Saturday, February 19, 2011

City of Prayer, Champions, Winners

Before we get started: Let me remind you that if you have not yet made a contribution to the fund to help defray the cost of the Championship rings for CHS players and staff, there is still time to do so. A rendering of the ring as well as pertinent information regarding where to send the check or money order is in last week’s blog (see next blog below). To date more than half the goal has been reached. On behalf of Trustee Sue Wessell and the players, staff, and their families, I thank all who have contributed.

Attorney, Poet, Mayor of Clairton: For those who were Clairtonians in the “Good old days,” the name Lloyd H. Fuge is one that you will remember. Blind from the age of 15, the result of a chemical accident, Mr. Fuge became a prominent attorney and public servant in Clairton. He served as Councilman and sat at the helm as mayor for several years. Today Barrister Fuge is eighty years of age and still productive. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh and from its law school with honors and served on the speech faculty at University of Pittsburgh two years. Mr Fuge practiced law 37 years and as an author and lover of poetry, has been doing readings for the past seventeen years. Oh yes, his readings have also included philosophy, cosmology, astrophysics, physical science, bioscience and various religions.

Mr Fuge is married to Dorothy--who has also been blind most of her life. Their 51 year marriage has produced two daughters and three grandchildren. Lloyd once listed four goals to achieve in his lifetime; to teach philosophy, become a lawyer, become a minister, and write a book. The latter goal was realized recently when he released “Melodies of Life.” I found the book online at Barnes and Nobel and find it to be uplifting, tender, and a doggone good read. He claims to have been formulating the book for 60 years. It is a collection of 47 poems about his life and those around him. The book includes rhymed poems with stories of infancy, love sonnets, various poems on ethics and cosmology in free verse and reverie poems which reflect on memories of life and the expectation of death.

All in the family: La Donna Fuge, the daughter of Lloyd and Dorothy is a family practice physician in Wilkins township. Her mentor and close friend, another physician, passed away a few years ago of breast cancer. She drew strength from the strength of her colleague, Dr. Gloria Kasey shared the triumphs, failures, sadness and joy of her own life through a series of stories that comprise her first book, "LHF MD: Love Humor Faith: My Destiny -- The Making of a Modern Medical Woman." The fund supports a lecture series open to other physicians.

From Kasey's courage, Fuge drew the strength to share the triumphs, failures, sadness and joy of her own life through a series of stories that comprise her first book, "LHF MD: Love Humor Faith: My Destiny -- The Making of a Modern Medical Woman." Proceeds from the book benefit Forbes Health Foundation in honor of her friend and mentor.

Dr. Fuge learned a thing or two about perseverance from her parents. Her own life has not been without challenges. She had a brief marriage, flunked out of medical school after her first year, and lived out of her car for a period of time. She remarried but was unable to bear children so she adopted a daughter who lost her vision. She then adopted a son and got pregnant – only to miscarry.

She eventually was readmitted to medical school and met Dr. Kasey during her residency. Dr. Fuge admired Dr. Kasey's understanding of family practice and ability to see "not just something broken or some pill needed, but really seeing a patient on a personal level."
She wrote more than 100 stories over a 2-year period and culled 44 of them for her book.

That’s not all folks: A Clairton author is enjoying some success from his first science fiction thriller, and is working on a second in a series.

“The McKenzie Files” by Barry K. Nelson was published by Leucrota Press from California in August 2008. The paperback product is the first of three anticipated literary efforts from the 1977 Clairton High School graduate. The author hopes to continue writing books as a series. His second book in the series picks up where the first left off. He’s also planning a third; a prequel to the first book.

“The McKenzie Files” features a lot of classic sci-fi themes. A deadly virus, the Pandora Simplex, threatens to destroy Earth. A mad scientist, Dr. Howard Fenlow, is hell-bent on destruction and rising to power, and a group of super-powered humanoid weapons known as Reploids led by Colin McKenzie, Diane Christy and Kelly Lydton band together to thwart the scientist’s evil plans with their respective electric, super strength and fire capabilities. The book took about a year to write.

