Friday, December 28, 2012

What a season!

From the New York Times: Finding Hope in Football, and Providing It
By Jeré Longman
Kickoff for the Pennsylvania state championship game was minutes away. Music and a taped inspirational speech filled the Clairton High School locker room. But Terrish Webb sat outside on a set of concrete steps. He wiped tears from his eyes.
“I miss my dad,” Webb, 17, told his close friend and teammate Robby Boatwright, who gave him a hug.
“I got your back,” Boatwright said. “I love you.”
Six years earlier, almost to the day, Webb’s father had been shot to death as he drove his car in the late afternoon near the football field in Clairton, a frayed steel mill town south of Pittsburgh. Webb was 11 at the time. The case has never been solved.
“When you have tragedy like that in your immediate family, some kids tend to go the wrong way,” said Wayne Wade, a former star quarterback at Clairton who is now the team’s defensive coordinator. “They can’t handle it. They start to question themselves. Why me? They look into different avenues to go, which are negative. Terrish found a positive one in football with a lot of his friends. They vowed a long time ago that they wanted to win state championships and they did all the right things to do it.”
Clairton fell on hard times when the steel industry collapsed in the 1980s. Much of its downtown is abandoned, boarded up. But football has provided a glimmer of hope amid the civic gloominess. Webb caught a 21-yard touchdown pass in a 20-0 victory in the Class A title game on Dec. 14 at Hersheypark Stadium, helping Clairton to a fourth consecutive state championship and its 63rd consecutive win, the nation’s longest current winning streak.
A 6-foot-1 receiver and cornerback, Webb caught 16 touchdown passes, rushed for 4 touchdowns and intercepted 8 passes this season. He is also the senior class president and ranks second in his class with a 3.8 grade-point average. He is considering playing college football at Kent State, Pittsburgh or Toledo.
“That’s a special person who can come back from such adversity,” Tom Nola, Clairton’s coach, said of Webb. “He’s the best student on the team. He’s going to college. He’s going to make something of his life. My hat’s off to him.”
Nola credited Webb’s mother, Tinisha Webb, who works as an administrative assistant at a hospital in suburban Pittsburgh, with keeping Terrish from despair and stressing the importance of education. His friends, too, vowed that they would not succumb to the temptations and violence of a city where nearly a quarter of the 6,796 residents live below the poverty level.
“People think this is just football,” Webb said. “This is more than football to us. This is the way out from where we come from.”

Now What?
The Bears have just finished an amazing four seasons. Now they will be given the accolades they've earned. This comes in the form of an awards banquet and awarding of rings, announcement of other awards, etc. and takes place in March. In the past the banquet has been held in the Ascension Hall in Clairton. This year, ion celebration of their fourth consecutive state title they hope to hold the banquet in a more formal setting. Also, the school district is unable to pay for all the rings. Thus we are asking that you make a donation to help. Last year donations ranged from $1.00 to $500.00. The rings (about $200 each) were paid for and enough money was left over for the purchase of capes for the players to fend off the winter weather as they stand on the sidelines.

I'm sending an email blast to alumni that reads as follows:

"HAPPY NEW YEAR CHS ALUMNI, FRIENDS & FAMILY, once again I am asking for your help. Our Fabulous Clairton Bears won their 5th WPIAL championship and their 4th consecutive PIAA Championship. I have one New Year's Wish from all my blog readers, FB friends, family, & CHS Alumni. My one New Year Wish is that each one of you send at least $1.00 to help out the non-profit organization that has been set up by members of the CHS School Board to help purchase the Championship Rings for our fabulous Clairton Bears. Your donation is tax deductible as a non-profit donation. Please send your donations to the following address:

Clairton Athletic Champions Club, c/o William Bradford, P.O. Box 303, Clairton, Pa 15025

Thank you CHS Alumni, friends & family!"

A little blogging music Maestro... "We Are the Champions," by Queen.

Dr. Forgot

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bears Win #63!

Game. Set. Match. Bravo! The Clairton Bears had a tough game against a tough opponent. Not only was Dunmore tough, they made our boys look like a pee-wee team. The lineman from Dunmore reached a height go 6'7" and weight of 275. Our kids line went 5'10, 5'10, 5,9", six feet even, and only one tipped the scales at an even 200. But once the game started the Bears that looked like cubs against their opponents played like giant Grizzlies. They gave as good as they got, even better. Dunmore, who came into the game with a 14-1 record in a would not be a team that would succumb to the Mercy rule - they only allowed CHS one touchdown per half until the last three minutes of the game. But that was enough for the Bears as they won their fourth consecutive State Championship by a score of 20-0.

