Saturday, July 28, 2012

Seeking information on Reverend H.D. Hough


Information, please: We recently received a letter from a researcher who is working on a book.

Rebekah Hughes is the author of Surviving the Flier and is a WWII historian.

She is currently exploring and researching the story of the USS Robalo, a submarine who was lost in the same general area as the USS Flier, a Gato-class submarine named for the sunfish.  Eight survivors of Flier made it back to Allied territory and home, but the four known survivors of Robalo disappeared under mysterious circumstances. 

One account of the Robalo survivors came from a POW, Yeoman Second Class H. D. Hough, who was repatriated at the end of the war:  The report in part reads:

On 2 August [1944] a note was dropped from the window of a cell of Puerto Princesa Prison Camp on Palawan Island in the Philippines. It was picked up by an American soldier who was on a work detail nearby. The note was in turn given to H. D. Hough, Yeoman Second Class, who was also a prisoner at the camp.
HD Hough survived and was repatriated.  The author is hoping to track down Mr. Hough or his family. It is unclear whether or not Reverend H.D. Hough, who was pastor at the First Presbyterian Church on Mitchell Avenue in Clairton, PA during the 1950s is the same HD Hough as the POW prisoner during WW-II, although, the Rev. H. D. Hough is of the right age and education to have been a Yeoman in the military in WWII.  We would appreciate any memories you might have that will help in author Hughes quest.

Letters, we get letters: I am an admitted technological Barbarian. I can barely figure out how to post this blog and when it changes format, as it has recently, I’m unable to post photos. But my biggest frustration is the inability to respond to letters and correspondence. So I’ll do so in the post. Starting with a comment from Sylvia which reads,

Hi, I have 2 images of Clairton about 1930, my grandfather worked there like a steel mill. I tried to send the images but the mail it doesn’t work. Please can you leave me another mail, can you help me about more images of Clairton about 1930. During a while my grandfather lived on Ravensburg Boulevard.
Many thanks,


Well, Sylvia, you can try my email which is:

David writes,

I remember reading about Clairton in a book in the Clairton Library around 1966. I wonder if it's still there? Anybody want to call the library and see. (Perhaps)We can then ask the librarian to scan in the pictures and post them to the site. (
What do you think?

PS: I'm getting a little homesick, too. But as Thomas Wolf says, "You can't go home again."


Hi David. Thanks for writing. I know our librarians at the Clairton Public Library read this blog. Perhaps they will provide an answer to your question.

AiresRadio asked,

I looked for "Clairton History" on Facebook but could not find it, is it still there? Great idea!


AiresRadio, You have to be invited to join that Facebook page. If you email me at I will see that your request is addressed.

Tyler Boyd continues to shine: Tyler Boyd was said to be the best player Coach Nola ever coached…. And that was directly from the lips of Coach Nola. He has had a busy summer traveling to Philadelphia, Atlanta, Florida, Texas, and Los Angeles. You remember Tyler, the running back for our State Championship Bears who ran for 2,400 yards and scored 48 touchdowns last year. Well he is beginning to gain nationwide recognition. He’s rated the fifth best player in all of Pennsylvania! He’s also been ranked by various high school rated as a four star and a five star recruit. But Tyler, who had never even ridden on a plane by last summer is back home preparing for the Bears upcoming season. We’ll keep you posted.

A little blogging music Maestro: “Searchin’” by The Coasters.

Dr. Forgot

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mr. T and the Bears

The reports of his demise are premature: Our favorite Bear who rose through the ranks of CHS from a cub to the leader of the band to a head Bear (teacher), Mr. Don Taylor, is rebounding from a recent stroke. Seems he thought is was high and inside but instead of a strike it was a stroke that put him under the weather for a few innings. But in typical Agent 917 fashion, the Don of Teaching is up and around, not letting any little think like a stroke bench him. He is still getting well wishes. I will forward any such wishes to him. Keep those special in your heart.

We are the Bears, the mighty, mighty bears: Once again a solid core of alumni stepped forward to help our Bears attend the Red Bull 7 on 7 football classic in Dallas. Of course we were once again far-and-away the smallest school in the competition. Think Skapik's Department Store going up against Macy's with all its resources. That is how the competition appeared with our graduating class of fewer than 50 taking on the Jack in the Beanstalk giant schools with casts of thousands. The CHS football budget would fit in the hip pocket of the water boy on some of the teams. But our guys once again did not realize they were overmatched. Somebody forgot to tell them

Game 1 the Bears played powerhouse Arlington Sanguine, and stubbed their toe, losing 28-26. Some fans said the officials missed a few calls that could have reversed the outcome but our guys soldiered on since it was a double elimination. "Fee-Fie-foe-fum, we are ready to overcome!"

Game two was another powerhouse which our guys dispatched 28-3 followed by another wipeout of another giant 33-9. The fourth of six games played that first day was monster school Midwest City, Oklahoma... whose quarterback some years ago was Troy Aikman. Bears 36. Midwest City 11. That brought on another All-hat-no-cattle Texas team to the slaughter, 21-15. The sixth and final game of the evening that would send the winner to the quarterfinals was nip and tuck. Bears were down 12-11, then 18-12. When the smoke cleared our guys lost 26-14. But they held their heads high as they should. They are our champions. Congratulations fellas. You again made us proud.

The gentlemen who helped put together the trip were able to get a good price on the airlines out of Cleveland. It was heartening to hear that several churches took their vans to the school, loaded up the Bears and their equipment, and drove them to Cleveland for the flight to Dallas. We are still a caring community.

