Prayers and Ice for Fr. Dennis!

10635704_814143731964045_2569176374781110132_nIn previous posts, I have often written about Fr. Dennis, the current pastor of the of the Catholic churchs in Duquesne; Holy Name, St. Hedwig’s and St. Joseph’s. All three churchs are part of the Christ the Light of the World Parish.

Although I have not been a member of Holy Name since 1972, my heart and faith has always been deeply rooted in that parish.

The reason for why I feel this way, is due to Fr. Dennis, plain and simple. Fr. Dennis epitomizes the words “Father, Priest and Pastor.” When he first arrived on the scene at Holy Name over 31 years ago, every parishioner was like a deer in headlights. As Fr. Dennis began to introduce a more “enthusiastic” liturgy and celebration of the Mass, I know many of the older, more traditional Catholics, were scratching their heads and muttering “What the heck!!!!”

Since I wasn’t a parishioner when Fr. Dennis arrived, I had to rely on reports from by father and Aunt Mary to learn more about their new pastor. My dad seemed to be undaunted by Fr. Dennis and his larger-than-life persona. He loved to hear him sing and he enjoyed his sermons each week. My Aunt Mary (Goldman) on the other hand, was initially huffy-puffy about Father D. I remember her telling me….”I don’t understand him! He’s out in the front yard of the rectory releasing doves! ” or “People are clapping after his sermon, and he allows it!” In the 18 years that followed Fr. Dennis’ arrival before Aunt Mary’s death in December, 2000, she began to come around to the type of liturgy that Fr. Dennis brought to Holy Name with him.  

Aunt Mary ran the Holy Name Flea Market for about 10 years and worked very closely with Fr. Dennis. At first, her hackles were raised quite a bit! “Who does he think he is, telling me how to run a flea market!!” She complied nonetheless, and confessed to me a bit later that all of his ideas worked! Being bull-headed, that ticked her off too. Within a very short amount of time, Aunt Mary became a stanch supporter of Fr. Dennis and all of the wonderful changes that he made to the way people celebrated Christ.

In spite of the fact that I wasn’t a member of the parish, my admiration, love and respect for Fr. Dennis comes from a different perspective. First of all, I loved the fact that my dad thought the world of Fr. Dennis. I remember attending mass at St. Hedwig’s with my dad whenever I would visit. After Mass had ended and we were leaving the building, Fr. Dennis would always be standing at the exit and have a big smile and his hand out to shake my dad’s as he said “Hi Steve!” That simple act mean the world to my dad. I remember him say to me “See Jim, Fr. Dennis even knows my name!” THAT is the effect that Fr. Dennis has on people.

To this day, I still feel that Fr. Dennis’ celebration of the Eucharist stands in a class by itself for me. Hearing him speak, appreciating his passion for shepherding his parishioners and witnessing the involvement of the congregation in the rites of the Mass, is unparalleled. I contend that if you are fortunate enough to attend a Mass that is being celebrated by Fr. Dennis, you REALLY feel that you have been to Mass!!

As you know, in April of 2013, Fr. Dennis announced to his parish that he had received a preliminary diagnosis that indicated that he may have ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ALS, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Unfortunately, as time unfolded, it was confirmed that Fr. Dennis did indeed have ALS.

Last year in a post titled “A Deluge of Prayers,” I wrote:

The power of prayer in itself is remarkable. I think we all believe that as part of our very being. However, the power of Duquesne prayer has proven itself to be very powerful. It was just 7 days ago that we all learned about the news of Fr. Dennis’ diagnosis. After the call for a Duquesne Deluge of Prayer, this blog saw its highest EVER viewing of a post since I first began the blog two and a half years ago. The post calling for prayers was viewed over 2500 times in less than one week!

I was thrilled when I saw an announcement scan0001on Facebook that announced a “Flicker of Hope” regarding Fr. Dennis’ diagnosis. I am posting his “From the Pastor’s Desk” column from Sunday’s bulletin. We need to continue with our prayers to assure that the “flicker of hope” turns quickly into a deluge of hope for Fr. Dennis. We did it once, so let’s not stop the momentum!!

From the Pastor’s Desk – April 14, 2013

Last weekend, when the “bomb” on my most recent health diagnosis was dropped, an immediate volcanic eruption of love and prayers for me was released into the universe. I truly FrDennis2005believe that this eruption has caused the “Flicker of Hope” that I received on Monday afternoon. On my visit to my primary care physician, he informed me that I have “lower body muscular neuron disease.” He informed me that the disease takes on many forms or personalities and sometimes masks itself as another disease. A definite diagnosis is confirmed only after a series of elimination tests. He told me at this point, based on the results and evidence “It is inconclusive that I have full-blown ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” This news is a “flicker of hope.” He was at a loss why the neurologist diagnosed me last Thursday with get your affairs in order, tell your family, you have 3 to 5 years. I believe that the eruption of prayers and love caused this flicker. The positive energy caused by the love and prayers is real and present. After one year of visiting various doctors and not receiving any positive results, I am going to hold on to this “good news” as a hopeful sign. I am going to live life to the best of my ability and to its fullest. When the time comes for my final diagnosis, then I will deal with it as best as I can.

Good things and blessings from this have already happened. People are talking to each other, people are praying more than they have in quite a while. Much more is there to be learned on this transitional journey.

Thank You: for the outpouring of love, prayers and concern….for the cards, emails, gifts, flowers, food, etc….for anyone who has offered help and assistance….I am humbled and grateful for your love and prayers.

The Next Steps: The next step in this ongoing process is that I have an appointment with the ALS Clinic and Dr. Lacomis in Pgh. on May 6 for testing, recommendations, etc. On June 10, I meet again with my PCP to go over the results and decide on the next steps and a course of action if necessary.

In the 15 months since my post and Fr. Dennis’ initial announce, a lot has changed in his life. The diagnosis of ALS was confirmed and he has been bravely dealing with all of the aspects of the disease without complaint. The sanctuary of Holy Name has been remodeled and an elevator installed in the rectory. He gets around with a walker or scooter and recently was fitted for a wheelchair. He no longer is able to drive because he’s lost use of his right leg. The loss of simple movements have left Fr. Dennis an undaunted spirit and determination to continue to minister to his parishioners. 

Recently, throughout the nation, there has been a outpouring in support of donations to the ALS Association via an internet viral sensation known as the “Ice Bucket Challange.” Simply stated, the “Ice Bucket Challange” is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on one’s head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research. It went viral throughout social media during mid 2014. The challenge then dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and challenging others to do the same. A common stipulation is that nominated people have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation.

On Saturday, August 23, 2014, the Christ the Light of the World Parish AND the City of Duquesne watched as the challenge took an unlikely twist. Fr. Dennis has challenged Bishop Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to the ice bucket challenge! The news of the challenge spread as far as San Francisco where the news appeared in a newspaper in San Francisco. I have posted a video of the challenge, few articles about Fr’ Dennis’ challange, as well as pictures of the “Mass of Healing” that was celebrated by Bishop Zubik at Holy Name, prior to the challange.

Please remember to keep Fr. Dennis in your prayers!

The Trib/Live

For Duquesne priest, Ice Bucket Challenge is personal

By Carol Waterloo Frazier Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, 3:46 a.m.

A Catholic priest in Duquesne has invited his bishop to take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Saturday.

The Rev. Dennis Colamarino, pastor of Christ the Light of the World Parish, has been living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis for 15 months. He challenged Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik to join him on Saturday after the parish’s 11 a.m. Mass to take the plunge.

The fundraising phenomenon began when a professional golfer in Florida was challenged by his swing coach to dump a bucket of ice water over his head. He did so for his wife’s cousin living with ALS. He then challenged three people and the rest is history. The Ice Bucket Challenge has exploded on social media, resulting in nearly $42 million in donations to the ALS Association since July 29. Children, athletes, celebrities and others have jumped on the Ice Bucket Challenge bandwagon, challenging others to dump ice water over their heads or donate $100 to the ALS Association.

“My parishioners and I are doing the Greater Pittsburgh Walk to Defeat ALS in September and I thought this would be a nice way to raise awareness,” Colamarino said. “I called the bishop and challenged him to join me and he said yes, that he’d like to do it with me.”

After Mass, the Duquesne Police Department will close traffic to South First Street — the church is located at 32 S. First St. — where Colamarino and Zubik will take their seats to await the frigid deluge.

“This is fun,” Colamarino said, “and it brings people together. I thought this was the right thing at the right time. It’s a little inane and fun. It’s something out of the ordinary for us uptight adults. It’s fun and everyone has fun with it. And it’s raising awareness and money for ALS.”

The Ice Bucket Challenge began on July 29. Through Thursday, the ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations, compared to $2.1 million during the same time last year. There have been 739,275 new donors to the ALS Association.

ALS first was diagnosed in 1869, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought attention to the disease — a progressive neurodegenerative disease that eventually can lead to total paralysis and death. The disease has claimed the lives of many, including Hall of Fame pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Sen. Jacob Javits, actors Michael Zaslow and David Niven and Sesame Street creator Jon Stone.

