A Letter to Grandchildren

March 31, 2011

Dear Grandchildren,

That song is from a show called “South Pacific”. It was a Broadway Play in 1949 and later made into a movie. Besides being a wonderful show filled with great music, South Pacific was one of the first dramas to address the questions of race and discrimination. Another song, “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” dealt with the fact that we are not born as racists, we must be taught to hate for no good reason.

I trust that your parents have not taught you to hate people simply because they are different. I’m sure you’ve been taught to judge people based on their character, and nothing more.

In the meantime, have you been taught the importance of having a dream? I failed to have a dream when I was young, and I’m afraid I may have discouraged your parents from having dreams. If nothing more, I failed to encourage them to sit down and give ample thought to what they hoped to get out of their lives.

As a child, I went through the typical dreams of the time – to become a star professional athlete, a fighter pilot, a fireman, and so on. But it wasn’t until I was nearing the end of my high school education that I gave it any serious thought. In truth, I gave little serious thought to anything at that time. That is why my grade average was a dismal “C”. I had the ability to do much better, but I had no reason to try. That’s what a serious dream would’ve given me.

Late in my senior year I decided that I would follow the foot steps of my older brothers. I would join the military (to avoid being drafted), serve out my required time, and then get a job driving a tractor-trailer across America. All three of my brothers had served and seen parts of the world I could only dream about – see! We can dream about lots of things! The two oldest brothers were local delivery truck drivers. I wanted to go beyond that and use the job to see the rest of our country.

Fortunately, one of my older brothers saw more promise for me than I did and convinced me to think about other options. At the time, I had started going back to church and was very impressed by our minister – John Latta. In talking with him, I decided I wanted to be a minister too. He sent me to talk to a younger minister at a church in downtown Pittsburgh. That’s when I learned that I could not enter the Presbyterian Seminary unless I had a Bachelor’s degree from a college.

I was a few weeks away from graduating high school and hadn’t even bothered to take a college entrance exam.

I went and spoke to the Principal of Langley High School – Harry D. Book – and asked his advice. That was the beginning of the whirlwind. Mr. Book recommended I apply to Edinboro State Teachers College and arranged for me to take the SAT in late June. He also wrote a glowing letter of recommendation to the admission office in Edinboro.

I scored surprisingly high marks on the SAT and received my letter of acceptance in early August. Classes began a week after Labor Day and I was on my way to becoming a member of the clergy.

The same brother who suggested I give serious thought to my future paid for my basic education for the first year. That amounted to about $1,000. Too bad those prices are a thing of the past.

For spending money, I got two campus jobs. I worked in the cafeteria and the Student Union. My pay was $0.75 per hour. Now do you understand inflation?

That first semester, I hit the books hard every night and finished with a 2.7 grade point average. That was almost a “B”! Unfortunately, by the time the semester came to an end, my “dream” of becoming a minister had faded. It was still there, but not as strong.

From that point on, I stayed in school for only one main reason – to NOT disappoint my family. I was the first of my siblings (also the youngest and last chance) to attend college and I had to graduate. In 1966, I did graduate… with a “C” average.

I still didn’t have a dream. I still had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I managed to get a job teaching emotionally disturbed children in a mental hospital. A year later, I was teaching emotionally disturbed children at an inner-city high school.

Through a series of lucky breaks, I then landed a job with IBM. I held that job until I retired. I made a good salary and provided a good home life for my family… from a financial standpoint. As I mentioned earlier, I think I failed my children in a number of ways… especially when it came to developing a realistic dream.

When I look back on my own life, there were many wonderful experiences and I did manage to accomplish at least one of my dreams. I’ve traveled all across our country and seen all fifty states. I didn’t get to drive the big truck, but I did travel over many of the same roads.

But what about the other aspects of my dreams? I never became a professional athlete, a fighter pilot, or a fireman. While I have been involved in the Stephen Ministry and have done extensive work with the homeless and needy, I never attended a seminary and was never ordained.

What I have done is pile up a number of doubts and questions. What could I have achieved if I had really applied myself and worked harder in school? What would have happened if I had entered the military after college (I had given that some thought when I had trouble finding a job) and made a career out of it? Could I have retired as a General? What if I had stayed in the field of education? Could I have become a college professor?

What if I had held off getting married and traveled the world when it was much safer and cheaper to do so? Would I have met a girl in Korea or Switzerland or Brazil, gotten married and spent my life in that country?