You can't go back but: I have written about two groups of Clairton High School grads and friends of the community. The first flies under the banner of "Reaching the Reachable." This group has focused on the children at school. They've spoken at assemblies, modeled successful behavior, brought in powerful alumni, arranged mentoring and tutorial assistance, provided seminars in which college representative spoke on the ins and outs of financial aid, arranged field trips, provided connections for our students to attend science and math enrichment, and many other academic pursuits. This is one of the most powerful, pro academic organizations I have ever been associated with and I'm overjoyed at what they are doing for our young people. Planning for post-secondary education, be it university, community college, vocational training or apprenticeships is the way to earn your way up and break the cycle of poverty that exists in too many circumstances. Our children are our future.

Everybody knows Clairton is a rundown place nobody cares about - NOT! Another group of Clairton residents, alumni, and other interested parties has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce for some activities and have started restoring the community "one brick at a time." This group has donated time and money, sweat and toil, and started with the cleanup of Memorial hill n the edge of Clairton Park. Working with veterans they've cleaned up the memorial and are in the process of restoring it to its glory days. But that is just a fraction of the good things that are being by this group. You can see one of their projects, a web page called that advocates for the community.

These aren't  the only groups that have committed themselves to restoring our community. They are the ones I highlighted today. If you'd like to have your group recognized, send me an email with the pertinent information.

A little blogging music Maestro: “City of Prayer” featuring Carlton Dennis and Heidi Rojas.

Dr. Forgot

PS Apologies for the typos. I just reread the blog and corrected them. Embarrassing for a CHS grad!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Of Bears and Beaus

Bear for bunches of decades: We wrote in this space recently that Don Taylor was ailing. Seems that Don (Mr. Taylor still to many of his former students) had suffered a stroke and was as laid up as an egg from an upside down chicken. I posted the dilemma of Professor Don and was deluged with requests to send best wishes his way. Although I felt like a voyeur peeping at some of the messages that were being forwarded to our "Teacher of the Half-Century" (my designation) I was overwhelmed at the love, good wishes, caring and impact this slight man had on so many of his students. They spoke to him with a reverence usually reserved for those who have taught us, shaped us, and encouraged us like no other.

Don wrote back that he is now out of jail (hospital). Being the humble man he has always been he deflects the praise and thanks ME and feared efforts on his behalf might actually have been a burden! Well, it was a pleasure and I would like to.... well, let me pass on his own words:

"Dear Andy,
I am overwhelmed by the emails I have received [over 50 and still coming plus hordes of get well cards].  This response is largely due to your blog and for that I am VERY grateful!!  I hope forwarding those well wishes has not been a burden to  you.  I truth, I have been permitted to "smell the roses."  Bob White was even prepared to fly to see me on the day I was discharged from the hospital.  What friends I have!  I hope I am deserving of such affection!

Over the years I have taken pride in my correspondence -- quick replies, etc.  The last letter was always from myself.  Now, I cannot keep up and so I have another favor to ask of you.  Can you put my general reply to these friends on your blog?   That would entail and cover a good many of my dear friends!

Dear Friends,
I want to thank all of you for your support and prayers -- they are sustaining me!  I am truly blessed to have so many devoted friends for so many years.  Your affection brings me to tears.

I hope I am worthy of such devotion and loyalty!  The feeling is mutual believe me!

Fondly, Don Taylor"

What a guy!

Younger Bears again making a splash: Remember that school that CHS spawned 50 or so years ago? The new school on Old Clairton Road? CHS was bursting at the seams so a passel of students was sent up the river -er, road, to the spanking then-new school named Thomas Jefferson. Many who left for the new school were from bigger homes and had bigger incomes than their cousins in the City of Prayer, and the new school immediately began to thrive academically and athletically. Some looked down their noses at their background and for many years would not schedule their progeny in any sport. But over the past few years the worm has begun to turn.

Last year CHS lost to then defeated TJ in the local 7 on 7 and were therefore invited to participate in the prestigious Red Bull Classic 7 on 7 in Dallas. Our rag-tag kids might have been snickered at at the tourney. Here they were, a single A school competing against  5, 6, and 7 A-level schools from football powerhouses of Louisiana, Texas, and Florida among others. Every player on the plane that carried CHS team members to Dallas experienced their first ever plane ride. What could this bunch of rubes do against powerhouse schools with enrollment staffs, athletic staffs and budgets up to 10 times the size of CHS? Well, in a word, they could win. And win they did. Again and again and again, serving as giant slayers until the finals when a powerful Texas school finally tripped up our guys, who came home with their heads held high after taking the silver against such odds.

Well, they're at it again. On the strength of their performance last year.... oh yes, and trouncing TJ again this year - twice, they were once again invited to competition in Texas. Once again CHS alum Bill Bennett of Phoenix, AZ, has undertaken the Herculean task of putting together travel arrangements for the team. Last year the mission was underwritten by generous donations to the Clairton Athletic Club as well as by several angels including Geno Tolari, Robert White, and Jim Siefert who donated funds for the cause. Bill and Dallas resident CHS alum Bob Yaksick assisted the coaches to see that once the Bears arrived they were fed, housed, and otherwise looked after. 

Of course there is no way of telling how the Bears will do against this year's competition. Will our little school that graduated 50 students be able to once again compete against schools who graduate over 1,000 students per year? Stay tuned. We will bring the results on our next blog.

A little blogging music Maestro: “When the Saints go Marching In” by Benny Benack.

Dr. Forgot