Terrence Fort is amazing: Terrence is a CHS alum. Until I met him I did not believe that Terrence Fort was a real person. I thought he was just a ball of energy, as he is never in one place. He travels the country in his job and has an acute interest in his Alma Mater. Terrence, along with others who've assisted, started a group called Reaching the Reachable. It has been about a year since I was honored to be a speaker on behalf of this group. They are all about CHS students pursuing post-secondary success through education, entrepreneurship, and any other means that would enhance members of the Clairton student body. But Terrence also is a rabid Bear fan and he summed up their fourth consecutive victory as follows: "I wish I had the skills to put down on paper what I saw at Hershey on Friday. I saw a depleted team, that was undermanned and undersized. With most of their key players injured and in Pain. Some limping and some holding onto appendages, On the other side I saw a Team that looked like they were part of a College Program. They had several Goliaths that are going to Division 1 schools on their lines. They had two 1000 yard rushers. You see they came out with a 23 Square foot sign that stated the streak ends here and their team busted through it. And in their stands they had all the backing that is provided by the "Steeler Nation". One thing they didn't know. They didn't "KNOW BOUT DAT". They didn't know how much HEART the Clairton Bears have. OMG!!! I watched Time and Again David s
tep around Goliath and crush those "1000 yarders" with losses. I watched the Bears trapped back on their own 5 yard line march down the field, moving chains forward all he way down the field. At that time I was able to see David Slay Goliath. I knew then that they were broken and the Bears were on their way to their 4th straight PA Championship and a record 63d consecutive win. IF OUR KIDS CAN STAND UP LIKE THIS AND MAKE US SO PROUD OF THEM, The least we can do is Mentor them and teach them that even though you have gone out and conquered what has been in front of you for your first 18 years, you now have 60 more to pepare for. RTR Mentoring is having a meeting on Monday the 17th. Most of you know about it. We are going into the school to Mentor the 7th - 9th graders at 9:00 on Tuesday and 10th - 12th immediately following. Your Support is still needed for those that played, those that didn't/don't, and both genders. Bear Pride!! More than just the TEAM TAF/RTR/CEO" (editor's note: the Bears were constantly referred to as Goliath and their opponent David, but the Dunmore line had players who were 6'7" and 245 lbs. while the Bears had one lineman at 215 lbs. The rest were smaller.)

Jim Wessell; major factor: Jim is the former Athletic Director at CHS. He has been a guest on a radio show that went worldwide and has posted game progress of every game on his Facebook page. Now that the run is done for the year Jim has compiled some statistics about the Bears streak, as follow: 

Numbers to think about for this Clairton Senior Class...
Overall Record: 63-1 (best 4 year record ever in PA)
WPIAL Playoff Record: 16-0
PIAA Playoff Record: 12-0
Overall Playoff Record: 28-0

WPIAL Championships: 4
PIAA Championships: 4

Total Points Scored: 2,825 (most ever in PA over a 4 year period)
Total Points Against: 311
Average score over 64 games: 44.141 - 4.859
Only team in PA history to score 600 or more points in 4 consecutive seasons
Only team in PA history to score 700 or more points in 3 consecutive seasons

Only WPIAL team to ever win 4 PIAA State Championships
Only WPIAL team to ever win 4 PIAA State Championships in a row
Only WPIAL team to ever appear in 5 consecutive State Championship games
Only the third team in PA history to win 4 PIAA State Championships in a row (Southern Columbia 5, Berwick 4)
Only the second team in WPIAL history to win 5 consecutive WPIAL Championships (Braddock 5)
Only WPIAL team to ever win 6 WPIAL Championships in 7 years

Longest WPIAL winning streak (63 games)
Longest PIAA winning streak ever (63 games)
Longest current National winning streak (63 games)
13th Longest winning streak ever in the History of High School Football in the United States

Ranked #1 in the PIAA in Class A (
Ranked #5 in the PIAA across all classes (
Ranked in the top 10 of small school teams in the Nation (
Ranked #145 in the Nation across all classes (

16 Seniors going on to college, at least 3 at the D-1 level

Clairton is 613-347-41 all-time

'Nuff said!

A little blogging music Maestro... "We Are the Champions," by Queen.

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bears Shine in the Woods!

Bear Nation goes national: In case you missed it, there have been stories about the Clairton Bears written in the New York Times, USA Today, Las Vegas Review-Journal a sports radio show broadcast from Las Vegas,  and a CBS national news spot on the Bears (see below)

#62 challenge: The Clairton Bears had reached the semi-final game for the PA Site Championship. Their opponent was highly touted Port Allegany whose quarterback needed one more TD to tie a state record for touchdown passes. Their star running back held several rushing records. Their record was 13-0. Yes, this would be a formidable opponent on paper. The game was played in a neutral site but the opposing fans were cordial and probably the best fans the Bears had faced in a while. No cat calls. No racial epithets. The team was much the same with no dirty ply and a good, hard-fought first half that saw CHS on the good side of an 8-6 lead. Then, in the second half the Bears awoke from their hibernation. They played like the Bears have played 61 times before and when the smoke had cleared the final score was Clairton 44, Port Allegany 12 (and that last TD came with 40 second's to play but gave their vaunted quarterback his record).

Clairton will meet Dunmore for the state championship this Friday at 1:00 EDT. Here is a clip from a Dunmore area newspaper: "Dunmore's powerful offensive line wore down Bellwood-Antis in the second half and the defense came up with three turnovers as the Bucks advanced to the PIAA Class A championship game with a 40-19 semifinal win Friday night at Central Mountain High School.Dunmore (14-1) will play defending state champ Clairton, a 37-6 (sic) winner over Port Allegany, on Friday at 1 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium. "It's really unbelievable," said Sal Marchese, whose forced fumble early in the third quarter helped turn a close game into a rout. "All the work we put in and it really pays off. I'm glad we work this hard." Just like the quarterfinal win last week, Dunmore punished an opponent physically in the second half. Daiqwon Buckley rushed for 223 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries, while Austin Seamon added 163 yards - 101 of those and both his touchdowns coming in the second half as the Bucks pulled away from a 19-13 halftime lead."

The game will be televised on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Do not lose focus: Somewhere early in the second half, Port Allegany's team quit believing they had a chance to win the game. Once a team does not believe they can win it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Witness the second half when CHS moved the ball at will and scored on series after series with their second and third string playing. The fullback who scored the final CHS TD is 5'5" in his platform shoes!