Colamarino has been in ministry for 41 years, 31 of them serving the parishioners at Christ the Light of the World and St. Joseph parishes in the city where he grew up. Since his diagnosis, they have stood by his side.

“I wouldn’t be able to be here if it weren’t for them. They are more than parishioners — they are my family,” he said, noting the sanctuary has been remodeled and an elevator installed in the rectory. He gets around with a walker or scooter and recently was fitted for a wheelchair. He no longer is able to drive because he’s lost use of his right leg.

He was not diagnosed immediately. Seeking medical care for a foot problem, Colamarino was not finding any relief. His primary care physician suggested going to a neurologist.

“I went and she said it was ALS. She said I would die in two years, so I should go home and make a will,” he said. “That was quite shocking.”

He made an appointment with an ALS specialist in Pittsburgh and goes every four months to determine if the debilitation is spreading. The disease has started to affect one of his hands.

Muscle weakness is a common early sign of ALS. Early symptoms can include tripping, dropping things, abnormal fatigue of the arms and/or legs, slurred speech, muscle cramps and twitches, and/or uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying. The hands and feet may be affected first and eventually speech, swallowing, chewing and breathing are impaired.

Despite mobility challenges, the priest continues to fulfill his duties. “I started to get tired, so I asked the bishop for a helper,” he said, noting the assistant is a Duquesne native and New Castle priest.

Referring to something his neurologist told him, Colamarino said, “This disease will not define who I am. Every morning I get up and say my morning prayer and thank God for another day.”

Reflecting on how ALS has changed his life, he classifies things as BD or AD — Before Disease or After Disease. “Before I would jog three times a week and cook meals. I love to cook for myself and friends. But that life is over. Now I can’t drive or lift a frying pan. When it comes to meals, everybody brings them to me. There’s not a day goes by that somebody calls to see what I need. Every day someone is bringing a meal and that gives us quality time to spend together.”

Although his life has changed dramatically, Colamarino remains upbeat. “We don’t get to choose our life so you just have to make the best of it. I’m surrounded by so much love. I often cry, not for myself but because I can’t believe I’m so loved.”

He doesn’t look too far down the road, but he is looking forward to Saturday and the ALS walk. “We’ve formed a team, Team Father Dennis, for the walk and we are leading in the amount of money raised. We set a goal of $10,000 and so far we’re up to $25,000. I think Saturday’s event may kick it up even more.

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – August 23, 2014

 — Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Bishop David Zubik accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge to help a dear friend.

A total of 800 people showed up for the 11 a.m. Mass Saturday at the Christ the Light of the World Parish in Duquesne.

It wasn’t just about the Mass though, their main reason for being there is the parish priest.

“I can’t believe how much I am loved. But I think it’s… I told them I thought I loved them more than they loved me; but obviously, it’s pretty equal,” said Fr. Dennis Colamarino.

They came to support Fr. Dennis in his struggle with ALS – better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Bishop Zubik came, too. Afterwards, he took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

How’d the Bishop feel afterwards?

“That’s cold!” he said.

Not to be outdone, Fr. Dennis took the challenge, too.

“I’m the pastor and they’re parishioners, but it’s more than that. We are family and we love each other like family,” said Fr. Dennis.

Bishop Zubik compares the ice dump to a baptism.

“Water is a sign of Jesus. We take it beyond that sacrament to say what we do here and how we’re supposed to help people who are struggling, that becomes a sign of Jesus within us,” he said.

For Fr. Dennis, it was a blessing for Duquesne.

“It brought the community together, and I hope you all print this, something good happens in Duquesne,” he said.

Parishioners have started the Team Father Dennis Fund and have raised more than $10,000. Some will take part in the Walk to Defeat ALS on Sept. 6.

My special thanks to Tara Hoover, who administers Christ the Light of the World’s Facebook page for allowing the use of the photos from the Mass for Healing and the Ice Bucket Challange in this post! Visit their page by click here.

Holy Name





Bishop Zubik

Click here to view the entire event gallery on Christ the Light of the World’s Facebook page.

Watch the Challenge video below!

 Yes Fr. Dennis…You ARE loved!

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Eastland’s Slag Dump

This morning, one of our friends, Jack Schalk commented on my recent post –  Eastland – Always on our Minds

I left Duquesne in 1959 and never had a knowledge of Eastland or its environs. In my mind, I can’t even place the location from a map of the site. Cory Werling (above) mentioned that he could see Eastland from the top of Kennedy Ave in the evening and I just can’t relate to this vision. Does anyone have an older photo of the site prior to development as viewed from Duquesne?

Thanks to another of our friends, Bob Vislay, DHS Class of ’69, Jack and others can get a clear perspective of where the slag dump and eventually Eastland was located.

This is a picture looking down W. Grant Ave after the tornado of 1956:



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Eastland – Always on our Minds

Awhile ago, one of my friends on Facebook posted a comment as well as an article aboutcentury-iii-mall-57 some proposed changes to Century III Mall in West Mifflin. Although I have been to the mall many times over the years, I have never felt that it was a place that I could really feel any connection with. To me, it always has been an over-sized, confusing, cold and unwelcoming environment. I suppose that if Century III had been build when I was in my teens, I would feel differently, but considering that it didn’t open until 1979, I had moved away from the area and was living in Chicago.

In my retail career, I have managed many traditional department stores throughout the United States. From Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, Georgia (248 stores/1,545,000 sq. ft.) to Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois (300 stores/2,200,000 sq. ft.), I have seen and worked in dozens of malls. However, the only mall/shopping center that resonates in my mind was Eastland Shopping Mall in  North Versailles, Pennsylvania.

In my mind, bigger is NOT always better! During my retail career, I constantly reminded my managers and selling associates to “think like a customer.” I wonder if the developers of some of the super-sized malls ever considered that customers just may not want to traverse over 2 million square feet of space to just buy a pair of shoes or a tube of lipstick?

The size of Eastland was perfect in my mind. There was an intimate quality about it. You were most likely able to find whatever it was that you were searching for and you also would probably run into someone you knew before the end of your shopping excursion. Rather than a enormous food court with dozens of fast food places, one could NEVER beat sitting in one of the booths or at the counter in Woolworths or Gimbels for a quick bite to eat or enjoy a wonderful meal at McSorleys Restaurant.

About three years ago, I published a post about Eastland that everyone seemed to enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing. I decided to resurrect that post and share it with you once again. I hope you enjoy it!


Did you know that there is an obituary of sorts for shopping malls? Seriously! The site is simply called! Who would have thought it would come to that? The only reason I know this is that I happened to be looking through some old photos that I found in a drawer and found one that was taken at Eastland Mall in North Versailles.

Eastland Shopping Plaza opened its doors for the first time on August 15, 1963. I remember going to Eastland with my mother and my Aunt Mary, and how they marveled at the size, the convenience and how much better it was than walking through downtown McKeesport. Unfortunately, many other people thought the same thing, and as a result, McKeesport’s business fell off dramatically. So many of the stores in Duquesne had closed or were about to close since the “redevelopment” had recently begun. First Street was less than a year from being razed, so residents were beginning to form new shopping habits.

As much as Mom liked Eastland Shopping Plaza, old habits were hard to break and she continued to frequent Sally Fashions and Salkowitz Dress Shop in Duquesne for her “preferred wardrobe.”  She also continued to shop at Adler-Greens for my dad, brother and I. When it came to items for the house, it was always the Golden Rule, Helmsteaders and Hirshbergs in McKeesport.

In 1964 when all of North First Street fell victim to the redevelopment’s bulldozer, so did my father’s business on South First Street. It was a VERY stressful and traumatic time for our family. My dad was devastated about closing his business without a choice in the matter. He had just turned 49 years of age and was forced to begin a new job. Fortunately, he was such an adept mechanic, and found work immediately at the J C Penney Auto Center in Eastland Shopping Plaza. There, he was promoted to Service Manager and continued in that role until his retirement in 1980.

For 16 years, Eastland was a part of our lives. I knew it well. In its heyday, Eastland Mall was a two-level, shopping plaza that was built on 57 acres of land at the peak of a hill overlooking the Monongahela River. There was an urban legend about the land that it was built on. Supposedly, the area was once a huge slag dump for the surrounding McKeesport steel mills. Duquesne Works had its own site to dump stag, so were not part of the legend. Every so often, someone would resurface the theory that the mall, in its entirety, would one day slip over the hill toward the Monongahela River due to its unstable foundation of shifting slag. That fate never materialized, and the mall suffered its own gradual and painful death on February 15, 2005, after 42 years.

