental school and the superintendent thought a psychology major might be a good fit as a sixth grade teacher despite the fact that I had not taken a single class in Teacher Education nor had I done student teaching.

Question: “So you became a teacher?” Well, more or less. I taught that first year in Oxford, PA, and then returned to the west where I took a job teaching in Pocatello, ID, then Salt Lake City, and in 1968, Las Vegas, where I’ve lived since.

Question: “And your career?” I taught elementary school for a year in Las Vegas, and then taught high school Psychology. During nights and summers I drove taxi and limousine and did several other gigs including writing a newspaper column, opinion pieces and even writing comedy routines for comedians. By 1978 I had earned a Doctoral degree in Gifted Child Education and moved on to the university where I became a professor, directed the academic support services for athletics, and was an administrator.

Question: “So who is Dr. Forgot?” While I was working on my Doctorate I was scheduled to attend and speak at a Gifted Education conference. I thought I had forgotten my notes at school so on my way to the airport I stopped to pick them up. It was Sunday morning and the first thing I discovered was my notes were not in the school, they had been in my briefcase the entire time. The second disaster of the morning was that I locked myself inside the school and had to have my wife drive to the home of the principal to pick up his keys to let me out of the school building. I did make my plane, barely, and when I returned, the school administration had given me the moniker, “Dr. Forgot.”

Question: “Why the blog?” Over the years of my career I have developed an affinity for writing, having published more than a million words between writing grants, newspaper columns, guest writing, professional papers, and the like. Writing became a part of my daily routine. When I retired from the university the thing I missed most was writing. So I started this blog using my pen name Dr. Forgot. I have used several pen names over the years including I. O’Pine, for a series of opinion pieces, and Fred Lance when writing several freelance articles. I called the blog, “Olio” since I was not sure what the content would be.

Question: “How do you find all that information on Clairton and its residents?” Most information comes from one of three sources; my own recollections, emails from readers, and internet research. Also, Jim Hartman president of the Mifflin Township Historical Society has been most generous in providing photos and information about Clairton, including past editions of The Clairton Progress. I answer every email I receive.

Question: “How many people read the blog?” Readership ranges from fewer than a couple hundred hits per blog to over a thousand. I have two data bases of Clairton reader emails that contain several hundred addresses each, and whenever I send an email blast promoting a post, readership spikes.

Question: “Do you have a favorite blog?” Probably the series I did on Annabelle Bucar, Clairton girl who worked as a diplomat at the American embassy in Moscow. She became disenchanted with things she’d seen in the American Embassy, married a Russian opera singer, and wrote a scathing book about the U.S. Diplomatic Corps. Except for a few rare visits to visit her family in Clairton she remained in Russia until her death. I received a comment on the blog from her grandchild in Russia thanking me for writing the blog about her.

So there you have it; the history of Dr. Forgot and the Clairton blogs.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Paradise City” by Guns ‘n Roses.

Dr. Forgot

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Clairton, Christmas, and Fins


Christmas morning 2010: It is early morning in the desert. The effects of a Christmas Eve party at the home of a former Pitt head basketball coach are slowly wearing off and we are looking forward to friends coming by later for Christmas dinner. So many former Clairtonians have moved away over the years. Many have moved to California, and even more to Florida, where there are so many ex-pat Clairtonians that they have an annual Clairton picnic. My email box is stuffed with holiday wishes from friends and family including many current and former Clairton residents.

Clairton ex-pat Vinnie Ross reminded me of the Christmas traditions in 1950s Clairton; the decorations that hung high above and across the streets, the decorated Christmas tree that stood proudly before the Roll of Honor at the intersection of St. Clair and Miller Avenues, Santa Claus and Toyland at the Clairton Hardware, and other displays at G. C. Murphy 5&10, Skapiks, and all the other small businesses that we’ve discussed in our 99 Clairton blogs.

Our own house was built in the early 1940s mostly by my father and his brothers, relatives, and friends, none of whom had expertise in reading blueprints or architecture or any of the other skills that we consider essential for home building today. The house was built on a lot in the last block of St. Clair Ave., one of just a few homes on that block. The street was unpaved until it met the beginning of traditional St. Clair at Gumble’s Chevrolet, current location of Rite Aid. But as the years passed more homes were built and the neighborhood eventually included two sets of Benedettos, Crans, Manzeks, Mols, Mazzolas, Pete Colonna the barber, Smokey DeCarlo the auto-body man, and others. More years passed and the road was flattened and paved, and a bridge was built across the hollow connecting the Hill to Wilson and Clairton Park.