The offense played well and the defense played magnificently. Long after most baby boomers are gone these kids will tell their grandkids about the magical run by the little school that could and did.... with all odds stacked against them.

That's the good news. The bad news is that CHS is ranked academically among the bottom of schools in PA. That means that even students who are academically superior at the school will struggle in college. I know this from working with college athletes who came similarly academically challenged high schools. It is crucial that two things happen in order for our fellow alumni to be academically competitive in college. First, they need to be taught  college study and survival skills. This is being worked on both in the school and through a program started by Terrence Fort, Ted Kay, and other alumni before last year's championship game. The program is called "Reaching the Reachable," and they've done a fantastic job developing a cadre of successful alumni to address the needs of the students.

Equally important is that those seniors who go to post-secondary schools select schools that will provide academic support services and, particularly for those on athletic scholarships, choose a school that provides academic aftercare. That is, once athletic eligibility is exhausted, there needs to be a program that allows the student who has not completed a degree to come back for free or reduced tuition in exchange for some sort of community service.

The season is about to end but their future is just beginning.

A little blogging music Maestro, "We Are the Champions," by Queen.

Dr. Forgot

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Its all about the Bears today

In case you were wondering: Jim Wessel was able to dig out a 61-game history of the Clairton Bears.

1.  9/11/2009             Clairton 46 - Monessen 0
2.  9/18/2009             Clairton 62 - Frazier 7
3.  9/25/2009             Clairton 53 - Bentworth 0
4.  10/2/2009             Clairton 45 - Fort Cherry 6
5.  10/9/2009             Clairton 63 - Chartiers Houston 3
6.  10/16/2009           Clairton 53 - Burgettstown 0
7.  10/23/2009           Clairton 59 - Avella 0
8.  10/30/2009           Clairton 39 - Serra 7
9.  11/6/2009             *Clairton 61 - South Side Beaver 0
10.  11/13/2009         *Clairton 24 - Avonworth 0
11.  11/20/2009         *Clairton 33 - Laurel 0
12.  11/27/2009         **Clairton 14 - Rochester 13
13.  12/4/2009           #Clairton 46 - Conemaugh Township 0
14.  12/11/2009         #Clairton 13 - Farrell 7
15.  12/18/2009         ##Clairton 15 - Bishop McCort 3
16.  9/3/2010             Clairton 41 - Washington 0
17.  9/10/2010           Clairton 55 - Western Beaver 6
18.  9/17/2010           Clairton 60 - Carlynton 6
19.  9/24/2010           Clairton 48 - Chartiers Houston 0
20.  10/1/2010           Clairton 65 - Avella 0
21.  10/8/2010           Clairton 60 - Bentworth 0
22.  10/15/2010         Clairton 52 - Brentwood 0
23.  10/22/2010         Clairton 42 - Fort Cherry 7
24.  10/29/2010         Clairton 60 - Serra 0
25.  11/5/2010           *Clairton 42 - Carmichaels 0
26.  11/12/2010         *Clairton 47 - Bishop Canevin 0
27.  11/19/2010         *Clairton 26 - Springdale 7
28.  11/27/2010         **Clairton 12 - Rochester 0
29.  12/3/2010           #Clairton 52 - North Star 0
30.  12/10/2010         #Clairton 48 - Farrell 8
31.  12/17/2010         ##Clairton 36 - Riverside 30
32.  9/2/2011             Clairton 42 - Washington 12
33.  9/10/2011           Clairton 48 - Western Beaver 0
34.  9/16/2011           Clairton 44 - Carlynton 0
35.  9/23/2011           Clairton 36 - Chartiers Houston 0
36.  9/30/2011           Clairton 84 - Avella 0
37.  10/7/2011           Clairton 54 - Bentworth 0
38.  10/14/2011         Clairton 32 - Brentwood 0
39.  10/21/2011         Clairton 35 - Fort Cherry 6
40.  10/28/2011         Clairton 48 - Serra 0
41.  11/4/2011           *Clairton 54 - Cornell 0
42.  11/11/2011         *Clairton 34 - Springdale 20
43.  11/18/2011         *Clairton 43 - Rochester 7
44.  11/26/2011         **Clairton 42 - Sto Rox 6
45.  12/2/2011           #Clairton 44 - North Star 0
46.  12/9/2011           #Clairton 30 - Sharpsville 8
47.  12/16/2011         ##Clairton 35 - Southern Columbia 19
48.  8/31/2012           Clairton 22 - Chartiers Houston 20
49.  9/7/2012             Clairton 50 - Carlynton 7
50.  9/14/2012           Clairton 54 - California 6
51.  9/20/2012           Clairton 52 - Monessen 7
52.  9/28/2012           Clairton 65 - Fort Cherry 0
53.  10/5/2012           Clairton 42 - Brentwood 7
54.  10/13/2012         Clairton 53 - Bishop Canevin 15
55.  10/19/2012         Clairton 41 - Serra 0
56.  10/26/2012         Clairton 52 - Imani Christian 0
57.  11/2/2012           *Clairton 58 - Frazier 6
58.  11/9/2012           *Clairton 39 - Brentwood 0
59.  11/16/2012         *Clairton 37 - Neshannock 7 (Ties the all-time state record)
60.  11/23/2012         **Clairton 58 - Sto Rox 21 (Breaks the all-time state record)
61.  11/30/2012         #Clairton 53 - Berlin Brothersvalley 0

* - WPIAL Playoff Win

** - WPIAL Championship Win

# - PIAA Playoff Win

## - PIAA Championship Win

Next Friday The Bears play Port Alegany. I know, don't like the spelling either but that's how it reads on the official PIAA match ups. Should the Bears find themselves on a 62-game win streak at the conclusion of that game they will go to Hershey and on Friday 12/14 play the winner of the Dunmore-Bellwood game for the state championship

Just a few records: We know the Bears have set a record or two this season. Tyler Boyd has garnered the most publicity and records but all players agree, there is no "I" in TEAM. This team has crushed its opponents to the tune of an average 45-4 score. They've been highlighted in USA Today as well as The New York Times. They have brought the community together and reinforced the pride in Clairton. But remember two things: First, while football expands the options of young men in Clairton, it is not the only thing they have going for them. Yes, the students of Clairton have some obstacles not present in more wealthy socio-economic communities, but that makes them stronger and more resolute.

