Sunday, April 17, 2011

Back in time, there’s a place that I remember

The other night while in one of those bored, introspective moods (there was nothing good on tv) I was looking at photo collections of southwestern Pa posted online, and stumbled across this picture.  I didn’t think “Hmm, that looks familiar” or “where have I seen this street before”, I knew immediately—rhis is East High Street (also known as Main Street) from the small town I grew up in, Waynesburg PA.

The only information attached to the few photos was “Greene County Archives” but I guessed them to be circa 1915-1930.   It was almost disconcerting, seeing how little things have changed since then. 

When I showed this to my sister Shawn, and said I wished I could step into that old photo, she replied “Yes, until you found a penny in your pocket with the current year on it”  (you know, like Christopher Reeve did in ‘Somewhere in Time’).  Well, I haven’t fallen in love with a sepia photograph of Jane Seymour from 80 years ago, I just want to put on a brown derby hat and see how things really were back then. 

But I’m guessing things on Main Street weren’t too different from how I remember it.

That same view of East High (Main Street) in Waynesburg, & how it looks today

As a kid in the late 1960s-70s, I can  remember when ‘downtown Waynesburg’ was still a major source of activity.  And on Saturday afternoons, before malls and strangers (masquerading as human beings) became part of the social consciousness, my parents thought nothing of dropping me and my sister Shawn off on a bustling Main Street for a few hours, free to do whatever we wanted. 

We usually spent our hours chatting up Peg & Mabel (a pair of spectacled, middle-aged clerks at Sun Drugstore), browsing comic books at “Good News” or the candy & toy departments of the local five & dime stores.  (I can still remember Shawn once asking me why McCrorys had creaky wooden floors; I explained it was where poor people had to shop!) 

Saturday matinees at the local theater usually had a line of 8-12 year olds in front, without a parent in sight.

Another old photo shows the original Opera House marquee; Wallace Beery & Marie Dressler are a big hit in ‘Min & Bill’ (1930)

I suppose I’ve been giving my hometown a little more thought than usual lately, as recently a friend from back home told me they were tearing part of Main Street down; it was alarming to see the photos of the rubble. 

The Colonial!  Hudsons Jewlers, the Chinese Garden—gone! 

(Okay, I’m not feeling any real loss for these places, but they’ve been around forever, it seems.)   Coincidentally, one of the old photos I found were of those same three buildings being renovated 80 years ago.


The recent demolition; those same buildings being renovated in 1930

When I posted one of these found pictures on Facebook, an old friend sadly commented on how much things had changed since we were kids.  While I agree with Jon, I can’t help but remember how my mom would often tell us kids how different things were in her time. 

She’d point at the old Ullom & Baily’s Drugstore and say “When I was your age, my girlfriends & I would sit at the counter in there after school and drink cherry colas, there was a jukebox in the corner and we even danced.  Oh you kids have no idea how much fun we had back then…”  

I’m sure that thirty years from now, some kid in Waynesburg today is going to be telling his own children the same thing.  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Shawn, your brother is a foodaholic—what do I have to do to prove it to you!


Er… this really isn’t ‘blog-worthy’ (like all my previous ones, you know) but a few minutes ago I opened an email from my sister Shawn, and while it made me laugh out loud, I also wanted to scream.

I was all set to reply to her email in ALL CAPS, but I know she’s dealing with a little girl who’s under the weather (and a husband who’s under a blanket because he thinks it’s catching) so as long as I have this soapbox I call a blog, I will do my all caps here instead:


The jist of it is this; this morning I got an email from my sister saying that my niece Sophia had a rough night (but the kid still managed to be a riot by groaning “Holy mother of pearl” and okay, that was pretty funny).  I told Shawn how sorry I was to hear about that poor baby, and to be honest I had a rough night too—I woke up in the early morning hours with some pretty severe… abdominal issues.  But what made it worse was that it was my own doing. 

Y’see, I was so thankful it was a Friday, I stopped at the local bakery after work to get a cupcake; but when I walked inside, they had this low table laden with “Family-Size” apple pies for $2.99.  Wow, what a deal!  So I picked one up (feeling both repulsed and excited at the weight of it), promised myself to ration it out over the next week & then proceeded to eat over half the damn thing last night.  

When I confessed this to Shawn, her response was  “I didn’t know you favored apple pie.”  

Wait—what!?  First of all, who doesn’t favor apple pie?  Second—”favored”?  Shawn, I ate half a 32 oz pie in one sitting!  There’s something wrong here, and I know you have your own family to worry about, but you were all set to call the police last night because it took me two hours to respond to an email—so the next time I confess I’ve just eaten a pound of pie, you need to come up with something better then you didn’t know i favored pie!  I’ve already gained back all the weight I lost in that ‘UPMC Weight Race’ we both participated in (the one YOU won, outsider) PLUS a couple pounds on top of that, so don’t you think an intervention or something is in order?


Sophie in the mouth of a shark—given my appetite lately, I could probably gobble this ham up in a couple bites if I had the chance


Okay, I don’t know where I’m going with this, and in all truthfulness I think I would’ve lost it if Shawn had said something to me about the overeating.  I used to accuse her of being an “enabler” (for being a good cook) and one time I said “WHY are you always after me to lose weight but then cook all this food whenever I come to visit!” and she replied “I guess I expect you to starve yourself when you’re not here—besides, it’s not everyday Jim gets a home cooked meal”  (while her husband just smiled and nodded).  

Haha, well, I asked.  (And I AM grateful Shawn, and I hope that shows whenever I’m sitting at your dining room table gorging myself.)

All I know right now is, spring is upon us (according to the calendar) & I’m not going to be able to pretend I’m hiding my belly under that heavy coat anymore.   To rounder people like myself, winter coats are SECURITY, like Linus & his blanket.  Oh how I dread the morning weatherman happily telling everybody to “Hang up your coats folks, I think winter is finally behind us!”  Foodaholics and winter go together like peanut butter & jelly, cheeseburgers and french fries, cake and ice cream, beans & franks, no wait ham and scalloped potatoes…

Oh that reminds me—Shawn are we having Easter dinner this year?   I’m partial to those honeybaked hams, but you know me, I’ll eat anything.