The neighborhoods were rich with traditions. Most celebrated Christmas on December 25th but Serbian, Russian, and other Orthodox kids got to celebrate Christmas again two weeks later on January 7th. Many grandparents spoke little or no English and there did not seem to be much racial unrest. Such was the snapshot of Clairton in the 1950s and early 1960s.

But another phenomenon existed during a segment of those years – fins. More precisely, tail fins that adorned nearly every American car between 1957 and 1960. First, let me paint a picture of cars in the 1950s. Production had stopped during World War II as factories were converted to make tanks, Jeeps, and other military vehicles. When the war ended, late 1940s production cars were blah in appearance and color. That began to change in the early 1950s. “The Big Three” auto companies included Chrysler (Chrysler, Dodge, Desoto, Plymouth, Imperial) General Motors (Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac), and Ford (Ford, Mercury, Edsel, Lincoln).

During the era, Cadillac was the standard of excellence by which all other cars were measured, so it might have been the early 1950s style of the upturned taillights of the Caddy that inspired fins. The 1956 Caddy was the only one that had anything other than smooth rear fenders.

But with the unveiling of the 1957 models, style was in full swing with two-tone paint, dual headlights, and tail fins. Cars became longer and lower and engines more powerful. Arguments among car nuts over which carburetor system offered more power; two four-barrel carbs (dual quads) or three two-barrel carbs (three deuces). Older cars were customized by individuals to further exaggerate the trend and car engines were measured by cubic inches which went from a measly 90 “cubes” to more than 400. Gas mileage was rarely calculated because gas was cheap – two-bits (that’s a quarter for you uninitiated) a gallon and often less.

By 1959 the longer, lower, wider, more powerful, tailfin race had reached its peak. A joke during the era showed two fishermen in a boat watching two fins coming toward them. One fisherman said to the other, “It’s either two sharks or a ’59 Caddy.”

Chevrolet had been the preferred car for many Highway Patrol and State Police agencies. By 1959 the rumor spread (probably an urban legend but it is one every teen boy swore was true) that the fins on the ’59 Chevy were so dramatic they created an airflow issue during high speed pursuits which caused the rear of the patrol car to be lifted from the highway, causing the patrolman to lose control. Thus, police agencies were forbidden to buy 1959 Chevys .

The rumor gained even more credence when the 1960 Chevy model came out with considerably smaller fins, and by the 1961 the fins were gone completely from not only Chevy but nearly every American car. Ah, but those four year models of nearly every model of the “Big Three” manufacturers thrived and became extensions of our ego. The exception was the Edsel by Ford which lasted only a couple of years.

American cars continued to be big, powerful, and fuel inefficient until the oil embargo of 1972 when many car buyers switched from models built by the Big Three to funny little cars like the Volkswagen (mockingly called “the pregnant roller skate”), a cheapie little funny car called “Honda” and a couple of others, Datsun (which would change its name to Nissan) and Toyota. They were cheap and fuel efficient but carried the stigma of “Made in Japan” which was synonymous with “poor quality.” My how times have changed.

A little blogging music Maestro: the theme song for Olds, “Would you like to take the wheel, of my Rocket Oldsmobile…”

Dr. Forgot

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Blog

Updated Night Before Christmas 2010
By Dr. Forgot (with apologies Anonymous)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, in the house and the patio
Everybody was snoring, including Big Daddio.

Mommy was dreaming ‘bout the neighborhood jerk,
Who’d tracked mud on her carpets making more danged housework.

In the glass by the bedside – Grandpa’s teeth went kerplunk!
Uncle Kyler was sleeping off a Christmas Eve drunk.

The big boys were dreaming of their girlfriends galore
They think they have charm that the girls can’t ignore.

The teen girls are dreaming of a necklace or jewel
Given by real boys who are not virtual.

As the little one’s heads fill with what Christmas portends,
Good greetings and wishes from their Facebook friends.

In the midst of this Norman Rockwell-type scene
Came a clutter and clamor, if you know what I mean.

For there stood eight reindeer full of anger and frights,
As they’d gotten all tangled in the holiday lights.

