Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mr. Taylor and Clairton kids

A legend in his own time: Nearly every CHS alum of the 1950s or 1960s. 1970s, 0r even the 1980s had Mr. Don Taylor as a teacher, professor, friend, or has heard tales of the legendary teacher. Don lives in Elizabeth these days but still bleeds orange and black. He attends every event at his high school games, celebrations, reunions… he does it all! – Remember, he is not only a former faculty member, but also a CHS alum who played in the band. Recalling his band days, Don says, "In 1946, the band was all set to parade up Miller Avenue but the person to carry the American flag was sick. Since I was undoubtedly the worst trombone player to ever play in the band, I volunteered to carry the flag. Sixty years later, CHS celebrated its 100th anniversary with a gigantic parade over a mile long walk from the school to the stadium. Among the participants were people from the past. Leading the parade and carrying the flag was the oldest participant -- yours truly and wearing the shako, plume and pants from 1946! Who would have thought when I was 16 that 60 years later I would have that same honor!"

More on the consummate educator: Mr. Taylor taught at CHS then he and a dozen or so others started the then fledgling Community College of Allegheny County, where he taught for more than 40 years. The education icon of Clairton has been going so strong for so long that something was bound to give way sooner or later. It happened on Father’s Day when he suffered a stroke that left his left hand and left side of his mouth paralyzed. He has been in the hospital since. He has improved some. His face is still numb and his left hand is weak. It can find his nose but cannot help tie his shoes or open paper packets. He is told that given his age he is a candidate for another stroke .

Two days before Don had the stroke he was in one of his favorite spots – at a softball game; but not as a spectator, rather as a player. After hitting two long home runs he sat out, telling his teammates he was having heart problems.

The doctor told him his playing days are behind him but that was the most bitter pill the doctor gave Don to swallow. Still, he is who he is and has a very positive outlook. Wife Betts and his children are most supportive and loving during this spell. Per his request, please send any good wishes to me at drforgot@cox.net and I will forward them to our dear friend.

Others are helping the kids too: A few groups of current and former Clairtonians, nearly all CHS alumni are working to help our kids.  The Clairton Chamber of Commerce, the Reaching the Reachable outreach program, and members of the Clairton History Facebook friends have been working furiously over the past year to provide mentoring for current CHS students, offering real life examples of CHS alumni who have become successful in various fields of endeavor, demonstrating job application and interviewing skills, teaching the ins and outs of obtaining financial aid for post-secondary education, and many other avenues to help current CHS students and grads reverse the cycle of poverty that has gripped many in our hometown. Ted Kay, Terrence Fort, Dr. Pauline Long, Joannie, Jordan, Terry Lancaster, Kathy Grisnik Tachoir, and Dr. Elisabeth Erlich are among the many who have taken the baton to help the youth of our community break the bonds of poverty.

First things first: Now that  the school year is over and graduation rate high, athletic successes noted, a summer of uncertainty has begun. With few recreational outlets many of our children will spend the summer hanging out and doing little that is constructive simply due to lack of opportunities. Minutes of a recent meeting of the group included the following: After a review of the process and template we would use, we identified, discussed and selected the initiatives to implement for Clairton's youth for the summer. Volunteer "Champions" were named to develop action plans/timing, identify local contacts or groups and implement each initiative. Five immediate and three long term initiatives were adopted.

Immediate needs: 1. Field Trips,  2. Swimming Pool Passes, 3. Playground Activities,  4. Movie Nights,  5. Community Day.

Long Term initiatives: 6. S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math Coalition),  7. Computer Training, and  8. Vacation Bible School Schedules.”

Help is needed: None of the above can occur without help and support from CHS Alumni. Our fantastic alumni has stepped forward in the past to help with scholarship and athletic projects for our children. We ask you to do so again. The City of Clairton has committed several hundred dollars as a first step in helping the summer projects and we are asking you to supplement their commitment with your alumni gift. Every person listed above, as well as many other fellow alums are providing their time, money and effort on a volunteer basis helping with field trips and movie nights. Donations are now needed to purchase pool passes for the 2012 summer season.

The Clairton pool policy is to admit free any child under 3 feet tall when accompanied by an adult. Your donations will help purchase pool passes for children whose stature exceeds 36”

 A few donations have already been committed. Send your donation to: Joanie Jordan, 13 Wellington Woods Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15229.

 A little blogging music Maestro: “Be True to Your School” by The Beachboys.

Dr. Forgot http://drforgot.com
email: drforgot@cox.net