Obviously, none of these questions can be answered. I do know that beyond the questions and doubts I am happier now than ever. I have a wonderful wife, great children and step-children, and fantastic grandchildren.

It’s those grandchildren I’m thinking of as I write these words. I want each of them to sit down and think seriously beyond Justin Beiber, fire trucks, trains, and any of the other faddish things that can quickly grab the attention of today’s youth. I want each of them to realize that the jobs they are training for most likely don’t exist right now. Technology is changing everything.

So, we all (it’s not too late for me to develop a realistic dream!) need to think about the things that interest us the most – beyond Justin Beiber (can you tell I have a number of granddaughters?) – and begin studying subjects that fall into that general category. By all means, nail down the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. If you have those basic skills, you can learn anything.

Take the time to develop a dream you can hang on to for the rest of your life. Don’t let life just happen. Know what you want and make the effort to get it.

See! This grandpap can do more than tease!

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Thoughts and Memories on Turkey Day

November 26, 2009

As my bride and I prepare to head to her eldest son’s house to watch him deep-fry a turkey — and share in the feast that goes with it — my thoughts drift back to Thanksgiving Day, 1965.

As a college student, I, and the group of guys I roomed with, worked in the cafeteria. In addition, we had all learned to cook while still living at home. As a result, we often created some scrumptious meals.

A perfect example is the time we decided to hold a spaghetti dinner for our entire fraternity. We made the noodles from scratch. We also made the salad dressing from scratch. (We’d forgotten to buy it and one of the guys spent a summer working as a salad chef in Atlantic City.)

Just prior to the Thanksgiving break in 1965, we decided to have our own turkey dinner. We cooked everything from scratch and shared a marvelous meal.

Then we all headed to our respective homes to enjoy the time with our family and friends.

On the big day, we sat down to my mother’s version of the Thanksgiving feast. Everything was going great until one of my brothers looked at me and said, “It must be great for you to come home to such a wonderful home cooked meal!”

I never told my family that I lied that day.

Of course I said “Yes! It is wonderful!” However, I couldn’t help thinking about the great feast we had enjoyed in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. I also couldn’t admit the one ingredient that made my college meal better than my mom’s.

My friends and I had enjoyed a few bottles of wine with our dinner. Mom wouldn’t have dreamed of serving any sort of alcohol with her meals.

Red wine sure goes well with turkey. I wonder if my step-son will serve red wine today.

Whether he does or not, I’m sure we’ll have a wonderful time.

Between us, my bride and I have seven grown children and thirteen grandchildren. I’d say we have lots of things to be thankful for on this turkey day.


The Truth about Homosexuality – as I see it

September 16, 2009

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) recently determined that homosexual pastors should be permitted to be pastors of churches as long as they are in long-term committed relationships, and their congregations want them to be their pastors.

That has about half of the Lutherans of the ELCA upset. Many of them continue to believe that homosexuality is an abomination (according to the Bible) and such people should repent or be thrown out of the church regardless of whether they are pastors or simply members of the congregation.

A few years ago my bride and I attended the weekend conference of the Southeastern Synod. The subject of homosexuals was a major part of the discussions and we heard some extremely impassioned speeches on both sides of the issue.

From my perspective, the people who were most strongly against gays in our midst were people who had not made the distinction between homosexuality and pedophilia.

As a young man, I failed to make that distinction as well. In fact, I was ignorant in regards to both, and that ignorance almost got me thrown out of college.

During my first semester, I and a group of other young men were invited to join a group sponsored by our English professor. During our first gathering at his home, he explained how one of his professors had taken him and some fellow classmates under his wing and taught them some basic social skills that he found very useful later in life. He was simply passing on the favor.

He also freely passed around the alcoholic beverages. Of course, each was a specific type of cocktail. He was teaching us what to expect when we ordered such drinks – when we became old enough to drink legally! Most of us had never tasted anything other than beer. So this was a good thing… or so we thought.

The professor also served us various sorts of finger foods and taught us the proper way to balance our glasses and appetizer plates.

This went on about twice monthly. There were six or seven of us in his group. Then, he announced that he would invite each of us to come alone and he would serve dinner. His explanation – he couldn’t afford to feed us all at once.

When my turn came, I found an invitation had been slid under the door of my dormitory room. The professor admonished me to not tell anyone where I was going because that might cause my friends to be jealous. At that point, I felt a strange sensation in the pit of my stomach. Something didn’t seem right, but I didn’t know what it was.

I confided in a friend and told him if he didn’t see me in the morning, to come looking for me. Then, I went off for my appointment.