The author works at Giant Eagle in West Mifflin and draws inspiration from authors such as Stephen King and Ray Bradbury.

Networking works: As a boy in the booming 1950s steel town of Clairton, Ira Weiss worked in the small grocery store that his Eastern European immigrant grandfather, Harry Weiss, opened in the 1920s. His allowance was spent on baseball cards and at Pirates games at Forbes Field watching his favorite player, Roberto Clemente. Away from the park, his transistor radio was always at his ear to listen to Pirates announcer Bob Prince, whose colorful phrases and descriptions stirred his imagination.

His imagination also was sparked in a history class taught by Don Taylor at Clairton High School. The experience spurred a lifelong love of history and what he calls "intellectual curiosity."

After graduation, Mr. Weiss attended the University of Pittsburgh and then the Duquesne University School of Law, where he earned his law degree.

Harboring an interest in politics, he contacted attorney Lloyd Fuge, and got a job as a law clerk one summer; which eventually led to the establishment of the Fuge & Weiss law office. But the education Mr. Weiss received through his association with Mr. Fuge went beyond Mr. Fuge's work and reputation as a school district and municipal solicitor and mayor of Clairton.

Mr. Weiss drove the pair to meetings, where Mr. Fuge used an apparatus to create Braille cards. The next day Mr. Fuge would type the information on a Braille typewriter.

In 1979, he left Fuge & Weiss to form Goldman Weiss & Gross. From 1981 to 1992, he served as deputy county solicitor and was an adjunct professor of law at Duquesne from 1985 to 1992. In 1991, he opened the law offices of Ira Weiss and was the firm's only lawyer.

Beginning in 2005, and every year since, he was named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for his career accomplishments by "Law & Politics" and "Philadelphia Magazine," based on peer polling, research and a candidate credential review process.

Another Clairton Wordsmith: Can you say prolific? Joyce Milton was an author who just kept writing biographies. Her subjects included the life and times of such luminaries as Charles Lindberg and wife Anne Morrow, George Washington, Hillary Clinton, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pocahontas, convicted spies Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg, Indian guide Sacajawea, Olympic diver Greg Louganis, Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson, Charlie Chaplin, Ronald Reagan, and others. She wrote children’s books and books about dinosaurs, gorillas, bees, bears, bats, cats, wolves, whales and mummies. She wrote books for children, teens, and adults. Joyce was one of the most versatile and prolific writers of our time. And oh yes, she is a Clairtonian. Born and raised. Graduated CHS in ’63 and attended Swarthmore, one of the prestigious “Sister Schools,” then earned a Master degree in Library Science from New York’s Pratt Institute. She lived and wrote in Brooklyn for most of her career then returned to the Clairton area to care for her parents when her mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her mom passed away a year ago last November and the world lost Joyce four months later, also of cancer. Joyce Milton, Clairton girl.

A little blogging Maestro… “My Little Town” by Simon and Garfunkle

Dr. Forgot

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bears need a boost

Clairton Needs You
Clairton and Oldies: Few things grab my attention more than Clairton and oldies. Sometimes the two combine in my mind. Such was the case with a spate of recent emails. The words of a Neil Diamond song rang in my head, “Startin' soft and slow like a small earthquake... And when he lets go half the valley shakes…” That is how this whole thing started. But let’s roll the picture back a few months and start with a flashback of the beginning of football season.

The previous season the Clairton Bears football team had had their most successful season in recent years, winning the WPIAL again and state championship for the first time ever. They were about to embark on their 2010 season. They knew they were good but were not sure just how good they would be nor how strong their opponents would be. They soon found out, rolling over team after team until they won an unprecedented second state championship.

Startin’ soft and low, like a small earthquake: I recently received an email from CHS alum Bob White. He included a letter from CHS alum and teacher Don Taylor. Later the same day I heard from classmate Adele Kunz and Valerie DeBellis. Then I heard from another alum and another, and so it went, all with the same theme; PLEASE HELP THE BEARS!