Originally, Eastland Shopping Plaza was home to 4 department Stores and 52 other retail businesses. Eastland opened with stores such as Gimbels, Sears, J.C. Penneys, Wander Sales, F.W. Woolworth, May-Stern, McSorley’s Restaurant, Docktor Pet Center, Thom McAn (I always thought that was a strange spelling.) There was a Young Men’s store named Silberman’s as well as one called Standard Sportswear, Kinny Shoes, and a Richard’s Shoes. Immel’s had a location at Eastland along with National Record Mart. NRM was on the lower enclosed level of the mall along with a toy store that I can’t remember the name of. Was it Kay Bee? There was also a shoe repair on that level, Valley Shoe Repair that remained there from the first day Eastland opened in 1963 until the mall closed in 2005. That distinction was shared with only one other business, Marc Anthony’s Hair Salon.

In the winter of 1969, I turned 18 and was old enough to begin working at Eastland. At that time, it was still an open air shopping plaza. I decided not to go the route of nepotism and apply at J C Penneys, but took a leap and applied at Gimbels. To my surprise (as well as my dad’s), I managed to get hired on as a holiday seasonal! I was quite excited about working at Gimbels. It was always considered an upscale store and I enjoyed the excitement. Little did I know that the retail “bug” would bite me and cause me to continue into a retail career that lasted until 2007!

I recall how festive Gimbels and the mall looked at holiday time. The amount of customers during the holiday season was astounding. People came from all over the area to Eastland. I saw so many people that I knew from Duquesne while working there. Even some personalities made their way to the mall as well. I had the pleasure of waiting on Donna Jean Young during the holidays which was very exciting. Perhaps the most famous person I met was Hugh Geyer, lead singer for the Vogues. At that time, they were one of the most popular groups in the United States.

I remained at Gimbels while I was in college until 1971. When I left Gimbels after graduation, the store was feeling the bite of competition from Monroeville Mall which had opened in 1969. I remember the Eastland Mall Theatres that were tucked away in the far corner of the Shopping Plaza. They opened at the same time the shopping plaza opened. There were two screens. I remember that the entrance was very bright and was primarily white and gold and aqua(?)! I recall taking dates there, but only remember seeing one movie. What does that say about my dates?? The only movie I remember was Funny Girl in 1969.

For a short time, I worked at the Eastland Car Wash which was located to the right of the theatre. I worked there for about 6 months during the fall and winter. The conditions were crappy since we all were freezing most of the time. I would either be sloshing water on hubcaps at the start of the wash or be part of the detail crew at the end of the wash. Either chore had me exposed to the weather for the most part. As would be expected, it was a rather “motley” but really a fun crew that worked at the car wash. That’s where I learned all my bad habits as a means of survival. Instead of learning the 3 R’s as in school, I learned the 3 S’s. Swearing – Spitting – Smoking. I dressed like a bum, was as dirty as a pig and smelled like one too. But boy, we all had fun there! The car wash was destroyed by a fire in 1987.

A few years after I moved away from home, there was a fire at Eastland. It occurred on June 6, 1973 during the morning hours. It apparently started either at a dairy store or bakery that was located in the lower level mall. 27 stores were involved, 20 in the lower level and 7 on the upper level. Renovation had already been underway to enclose the upper area of the mall at the time of the fire. What eventually emerged from the renovations and restorations following the fire was an enclosed mall with a new “big box” store, Gee Bee, anchoring one end of the complex. The name changed from Eastland Shopping Plaza to Eastland Mall after the mall was enclosed.

After graduation from college in 1972, Eastland Mall and I parted ways. I entered into my “wanderlust” years and began a series of moves that were career associated. I remember returning to the area in 1977 and visiting Eastland with my then fiancée Judy. I believe that was my last visit to Eastland for many, many years.

As I indicated earlier, my father continued to work at Penney’s Auto Center until his retirement 1980. As I continued to travel and relocate to different parts of the country, Dad and my Aunt Mary would keep me abreast of what was happ ening to Eastland. Century III Mall in West Mifflin had opened in 1979 and between that new competition and the continued success of Monroeville Mall, Eastland had suffered a huge decline in business. That decline continued in subsequent years and culminated in 1986 when Gimbels went out of business and closed their doors at Eastland. With that final blow, most of the mall’s remaining tenants left.

The next time I visited what WAS Eastland Mall, things had changed quite dramatically. Stretched across the once pristine façade that was graced with the name of Gimbels, was a stark white sign that boasted “New Eastland.” In the corner of the parking lot was a boarded-up Penney’s Auto Center, once my dad’s bread and butter. Pathetically standing in the opposite corner of the parking area was the remnants of the Eastland Mall Theatres. I entered the front doors of what was a classically beautiful Gimbels and felt a little like George Bailey from “It’s A Wonderful Life” stepping into “Nick’s” the neighborhood bar that used to be “Martini’s.” Nothing was the same. In place of the sparkling aisles and well displayed departments was a maze of mismatched tables, recycled display racks. The noise was at a deafening level and the chaos was even more intense. The 2nd floor had been closed off by boarding up the escalator, but the lower level was still open and duplicated the scenario from the first floor. Believe me, I am a huge fan of flea markets and garage sales. I think they are a blast! However, the scene I encountered that day was a bit upsetting to me. I had seen the demise of the heart of Duquesne, and now to see yet another place I loved suffer the same fate was a bit disconcerting. In 2005, “New Eastland” became “No Eastland” when the entire site was razed. Eastland’s obituary has been written-up on several different sites on the internet. The following is from Wikipedia. Eastland was a grand old lady!

Eastland was located primarily around old mill towns. Many of these communities lost vast amounts of population during the lifetime of the Eastland Mall. Braddock, which East Pittsburgh-McKeesport Blvd leads directly into two miles (3 km) away, had approximately 12,000 residents in 1963. By the mall’s close in 2005 it had fewer than 3,000. This demographic change took with it, potential customers and employees of Eastland Mall. After Eastland Mall had already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, its most devastating blow came in September 1986 when Gimbels, which had developed and owned the mall, went out of business, taking most of Eastland’s tenants along with it. Benderson Development Company of Buffalo, NY purchased the mall from the bankrupt Gimbels department store two years later. For the next 20 years Eastland tried to stay afloat with a variety of unique tenants – including a PennDOT state driver’s license testing center, a beer distributor (Beer World, located in the old J.C. Penney’s), a distribution center for Xerox, the local magistrate’s office, a professional wrestling center (PWX, owned by James Miller), a bingo parlor (Eastland Social Hall Bingo), and a low power TV station, WBYD-CA. Most notable was the addition of a two story indoor and spacious outdoor flea market in the space once occupied by Gimbels which, according to a flea market manager, drew 500 vendors and 2,000 customers per weekend at its peak. Many smaller retail stores then opened inside the mall, including Harper’s Bazaar (a mom-and-pop women’s clothing store run by Jim and Carol Harper), Kennywood Messenger Service (a notary and vehicle licensing service), Amer-a-Quick printing service, a barber shop, and a beauty parlor. The revival was temporary. In the 1990s, the flea market was moved off to the side in the old Gee Bee store, taking foot traffic away from the retail stores located inside the mall. The building then fell into a state of ruin. By the time the mall closed in 2005, it was only worth $1.38 million – less than the $1.4 million that Benderson Development Company paid for it 1988. By that point, trash cans holding water falling from the leaky roof abounded throughout the mall. Parts of the original Gimbels facade had collapsed and the walls were showing stress cracks. The walkway was no longer heated and the tiles were so broken and floor so uneven the heels of a shopper’s shoes often caught in the floor.

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What Was Your Favorite Kennywood Ride?

mJm-U3gHJdVNz5B_CnriPFAEveryone seemed to enjoy reading about Kennywood from my last post. I was discussing Kennywood’s rides with a friend that also grew-up in Duquesne after they had read the post. The discussion turned into a debate about what was the best/favorite ride when we were younger. I told them I would put it up for a vote from all of the Kennywood devotees that read my blog. So, check out the survey below and vote for YOUR favorite. If you don’t see it, you can add it to the list. Don’t forget to vote!!

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Kennywood On Our Minds


I have no idea what has prompted me to write about Kennywood again, but before the summer whizzes by us, permit me to share some personal recollection with you…….