The sleigh had gone crazy - into the chimney it flew,
And a fat man and presents were scattered askew.

His cell phone was pressed to his snowy-white beard,
As he shouted out curse words – it sounded so weird.

“I hate these damn houses with wires at heights”
Bring back the days where I flew by moonlight.”

“Get here in a heartbeat, without delay,
“Thank goodness I’m covered by my Triple-A.”

While waiting he slid down the chimney and put
Big black boot footprints from the grime and the soot.

He drank the hot chocolate that was left by the tree
And scattered some presents including a wii.

He cleaned up the footprints then without a sound
Took off up the chimney with a leap and a bound

The tow truck had straightened his rudders and sled
And buffed Rudolph’s nose to a bright shiny red.

He tipped the young driver who gave him the tow
And got into his sleigh with a “Ho, ho, ho, ho.”

This night he’d not suffer from frostbite exposure
For he skipped all the houses now in foreclosure.

Investment bankers, politicians, got lumps of coal
Then he set GPS for “Home at North Pole.”

As the sleigh disappeared came a verbal outburst
“Have a cool Yule everybody and a real frantic first.”

A little blogging music, Maestro: "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas," by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

PS If you REALLY want to see the updated version of that night, cut and paste the following youtube:

Merry Christmas

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bears Do It Again!


Oh those Bears: One year ago to the day I wrote about the Clairton Bears defeating Bishop McCort to win their first state championship. I could have added the old Jimmy Durante line, “You ain’t seen nothing yet! The 2010 Bears whipped Washington (41-0), blew out Beaver (55-6) crashed Carlynton (60-6) chased Chartiers-Houston (48-0) crushed Carmichaels (42-0), caved in Bishop Canevin (47-0), and were well on their way to smashing Springdale (26-7) before a single point had been scored against them. For their mid-season menu they ruined Rochester (12-0), annihilated North Star (52-0) and on and on throughout the regular season and playoffs until the championship game. By that time the Bears offense scored had 702 points and their stingy defense had allowed but 34. They had won 15 consecutive games in the regular season and playoffs so they decided to do what bears do during the winter…. hibernate.

Hibernations began a little early: Somebody forgot to tell the Clairton Bears that although it is ok to spend the winter in their Clairton Bear cave, they first had a stop in Hershey for the final championship game of the season. The bus rolled up to Hersheypark stadium and the hibernating Bears rolled onto the field and slept right through the kickoff, the first quarter, and partway through the second quarter. When they finally woke up, stretched, and scratched themselves after their long nap they discovered they were behind 24-0. Any normal football team would have crawled right back into the sack and continued their sound sleep. But the Clairton Bears are no ordinary team. They took their big Bear paws and swatted the once-beaten Riverside Vikings with 36 unanswered points. Then they went back to sleep and with 90 seconds left in the game the Vikings bedraggled staggered across the Bear goal line for one meaningless touchdown. Final score: Clairton Bears 36, Riverside Vikings 30. I’m told that snoring could be heard on the bus ride back to their den.

Some interesting stats: The comeback victory of a 24-point deficit was the largest in the history of PIAA championship games. The victory also stretched the Clairton Bear win streak to 31 – eighth longest in state history. Among the final stats from their second championship game: “Clairton outgained Riverside, 324-256. Clairton's Tyler Boyd finished with 58 yards on eight carries. Karvonn Coles had 53 yards on 13 attempts, Desimon Green completed 4 of 10 passes for 135 yards.For Riverside, Nick Rossi had five attempts for 61 yards. Quarterback Corey Talerico completed 17 of 36 for 223 yards”

An amazing run: Coach Nola, who just a couple of years ago was a bum who didn’t know how to coach and who was taken to task for his team not having proper shoes to play in, is now a legend. His teams have not lose a league game since 2005, he has won more games (46) than any other team in the state since 2008, and is on track to set a record for the longest win streak in state history. We are not predicting that record will be broken or a state championship three-peat at this early stage, but Coach Nola nad his staff have done a wonderful job with their charges both on and off the field. We’ve mentioned in this space before of the community businesses and leaders who have contacted us to share stories of the way Coach Nola’s teams have conducted themselves. The accolades will continue for many Bears who will go on to play in college and perhaps beyond, but the memories of gentlemen who represented our city will remain long after the trophies have become forgotten. Well done Bears.

