Going Back for a Moment (or 2)

I grew up in South­west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia. I was born in 1963 in Union­town Penn­syl­va­nia. Both of my grand­fa­thers worked in the coal mines. My father and sev­eral of my uncles either worked in the coal mines or steel mills at one time or another.  I have met Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente on the field of Three Rivers Sta­dium as a Cub Scout. I watched Terry Brad­shaw and the Steel Cur­tain win their first and last Super Bowl. I have been to more events at the Civic Arena then I could count on both feet and hands. At the time of this writ­ing the Mel­lon Arena (as it is called now) is being pre­pared for demo­li­tion. I watched the down­fall of the steel mills and coal mines from the inside and the out­side. I played in the coke ovens, fished in the rivers and watched this area bounce back from ter­ri­ble eco­nomic times. Time would fail me to con­tinue in my rem­i­nisc­ing but let’s just say, like many of you I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly.


Sev­eral years ago I went to Florida after high school grad­u­a­tion. This was the first time I had ever been out of South­west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia. The steel mills and coal mines at that time were at their all-time low. Jobs were very scarce espe­cially for a high school grad­u­ate. I walked into the deli of a Winn-Dixie super­mar­ket and said to the deli atten­dant there “Do yinz have any Isaly’s chipped ham?” The deli atten­dant looked con­fused and said “Yinz? Isaly’s? Chipped ham?” Well need­less to say he was quite con­fused and so was I. This was the begin­ning of this book sev­eral years ago. Until then I really never knew how unique South­west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia was.


I lived in Florida for a while and all it did was ele­vate my appre­ci­a­tion for my home. I dis­cov­ered that it wasn’t just the food or the vocab­u­lary that set this area apart but the peo­ple, cre­ative peo­ple who enjoyed the sim­ple life. The peo­ple of this area have been through tough times and have the scars to prove it. The scars have pro­duced char­ac­ter and that cou­pled with being in the melt­ing pot of Penn­syl­va­nia has cre­ated a unique kind of peo­ple. The way they live and appre­ci­ate the sim­ple life is to be envied.


The beauty of the rolling hills and mead­ows, the smells cap­tured in a warm breeze on a spring day and the taste of a home­grown tomato sand­wiched in between two pieces of Grandma’s home­made bread can take you back to a moment in time that you would’ve oth­er­wise for­got­ten. The sights, sounds and smells bid you come and they never fail to remind you that you grew up in South­west­ern Pennsylvania.


It’s a beau­ti­ful day in Pennsylvania!

Dou­glas Robinson

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One Response to Going Back for a Moment (or 2)

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