My fondest and not-so-fond Kennywood memories in no particular order:

  1. Going to the Penny Arcade and getting a souvenir from one of the machines that was a gray metal horseshoe with a copper penny in the middle of it. I remember having to turn a dial on the machine to somehow personalize the horseshoe with either a date or a name. I remember the loud clunking sound it would make as it stamped out the letters and numbers and the anticipation I felt waiting for the finished product to emerge.
  2. It was in the early 1960’s when Kennywood introduced SPINART to park attendees. edd5ca2dadfd3de14e7fdda15f115b23Well before tie-dye and Jerry Garcia became part of our pop-culture, we were all “spinning” out brightly colored works of art from our trip to Kennywood. I only wish I had hung onto some of my early creations! They’d go well in my office.
  3. Being able to ride ANY ride in the park, regardless of how fast it would spin and never feeling like I had to throw-up. Nowadays, not so much!!
  4. Vintage_50s_Colors_Fiestaware_Forest_Green_Disk_Water_Pitcher_For_Sale_09Eating lunch at the Kennywood Restaurant on my school picnic day it was a REAL restaurant! My Aunt Fran and my Aunt Peg were waitresses at the restaurant and we always managed to sit at one of their tables. The tables were set with REAL white cloth tablecloths and silverware. Waitresses throughout the restaurant would scurry around carrying green Fiestaware disc pitchers full of ice water. I remember how the outside of the pitchers would be sweating from the cold water and how it would drip onto the tablecloths as they would fill each of our glasses.pool3
  5. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I feel that Kennywood’s Sunlight Pool was THE most awesome pool ever. The size, the dives, the music, the food and the general excitement was unparalleled.
  6. On Kennywood’s opening night in April 23, 1961, the park’s bandstand, the music plaza,5173FQDVA3L burned to the ground. I vaguely remember that news. However, I believe a bandstand shell of some sort was built in the same spot, close to the Pippin. I say this because one of my favorite memories is going to see Little Peggy March sign her hit “I Will Follow Him.” Having some doubts about my memory on this, I did some research and found a small announcement in Billboard’s June 22, 1963 edition that confirms her appearance on July 7, 1963. If you look at the entire clipping, you’ll quickly realize just how BIG some of the stars were that appeared in what could be termed “our own back yard!” How lucky were we???? Glenn Miller, Peggy March, Bobby Rydell and The 4 Seasons! While I was checking out the Billboard publication, I decided to share the Top 30 list from that week. How many do YOU remember?
  7. I remember watching with total fascination, French Fries moving along a metal conveyor belt at the Midway Refreshment Stand near the Jack Rabbit. There were water fountains next to the window on the side of the refreshment stand and I was jackrabbitalways distracted from getting a sip of water. I deferred to staring at the mechanized marvel instead. Of course, the only thing better than watching them being made was eating them.
  8. There was a narrow passage between the Penny Arcade and the Jack Rabbit that would sometimes be filled with riders waiting to get on the Jack Rabbit. Although I remember the sights and sounds that were emanating from the coaster on the other side of the fence, I distinctly recall how there always seemed to be a distinctive odor of fresh tar as we would wait. I never knew if the smell was from the ride, the ground we were standing on or a nearby maintenance shack.
  9. When I was in my teens, I would often rent a rowboat, and attempt to maneuver around the lagoon. As I would continue to prove, well into my current years, I stink as a sailor. I never seem to be able to avoid other boats and/or objects and that was always the case when I would row a boat in the lagoon. My boat would always be “that boat” that ended up causing chaos for those around. When I finally managed to get back to the starting point at the end of the ride, I was exhausted, wet and totally certain I would never attempt the boats again…. But of course… I always did.
  10. I always managed to get to Kennywood on WTAE Days. It was so exciting to be able to 419032see local TV personalities and get their autographs. I remember that they always had an autograph booth set up near the Kennywood Railroad Train. They’d post a schedule indicating who would be signing autographs there, and I always seemed to be the first in line. I think my favorite recollection was when I was able to get Paul Shannon and Joe Negri’s signatures. To this day, I wonder what happened to all of those autographs.Howdy Sign
  11. Although I have no idea what year it occurred, I just remember how excited I was and how grown-up I felt when I finally surpassed Howdy Doody’s height and measured up to Henry! I was on the top of the world knowing that I would be able to ride any attraction in the park!
  12. I remember the simple thrill of plunking a coin into one of the foot massager machines near the restrooms that were beside Noah’s Ark. Oh, the pure joy!
  13. Part of my school picnic and ANY Kennywood visit was to be able to toss a coin into the wishing well that stood near the Kennywood Restaurant and the Park’s Administration Building.
  14. SalTruth be told, Laughing Sally scared the living daylights out of me. Although Sally now resides outside of the Kennywood Railroad selling tickets, when I was young, she was positioned right as you walked into the park after exiting the tunnel. Her heinous cackling would greet you from in front of The Laff In The Dark ride. I would always steer clear of her! I even recall having occasional nightmares in which I would be chased through Kennywood by Sally. I’m surprised that thoughts of Sally didn’t end up putting me in therapy!Chalk
  15. The best prize that I was ever able to win was a chalk statue of a horse. I must have been 9 or 10 years old, since I remember the big fuss my mom made about it. I won it by hitting some stacked milk bottles at the game to the right of the Penny Arcade. I have no idea what ever happened to it, but it retrospect, it was pretty hideous!
  16. Of course the fondest of all of my memories, was the one Thunderbolt-Kennywood2thrill that never grew old. The coasters of Kennywood. I’ll never forget the feeling I’d get in my stomach as I sped through the double dip on The Jack Rabbit, or yelled with excitement as I would lunge forward along with an entire train of cars on The Racer, trying to move into first place as we rolled into the loading station, or bravely raised both my hands above my head as The Thunderbolt roared around the twin circles and your seat partner crashed into your side due to the centrifugal force. Nothing surpassed those                                                                          memories and thrills for me.

Not everyone thinks of the roller coasters as their favorite rides. I enjoy hearing from all of you as to YOUR favorite. And just to refresh your memories, thanks to the folks at Wikipedia, here’s a complete list of all rides and attractions from 1898 through the present time. Here’s where you can tell us about your Kennywood “cheers” and “fears.”


1898: Kenny’s Grove opened by Monongahela Street Railway Co.

1899: Park renamed Kennywood, Merry-Go-Round* (G.A. Dentzel carousel),   Casino restaurant (now Parkside Cafe), Dancehall

1901: Old Mill (converted to Garfield’s Nightmare in 2004, also formerly named/themed as Hard Headed Harrold’s Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway and Panama Canal)

1902: Figure Eight Toboggan (park’s first coaster, removed 1921)

1903: Steeplechase (removed 1904)

1904: Steeplechase removed

1905: Dip-the-Dips Scenic Railway (removed 1910)

1906: Fairyland Floats (re-themed Old Mill), Figure Eight Toboggan renamed to Gee Whizz Dip the Dips

1910: 1910 Racer (original version, removed 1926), Dip-the-Dips Scenic Railway removed

1911: Speed-O-Plane (removed 1923), Panama Canal (re-themed Old Mill)

1913: Merry-Go-Round** (original G.A. Dentzel carousel replaced by T.M. Harton model)

1914: Old Mill (re-themed Panama Canal)

1916: Wurlitzer Band Organ provides music for Merry-Go-Round

1918: Whip* (replaced in 1927)

1920: Jack Rabbit

1921: Gee Whizz Dip the Dips removed

1922: Dodgem (removed in 1929)

1923: Speed-O-Plane removed

1924: Pippin (converted to Thunderbolt in 1968), Kiddieland* (located near Jack Rabbit coaster)

1925: Sunlite Swimming Pool (removed 1973)

1926: 1910 Racer removed

1927: Merry-Go-Round(T.M. Harton carousel replaced by current William H. Dentzel model, Wurlitzer Band Organ is moved to new carousel), current Racer, Tumble Bug, larger 16 car Whip**, Kiddieland** (moved from near Jack Rabbit coaster to former location of original Racer coaster)

1928: Brownie Coaster (removed 1953 or later), Tilt-A-Whirl* (removed 1934)

1929: Dodgem removed

1930: Auto Race, Laff in the Dark (removed 1965)

1931: Tickler (roller coaster, removed 1952)

1935: Teddy Bear (roller coaster, removed in 1947), Skooter (removed 1979)

1936: Noah’s Ark (re-built in 1996), Loop-O-Plane* (removed 1950)

1937: 13 Spook Street, Kiddie Old Mill (Swan Boats, removed mid-1970s)

1938: Ridee-O (removed 1959)

1940: Rockets (Traver circle swing added to island in lagoon, removed 1978)

1941: Daffy Klub (replaces 13 Spook Street)

1945: Olde Kennywood Railroad

1946: Original facade on Racer loading platform replaced

1947: Teddy Bear removed

1948: Little Dipper (remodeled in 1958, removed in 1984), hills removed from Auto Race and car bodies replaced with current style bodies, Tumble Bug cars replaced with turtle-looking versions

1949: Tilt-A-Whirl** (removed 1963), Tumble Bug renamed Turtle

1950: Roll-O-Plane* (removed 1969)

1952: Octopus (removed 1965), Tickler removed

1953: Sunlite Pool closes to swimming due to maintenance problems and turned into U-Drivem boat concession

1955: Rotor* (removed 1958), Sunlite Pool reopens after rehab, Kiddie Cadillacs, Daffy Klub removed

1957: Round-Up* (replaced with new model in 1964)

1958: Wild Mouse (removed 1960), Little Dipper remodeled and renamed Dipper

1959: SkyDiver

1960: Wild Mouse removed, facade on Racer loading platform redesigned

1961: Bandshell destroyed in fire, Calypso (removed 1987), Old Mill gets new boats

1962: Kangaroo (only Flying Coaster flat ride in existence)

1964: Tornado dark ride (from defunct Freedomland, removed 1966), Round-Up** (replacing original Round-Up; damaged by the June 19, 1975 fire and replaced with Super Round-Up)

1965: Rotor** (removal date unknown), Popover (removed in 1976), Laff in the Dark removed

1966: Turnpike (Electric cars added in 1987)

1967: Road Runner (Cuddle Up), Ghost Ship (Replaced Tornado, Both rides destroyed in fire on June 19, 1975)

1968: Thunderbolt, rebuilt from Pippin. The four drops in the ravine and the lift hill remain intact from the original coaster. The new Thunderbolt track had a small hill in the inner helix that was removed in 1969.

