Poster art by Rom Magnes

Hubs and I have been on the road again.

AGMA think’s you’re not surprised.

Last weekend I went back to where it all began.  Actually to where I began.  My hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

It’s changed immensely since I left for college in 1971.

The beautiful three rivers of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio are still there as are the skyscrapers downtown, Allegheny General Hospital, the Cathedral of Learning and the inclines up Mt. Washington.

But so much is different.

The demise of the steel industry over the past 40 years has been devastating for the steelworkers in the small neighborhoods around the mills and the small businesses they supported.  But out of those ashes, something new has emerged.  Pittsburgh’s become hotbed of tech.  There are new mixed use developments and beautiful parks where the old steel mills used to be.  And the air and rivers are much cleaner minus said steel mills.

Much cleaner.

The North Side that was home to Heinz (the ketchup you know?), Three Rivers Stadium and Allegheny General and little else, is booming.  Two new sports stadiums, Heinz Field and PNC Park, replaced Three Rivers, and the old Heinz plant is now loft apartments.  The original Allegheny General Hospital (where AGMA came into the world smoking a cigarette and drinking champagne) is still there, but is dwarfed by a huge addition.  Add the Andy Warhol Museum, The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Science Center, the Mattress Factory Museum and the National Avairy plus new hotels and restaurants, and the area is sizzling with life!

The Strip District was full of grimy warehouses, and blue collar workers from Italy and Eastern Europe worked in its streets and alleys.  It’s now turned into one of the hot, hip spots of the cities where Millennials and GenZ-ers go to eat, drink and play.

And AGMA of course.

We went to the Steel City to visit my niece and her family.  But we spent our first night downtown (dahntahn) because it had been years since I wandered the streets I used to haunt as a child and teen.

There was much that was new, but, comfortingly, much of what has been there for years and years was still there.   Even if it has been repurposed.

Back in the day, three department stores anchored the downtown area – Gimbels, Hornes and Kaufmanns.  All three closed a long time ago and their massive buildings still stand partially empty.  We were a Hornes/Kaufmanns family with many a meet-up under the Kaufmann’s clock.  To see people walking past these once great retail powerhouses that teamed with shoppers without a glance sideways made AGMA a bit sad.

One change thrilled me.

I went past the Lutheran church I was baptized in and attended as a child.  It’s in an area of town called East Liberty which is coming back from being blighted for years.  Once great homes that fell into disrepair are again being restored to greatness.  My church was very formal and conservative back in the late 50’s/early 60’s.  Imagine AGMA’s delight when I saw the rainbow flag flying from the front door, a banner over the other door saying “Immigrants and refugees welcome!” and the electric church sign saying “Love everyone, exclude no one” with a rainbow background.

You go St. Andrews!!

One thing that, thankfully, hasn’t changed is the dialect, called Pittsburghese.

AGMA used to be quite proficient in Pittsburghese. As a freshman in college in Texas, learning the rest of the world did not call a rubber band a “gum band” was truly a revelation.  Or that everybody else called a Coke a soda and not a “pop”.  I had to quit using “yinz” and start using “you all”.  The first time my roommate heard me say, “We need to redd up the room and do the worsh,” she wasn’t sure what the hell I was talking about.  Still, to this day, I call people “nebby noses” if they’re being just a bit too inquisitive.

But I think “jag off” is a rude term.

Except as it applies to one particular individual with orange skin and hair, and tiny hands wearing a red MAGA hat over his KKK hood.  Jag off.

Sometimes I miss my hometown.  I miss my family and friends still there, the beautiful hills, the food, the scenic rivers and being grounded in the generations that came before.

But according to Heraclitus, change is the only constant in life.

This is true for Pittsburgh and AGMA.

Neither one of us wants to get mired down by the past. And we don’t want to accept the status quo. We seem to always have to be growing, changing, reinventing.

Aging gracefully my ass n’at!

Yinz alls rock on!




17 thoughts on “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

  1. I’ve met several Pittsburgh natives over the years who all said only good things about their hometown. And Pittsburgh has been ranked a great place to live. So glad I saw your post because I have contemplated a road trip there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You will have a great time! There is really sooooo much to see and do. And Pittsburgh has some beautiful HUGE parks – Schenely, Frick, Highland, North Park, South Park to name some of the older ones. Great food and lots of microbrews too. The “dahntahn” area is an architectural wonderland – I think there are a number of walking tours that showcase some of the amazing buildings. Go!


  2. I loved this one, AGMA. My dad grew up in Youngstown, and so we were treated to many of the same expressions and word usage (i.e. “worsh”). So glad to hear that Pittsburgh is finding its way out of the sadness of the steel industry collapse. Many years ago I had a friend who was lived in Squirrel Hill, and I got to visit him there — a great neighborhood also, though now tragically known for the synagogue shooting there last year.

    I am absolutely crushed that you didn’t appear to visit the Mattress Factory Museum. How could you do this to your readers? You big tease; now I’ll never know about it. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes – I believe Youngstown is Pittsburgh East! Ha! And oh dear…looks like I’ll have to do the MFM on the next trip. It REALLY does sound interesting! We ate at the Eat N Park (another wonderful Pgh institution with locations all around town – their grilled stickies are to die for!) in Squirrel Hill. When I was a child, my mother would take us over to Littles Shoes in SH for our school shoes. So happy that Littles is still there and looks much the same! And we did drive by the Tree of Life…so very sad. And now we have El Paso and Dayton. When will enough be enough?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Everyone I have ever met from Pittsburgh has been off the hook nuts, and I mean that in the most loving way. The world keeps changing and we have to stay flexible and open minded. Glad to hear you had a rad time in your home town AGMA! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Come to think of it, you are right – everybody I know from Pgh are a bit nuts! In a good way of course… And yes – the world does keep changing and we DO have to be flexible and open minded. We can’t turn back the clock 50 years as some who are nostalgic for the old days would have us try to do. Nostalgia has its place but you can’t progress by pining for the past.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for your poster at the top of this post. My family is from Eastern Ohio and the sounds and murdered syllables in the slogans bring back memories of long ago—good memories. I thought I lost the Great Lake twang after spending my formative years in South Florida, but The Lioness assures me that it is still there. Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my – I wish Hubs would call me The Lioness! That evokes a whole lot in my mind about her and it’s all amazing!! Not sure what my twang is… Spent college in Texas and Arizona, 30 years in southern Ohio (just across the river from Kentucky) and the last 12 years in Atlanta. I’m sure the Pittsburgh is there somewhere! I’m glad my post brought back good memories for you Allan! It was fun to write!

      Liked by 1 person

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