The professor immediately offered me alcoholic beverages and I refused. I lied and said my stomach had been upset. We then sat down to a very nice gourmet dinner. Later, he explained that it was probably too late for me to return to campus and invited me to spend the night. When he told me I’d have to sleep in the same bed as he and I could wear some of his silk pajamas. I lied again. I told him I’d made prior arrangements to spend the night with a friend who rented an apartment off campus.

Believe it or not, I still had no idea what was motivating that man. Growing up, my friends and I had often called each other ‘queer’, but to me, it was simply something kids called each other.

It wasn’t until I found myself sitting in the Dean of Men’s office that I learned the true meaning of the term. Someone had reported the professor who was immediately fired for serving alcohol to minors. But they also knew he was homosexual and they wanted to know what went on between me and him.

I told the Dean of Men exactly what happened. Then, I asked what exactly did homosexuality mean. I’m sure the look on my face as he explained some facts of life to me made him realize I was being totally truthful.

As a result of that experience, I came to distrust anyone who displayed the slightest hint of homosexual behavior and mannerisms. As I saw it, that professor was preying on my innocence. In my mind, that had to be what all homosexuals do.

I should also point out one other thing that happened to me when I was young. In fact, this event took place when I was very young. I was in the first or second grade and walking to school when I men pulled up beside me and offered me a ride. I had no idea who he was, and had been repeatedly warned by my parents. I ran up on the porch of the nearest house and began banging on the door. The stranger quickly drove away.

Now, that I’m grown (and hopefully a little wiser) I realize that the man who offered me a ride was a pedophile. He may or may not have been homosexual. He might have been a married heterosexual with children of his own. But he, like all other pedophiles, preyed on small children.

And that is the first point of my argument. Gays are not necessarily pedophiles. My college professor was ‘courting’ me and the others. He saw us as attractive young men and was hoping to win at least one of us over. When I gave my feeble excuses, he accepted them and let me leave without any trouble. A pedophile would have forced himself on me.

At that Synod meeting, most of the arguments against gays insinuated that gays are pedophiles. If we are ever to treat homosexuals with the respect they deserve, we have to make a clear distinction between being gay and being a pedophile.

This does not mean I don’t have adverse feelings about gay pride parades and the like. The ‘flaming’ behavior is not something I appreciate in any group. I don’t like the ‘in your face’ attitude coming from any minority group. If you want to be treated as equals, act like the majority of us act. With all minority groups, I think they should have every right that the rest of us have – nothing more and nothing less. Some of these groups, however, seem to want more. But that’s a debate for another day.

Now, allow me to share another personal note. I have lots of relatives, but I want to focus on two. One is an openly gay man and the other is a less than open drug addict. We continue to hope that the drug addict is recovering, but he has told so many lies in the past that it’s difficult to believe anything he says.

The gay relative is living in a committed relationship. He and his partner are also business partners and run a very successful enterprise. He is a joy to be around and one of the most loving individuals I know. He would give anyone the shirt off his back without hesitation.

With the drug addict, the opposite is true. One time he was arrested for shop lifting. He had his toddler daughter with him and was using her to distract the storekeeper. It didn’t work. Imagine the heartbreak of that child watching her daddy being arrested.

Which of these men are worthy members of society? Which of them gives me the greatest pride? Is there any doubt what my answer to both questions would be?

Many people point to the Bible and say that homosexuality is an abomination. Most of that is reflected in the writings of the Apostle Paul. And many Biblical scholars believe that Paul was homosexual. He often reflected on his sinfulness without stating specifically what his affliction was.

Paul was not married. In the Jewish culture of the time, an unmarried man was very uncommon. That’s why some scholars believe that Jesus may have been married; otherwise, he might not have been able to build the following he amassed.

While the Greek and Roman cultures of the time had no problem with homosexuality (and pedophilia for that matter), the Jewish culture thought otherwise. Thus, Paul had to keep his secret to himself.

Finally, science has proven that homosexuality is not the result of a conscious decision. The genetic make-up of gays indicates that they were born that way. If one truly believes that God does not make mistakes, the thought of an abomination seems rather absurd.

Neal Boortz, a radio talk show host that people either love or love to hate, has a standard retort to callers who insist gays consciously make the decision to be gay. He simply asks them, “When did you decide to be heterosexual?” If we all must ask ourselves whether we want to be gay or straight, when did we make that decision? I think it is a perfectly fair question. Since no straight person can answer it honestly any more than a gay can, we should accept the fact that we are genetically programmed one way or the other.