1969: Noah’s Ark remodeled, Loop-O-Plane** (removed 1983)

1971: Roll-O-Plane** (removed 1985)

1972: Bayern Kurve*, Le Cachot Name means “The Dungeon” in French, replaced Safari dark ride. (removed 1998), Monster* (removed 1974)

1973: Gran Prix, Sunlite Swimming Pool removed

1974: Hardheaded Harold’s Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway (theme change of park’s Old Mill), Kenny Kangaroo makes his debut as park mascot

1975: Log Jammer (first multi-million dollar ride in the park’s history) Carousel is completely stripped, and repainted, Wurlitzer Band Organ is completely rebuilt

1976: Tilt-A-Whirl*** (removed in 1988, moved to Idlewild), (Super) Round Up*** (moved to Idlewild 1985), SkyDiver replaced with new model and renamed Paratrooper

1977: Monster**; Nearby West View Park closes

1978: Enterprise (renamed Volcano in 2003), Rockets removed

1979: Monster***, renamed Monongahela Monster (removed 1989), Garden Stage (removed in 2006)

1980: Laser Loop.(Removed in 1990)

1981: Gold Rusher (removed in 2007), Paddle Boats

1982: Pirate, Wonder Bread trains on Racer replaced by new PTC models

1983: Ranger (lasts only one season)

1984: Wave Swinger, Swing Around* (removed at end of season, but returns five years later), Bayern Kurve** (original replaced), Dipper removed

1985: Raging Rapids, Super Round-Up removed

1986: Wonder Wheel (removed in 1999), Bayern Kurve** removed, geysers and waterfall added to Raging Rapids

1987: Musik Express, electric cars added to Turnpike and directions cars face on track reversed, Kennywood designated National Historic Landmark

1988: Flying Carpet (removed in 2006), Rotor*** (removed in 1994, eventually moved to Lake Compounce), Tilt-A-Whirl removed, Kennywood Memories is filmed and premieres 28 Sep. 1988

1989: Swing Around** (removed in 2005), Monster removed

1990: Great Balloon Race (removed in 1995, moved to Idlewild), Laser Loop removed, original facade on Racer loading platform restored

1991: Steel Phantom (quickly tops top 10 list, rebuilt as Phantom’s Revenge in 2001), Wurlitzer Band Organ undergoes extensive repairs

1992: Tri-Star (lasts only one season, moved to Idlewild in 1998), Old Mill (Haunted Hideaway renamed)

1993: WipeOut (removed 2009, relocated to Lake Compounce)

1994: SkyCoaster, Bayern Kurve*** (Removed in 2005)

1995: LOST KENNYWOOD expansion in former location of Sunlite Swimming Pool – Pittsburg Plunge, Phantom Phlyer (Removed in 1996, moved to Lake Compounce), Roll-O-Plane*** (removed in 2003), Whip and Wave Swinger moved to Lost Kennywood, Great Balloon Race removed

1996: Lil Phantom (Kiddieland), Kenny’s Parkway, Noah’s Ark remodeled, Phantom Phlyer removed

1997: Pitt Fall (Removed in 2011)

1998: Kennywood celebrates its 100th anniversary, Centennial Midway (one season), Le Cachot demolished

1999: Exterminator, Wonder Wheel removed.

2000: Aero 360, Dancing Waters relocated across from Grand Prix, Garfield and Odie added as park mascots

2001: Phantom’s Revenge (rebuilt from Steel Phantom), Crazy Trolley

2002: Garfield’s Pounce Bounce, Phantom Fright Nights debut

2003: King Kahuna (formerly Top Spin from Lake Compounce, removed 2010), Ham-on-Rye (removed in 2005), Volcano Valley themed area, Volcano (theme change from Enterprise), Roll-O-Plane removed, Miniature Golf removed

2004: Garfield’s Nightmare (theme change from Old Mill)

2005: New front gate structures built, Bayern Kurve*** and Swing Around removed, Merry-Go-Round undergoes a complete overhaul and is rebuilt, Wurlitzer Band Organ is repainted

2006: Swing Shot

2007: Cosmic Chaos, SS Kenny, roofing over the escalators to lot 2, Gold Rusher removed.

2008: Ghostwood Estate, new Kiddieland games building.

2009: Bayern Kurve****, WipeOut removed, original Phantom drop and second hill retracked.

2010: Sky Rocket, a new Steel Roller Coaster, Turnpike Removed and placed in storage with intent to be reinstalled. King Kahuna removed.

2011: Kandy Kaleidoscope is remodeled, Parkside Cafe is remodeled and becomes the park’s first air-conditioned food service location, Kiddieland restrooms are rebuilt to include a refreshment stand, Star Refreshment stand is renovated, Merry-Go-Round horses are refurbished, Pitt Fall removed, Holiday Lights debut, Wurlitzer Band Organ on Merry-Go-Round is completely rebuilt.

2012: Black Widow ride replaces Pitt Fall



Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

From Famine to Feast

It appears that I am becoming a person of extremes. First, I starve you by not posting anything new for awhile, and now I bombard you with a very long and involved post! The good news for me is that you all never stop reading and checking out your blog! This November will mark the 4th year that I’ve been reminiscing with you.

Although I have no excuse for not posting anything new lately, I have been collecting lots of emails from all of our Duquesne and surrounding area friends. Previously, I posted these emails under a title of “Voices from Duquesne.” However, seeing that the blog is being found by our neighboring friends as well, I’ll need to come up with a new tag line. 

In the meantime, please feel free to email me at anytime at We ALL would love to hear from you. 

Now, in the meantime, enjoy hearing from some old friends…..



Attached are a couple more pictures Frank sent me pertaining to events of the Duquesne Slovak Club. I’m sure everybody will have fun identifing those in the pictures. 

I remember the club picnics at Locust Grove. It was across the bridge at Boston, PA. You made a left after crossing the bridge, traveled about a mile, made another left, towards the Yough River and crossed the railroad tracks. The grove was situated between the river and the tracks. Don’t know what is on that site today. 

Just a guess, but I think the groundbreaking was for the hall at the Slovak Club. It was an addition to the original (club) part which was a two story building (seen on the far right of the picture). Many wedding receptions were held there, including ours. The food prepared by Mrs. Anne Squires and staff was excellent. 

Those were the days!

John Berta

Duquesne Slovak Club Picnic 1951

July 1952 – Slovak Civic Federation Picnic – Locust Grove – Greenock, PA

Jack Proska – front row middle with arms crossed

Duquesne Slovak Club Groundbreaking 11-27-1952

 November 27, 1952 – Ground Breaking for the new Slovak Club

1st Row left to right: Unknown, John Proska Jr., Andy Bodna, unknown, Joe Paranichma, Andy Durik, Joe Gamble, unknown, unknown

2nd Row left to right: Unknown, Jakub, Andy Kurtz, unknown


Hi Jim

Last evening while doing some genealogy searching on the web related to Duquesne I came across your Blog, “Duquesne Hunky”, it was hard to stop reading, Reading some of the posts brought back memories of the years I spent there, 1927 (born) to after graduation from Duquesne High in 1945, I even came across some familiar school day names. Most of the names of contributors that appear are of  later generations, 10 to 20 years. Some of these contributors have names where they could be children and grandchildren of someone I knew in my time in Duquesne.

My question is how do I, or what do I do to, post my personal information? I tried the link and was unable to do anything there.

 Jerry Dittman

Here’s Jerry’s information that he sent………

Hi Jim

Here is my personal data.

Name: Jerome (Jerry) Dittman

Lived in Duquesne from birth (1927) to after graduation from Duquesne High in 1945.

Now living in Maryland near the village of Downsville, about 10 miles southwest of Hagerstown


Re: your debate with XXXXXXXX (I did not count the X’s used) in regards to the term “Hunky”. In my youth we did not care, or even attempt to know what country a person was from, we just applied the name to those mainly based on their physical appearance, i.e., short in stature, chunky build, and names, consisting mainly of consonants, that we could not pronounce. So, that name has been around longer than either you, or, XXXXXXX probably considered.

