Sunday, July 8, 2012



   My hometown is located about 18 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Glassport is only two miles long and nestled along the Monongahela River. It sits in between the towns of Clairton and McKeesport.   Back in the late forties until 1963, it was my home- town.

  There were four elementary schools. One was the Polish Catholic grade school, the other was St. Cecilia’s, a lot of the Italian kids went there, and the other two were public schools. There was just one high school. Mostly everyone went there, except for the few who went to Divine Providence All Girl High School, or St. Peter’s High School in McKeesport.
I went to first grade at First Ward Public school. My parents moved when I finished first grade, much closer to St. Cecilia, so  I went there from second grade until eighth grade. All of us stayed in the same class so we got to know each other pretty well. We never changed classes. I still keep in touch with friends from grade school.

Glassport not only had schools and churches, but also had a fresh meat market, a produce store, an eye doctor, a family doctor who came to your house, dentist, bank,  hairdresser and clothing store. One police station, along with two volunteer fire stations.  They were simply named - #1 and #2.

My dad was president of the number one station. We had a scanner in the house and when that went off signaling a fire, no matter what time, my dad would get up and go. Later on when my brother was old enough, he would also go. I took that for granted, not realizing until I was much older how much danger they put themselves in.

We all walked back then. We walked everywhere, up hills, down hills, straight ahead. It didn’t matter. We walked to school, walked home for lunch and back to school after lunch, and then home once school was done for the day.  Kids did not have to worry about their weight back then.
In the summer, we would walk to the swimming pool, in the evening we would walk to the honor roll and on Friday evenings, we would walk to the American Legion dance. Saturday’s would find us walking to the skating rink at the other end of town.  We had a movie theater in town; we mainly went there on Sunday afternoons. Back then, all of the stores were closed to keep holy the Sabbath day.

    Writing this for my writing class, a number of members wanted to know what the Honor Roll was. So, I guess I should explain it in detail as much as I can. 
    The honor roll is located on the main street in Glassport. The building next to it use to be our library, but has been closed for many years.
    I guess you could say it is like a very small park, even though kids cannot play there.  It also has a beautiful water fountain,which they turn on in the evening. The water changes to  different colors. There are white lights centered on the Honor Roll to make it stand out. It is eye catching and beautiful in its own right. I have always known it by the Honor Roll. Everyone always calls it that.
 I will have to take a picture and post it so you can all see it. 
    It the middle of this very small park, it  has an honor roll with all the military people who lost their lives while in duty engraved deeply into the wall.  It is hard for me to describe, except to say it had two steps to climb so you could walk the length of the half of arc and read all the names who gave their lives for our freedom.

    Once we knew how to ride two wheel bikes,that is all we did,  We would ride from one end of town to the other end. We never rode them to the dances, skating, or to school. It was just for fun during the afternoons.
We would play mumbly peg, (mumbly peg is played with a pen knife, you drew a small checked board in the dirt and then you opened your knife and would aim for a square, The pen knife would have to land in the middle of the square for it to count as a point ) we also played dodge ball, hide n go seek. When the streetlights came on, we knew we were to go home. 
At four in the afternoon, the steel mill whistle would sound. Wherever we were, we knew to go home for dinner. It was always ready and homemade along with dessert. A lot of times my dad would give me his dessert because I always wanted more, (usually fruit) and none was left, so my dear dad would give me his.

My dad, along with the majority of men, worked in the Foundry.  A steel mill that was at the end of the town. He walked back and forth every day, along with other men who worked at the mill.   The women made a home for their husbands and children. They made home cooked delicious meals every day.

No one locked their doors ever. Funny, back then there were no strangers, everyone knew everyone. Glassport may have been small, but its heart was as large as the largest skyscraper. Neighbors would be outside hanging clothes out on the line and  talk across the fence for what seemed a long time to little ole me. 
 When you walked into the little corner store you, would see ladies talking to each other while they played their penny’s on the daily number. It was no surprise to see women sitting at the swimming pool playing penny ante.  When you walked down street, there would be men sitting on the bench outside of the doughnut shop smoking their pipe, just shooting the breeze.
  When we became teenagers, we hung out at the local corner drugstore. We would order vanilla phosphates, or cherry coke.  The jukebox played the newest “DooWop” songs.  I, along with my friends would sit in the booth for what seemed forever, talking, laughing, and giggling with each other. When the boys would come in acting all tough in their DA hairstyle, we would act all quiet and shy, until they started to tease us and make us laugh. (By the way, DA stood for “ducks ass”.)
 We had our very own Fonzie. Each school day at lunch or after, we would hear the sound of this awesome guy’s motorcycle. He would ride up with his killer smile, shirt collar up and leather pants to talk with the senior guys. The girls would just drool over him, me included.  He was older, he was tough (today’s word would be cool) and he was nice to everyone.

 They say you can never go back home again, but as long as my parents were living I was able to. 
 The last time I visited my hometown was for a funeral.  So much has changed and where I lived is unrecognizable. The red insule brick home is now covered in aluminum siding, and the house next to it is gutted out.

 My hometown exists in my memories along with those memories of my mom and dad. Those can never be erased.

1 comment:

Diana Lee said...

Now I dont't feel so old :-) You brought back so many memories similar to my's nice to know someone else has some of the very same. Nice write Dee.

Dee's shared items


This time of year makes me think of all of those things I have to be thankful for - - - -
my husband
my children
my grandchildren
my health
my freedom
always thankful for friends made