Secondly, a record-setting football team is not a panacea for all the ills in any community. There are still issues that need to be addressed in Clairton but the exposure that has put the community in a positive light has opened the door to possibilities that were not as obvious previously. With real estate values so low and community interest so high, and with the many projects that are going on to beautify the city and look after its citizens, and with the gorgeous homes along Halcomb and Mitchell Avenues, as well as other parts of town, Clairton is ripe for new business, renewal, and becoming a place where young urban professionals can invest their time, effort, and money. I see the glass as half full and just waiting to be filled to the brim.

The latest information for the semi-final: From Robert White - "The game against Port Allegany will be played next Friday at 7:00 pm at Deer Lakes High School in Cheswick, PA.  This site is much closer to Clairton than to Port Allegany which is in McKean County in North Central, PA.  Cheswick is north and east of Pittsburgh, not far from New Kensington.  I would say Clairton has the site advantage. "

Go Bears!

A little blogging music Maestro, "Sweet Emotion," by Aerosmith.

Dr. Forgot

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Alma Mater

It Ain't Oz, but it's Home: Clairton, PA. My hometown. I've written more than 150 blog posts about the community since its inception in 1906 to present. Today I am bursting my buttons with pride over the nationwide press coverage our town is receiving. I've been getting calls and emails al morning from CHS alumni from California, North Dakota, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Virginia, the Carolinas.... you name it. If there is a state there is a CHS alum.

What's the buzz? A couple of nights ago I co-hosted a radio show with Harvey Hyde. "Who the Hell is Harvey Hyde?" you might ask. He is a very successful former football coach who now does talk radio, pre game shows for the USC Trojans, and assorted other media activities. From time to time I co-host with him.  Last Monday we did a segment on the Clairton Bears and the Clairton community. Our guest was former AD at CHS and current Facebook writer for the Bears, Jim Wessel. The broadcast went worldwide and we heard from many states where CHS alumni listened. A couple weeks earlier sports writer Ron Kantowski, whose dad was a steelworker in Chicago, did an article on the Bears that featured me in my Clairton Bear regalia.

There have been articles in the local newspapers:

But today was the coup de gras. From Arizona resident and former Bear Bill Bennett: Here's a link to USA Today article with video to whet your appetite for the record breaking quest for #60 on Friday. Click the pic of Bears with caption "Made in America: Nation's Longest Winning Streak" to watch video and read article. Also read comments. I trust this will be in the hard copy of USA Today tomorrow, but I'm not sure.

To those who do not live in Western PA, remember you can watch the WPIAL final against Sto-Rox on Direct TV, channel 659 at 11:00 AM EST.

Facebook too: There are several Facebook pages for Clairton and numerous web pages. One that is particularly informative is: My blog can also be accessed through the site under the History tab. 

The football team: There are many stars on this years Bear team but the one who stands heads, shoulders, and thorax above the competition is Tyler Boyd. Google him to see snippets of him in action on the field. But "The rest of the story." is Tyler's mom, Tanya Payne. She has several sons, all of whom are academic achievers, college students, and college grads. That includes Tyler the football player. Tanya has the gift in raising boys. She posted Tyler's most recent report card on Facebook!!!! But she did not do that to humiliate him. The report cars contained  straight A grades!!!! Bravo to Tyler and all the other 50 or so seniors at CHS. We wish them success after high school, but back to the Bears.

What's all the fuss? The CHS Bears have won three consecutive state championships and more WPIAL championships than there are letters in WPIAL. They are currently tied for the most consecutive wins for a football team in the state of Pennsylvania. And if they beat Sto-Rox Friday, they will break that record.

Day of thanks: Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. I am thankful for many things and blessings Ive enjoyed over seven decades. But I am also thankful for the squad of young men who proved to be the little school that could. 


A little blogging music Maestro... "It's Clairton High School, It's Clairton High School the pride of every student here (rah rah!)..."

Dr. Forgot

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Of Books and Weddings

Sweet Doings in Hershey: It is always a treat to get back to my home state of Pennsylvania. This time I missed Western PA and Clairton by a couple of hours and went to Hershey in the middle of the state. The occasion was to attend the wedding of a lovely couple. (Full disclosure; the bride is my niece).

Aimee and Scott are a "match made in heaven" couple. She was going to be a career girl, eschewing marriage and those traditional things women of a certain age are expected to do. Aimee was an iconoclast from her earliest years. She was a gifted writer and the editor of her high school newspaper. She went to Syracuse and majored in Journalism and Art History. Took a Masters degree at Bryn Mawr then returned to her hometown of Hershey to become an executive with the company that figuratively owns the town.

Aimee was a natural at putting things and people together and did so at her job in Hershey but eventually moved on to higher education development at a nearby university.

Scott attended the Milton Hershey School then went on to study government at Franklin and Marshall College. He too is a gifted writer and communicator and consults for several major corporations.