A letter to the editor: Former team manager for the Bears football team, Tom “Grantland Rice” Nixon, wrote the following letter to the local newspaper. As an avid reader of our blog he was kind enough to send us a copy:

“It was a cold winter afternoon in Hershey, Pa. The Clairton High School Bears Football Team lined up to play Taylor-Riverside for the state PIAA Class A Championship. Two years ago, they lost their opener to a rural team because the officials assessed them 45 yards in penalties on the last drive. That drive led to Laurel’s winning touchdown. The Bears didn’t disintegrate into the vulgarities of sore losers in the gutter. They instead focused their steely eyes on playing better football, working harder and smarter and perfecting their sport.

"These underprivileged young men growing up in a socio-economically depressed neighborhood never lost another game. Their defense was incredible, holding scoreless 10 of 15 opponents….allowing only 34 points scored against them all season. Now, in the big game of the year, they relaxed and let Taylor-Riverside score 24 points in the first half. Their wily, foxy coach Tom Nola called time out. Boys, this is not Clairton football…”let’s run at ‘em hard”. Ten straight running plays and a touchdown. Taylor-Riverside adjusted to the run, so they passed and passed and did they pass ?? In the second half, a quick two touchdowns and the Clairton Bears’ solid defense returned.

So, chiseled in stone for posterity, these proud young men stood up to the challenge and became the CLAIRTON BEARS ll, the second consecutive PIAA Class A Champions. The Post Gazette best described it as a game for the ages.

As the cold winter winds swirl around and the ground is frozen over, all over the world a warm glow stirs in the hearts of Clairtonians !!”

A little blogging music Maestro… The Clairton High School fight song played by the Clairton Band.

Dr. Forgot

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bears, Kindness, and the Good Old Days

Bears Football and other stuff

Irony in the Semi-finals: Clairton met Farrell for the third time in high school playoff history. CHS won the other two games by a handful of points and Farrell Coach Jarrett Samuels entered the game with an overall coaching record of 40-8. Could he have imagines that would be the final score of the game? The Bears were so dominant that the entire second half was played under the “Mercy Rule” in which the clock does not stop thus helping the game come to a merciful end. Clairton had another shutout until the final minute or so when Farrell scored their lone points against the Bears second and third stringers. Running tally for the season: Bears 702 Opponents: 34. Next stop will be the final state playoff game in Hershey on 12/17.

Senior Josh Page helped assure that his final game would be played in Hershey by catching two touchdown passes, scoring on a punt return, and snatching up two fumbles. That sparked a 32-point second quarter against the Steelers, causing some to speculate that the Bears (Clairton, not Chicago) would look respectable against the Steelers (Pittsburgh, not Farrell). We have said in this space before that the football team has represented our hometown with grace and humility off the field. Nothing brings a community together like a winning sports team. Here’s hoping that coach Nola and his Bears have begun the healing of a fractured community. Thank you and congratulations. We wish you success and a Hershey Bar next week.

Email chain letters drive me nuts: I enjoy hearing from old classmates, current and former Clairtonians, and other blog readers. Many send me updates on the games (thanks Jay, Cal, and others), jokes, (thanks Bernie and others) and other news or just keeping up (thanks Vinnie, Carol, Lawrence and many, many others). But I get so many chain letters. They fall into well intentioned warnings (SENT THIS ON IMMEDIATELY!!!) or political crap, or heart tugging stories. But they all share the same urgency: “SEND THIS TO EVERYBODY IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK!” which of course I refuse to do. Instead I research the emails, discover it is pure garbage, and reply to the sender with the results of my research. It amazes me that people will send on anything that tells them to do so. I was therefore equally skeptical when I received the following email:

Cleaning for a Reason

If you know any woman currently undergoing chemotherapy, please pass the
word to her that there is a cleaning service that provides FREE
housecleaning - once per month for 4 months while she is in treatment.
All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor fax a note confirming
the treatment. Cleaning for a Reason will have a participating maid
service in her zip code area arrange for the service. This organization
serves the entire USA and currently has 547 partners to help these women.
It's our job to pass the word and let them know that there are people out
there that care. Be a blessing to someone and pass this information

As is my skeptical modus operandi, I researched the email, worrying that it was a cruel joke to be perpetuated on folks who were ill. But to my joy and amazement I discovered it was real. I take my hat off to the organization and share this information with my readers in the event that you or a loved one could benefit from their services. Bravo and kudos to this not-for-profit organization.