The gist of the letters was that CHS would like to purchase championship rings for the players and coaches but there was no money budgeted to do so. School Board member Sue Wessel spearheaded a movement to collect donations. Two years ago she was instrumental in creating a golf tournament to raise money for CHS athletics. This year the efforts have been expanded to help defray the cost of the rings. Each recipient has already paid a portion and the fundraising efforts will pay the balance. If the goal is exceeded, monies will be put toward the purchase of white game jerseys.

The fundraising goal for the rings is a little under $11,000. By my fuzzy math that would be about $1.00 for every living CHS alum, so the goal is doable. My plea is that each alum and Clairton resident past and present make a donation. Each ring costs about $200 and if you are able to purchase one or more, your donation will be graciously accepted. Otherwise, please send what you can. Send a check or money order to:

Clairton Athletic Champions Club
c/o Sue Wessel
512 N. Sixth Street
Clairton, PA 15025

Last year the school district was able to purchase orange game jerseys and the fundraising group purchased sideline capes for inclement weather protection. The club also pays for food for the team when it travels long distances.

An awards banquet will be on March 26, 2011 and the rings will be presented. That day a parade will begin to assemble about 11:30 and at 12:00 noon march from the stadium on Miller Avenue to the High School where an assembly for the team will be held. At 6:00 pm the awards banquet will be held at the Ascension Hall on Park Avenue.

A Clairton tale: A man in Topeka, Kansas decided to write a book about Churches around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco and began working east from there.

At one particular very large church, he began taking photographs and noticed a golden telephone on the vestibule wall with a sign which read "Calls: $10,000 a minute."

Seeking out the pastor he asked about the phone. The pastor answered that this golden phone is a direct line to heaven and if he pays the price he can talk directly to God.

The man thanked the pastor and continued on his way. He visited churches in Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and throughout the United States and discovered more phones, with the same sign and got the same answer from each pastor. Golden phone. Calls $10,000 per minute, directly to God.

Finally, he arrived in Pennsylvania and went off the beaten path and somehow ended up at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Clairton where he saw the usual golden telephone. But THIS time, the sign read "Calls: $0.35 cents."

Curious, he asked to speak to the pastor, "Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country and in each church I have found this golden telephone and have been told it is a direct line to Heaven and that I could talk to God, but in the other churches the cost was $10,000 a minute. Your sign reads only $0.35 cents a call. Why?"

The pastor smiled and replied, "Son, you're in Clairton, Pennsylvania now; home of the Clairton Bears; four straight WPIAL titles, two state championships, home of the Honeybears, top notch marching band, 20 churches to choose from… friendliest people in the world! We’ve been humbled but never broken. You're in the City of Prayer, God's Country. From here it's a local call."

Wonders of the net: While we are on the subject of CHS, many graduating classes have stayed in touch over the years. None has done so more than my own CHS class of 1960. A core group of class leaders has arranged a reunion every five years. In addition, Anna Marie Bochter has been diligent in maintaining our class web site and our class has taken an active role in helping with the annual multi-class reunion held each year at Clairton Park.

Comments and questions: At the bottom of each post is a place for comments. Each comment must first be moderated to see if it is legitimate, as many are inappropriate. Until I approve comments for publication they are seen only by me. However, the process for leaving comments is cumbersome and awkward and there is no mechanism for me to respond to questions in the comments section. Thus, if you have a particular question about one of the blog posts, be sure to leave an email address and I will respond. Several questions have been addressed about past posts, especially those about former Clairton resident Annabelle Bucar and other high interest topics. I respond to every email.

Oddz and enz: Catching up on several Clairton tidbits I offer you the following: The Pittsburgh Athletic Association on recently named Rushel Shell of Hopewell and Desimon Green of Clairton winners of its Mercury Award, given annually to the WPIAL's top football player… Clairton City middle and high school students might become eligible to get a private school education on the state's dime if a tuition voucher plan announced recently is signed into law… OSHA fined U.S. Steel and one of its contractors, Power Piping Co. of Etna, $143,000 for safety violations in connection with a July 14 explosion at the Clairton Coke Works that injured 20 workers… Clairton native and jazz musician Lee Robinson loves working with kids at an area museum, teaching them about the origin of sound and music making… CHS Grad Mike Super (Supernovich) was named Entertainer of the Year by the International Magicians Society. He was presented with the Merlin Award during a performance in South Carolina.