When I was born my parents were living in an apartment on the west side of 1st Street approximately across from where the Ziegler Lumber store was located. From there we moved to Wilmot Street where we lived on the second floor above a grocery store a couple hundred feet off of Kennedy Avenue. From there we moved up the hill a block to Friendships Street where we lived in half of a duplex pretty far down the street. Next we moved further up the hill to Peter Street where we lived in the last house on the left, going towards the water tank; this house was owned by an aunt of my mothers. From there we moved diagonally across the street to a large home at the end of Peter Street, I’ve heard it has since been razed. I had one more move while I lived in Duquesne, which was when the steel company decided to sell their homes on Crawford Avenue. My parents were one of the lucky buyers, and we moved there, the final move for me. While I was away at college my parents bought a home in the Duquesne Annex section to which I have been back periodically; my brother now lives there.

If, you think there would be interest in articles from the year books, mostly related to sports, like the basketball team winning the WPIAL and State title in 1944, I can e-mail them to you. I have my own sad personal story related to the title game. A train was setup to take the team and fans to Philly for the State title game; I had my ticket, a couple of days before we were to take off, I ended up in the hospital, McKeesport, with appendicitis and missed the trip, I was in the hospital for 2 weeks and recuperated at home for another two; they really took care of you in those days.

Looking to hear from you.



 Good Day, dearest Jim Volk,

Having been born at the Krotos’ home on Kennedy Ave (where the Krotos’ had their trailer park) and raised at 815 Mifflin Street, my heart remains in Duquesne.

I am preparing a 100 plus art works “TRIBUTE” in homage to History’s greatest contributors. The Star Signature piece is the latest.

The collection “TRIBUTE” will have its own I-MUSEMUM on the web designed by LA graphic artist Paul Manchester. It will be a year or so before all the art is accomplished and the site is up and running.

It seems as though divine providence, he created “Star Signature” in the wee hours of this morning. May viewing it, give you:  faith (in all your endeavors), creative expression, pleasure, and continued youth and allow all your dreams to be savored while flourishing…and most importantly, laugh a lot.

Enjoy the Day creatively!


P.S.  Jim, if you wish to present the “Star Signature” of Saint John Paul II on the Duquesne Hunky, do so with its message and my compliments and gratitude for having been raised in such a wonderful place.

Star 1



Jim –

I don’t know how I ran across this older article in your blog today, but thanks for the memories.

My grandparents (Dad’s parents) lived behind the Village shopping center on Campbell Circle.  When I was a kid in the 70’s, my sister and I would stay with them (we lived in Trafford) on separate weeks each year, as vacation (Kennywood, bus to Pittsburgh for shopping/movie, etc.).  My grandmother and I would walk up (across the slag) for daily groceries, perhaps get a treat at the Isley’s or Woolworths.  Remember many of the stored mentions.  There was a bakery in the Village at that time also.

Back then behind the Village, there was a small community playground/ball field …in the summer, they would show outdoor movies on a portable screen of some kind.


Paul Lyskava



I was skimming around the web reading about the history of the term hunky and I found your website.  I am only half-hunky – on my mother’s side.  Her family is from Youngstown, OH.  Slovak.  Every summer we would spend about a month in Youngstown when I was a kid, and I have to say they were the happiest times of my childhood, and very different from my usual southern protestant wasp existence.  Not to downplay my scottish heritage, which I am also proud of.  But it was just very unique.  No one from my town ever heard of a pierogi. 

I realize through reading where the term hunky came from that it was not originally a complimentary term.  This came as a bit of a surprise for me, because to me the word means such warm and positive things.  It means family, down to earth hardworking loving people, pierogis, hulushki, kolachi, polka dancing, choking a bit on the incense during Sunday service at my grandparent’s church.  To me the word hunky symbolizes some of the most beautiful people and experiences in my life.  And I believe it means the same thing to all the hunkies I am related to.

Judy Stewart 



Amor a Dios and Pax et Bonum!

 Hope you’re having a great summer. We wait so long to get through the winter.

My wife, Lynne, and I are enjoying a great summer AND retirement. We get to walk our dog any time we want. We do a lot of yardwork and gardening, but today is another hot one. It may even hit 90 degrees, which is kinda rare for New Hampshire.

Yes, we still watch ALL the Penguin games and all the Steeler games. Thank God for DirecTV and HDTV. We occasionally hear news about some teams called the Patriots and the Bruins, but we try to ignore that, since it’s just “background noise”. Trouble is, they keep winning championships every-so-often.

It’s unbelievable how much your efforts in the Duquesne Hunky have pulled the community together! You deserve the Zagreb Peace Prize! Even though recent visits to Duquesne confirm that the town has “crumbled down”  a little bit, the real essence of a community is the memories & the fond feelings that we Hunkies hold for each other. You are to be commended for how you have provided the catalyst for our “Community in the Cloud”.

Thanks again,

Keep up the good work,

Alan (Serra ‘69) Belancik

P.S. I have this curse for spotting misspellings. Now, Please don’t shoot the Messenger…

Check the upper right corner of the home page… does it say “Pennyslvania”?

(Was I the first to spot this??) Thanks.


You ARE the first to spot the error! No offense taken my friend! It’s all good!!


The post that I did that included the panoramic photo of Duquesne generated a lot of responses. Here are a few more, along with the photos:

Wheres Waldo- 1

Where Waldo 2

Where Waldo5 Where Waldo3 Where Waldo4

I am a one time resident of Duquesne.  1930 to 1955  I think your #1 picture is of the school house that I attended 6 grade in.  It was directly across from the Jr High school that was built at a later date.  I ‘m not sure but it might have been named libengood or something that sounds like that.   also the building next to it was a building that once housed a place to help people that were in need.  My Aunt Gertrude Largure worked their and I sometimes helped her to stack orders when they came in.  She handed out blankets, womans dresses made out of feed sack material, mems work shoes and several other things.  Also boxes of food  and other essentials.  I used to stack blankets, that looked more like the army issue. I lived at 50 N. 1st street in the William’s apartmentsI gave Jim Hartman several old pictures of Duquesne in the early years. from the may Day Celebrations at the play ground on 2nd st and some of the victory gadens  from WW1  I enjoy reading your memories about a place that had at one time been a perfect place to live.  Audrey Dixon Shirley



I am a former resident of Duquesne and I recognized some of the buildings in your pictures:

  1. First Presbyterian Church of Duquesne, later sold to be a Union Hall when the Presbyterians built a new church in Duquesne Place. I was a member of this church.

8 or 9. One of these was St. Peter & Paul’s Church.  I think it was Greek Catholic.

15. Apartment building where I lived with my parents on N. First Street in the late 40s and early 50s – the first floor held a confectionary store, a furniture store and the State Liquor Store and there were 3 floors of apartments.  We kids used to play in the empty lot shown to the right of the building.   The building was called the Nick Williams building for the man who owned it.  Nick was a beer distributor in Duquesne.

  1. This might be Oliver School which was on Second Street at about that location. It was a public school for 1-6 grades.

Hope this helps.

Anna Belle (Yoder) Emery

Tucson, AZ


Jim –


I don’t know how I ran across this older article in your blog today, but thanks for the memories.

My grandparents (Dad’s parents) lived behind the Village shopping center on Campbell Circle.  When a kid in the 70’s, my sister and I would stay with them (we lived in Trafford) on separate weeks each year, as vacation (Kennywood, bus to Pittsburgh for shopping/movie, etc.).  My grandmother and I would walk up (across the slag) for daily groceries, perhaps get  a treat at the Isley’s or Woolworths.  Remember many of the stored mentions.  There was a bakery in the Village at that time also.

Back then behind the Village, there was a small community playground/ball field …in the summer, they would show outdoor movies on a portable screen of some kind.

 Paul Lyskava, Executive Director

Pennsylvania Forest Products Association

301 Chestnut Street, Suite 102

Harrisburg, PA  17101



Hi Jim


Just wanted to let you know that I was happy to find your “Hunky” posts, and have enjoyed reading them. Well written, and gave me many memories.

We are about the same age, and have the same memories. 

How about the shop that was at the end of the Duquesne/Mckeesport bridge that is gone now. It had hunting equipment, and I remember going there with my dad when I was a kid…probably in the 60’s. 

It’s sad what McKeesport has turned into. Remember old “overcoats”? 

Tom Tancibok 


Hi Jim, 

My name is Dennis Kerrigan.  I graduated from Holy Name in 1964 and Serra Catholic in 1968.  I have been enjoying your blog for several months now and want to thank you and your contributors for many memories as well as many things I was not aware of.  I live in Western Ohio now and rarely get back to Western Pa. so it is a pleasant link to our past.  My wife and I were going through some old boxes that we hadn’t opened over a few household moves and I discovered some papers from  Holy Name including our 8th grade photo and “yearbook”.  I am including the photo and the names in case you might be interested.  Please keep it up… have created something valuable.

Holy Name 1964HN 64-2 

Dennis Kerrigan


Hi James,

I found your web site while looking for a way to use the leftover whey and butter that comes from making the cirak. It seems it would be such a waste to just throw it out.   I remember that my mother used to make a Paska bread with it but every time I try to make this bread it fails.  Do you know of any one that has put the leftovers from the Cirak to good use.  I would appreciate any recipes you might come up with.  I make three balls of cirak and there is about three to four quarts of liquid and about 2 inches of butter that sits on the top of the liquid.