In summary, would it bother me to have a gay pastor? No. Would it bother me to have a pedophile as a pastor? You bet! I would run that second guy – or gal – out of town on a rail… after applying a liberal amount of tar and feathers.


Michael Jackson’s Band Wagon

June 26, 2009

If you don’t mind, I’d rather toss Michael under the band wagon.

For many of us, yesterday’s bigger loss was the death of Farrah Fawcett who finally lost her three year battle with cancer. Even with her tremendous suffering, Farrah had the courage to put together a documentary of her struggle to demonstrate the importance of not giving up.

And what was Michael Jackson doing during the last three years? I really don’t know and I obviously don’t care. After the repeated accusations of child molestation, the plastic surgeries to make him look more like Liz Taylor, and his many other idiotic actions, I got tired of hearing his name.

In many ways, I feel sorrier for Michael than I do for Farrah. Farrah was battling a physical enemy. Michael’s enemies were mostly in his own mind.

When the Jackson Five first came on the scene in the late 60’s, I was a big fan of the young Michael Jackson. As time progressed and his musical style changed, I lost interest. Perhaps that was my fault for getting old. I quit listening to rock and roll music as it evolved toward what it is today. Somewhere along the line, I switched to country music which, today, is more reminiscent to the rock and roll of my youth. With country music, a story is told and I can understand the lyrics. (That’s how I know a story is told.)

The young Mr. Jackson was very good looking. There was absolutely nothing wrong with his appearance. But then his skin began to get lighter and his nose turned into something you’d expect to see on a Caucasian. In truth, it makes me wonder what his body looked like. How far down his neck did the doctors go when they turned his skin lighter?

Enjoying cookies and milk and sleeping with little boys. I don’t care how much of a Michael Jackson fan you are – that is beyond weird. It makes me wonder what sort of demons shared that body with the fabulous entertainer.

Yes. I called him a fabulous entertainer. While I didn’t care for his music, millions of other folks disagreed with me. They loved his concerts.

During the last American Idol, I thought sure Adam Lambert would win because, of all the other contestants, he was the best entertainer. He seemed to be a natural on the stage… just as Michael Jackson was.

Kris Allen is a very talented young man, but he doesn’t have the stage presence of Adam Lambert. I think Adam lost because most Americans thought sure he was going to win. So, they either didn’t bother to vote, or they voted for Kris to make it close.

I think a similar thing happened when Bill Clinton beat George Bush. Everyone was sure Bush would win, so many voted for Ross Perot… so that Bush wouldn’t win by a landslide.

Oops! I strayed off the original topic. My apologies.

Getting back to Michael, I always hate to see a person die before his or her time, but I can’t help wondering how much Michael’s demons contributed to his demise. In a way, he’s been fighting his own form of cancer for most of his life. Maybe that explains his weird behavior.

Numerous personalities have stated that most of us will long remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of Michael’s death. Some likened it to the death of Elvis Presley – another performer I didn’t really care for. Some even went so far as to compare it to the death of John F. Kennedy.

Sorry. That takes it too far. Both entertainers were extremely popular with their fan base, but the assassination of a United States President is more than a little different.

I have no idea of what I was doing on the day of Elvis’ death. I couldn’t even tell you the year he died let alone the month and day. Soon I’ll be in the same situation with Michael’s death (as well as Farrah’s), but I’ll never be that way when it comes to JFK.

I was a sophomore at Edinboro State Teachers College on November 22, 1963. I was at my off-campus housing when I heard JFK had been shot. I then walked into town where I got the word that he had died.

Come to think of it, it’s a bit troublesome that our culture puts more emphasis on the lives of entertainers than on politicians. No wonder our government is so screwed up.


Learning Something New Every Day

June 17, 2009

Once again I have to rely on the History Channel’s web site to find something to write about. Today I hit the jackpot!

Kate Smith had a weekly television show in 1960 and my parents made sure to watch it. Kate was a dearly loved singer from the depression days on. She passed away on June 17, 1986.

Another thing that happened during my lifetime (and it wasn’t that long ago – 1994) was the great car chase of Southern California. You know the one! The White Ford Bronco driven by Al Cowlings. The vehicle belonged to O.J. Simpson who was, supposedly, hiding in the back seat holding a gun to his own head.

For nine hours the Bronco drove (within the speed limit) back and forth along the freeways. O.J. had used his cell phone to warn the police to back off or he would commit suicide. He had planned to escape to Mexico and had his passport, a fake mustache and goatee, and the gun with him. He’d heard he was going to be indicted for the murders (which he claimed he didn’t commit) of his wife and her boyfriend. As we all know, innocent people always flee when charged with a crime they didn’t commit.