The wedding was a storybook affair with events at the Hotel Hershey, Hershey Country Club, and the ceremony took place at the beautiful historic Sell Chapel at the Masonic Villages in nearby Elizabethtown. And oh yes, there was nutbread, ladylocks, and plenty of Clairton food. May the happy couple have a long and prosperous life.

Writers from Clairton: As anybody who reads this blog knows, the City of Clairton, PA has spawned a myriad of people who have excelled in their fields. One such person whom we've written about before is Dr. William R. King. This high-falutin' professor might have the resume of a stuffed shirt but he is as down home as anybody who was raised in Elrama, a hop, skip and jump from Clairton. The rowdy kid from the sticks became a scholar while attending Clairton High School and went on to be one of the most prolific writers and professors at the University of Pittsburgh. In fact, so good were his writings that no bigger a celebrity than Vladimir Putin plagiarized part of one of his tomes.

With all that academic writing completed, the now-retired professor has written his autobiography entitled, "SCHOOL DAYS: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century." If you grew up during the heyday of the 1950s or attended Clairton High School or were from one of the many communities in the Mon Valley, you will love this book. Dr. Bill bares it all from his foibles to his awkward teen dating to his college and professional career. I recommend it as a great read.

Met another Clairton writer: Joan Angelo, nee joan Little, is also a Clairton grad from the 1950s. She ended up at Edinboro with her professor husband, also a writer. But I recently discovered Joan's series of five books that are written about our community and the Mon Valley. I just completed the first one, Blackwater Hollow, 1900-1929. It is the first in her Monongahela Chronicles series and tells the story of coal miners who eked out a bare existence in the Patch and hollows around Clairton, Wilson, and Coal Valley. What Joan does so masterfully is write in dialect when the characters are speaking.

An example of her writing in dialect comes when little Charlie sees a wash tub with wringers for the first time: "What's em big rollers for?" asked Charlie.

"Them's to rench ma clothes. It's called a wringer. See, all I gotta do is push ma clothes through this here wringer and the machine squeezes out all the water. Almost all the water.  Better n I could do by hand."

There are plenty of "younses" an 'at throughout the book. It is a must read for those who love history and certainly those from the Mon Valley.

That is the latest from Clairton, PA.

PS: CHS Bears just won #59 and tied the PA record for most consecutive victories. A win next week would set a new record and make CHS again the WPIAL victors. Next game, Friday 11/23 at Heinz Field against Sto-Rox.

A little blogging music Maestro... "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles.

Dr. Forgot

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Of Clairton, Bears, and Books

You don't know what you're missing: Many current and former Clairton residents "of a certain age" are yet  to be dragged, kicking and screaming into the technological era. On the chance that you do not Facebook, or even if you do, you might not be aware of two Facebook pages; Clairton Activists and Clairton History. Both help keep up on what is going on in our hometown these days and were developed by Joanie Jordan. From those Facebook pages flowed a website, I would encourage you to visit that site and see the fabulous photos of Clairton past. You will see Clairton Park in its early stages of being built, original photos of the pool and the diving board that once graced the second float,. You will see photos of the corner store across from Gumble's Chevrolet dealership, Vitori's Esso Station, and many other early pictures. And speaking of auto dealerships you will also see a photo of the Worthington Avenue Garage which at various times served as a Hudson dealership and became Johnny's Glass. And don't forget to peek at the Capital Theater in its early days. The site is a treasure trove of photos and information.

57 is more than just a Heinz logo: Congratulations to our Bears Football team that won its 57th consecutive game last Friday as the playoffs began. They defeated a respectable Frazier Commodore team that took a 6-0 lead. The lead lasted less than one minute and CHS  scored the next 58 points. Tyler Boyd scored his 100th touchdown and ran for over 200 yards on six carries. Next up is Brentwood. The record for consecutive wins in Pennsylvania prep football is 59.

Books by Bill: William R. King has been mentioned in this blog before. He is the Clairton high School kid who came from Elrama with a chip on his shoulder and with the guidance of several teacher-mentors, went on to college, got his Ph.D. and became a longtime professor at Pitt. He is also both a gifted and prolific writer, and that is not just my opinion. No less a celebrity than Vladimir Putin plagiarized one of Bills many writings and placed it in his (Putin') Master's dissertation.

Seems Bill just can't stay away from the keyboard. His latest book is  "SCHOOL DAYS: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century." Author is officially William R King. It's available on, and The e-version costs only $1.99. This would make a terrific Christmas gift for anybody who has any connection to Clairton.

That is the latest from Clairton, PA.

A little blogging music Maestro... "The Booklovers" by the Divine Comedy.

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How 'bout dem Bears???

Rolling, rolling, rolling: I guess that is one of the songs they would sing at the rolling mills, or even in the hot strip finish department. Pickle line, anybody? (And I DON'T mean the Heinz tours). Our Clairton Bears have been rolling along, having not lost a home game since 2005 and not lost a game at all since 2009. Last Friday they won their 55th consecutive game and are headed for a state record 60. The 55-game win streak is currently the longest in any sport at any level in the U.S. So take a bow, fellas, but keep your head up and close the season with a victory, then good luck in the playoffs.

I bleed orange and black: I've graduated from three universities and worked at several more. One would think I'd be a die hard fan of BYU or NAU or UNLV or one of the dozen or so other universities in which I attended or taught. But when I hear the old song, "Be True to Your School," I think Clairton High School. I know of no other high school that is so special (and of course I'm partial to the Class of 1960) that has class reunions every five years and sometime even half-reunions in Las Vegas at the 2 1/2 year mark between the 5-year reunions (that's my Class of 1960). Our alumni from CHS is so rabid that those who've settled in Florida have an annual Clairton reunion in De Soto Park, FL, and of course there is the annual multi-class reunion held annually at Clairton Park. Local alumni and those who travel thousands of miles celebrate the end of summer at the Park.