I really appreciate your stories of your past Easters and I so can relate to them.  I am originally from Greensburg PA my husband from Coraopolis PA and for the past 48 years my husband and our family reside in Dayton Ohio.   We are so familiar with Duquesne, PA.

I hope someone on your blogs or you may have an answer to my question.

Thanks You,
Bernadette Santucci



Sure do appreciate all the work and effort for this great website.   Have told many ex-residents since it was made aware to me.   I am 61,  so a little younger than you.  Was born in the Beuten  homestead on S. Fifth St, relatives of the Fontanasi family.  The house was across from the Union Grill.   ( Makes me yearn for a fish sandwich) even now. I can still remember that distinctive aroma. lol    My parents moved around 60′  and I went through the entire Norwin school system, but I always came back to Duquesne because of work and my cousins that lived on High Street.

I might have a great project for the group.  Being an advid metal detector enthusiast, at least, I used to be when I had more time.   I was searching in the Norwin area at an old church and came across a  Duquesne High class ring from 1958.   It is a ladies ring.   I tried to locate the owner by contacting the high school about 15 years ago…………they basically didn’t want to be bothered.   Said…………….sent the ring in.

I would love to reunited the owner with this beautiful ring.   If you contact me,   I will give you the initials which are visible.

Once again,  keep up the great work.


Jim Beuten


Hi James, enjoy reading your posts on Duquesne Hunky.  WE have a reunion coming up in September for the Class of 1964, and trying to drum up interest using social media.  There’s some discussion about the picture attached, do you know the name of school attached?  There’s been several names thrown out, but I’m thinking it’s Libengood?

My husband and I have been living for the past 35 years in California, but I go back to Pittsburgh on occasion to visit family.  Thanks for all your posts, especially on Easter traditions which are near and dear to my heart.

Darlene March


Hello Jim…..

Just wanted to let you know that I happened upon your blog just recently and am enjoying it tremendously.  I want to thank you so much for the memories.  I grew up on Chestnut St., attended Crawford School and graduated DHS in “61.  Many of my classmates seem to be readers of your blog also. Our parish was Holy Name and I received my First Holy Communion there and was confirmed there.  I remember many of the Sister’s from catechism, one in particular who insisted on calling me Annette since she thought my name could not be Nettie. ( I think it was Sister Virginia).  My cousins all attended Holy Name.  My Flanigan Grandmother lived on Fifth St. and my Slovak Baba & Zedo (Washko) lived on Oak St. next to the Pucci’s.  I believe that my Uncle Jim and family lived very near you ….on Ohio Ave.  My cousin Jimmy went to Pitt and went on to play football in the NFL, his son Jim played for Notre Dame and went on to play for the Bears.  My house on Chestnut is gone….my Grandmother’s is gone….my Slovak Grandparents has been torn down…of course Crawford School and Holy Name School……the library.  Not too much really to go back and see.  I feel a bit of pain thinking about it, but you have provided some wonderful memories and the photos are truly appreciated.

Thanks for writing the blog!  I must say that I’m proud to be a Duquesne Irish Hunky!

Nettie Flanigan Matthews

Granger, IN  (near South Bend….near Notre Dame)




Was almost brought to tears at the picture of Holy Name School. Stared at the computer screen for what seemed like an eternity.

I entered there in January 1957, just in time for the 2nd semester of 2nd grade.Started studying for 1st Holy Communion scheduled for that May.

Here is my recollection of the rooms.

1. 1st grade: 1st floor left front, wasn’t there until 2nd grade.

2. 2nd grade: 1st floor right front, don’t remember the nun.

3. 3rd grade: 1st floor left rear, Sr. Emily

(paddled me because Susan Terza squealed on me for launching chalk with a ruler through the window)!

4. 8th grade: 1st floor right rear, Sr. Mary Daniel (Principal).

Got paddled again, don’t remember why (probably Steve’s fault).

5. 4th grade: 2nd floor right rear, Mrs. Smith

6. 5th grade: 2nd floor right front, Mrs. Julianna

7. 6th grade: 2nd floor left front, Sr. Clementine

8. 7th grade: 2nd floor left rear, Sr. Joseph Catherine 

We had a Christina Petrozza who was one of the cutie pies in the class. 

Keep up the blog. I could spend hours reading it and reminiscing. 

Denny Stanko 


I was saddened to hear about your “kick in the gut”.  I hope things are settling down and you have a better grip on things.  You don’t get to be our ages and not have felt that feeling.  My husband and I have felt it when 3 of his jobs went by the wayside due to plant closings, fire and the oil embargo in the 70’s.  I am now 6 years cancer free after breast cancer w lymph node involvement.  Two of our three daughters are currently going through very rough divorces with one having her house burn down 7 months after moving in.  It was ruled arson and we weren’t surprised – you can only imagine who we suspect but don’t have any evidence. 

Maybe I’m crazy or just too optimistic, but can we make a difference for Duquesne and the Mon Valley for the future?  Something in me sparked when I read Diane Fedor’s comments on your blog.  Especially the last sentence in her last two paragraphs….it would take an army but it could be doable….and…..Yeah, Yeah, Yeah….SAVE IT.  You would know better than I if there is a plan for the Mon Valley, or Duquesne, but I would like to compose a letter, with your help, to someone who could possibly make a difference.  His name is Jay Williams.  You can look at his bio on Google but his current job hasn’t been listed as yet.  His full name is Roy Jawa (Jay) Williams.  He was appointed by President Obama June 11, 2012 as Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.  In this position, he LEADS LOCAL ENGAGEMENT WITH MAYORS, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.  I thought we could write him to get his thoughts and insights into what can be done for Duquesne and the whole Mon Valley.  Who knows, maybe there’s something already in the works. 

Prior to this job, he was the executive director of the Office of Recovery for the Auto Community and Workers, also appointed by President Obama, who nicknamed his appointment as the “Auto Czar”.  He worked with state and local stakeholders in areas affected by the changing American automotive industry to ensure they receive the federal support necessary to help them create a more stable, prosperous economy.  He was in that position from August 8, 2011 to June 11, 2012. 

Prior to that, Jay served as the first black Mayor of Youngstown, Ohio from 2006 to 2011 where he led a number of efforts to improve the economy and quality of life for the citizens of Youngstown and surrounding communities.  Just last night on the news, it was announced that construction will begin immediately on an $81,000,000.00 facility creating 80 jobs at start-up.  You can see the current mayor, John McNally, make the announcement by going onto and see the video. Vallourec is the name of the company building the facility.  You can see the press releases by going onto “Vallourec’s announcement for Youngstown” on Google.  The press releases date back to 2010 and shows Youngstown and President Obama’s involvement.  Vallourec is headquartered in Paris, France.  The building will be a new state of the art seamless pipe mill in Youngstown to meet the growing demand for small diameter tubes resulting from the boom in horizontal drilling….I know, I know….more controversy.  There will be significant room for expansion and will create $250-300,000.00 in tax revenue.  How my father would have loved to hear this news – he was a roll turner at USS in Homestead.  Another coincidence – before Vallourec bought out the old company in 2011, it was called North Star Steel – where my husband worked as a pipe inspecting supervisor before retiring, with a subcontractor by the name of Tuboscope Vetco. 

There’s a bit of information that needs to be confirmed and I can let you know about that next week. That is that Jay may also be named as Head of the Economic Development Administration.  They were to make an appointment in January 2014 but I can’t seem to get it confirmed.  I’m waiting for a call back from The Whitehouse …..seriously. 

I’m going to be sending you via e-mail, something circling the internet entitled “23 Reasons To Move To Youngstown, OH” which will show some of the similarities between Duquesne and Youngstown.  Another connection or similarity is that Youngstown is in Mahoning County…which was also known as….Mafia County. 



I hunked in #5 Bar Mill in Duquesne from 1973 until it closed in 1984.  I went thru the Bar Mill gate which was to the left of the Grant Ave. gate.  The parking lot from Grant Ave on down had spaces for Daylight and Night turn shifts.  Three to Eleven shift was a different story.  Since I worked in the rolling mill, I had the keys to my “buddy’s” car.  He was the guy I relieved.  I would pull his car out at 2pm, and park it beside the railroad tracks ( after parking my car in his spot).  The city cops would not tag a car that was there after about 1:30.  Most guys did not use the lot where your Dad’s service station used to stand because it cost 50cents for the shift.  Plus, for us in the Bar Mills, that was a pretty long hike.  The long walk going in was no problem, but when you walked back to Honey’s or Komezac’s, you couldn’t find a seat.  It was better to drive. I do remember one Friday night I had to park my 1976 Dodge Coronet in the lot and it was pretty full.  I parked right across from Holy Name.  We had pouring rain and it was 29 degrees.  I got out at 11 but it took me until midnight to clean the windows.  I also had to put my foot on the car to push off just to get the door open. 