That Ford Bronco must have had a very large gas tank… unless the police stood by as Cowlings refueled. Eventually, the ‘high speed’ chase found its way back to O.J.’s home, For another ninety minutes, O.J. refused to get out of the vehicle.

I recall getting into more than a few heated discussions following the acquittal of O.J. because I thought the jury returned the correct verdict – BASED ON THE EVIDENCE. I thought the prosecutors did a terrible job. Do I think he murdered the two people? Absolutely! Do I think he got away with murder? Without a doubt. Do I think the prosecutor was too interested in the television cameras and failed to introduce key pieces of evidence? Yep.

In any case, O.J. is now behind bars. We’ll have to wait and see how long he remains there.

Two other events from June 17th deserve to be mentioned. One was a learning experience for me. It begins with an event that happened about fifty years ago.

Sometime while I was in high school, the Langley High School basketball team won the Pittsburgh City Championship and qualified for the state tournament. The first game was played against the team from Erie Strong Vincent High School. Langley lost that game. But the story continues.

When I entered Edinboro State Teachers College in the fall of 1962, I met a number of people who had graduated from Erie Strong Vincent. But I never gave any thought to the name of that school… until today.

On June 17, 1837, a man named Strong Vincent was born in Waterford, Pennsylvania. Waterford is a small town just outside of Erie, Pennsylvania. I immediately recognized the name and figured, correctly, that he was the namesake of the school.

Colonel Strong Vincent led a group of Union soldiers during the Battle of Gettysburg and successfully defended Little Round Top. However, he was mortally wounded during that battle and died on July 7, 1963.

Now, after all these years, I know who that school is named after. By the way, Langley is named after Samuel Pierpont Langley. Langley worked at what eventually became the University of Pittsburgh.  He is best known for his work with gliders and aviation. His designs were instrumental to the Wright brothers.

That brings me to the most interesting story of the day. On June 17, 1943, Senator Harry Truman was heading a committee investigating possible profiteering by defense contractors. (Sounds familiar – some things never change!)

Truman was looking into a defense plant located in Pasco, Washington. According to the History Channel, on this day in 1943…

Truman received a phone call from Harry Stimson (Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of War), who told him that the Pasco plant was “part of a very important secret development.” Fortunately, Stimson did not need to explain further: Truman, a veteran and a patriot, understood immediately that he was treading on dangerous ground. Before Stimson could continue, Truman assured the secretary “you won’t have to say another word to me. Whenever you say that [something is highly secret] to me that’s all I want to hear…if [the plant] is for a specific purpose and you think it’s all right, that’s all I need to know.” Stimson replied that the purpose was not only secret, but “unique.”

Can you imagine something like this happening today? If the media caught wind of something like this, it would be labeled a conspiracy and that Senator would be hit with all sorts of political pressure.

It would be two years before Truman learned the truth about the Pasco plant. In 1944, Truman was elected to serve as Roosevelt’s vice-president, but it wasn’t until 1945, after Roosevelt’s death and Truman’s ‘promotion’ that Stimson told him about the Manhattan Project. Pasco was one of several plants developing components of the world’s first atomic bomb.

So that’s it. Lots of interesting stuff happened on June 17th. Hopefully nothing of any import will happen today… unless I win the lottery.

Perhaps I should buy a ticket!

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If you haven’t already done so, you might want to read my brother’s account of an atomic bomb test on the Bikini Atoll.


A Little Touch-up

May 20, 2009

In yesterday’s post, I painted my big brother, Lew, (as opposed to my other brother, Lew) as a man with a dedication to perfection and a temper to go along with that disposition.

Like most of us humans, both of the twins had multifaceted personalities. Bill’s idiosyncrasies were more difficult to pin-point due to his predominantly easy-going nature. However, Lew was more of a man of extremes. Actually, in Lew’s case, I should make that present tense… he still exhibits some of those old tendencies from time to time.

Lew, the man who got so angry with himself that he threw a bowling ball out of a window on the fifth floor of a building, was the same man who annually rented an Easter Bunny costume and bought a case of eggs.

Dressed in that costume and sweating profusely, he’d sit in the window of Vrabel’s Dairy Store and dye those eggs. Parents would bring their children to see the Easter Bunny getting ready to make his rounds.

In the evening, Lew would have someone drive him to each of the area hospitals so he could pass out candy and eggs to children who were spending Easter in the hospital.