Those were the days: Finally, since it is the holiday season I wanted to share a recent conversation I had with my grandchildren about cars and the good old days:

“Yup, in the REAL old days, when my father was a kid, car engines were started by throwing a switch inside the car then turning a crank that attached to the front of it. Speaking of cranks, even in my day, car windows had to be cranked up and down by hand and if you wanted to see better at night, you pushed the headlight dimmer button with your foot.

“There were no automatic door locks either. You had to go around the car and push each lock button down by hand. But some cars required the all doors to be locked from the INSIDE, except for the driver’s door.

“The coolest cars had four headlights and two different colors of paint. If you were able to afford a new car the first thing you did was have seat-covers put on so the kids did not stain the seats. The seat-covers could be clear plastic or multi colored. There was no air conditioning in the cars and heaters and radios were optional. And if you did get a radio it was AM only. If you drove a Buick the antenna (or aerial as it was sometimes called) was in the top center of the windshield with a knob inside the car to twist it down when the radio was not playing.

“In the 1950s FM was added to the radios and Chrysler actually offered a record player as an option in 1956. Bumpy roads ended that one in a hurry. However, 4-track tape players were able to fit inside a car, then an inventor out in Reno, Nevada name of Bill Lear who had built jet airplanes invented an 8-track tape player in the early 60s. Then came the smaller, more compact cassette tape and finally the Compact Disc. Apple was still a fruit and not an iPod.

“There were no Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, Lexus, Infinity, or Acuras. The luxury cars were Cadillac, Lincoln, and Imperial, and the “low priced three” were Chevy, Plymouth, and Ford. In between were the Desoto, Edsel, Pontiac, DeLorean, Nash, American, Rambler, Packard, Studebaker, Willys, and hundreds (that’s right, HUNDREDS) of others.

“There was no such thing as power steering so young men often attached a knob to the steering wheel to drive one handed with the other hand around their favorite girl. How did they reach her? Well seats were called “bench” seats and two people could snuggle together on the front seat. What about the gear shifter? Oh that was on the steering column. Gears had to be changed manually, first, second, third. No, there was no fourth gear.

“Brakes sometimes had to be pushed with both feet with your back braced against the seatback in order to stop the car. The side view mirror had to be adjusted by cranking down the window and moving it by hand.

“Tires lasted 10,000 miles if you were lucky, and then they were often recapped. What? Recap? Oh, that was when a used, bald tire was put into a machine and more rubber was sealed to it. With recaps, you nearly had to use an inner tube. Inner tube? That was a soft rubber circle, like the one in your swimming pool that went inside the tire to keep air from leaking out.”

They were rapt as I told them about cars getting 10 miles to a gallon average, gas at less than a quarter per gallon, how engines overheated especially when crossing mountains, and how burlap sacks of water were a must have, hanging over the outside mirror, whenever taking a long trip.

“What did we do in the summer if there was no air conditioning? Well, cars had 4-50 air conditioning. Four windows down; 50 miles per hour.”

When I finally finished with historical accuracy my granddaughter summed it all up, “Oh, Grandpa, you tell such big fibs.”

A little blogging music Maestro… “Dreams to Remember,” by Otis Redding..

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, December 5, 2010

100 Years of Clairton

The March to State Continues
To Date: Bears 662. Opponents: 26. Ten of their 14 victories this season have been shutouts, including this week’s 52-0 playoff victory over District 5 champ North Star on a snowy Somerset football field. How complete was this victory? Total rushing yardage for North Star: MINUS 31.

Showing class: Last week Clairton went to Heinz Field to defeat Rochester for the WPIAL championship. On the way to the game the team stopped at a local restaurant for their pre-game meal. The Blue Flame, a family-owned local eatery for more than a half-century has served many student groups and they are familiar with the pranks and rowdiness that often accompanies rambunctious students. We have it on good authority that the Clairton Bears football team was one of the classiest, most well-behaved groups that have been served in the restaurant. Some members of the team even made sure that plates were arranged for easy pickup after the meal. This group of football players are winners on and off the field.