Now Las Vegas knows Clairton: I was driving around in Las Vegas a year or so ago and passed a group of condominiums located in a pretty area near The Lakes. The name of the street was Clairton Circle! I was stunned to discover that a little Clairton history resides in Las Vegas. The condos were built in the early 1980s but I have no clue how the street got its name. Any suggestions?

Alumni Bill Bennett lives in Arizona. He, along with many other alumni in California, Utah, Nevada, and throughout the west keep track of the Bears and their exploits. I'm also very grateful to former Social Studies teacher Don Taylor who provides an excellent analysis of the Bear's progress. Several Facebook pages devoted to the rebirth of our town, the Bears, and the progress being made in our school are included in my regular reading requirements.

In addition to Clairton Circle, the local newspaper, Las Vegas Review Journal did an article on our hometown this morning. I was interviewed by Ron Kantowski, a sports writer for the paper. Turns out that Ron lived in a community very similar to Clairton near Gary, IN and his dad was a steelworker, so he understands our town, its struggles, and the pride in our team.

Read and enjoy:

A little blogging music Maestro... "Be True to Your School," by the Beach Boys.

Dr. Forgot

Friday, October 19, 2012

Have you missed me?

Pussycat Pussycat, where have you been:  I cannot believe that it has been nearly two months since I last posted. My apologies to those loyal readers who check in with me on a regular basis. This is a good time to post as the Bears are about to end another successful season.

The Bears win streak was almost ended the first game of the season when they barely squeaked by Chartiers-Houston by a score of 22-20. Of course, they had nearly half their team serving suspensions that game due to attendance, grades, or who-knows-what. But they got their groove and players back for the second game and the rest of the season to date went as follows: Carlyton 50-7, California 54-6, Monesson 52-7, Fort Cherry 65-0, Brentwood 42-7 and Bishop Canevin 53-15.

Tonight is hHomecoming for the Bears and they face another good Catholic school, Serra. If they win tonight (#55) and next week against Imani Christian (#56), the Clairton Bears will enter the playoffs once again undefeated. The all time record of wins in PA is 60.

I will write more after the game, including a surprise that I should know about by Sunday.

Any potential bloggers? My lifestyle has changed this year and I've been focused on my new job as an usher at the newly opened Smith Center for Performing Arts. That is one reason I've written fewer blogs and done less research. If any reader would consider writing this log from time to time, please let me know. My rules are: try to stay upbeat and include as much on Clairton and its residents past and present.

See you Sunday.

A little blogging music maestro, "The Clairton Fight Song."

Dr. Forgot

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When Wilson spake, students listened

Professor William R. King, retired, is one of our favorite blog readers. To refresh your memory, Bill King clod-hopped into the grandeur of Clairton High School on a bus from Elrama. He was a bit intimidated by the "city folk" of the huge metropolis of Clairton and its fancy high school so he acted out. That is, until a school administrator had, what pundits today call a "come to Jesus" talk with him and his education began to change. He immersed himself in the opportunities at CHS, graduated, earned a Ph.D. and became a popular and prolific faculty member at Pitt. So outstanding was his work that no less a world leader than Vladimir Putin lifted (as in plagiarized) some of Professor Bill's writing and placed it in his (Putin's) own dissertation. You can Google it for the specifics as it created quite a stir.

Professor Bill recently wrote a piece about his experiences in Miss Wilson's English class at CHS. In case you missed it:

Some affiliations that we make become a part of our identity.
For instance, a Marine is always a Marine -- never an ex-Marine. A member of a college fraternity or sorority usually says, "I'm a Sigma Nu" (or whatever). Members of national lodges, such as the Masons or Elks, often wear lapel pins so that they can be recognized by other members.

I have such a lifelong affiliation, acquired in high school, that is shared with thousands of people. I am a member in good standing of "Miss Wilson's Chaucer Cult."
Some background: Miss Helen D. Wilson taught me and about 150 other kids in six classes of senior English at Clairton High School in 1955-56. To me, she was a frail, little, old spinster lady who was very demanding.

For instance, we were required to learn about six vocabulary words each day. Every day, she would select students to recite the meaning that they had gleaned from a dictionary of each of the previous day's words. Other students were chosen to use them in a sentence. Anyone unable to fulfill this duty got a cold frown and a mark ostentatiously made in her grade book.

She never specifically told us the purpose of this, probably because the short-term purpose was to help us on the "College Boards," now called the SATs, and that might have turned off those who weren't going to college. In those days, the idea of preparing for these important tests, now an industry, was not widely accepted. Besides, who can argue that having a better vocabulary isn't a good thing for everyone?

I understood this and other demands that Miss Wilson made. But the one thing that she had us do whose purpose I could not fathom was to memorize and recite the "Prologue" to Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" in OLD ENGLISH. It goes something like this: "Whan thet Aprilla whet ets sura sota, the droth of March hath perced to the rota ... " and on and on. (Apologies to those offended by misspellings of Old English; I learned it only phonetically.)
It was a number of years before I discovered Miss W's purpose in searing this strange poetry into our memories. I had to see a new school principal about one of my kids. The newspaper article about his appointment mentioned that he was a Clairton High School graduate. So, I thought that our common background would be a good icebreaker for the serious talk that I wanted to have with him.