A little blogging music Maestro… “My Hometown” by Bruce Springsteen.

Dr. Forgot

Thanks to Jim Hartman for tech support

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pre-Super Bowl Saturday

As the game nears, I share the following poetry sent to me. It was credited to A.K. Young.

'Twas the Night Before the Super Bowl
'Twas the night before the Super Bowl, when along the gulf shore,
Steelers fans were praying for "just one more;"

The players were nestled all snug in the sack,
With visions of number 7 against the Pack;

Coach Tomlin was young, but wise for his years,
So I drifted off to sleep without any fears;

When at the stadium there arose some strange chatter,
The Packers feared, what was the matter;

We heard "Okel Dokel", we heard "Double Yoi,"
We jumped from our beds, our hearts jumped for joy;

He stood at the fifty with a grin ear to ear,
Steelers fans everywhere started to cheer;

Then in an instant to our surprise,
This little old man had tears in his eyes;

He went to the booth and there took his chair,
While Terrible Towels waved in the air;

Then over the airwaves came his shrill voice,
The Steelers Nation began to rejoice;

He said, "I am back, but you know I can't stay,
I just had to see my Steelers play;

From my home up above, I have a great view,
But I wanted to celebrate here with you;

So bring on the Pack, we'll send them a flyin',
On the way back to Greenbay, they will be cryin';

Ben, Hines, Troy , Wallace and all of the rest,
No matter the outcome, to me you're the best;"

The airwaves went silent, the stadium still,
Was this just a dream, it seemed so real;

In our team we have faith, in our team we have hope,
But the game's not the same without Myron Cope

For want of a ticket...
A woman Steeler fan had 50 yard line tickets for the Super Bowl. As she sat down, a man came along and asked her if anyone is sitting in the seat next to her. "No," she said, "the seat is empty."

"This is incredible," said the man. "Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the world, and not use it?"

Somberly, the woman says, "Well... the seat actually belongs to me. I was
supposed to come here with my husband, but he passed away. This is the first Super
Bowl we have not been to together since we got married in 1967."

"Oh I'm sorry to hear that, that's terrible. But couldn't you find someone
else - a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?"

The woman shakes her head, "No, they're all at the funeral."

You gotta love those Steeler fans.

Pleasures of life: As we reach “a certain age,” the desire for and pursuit of money fame and power lessens and we take the time to enjoy the pleasures of life. Fine wine, a good repast, and classical music become more important. A good massage is another. Hence, the blossoming of a plethora of massage spas have sprung up over the past decade. All these things are included in my “pamper me” list but for years I have reflected of a time when I enjoyed what has to be one of every man’s fantasy and simple pleasure – a great shave done with a straight razor.

In the 1970s I toured Europe. My purpose was to see the European countryside, trace my roots, and write the great American novel. Well, I did two of the three. I spent several months in what was then Yugoslavia, particularly in the states of Serbia and Croatia and the Dalmatian coast. The word for barber was Frizer, and I discovered that the duties of a Frizer included shaving clients with a straight razor. I would only shave every few days and nearly always have it done by a Frizer. It only cost pennies back then.

As recently as the 1970s barbers usually finished a man’s haircut with a neck shave with a straight razor, but as the barbers became hair stylists. The neck shave, if it was done at all was done with a cordless electric shaver. I longed to go back to Croatia and Serbia if only for the good old fashioned shave.

Last Christmas my wife surprised me with a gift card to “The Art of Shaving.” She told me that they did straight razor shaving so I immediately set up an appointment with Michael. It turns out that not only was the shave every bit as pleasant as the ones I remembered from the Frizer, it turned out that Michael is a master barber and a lifelong Las Vegas resident. He has been cutting hair since he was a teen. Feels like he has been shaving that long as well. Ah, hot towels, warm shaving cream, cool mist afterwards. It is everyman’s delight.

A little blogging music Maestro, anything from or "Shave and a haircut; two-bits."

Dr. Forgot