The Purpose of the Trip

Stratmore Street Home

Stratmore Street Home

It’s always good to come home… even if the people now living in my childhood home haven’t the slightest idea who I am. The house in the above picture is the place I called home for the first twenty-two years of my life. In fact, after I was first married and living in a tiny apartment for several months, my wife and I moved back in with my father and continued to live there for about another year. Then we found a larger place to rent and I left my childhood home for the second time; this time it was for good.

There was a time when we’d make an annual trek to Pittsburgh. That’s when we still had a ton of family members living in the area. Now the numbers have dwindled; some have moved to other states, while others have moved on to a more spiritual state. My eighty-year-old brother and eighty-seven-year-old sister are still in the area as are a sister-in-law and various nieces and nephews. All my aunts and uncles are gone, as are many of my cousins. One might think I was getting older myself! Perish the thought!

In any case, I can’t honestly say I came to Pittsburgh to visit family. I will do just that, but visiting with kin folk was not my primary motivation. I’m here for the fancy dinner I’ll be attending this evening – which will be last night by the time people read these words.

After teaching special education for two years, I joined IBM in 1968. For six years I worked as a Systems Engineer. As such, I designed business accounting applications and then programmed various electromagnetic machines and computers to perform the accounting functions. In 1974 I took over the customer education training center. My official job title was ‘instructor,” but being as I was the only instructor, I also did all the scheduling, ordering of materials, and various janitorial duties as required. Finally, in 1977, the “I’ve Been Moved” motto of IBM came true for me. I was promoted to Atlanta to develop training materials for other instructors to use.

During those nine years working for IBM in Pittsburgh, I worked with some fine people. Tonight, I will dine with some of them and reminisce over the fun we had back when we were all young and ambitious. I almost said ‘young and foolish’, and in many ways that would’ve also been accurate.

Saturday I plan on roaming around some of my old haunts. I did a bit of that yesterday after having breakfast with about a dozen of my old high school friends. The home pictured below sits on top of the highest hill in my old neighborhood.

Haunted House on the Hill

Haunted House on the Hill

When we were in grade school, that house had been abandoned for a number of years and we children were convinced it was haunted. Some older boys found a way in and reported that it had dumb waiters and many other accouterments of wealth. Since I was one of the fraidy-cats who never went closer than the sidewalk, I’ll probably never know if there was any truth to any of the stories. What I do recall is that there was a fancy stone hitching post in front of the place. Obviously the home was built when people were still tying their means of transportation to something solid so their ride home wouldn’t wander off during a visit.

Sunday is a day I’m especially looking forward to since I’ll be meeting Bill ‘Punch” Golla at Station Square. Punch is my Big Brother from the Kappa Delta Phi fraternity at Edinboro State Teachers College. I haven’t seen Punch since autumn of 1965. We’re planning to walk across the Smithfield Street Bridge and see just how much the downtown area has changed since I last wandered around those streets.

After our tour, I’ll be heading for my nephew’s home to cheer for the Steelers as they play the Philadelphia Eagles. Of course, when it comes to the Steelers, I could probably don a jersey and my Steelers jacket and be welcomed at anybody’s home to watch the game. Pittsburgh is still Someplace Special to me.

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