His secretary ushered me into his office, and we shook hands with me saying, "I understand that we went to the same high school." He replied, "Did you happen to have Miss Wilson for senior English?" I nodded and we both spontaneously broke into a recitation: "Whan thet Aprilla ... "

His secretary came rushing back into the office saying, "I heard you two doing that strange chant and I thought that there must be something going on that is awfully weird!" After assuring her that we were still sane, we discussed our joint realization that we were unwitting members of "Miss Wilson's Chaucer Cult."

Something like this has happened to me a number of other times. Over the years, I've tried to figure out the benefits that our ability to do this recitation, other than recognizing fellow cult members, might have. I have found none. On those rare occasions when I've demonstrated this ability in public, such as when conversation is in a lull at a dinner party, people's eyes have a tendency to glaze over and some hurriedly leave the table.

My wife, who is also a member of the cult since she took the course with Miss W a year after me, is more sensible. She does recitations only in the privacy of our bedroom; I suspect it's to turn me on.

So, it seems to me that the sole purpose of this class assignment was the creation of a cult. We were being sent out into the world, like "sleeper" agents planted by a foreign intelligence service, to be activated at some future time when we meet another member.

This little lady, Miss Wilson, teacher over the years of thousands of students and now long dead, lives on through the cult that she created, as well as in the hearts and minds of those of us who she taught so much and who remember her so fondly.
William R. King of Fox Chapel, a retired University of Pittsburgh professor, can be reached at The PG Portfolio welcomes "Back to School" submissions and other reader essays. Send your writing to; or by mail to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15222. Portfolio editor Gary Rotstein may be reached at 412-263-1255.

A little blogging music Maestro: "Be True to your School" by the Beachboys.

Dr. Forgot

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Visionary or ADHD?

Fifth Street Grade School: From the time I was in the second grade my parents did not receive good reports on me from the school. In fact, I was passed to the third grade “on condition,” which meant if my academic performance was not up to snuff in the third grade the school reserved the right to demote me and have me repeat the second grade. Somehow I made it through the third grade and beyond but the comments that accompanied my not-so-stellar report card nearly always included, “He daydreams when he should be working.”

Definition of a visionary: I once heard a visionary described as “one who looks at the same thing but sees something else.” I do not profess to be a visionary – my daydreaming was probably undiagnosed ADHD - although to this day I see things differently than many other people. My view of Clairton and the image vs. the vision is also different than that of many others. I am not talking about the Clairton of the 1920s through the 1950, nor the people who claim Clairton as their hometown but have moved on to impact the world. I’ve written about many such people in this blog; Ron Lancaster in sports, Johnny Moio in Hollywood, Dr. Walter Cooper Cooper, scientist and inventor, Nancy Bekavac, college president, Joan Cutuly, writer and educator, Benny Benack, musician, Claudine Cmrada Schneider, Congresswoman and Harvard professor, and many, many more. But today we will discuss neither the good old days nor the sweet by and by, but what’s happening in the here and now.

What’s happening in Clairton: Short history: Our town was born, thrived, and like much of the Mon Valley and Pittsburgh went into a period of decline. Many left for better job opportunities but remain in spirit with family ties or memories of the good things of our past. New residents moved to Clairton and some long-timers remained and have weathered the storm. Civic leaders have put together several initiatives including a coalition to strengthen the education of our school children, another to plant gardens for the community, and one to clean up neglected gems such as Memorial Hill in Clairton Park. Clairton’s renaissance has begun. It is evidenced by Clairton Activist and Clairton History Facebook pages and with the newly created web page, which every current and former Clairton resident should visit.

It is time to repopulate our town: At its peak Clairton had a population that approached 30,000. Car dealerships, movie theaters, city parks, businesses and opportunities were abundant. With the closing of the area’s mills the population has dwindled to fewer than 7,000 according to the 2010 census. But those numbers include activists who are now ready to rebuild the community “one brick at a time.” It is time to look at Clairton’s assets that will attract new residents. Atop on the list is affordable housing and low taxes. A nationally recognized high school football program and one of the top athletes in the country will boost the fortunes of the local high school. But to whom how to market the community and its assets remains a question.

One vision that might work: The core group of people who have been doing everything from pulling weeds to planting gardens has set the wheels of revitalization in motion. Low cost housing and low taxes are in place to attract new or returning residents. One demographic group to target; former Clairton residents who left for college or service or jobs and settled in other parts of the country, are now retired and would like to return to their roots. Several have already made the move and others have expressed an interest in doing so. Another target demographic includes young urban professionals who work in downtown Pittsburgh but would like to live and rear their children in a healthy bedroom community rather than the city. A third demographic is renters and potential first-time homebuyers. These groups include people who would be willing to take the Clairton advantages in exchange for sweat equity that would require repair and cleanup of Clairton properties. Most Clairton homes have garages, off street parking, and those wonderful alleys that allow access not found in most urban homes. Had the Highway 43 at the Large interchange been completed, it would be an easy commute to downtown. But since completion is not expected in the near future, lets look at alternatives.

What comes next: My career included teaching graduate university students and my favorite class was Research. The first class would start with the following story: “A boy scout needed one more good deed to complete requirements for a merit badge. He decided his good deed would be to a little old lady across the street. So he told his mother of his plan and that he might be a little late getting home in case the lady needed additional assistance. Dinnertime came and went and the lad did not come home. When he finally arrived his irate mother, who had been worried sick by his absence asked, “Where the HELL have you been until this hour?” The lad sheepishly reminded her of his mission and his mother asked, “…And that took you until NOW?”