But wait! There’s more: After the game the Honeybears, Clairton’s outstanding majorettes stopped at the same restaurant. The restaurant owner, a former Honeybear herself, expected no less that the level of class exhibited by the football team. She was not disappointed. The group, although excited by the victory, showed an equal level of class as had their team. Too often we read that the level of civility in Clairton has diminished over the years. The young men and women who represent the school speak loudly to that issue by their actions.

History in the making: A look at history of local football teams shows the top five unbeaten streaks all time in the WPIAL are held by Braddock, Greensburg (44, 1913-17), Jefferson Township (42, 1940-45), North Braddock Scott (41, 1932-36) and Clairton (36, 1926-30). But all of those streaks included at least one tie. Clairton’s current win streak is 29.

Back in time: As mentioned in earlier posts, Jim Hartman of the Mifflin Township Historical Society has provided us with many valuable photos and artifacts of historic Clairton. As we look deeply into the past, 106 years ago this weekend, to see what was going on in our community long before most of us or our parents were born. From the files of the 1906 Clairton Crucible, a forerunner of the Clairton Progress come the following snippets.

Amalgamated railways: Coal was the engine that drove the Clairton economy in 1906 and railroads delivered the coal. So when a dispute arose between railroads over which one would carry the cola, all mines were shut down for weeks until an agreement was reached to transport the estimated 3,000,000 tons of high grade coal. The West Side Railroad was acquired by the Wabash Rail Company. Once the coal dust had cleared Clairton miners breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The Wabash Railroad plans to open a new route that will connect Clairton to other coal mining and steel centers along the Monongahela River including Elizabeth and Monongahela. The new rail line will be more direct and not follow the banks of the river.

Stop, thief: William Rink, the butcher at Coatsworth Bros. was no sooner promoted to run their Clairton store, than he absconded with $120.00. He was caught, arrested, and found guilty of larceny and sentenced to pay a fine of 6 and ¼ cents and undergo imprisonment at the workhouse for 18 months. Coatsworth Bros. got back about $40 of their money.

Strike on the hill: On Tuesday workers on the Clairton Electric Railroad went out on strike. They had been earning $1.40 per day and demanded a ten cent per day increase in salary. The work force had been made up primarily of Italians and Slavs. The strike was organized by the Italians during lunch, according to the boss, James Nixon. The Slavs were willing to go back to work but were afraid of the Italians and their knives, so they all stayed away. The gang walked down the hill to State Street where they persuaded another gang to join the strike. No work was completed Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday workers gathered but were intimidated by strikers and no work was completed. The head office in Pittsburg (sic) refused to concede the demand and instead hired two additional policemen to guard workers. Work then continued on the project.

A real train wreck: A northbound Conway train loaded with coal smashed into a coke train that was at the water tank. The caboose and two cars of the coke train were demolished and the locomotive was thrown from the track. The cars were set afire and the coke continues to burn. Nobody was hurt. The wreck was not cleared byt the following evening but traffic continued to move as there are multiple tracks at the location.

Halloween pranks: Quoting directly, “Two boys and some young men were out for fun last Halloween night. Some of the things done exceeded the limits of good fun and partook rather of the nature of malicious mischief. Particularly was this the case when the delivery wagon of the Clairton Supply Co. was run back over the hill in the vicinity of the brick works nad badly wrecked. Some barricades were built on the street, signs exchanged nad other things that character perpetuated.”

MENDELSSOHN AND WILSON; News of the busy twin towns on the other side of the creek: D.A. Laughlin, principal of the Franklin School in Mifflin Township received injuries that necessitated surgery at the West Penn Hospital. Both teams played a rough game and several other players received injuries that will keep them out of the game for the rest of the season. Laughlin successfully withstood the operation and at this writing hs condition is greatly improved.

Finally, a horse belonging to Milton Bedell of Duquesne, and attached to a buggy was standing in front of Minford’s store on State Street when a small dog bit it on the leg. The horse dashed up the street. Mr. Bedell jumped out but the man that was with him stayed in the buggy until it reached Blackburn’s feed warehouse where the horse made a quick turn and wrenched itself loose from the buggy that was wrecked. The occupant was thrown out and received some bad bruises. The horse was soon caught and Mr. Bedell was not injured.

And that’s the way it was in Clairton 106 years ago.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Dreams to Remember,” by Otis Redding.

Dr. Forgot