Thursday, March 17, 2011

Athlete's Foot, Nose for Nickles and Dollars

Word to the wise:
If your feet smell and your nose runs, you’re upside down
Five ways to preserve our heritage

Preserving our heritage, One: For decades those of us who have lived in Clairton have smelled the odiferous compounds that emanated from the mills that lined the river. Then most of the mills went away leaving the Clairton Works and its 50-year old technology to spew toxins into the air; making the Clairton-Glassport area the third most polluted air-ea in the country, behind L.A. and St. Louis. Many of us ran for the hills and settled elsewhere but the sweet smell of quencher that needed to be wiped from the windshield while driving remains in our DNA.

Preserving our heritage, Two: One thing that never led to holding our noses was the Clairton High School football team. Over the years the rich culture of Clairton has seen a young man of Slavic heritage, Andy Berchock and Irish American Jim Kelly win All America honors, African-American Judge Dixon star at Minnesota and in the Rose Bowl game, son of Anglo-American Ron Lancaster become a legendary pro in Canada, and many, many more. In more recent years we have seen the Bears show their colors again by owning the WPIAL and in the past two consecutive years, winning the state championship. This year’s squad ran the opposition ragged by a total score of 702-34. That alone has to be some sort of record.

Preserving our heritage, Three: The sweet smell of victory. Typically professional teams who win the Super Bowl are rewarded with Super Bowl rings. College teams who win Bowl games are rewarded with Bowl rings, and high school teams who win state championships are rewarded with Championships rings. But in the case of the champion Clairton Bears, the school district ran out of money. Coaches agreed that the rings were deserved, so did the faculty and staff at the school. The community wanted no less for their team. Even the school board knew that the team deserved championship rings. But there simply was no money in the budget for non-academic spending.

Preserving our heritage, Four: A group of people who have the nose for making things right and call themselves the Clairton Athletic champions Club was cobbled together. It included a school board member and community members who decided that the Bears run to Hershey should be rewarded in the traditional way. So they took the ball and ran with it. It was no easy task. Money is tight in the best of times but in these troubled economic times it is often easier to squeeze the air from a football than to raise $11,000 for some fancy rings. The group pushed, pulled, and dragged every spare dollar they could find but time was running short and they’d just barely passed the halfway point to their goal. Enter the internet. Bev Alcorn, put out a clarion call on her Facebook page and yours truly sent out an S.O.S. on this blog. The call was literally heard around the world by current and former Clairton residents and CHS alumni. Checks began to pour in from Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, California, the Carolinas…. Everywhere Clairton residents reside – and it turns out they live everywhere! Even non-residents who had never been in the city learned of the fund raiser through the wonders of electronic communication and chipped in. With more than a week to spare the goal has been met and with late checks still coming in it will be exceeded, with overflow monies going to other worthy targets such as new team jerseys and shoes.

Preserving our heritage, Five: Congratulations to all Clairton residents, non-residents and CHS alumni past and present for helping make the goal. Fundraising has moved a couple of inches in the scheme of things. Here is hoping it will move feet, yards, and miles in the future. Our community is economically depressed. Perhaps the response to the call that helped the football team become properly recognized will expand to restoring Clairton to the place it maintained in its glory days. Perhaps the example shown by people opening their hearts and wallets to the Bears this year will be shown in future development activities. Possibilities abound. But for now, thank you to each and every person who helped our team and their coaching staff get the recognition they earned. Keep your feet running and your nose smelling.

A little blogging music Maestro... “We Will rock You” by Queen.

Dr. Forgot

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