His response: “She didn’t want to go.”

The parable is a reminder that before a task is to be undertaken several steps must be completed. A needs assessment and a plan outlining specific tasks, a timeline, project priorities and a host of other planning will insure that things are accomplished and that the improvement plan continues. A core committee needs to be formed with representatives from as many components of Clairton life included as possible. The mayor and City Council must be included as well as key members from the churches, business community, school district, and the community in general.

Only the beginning: The ideas above are some that can be implemented with little upfront cash and lots of sweat equity. We have already seen what a handful of Clairton residents are capable of doing. The time is now. The place is Clairton. Send your contact information to the email address below and it will be forwarded to those who have begun the taskof rebuilding Clairton one brick at a time.

 A little blogging music Maestro: “Help” by The Beatles.

Dr. Forgot

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reverend H.D. Hough, war hero?

A tale of the Hough: In our previous posting we responded to a letter that asked about H.D. Hough. Author Rebekah Hughes is in the midst of researching a book about survivors of the World War II submarine Robalo. In her research she discovered that some information of POW names was passed on to a young U.S. sailor named H.D. Hough. Her efforts to track down H.D. Hough led her to one of our blog posts in which we discussed Reverend H. D. Hough, pastor of the First Presbyterian church on the corner of Mitchell Avenue and Fifth Street during the 1950s. I asked readers of the blog for any memories that might tip us off to whether Reverend Hough and the young seaman were one in the same. Indicators seemed to suggest they might be, as they both would have been born in the early 1920s and after all, how many H.D. Houghs could there be?

The readers responded: After placing a call for information on H.D. Hough last week I was inundated with responses from Clairtonians and former Clairtonians. Many remembered the Presbyterian Church from their high school days, for even if they were not members many attended “canteen” dances that were held after every CHS home football game.  Others had been members but had moved away but shared memories and still others remained in the area and offered suggestions.

The Reverend H.D. Hough: He was a dynamic young minister; movie star handsome, a great teller of parables, and the perfect fit for a young, growing congregation in Clairton. Rev. Hough was born near Fayette City and spent his entire career in Western Pennsylvania. He worked tirelessly, putting together a Youth Fellowship to bring the younger members into church activities, tapping several young members to take on leadership roles, sponsoring and encouraging young people to attend summer camp at Camp Crestview and older young people to attend summer activities at Grove City College. The church was more vibrant under his leadership than it ever had been or would be in the future. Perhaps his longest lasting achievement was a concept to expand the church – literally. He envisioned an addition that would be built from the church up Mitchell toward the manse, the house designated as the home for the church minister.

Working with a fury: Reverend Hough went about the fundraising with a fury. His indefatigable energy brought in tens of thousands of dollars, and with a huge donation be PICCO scion Robert Ostermeyer, the dream became a reality and the “new addition” was built. It was a fine addition with room for church offices, meeting rooms, classrooms, and in the basement was a huge multipurpose room complete with a state-of-the-art kitchen. That multipurpose room became the home of the “canteen” dances after each home football game. It also served as a meeting place for Youth Fellowship as well as weddings, funeral mercy dinners, and a myriad of other activities. The mid-to-latter 1950s were a golden age for the country, for Clairton, and for the Presbyterian Church.

The mirror has two faces: H.D. Hough had a son born in 1952 and named H.D. Hough Junior. Like any first son he was the apple of his father’s eye. He was often seen playing in the church under the watchful eye of Rev. or Mrs. Hough. But the Reverend, for all the great ideas he brought to fruition, and for all the wonderful things he did for the church and the community was just a man, and as a man he had flaws and endured a tortured life. There were rumors of inappropriate behavior and he was quickly transferred to another church. His son, HD, Junior graduated high school and attended Grove City College, and would be taken by death when barely out of his teens. Reverend Hough established an endowment fund in the name of his son that would purchase books for the Grove City College library. Rev. Hough passed away in the mid 1990s.

An H.D. Hough by any other name or rank: The young sailor who served in the U.S. Navy was a meticulous record keeper. Yeoman Second Class H.D. Hough was aboard a submarine that had several kills in the Pacific Theater of War before an enemy mine sank it. HD Hough was one of the survivors who was sent to a POW camp in the Philippines where he was secretly handed a note with names of survivors of another sunken sub, hence the interest by author Hughes. During his imprisonment, H.D. Hough was promoted to Yeoman First Class and was transferred to another POW camp in Japan.

H.D. Hough the POW: Y1c H.D. Hough was among a group of prisoners of war transferred aboard the Hokusen Maro ship. The prisoners often referred it to as the Benjo Maro (Benjo meaning toilet) due to the filthy conditions aboard the ship. The ship, also called “The Hell Ship,” left for Formosa but the POWs on board were in such bad shape that it docked in Takao Harbor, where they were put ashore before continuing on to Japan.  Conditions were so bad that 36 American POWs died in 39 days during the trip. Yeoman first class HD Hough meticulously recorded the names of every POW who did not survive. He spent the remainder of the war in POW camps and was repatriated after the war’s end.

Tracking him down: An extensive search of military records showed that Yeoman first class H.D. Hough was in fact Hubert Dwight Hough. He returned to his hometown after the war, Okaloosa, Iowa, where he lived until his death in 1995. Ironically, the Reverend H.D. Hough of Western Pennsylvania and Hubert Dwight Hough, who also went by H.D. never met but they were born within months of one another and died within months of one another.  So ends the mystery. Thanks to everybody who offered information.

 A little blogging music Maestro: “Coincidence” by Aaron Kelly.

Dr. Forgot