I was his driver on a few occasions. When nurses asked me who was in the costume, my answer was, “If I told you that, I’d be the first person to be killed by an Easter Bunny.”

The man has a heart of gold. But he also loves to tease.

When I was in high school and he was not yet married, he’d wake me for school as he was leaving for work. However, there were times that I’d come out of the bathroom, all ready for school, and find him lying in his bed laughing. When I checked the clock, I’d see that it was shortly past midnight. Lew had just come home from whatever he was doing that evening and was playing with me.

Of course, I’d return the favor when he let me use his car. I’d spend an evening cruising with my friends and return the car with an empty gas tank.

Soon, he learned to loan me his car and his gas credit card. He’d often give me a few dollars for spending money if he knew I had a date.

One more story before I start thinking about tomorrow’s post.

We were rebuilding the porch on my sister’s home in Greentree. Gert’s husband, Mac (real name A.J. Cronin), was there, as were his sons, Terry and Keith, and Lew and I.

At one point Gert asked if we’d like lunch. She was offering bologna sandwiches. Lew said he’d like one with yellow mustard… but he wanted the mustard on the meat – not the bread.

Unless Gert gave him multiple slices of meat (which she wasn’t about to do) there was no way to tell where she put the mustard. Naturally, when he got the sandwich, he complained that she had done it wrong.

Like I said, the man loves to tease… even his big sister.

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On a somewhat related note…

When I was in college at Edinboro, I received a letter from Gert. The return address stated it was from A.J. Cronin. My roommate, Roger Frazier – an English major, had picked up the mail and was all excited that I was receiving mail from A.J. Cronin.

When I said simply that it was my brother-in-law, he flipped out. To be honest, I’d never heard of the A.J. Cronin he was referring to. Needless to say, Roger was grossly disappointed when he learned the truth.


Making a List

April 28, 2009
Pittsburgh surrounded by hills and trees

Pittsburgh surrounded by hills and trees

As freshmen in college, meeting other students included exchanging names and telling each other the name of our home towns. I found it interesting how many people told me they were from Pittsburgh only to later learn they really came from Altoona, Aliquippa, Canonsburg, Johnstown, Latrobe, Washington, Jeannette, or some other small town many miles away from Pittsburgh.

The typical explanation for claiming Pittsburgh as their home town was that most people knew where Pittsburgh is. Trying to explain – over and over again – where one could find Glassport was more trouble than it was worth.

I was proud to state that I truly did come from Pittsburgh. While I could walk across the street and find myself in Crafton – the home town of Bill Cowher – I was born and raised within the city limits of Pittsburgh. Of course, that wasn’t good enough for Ron Wallace. He grew up on the South Side and by walking across a bridge could be in downtown Pittsburgh in about ten minutes.

Being a true Pittsburgher, I have great pride in knowing that many famous people were born and raised in the area. People like Gene Kelly, Frank Gorshin, Andy Warhol, Dennis Miller, and Dan Marino. I also know there were many people who may or may not have been born in Pittsburgh, but were living in Pittsburgh when they became famous.

This list would include folks like Andrew Carnegie, Dr. Jonas Salk, Rege Cordic, and Rush Limbaugh.

In compiling my lists, I learned that when it comes to fame and fortune, Pittsburgh reaches out to the outlying areas as much as my freshman classmates did. For example, Pittsburgh is proud to consider Jimmy Stewart (from Indiana, PA)  as one of its own, along with Arnie Palmer (Latrobe), Perry Como (Canonsburg), Bobby Vinton (also from Canonsburg), and Sharon Stone (Meadville).

Sharon Stone, by the way, attended the same college as I. She didn’t graduate from Edinboro University, but she’s till proud to be a former student there.

I discovered two web sites with extensive lists of people who passed through Pittsburgh on their way to fame and fortune. One is Hollywood.com and the other is Wikipedia.org. To say the least, I was really surprised by the people listed.

The biggest surprises for me were Chet Welch, Rebekah Becky Lee, and Billy May.

Come to think of it, learning that Billy May – pitchman for Oxi-clean – was a native son is what got me started on this post. Then when I searched for lists of famous people from Pittsburgh, I was overwhelmed by the names on the list.

I wonder if my name will ever make it on one of those lists? Maybe I can start a write-in campaign.

Pittsburgh as seen from the South Side

Pittsburgh as seen from the South Side

Perhaps they’ll name a street in my honor. OK. I’ll settle for an alley.