Your article dusted off that long forgotten memory.  Thank you.  I lived in Duquesne when I was 4 to 7 years old.  My mother was a Trainor and we moved into my Gram’s house on 5th street after my grandfather died.  He was the fire chief in Duquesne for many years, and state commander of the American Legion.  In high school, I began working at Salerno’s Pizza on Priscilla for my “other brother” Ralph DeRose.  I worked there until I went into the mill, and felt almost a Duquesne resident.  Your blog brings back many happy memories.  I really thank you for that. 

Larry Furlong

Do not argue with idiots.  They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. 



My name is Karl Csiszar, I came across your article while doing a search for the White Elephant in White Oak.

I used to live upstairs with my parents and we helped run the place and were the landlords for the tenants who lived there too.

My Dad used to work at Clairton works, and I remember the day when a Hungarian was a Hunky, an Italian was a */%$ etc etc. Now that is politically incorrect, but I am old enough that I don’t care what anybody thinks! lol

Anyway, I digress, my Mom was from Duquesne, she grew up on Third St. I believe and her last name was Fendrick. Did you know any Fendricks? There were quite a few, my Mom had 10 brothers and sisters, and they had lots of offspring. I believe if I recall correctly, my Uncle was Chief of Police in the 60’s and early 70’s. His name was Andrew Fendrick.

I was feeling a little nostalgic this morning, that is why I am sending you this email. Thanks for reminding me of the good ol days, White Elephant, Rainbow Gardens, Mystic Ranch, Kennywood, and of course Blooms Cut Rate!

Been there many of times and yes, it was a “numbers joint” too. 



Thank you!!!  I love your stories and your memories. 

I am the baby of a Russian mom and Croatian father, lots of wonderful memories growing up in Liberty Borough with similar love. 

I have to ask, I see the mention of Helen Volk, is she a relative?  I worked for Dr Alvin Bodek the last 15 -18 years of his practice and I knew a Helen Volk and her sister Peg.  They were both very special and dear to me from my time working for the doctor.  His office was in West Mifflin but we had a lot of Duquesne patients and the love that I see in your blog is what I experienced over and over while working for the good doctor. 

If you have a moment to respond I would greatly appreciate it. 

Take care and thank you for sharing your memories so eloquently !

Kathleen (Gergas) 



On helping my son research a story he’s writing for a course at Pitt, we became interested in the Prince Humbert Club in Duquesne, and have been trying to identify Prince Humbert. Google turns up 2 successive kings of Italy, pre-and post WWII, Umberto I, who was in league with the Axis powers, and Umberto II, who was the last king of Italy, apparently for only 33 days, when the country transitioned to a republic after the war. The nationality and the time are right for immigrants settling in Duquesne, but which Humbert? And why was he so popular that a club is named in his honor? 

Just discovered your unique site when I was googling around trying to find info on the Crawford mansion, having puzzled over the ancient wall along Center Street, passing it every day going to work. Finding the wealth of information in the Hunky was like scratching a bad itch! To think that the widow Crawford had so little imagination that she would rather tear down that fabulous place than somehow save it for future generations. (With her fortune, maybe preserve it as a museum? Or a restaurant? Or a bed and breakfast? No- Tear it down!) Anyhow, thanks for a great site, and another thanks if you can shed any light on Prince Albert. 

Rev. Bill Shirk

West Mifflin, a few blocks from the Prince Humbert Club. 


James, best buddy,

How are you?  …And congratulations on your wonderful website.

The immediate reason for writing: I went on the net and there were several sites highlighting my name and one was the Duquesne Hunky. why should that happen other than ATT, my carrier, is trying to kiss A–.  But it was nice having your website appear again out of nowhere.

I lived my Duquesne years at 815 Mifflin Street. And it wasn’t till yesterday that Wikipedia informed me about Mr. Mifflin, in PA history.

Nothing of Duquesne’s history was ever mentioned in school.  We never took field trips to the Mill or the river.  The only thing that I knew about the Monongahela River was that it passed under the Duquesne/ McKeesport Bridge.

I might as well mention this as it just crossed my mind, sorry to do so, but telling it may release some of the pain.  In ninth grade the male teacher had me move from the front to the class to the back, behind all the other students.  He raised the thick geography book up high and slammed it as hard as he could on my head. Now I cannot get that horrid incident out of my mind.  What sadistic A. hole.

Mary Frances Reed was one of my dance partners at the McWilliams school of Dance.  After leaving Duquesne, learned that her father was hauled off to prison in handcuffs for white collar crimes.  Her mom Margarete, believed she died a year later.

I often wonder about Mary Frances, her brother Robert, a graduate of Annapolis, and a few others.  I have a great need to contact some of these people, but how?

A few key word in my 75 years are: St Stephen’s in McKeesport, Duquesne High School and Ms. Cora Wright, my art instructor, years of ballet training in Pgh, Pgh Play House, The Ice Capades, Hollywood, Vegas, University of Nevada at Los Vegas, Japan, Korea (when I was there entertaining the troops, there was a soldier in the audience from Duquesne), Okinawa, The USNS Coastal Century, Quadulene, Australia, The Philippines, The University of Guam, The U of So Ill at Normal,Ill,  San Diego, The Hyatt and now working on “History’s Greatest Marks”, “Star Signatures” part of the “Star Signature Masterpiece Series””.

If there is an interest and we communicate, I’ll explain a few reference above.

About Duquesne Hunky… although it wets one appetite for nostalgia, you might want to consider opening the door to, encouraging and presenting the artistic side of some of your 500 plus followers.  Poetry, the fine and not so fine arts,  Folk art, Stories…. (Gracie’s face just appeared at the window and wants in, out of the Arctic blast for a warm comfortable sleep next to my head till morning’s light offers waves of exuberance for romping in SUNGRALA’s Garden.) Exhibitions for people’s needlework, clothes design and fabrication, music, etc. There are loads of hidden talent in those two square miles on the hill called Duquesne.

Perhaps the Duquesne Hunky will evolve to do for Duquesne what no other has done !

Before we go any further, tell me about you, your family, your communication, work, talents, drives, beliefs and aspirations.

And then we will begin to create.


George Bornyek

GB  063013  01


Hi!    Are you related to the volks who did car repairs? I think his name was Steve Volk. Duq Paza theatre My husband,  Jim Vekosky’s family were located in Duquesne til they moved to West Mifflin in 1947.  His Aunt Jay was part owner of Woody’s Drug Store.  There were 2 ladies named Jay at the store.  His aunt was called Big Jay.  Ronnie Mackosko bought the drug store from Ernest, a.k.a. Woodie Woodward.  Little Jay was Ronnie’s aunt.

I was so happy to see what you posted.  If you need any info from me my name is Terry Vekosky and I live in Jefferson.  Please feel free to email me.  Jim’s dad took a lot of pictures.  I will have to locate them to see if there is any thing interesting 

Hi Terry!!! 

This is Jim Volk, and I am so excited that you landed in my blog!! Steve Volk was my Dad and owned Volk’s Sales and Service on South 1stStreet. I remember Jimmy Vekosky very well, although I can’t remember if he worked with my dad at the shop or was a very close family friend. Terry, are you married to Jimmy Vekosky’s son? I believe I know him as well. My dad, Steve Volk, had two sons: me (Jim) and my older brother Steve. 

I would love to be able to see the photos that you mentioned and if possible, share them with all of the readers of my blog. Since I began this blog in November of 2010, there have been almost 315,000 views of the posts. That means that a WHOLE lot of old friends and good people have reconnected as a result. I have published 250 separate stories so far, so Ihope you and your husband have an opportunity to read through some of them. 

In the meantime, give my best to your hubby and let me know if you or he have any additional questions! I look forward to hearing from you and will keep my fingers crossed that you locate the photos you spoke of. Below is a photo of my dad’s garage. I’m sure that your husband will remember it well. 

All the best, 

Jim Volk 

Hi Jim, 

It was nice to see the photo of your dad’s garage.  My husband, who is in his late 70’s, was Dads Garageboth a friend and also worked for your dad.  He remembers both you and your brother. I am going to ask him if he has any stories for you.  Right now we are in the middle of taking care of his health.  We have many doctors appointment to go to so don’t fret but it may take time to get to it all.  There are boxes in the cellar that i can not get to.  The cellar is full of stuff.  My father in law, mickey vekosky took movies of the family but they are not of the city. Just personal family stuff.  He used to go to kennywood and photograph the current stars that were appearing there.  My husband was about 10 or 11 in the pictures.  As i said before it may take time.

Do you and your brother live in the area?  Duquesne was a great town.  I was originally from Clairton, another great town.  It is too bad they both fell on hard times.  Both towns were so alive with activity.  Have you ever bought the books they sell in Barnes and Noble? The one is called Mifflin Township and has a lot of history.  Somewhere in this house I have a copy.  My mother in law was 98 when she died.  Her family name was Minnick.  When I read some of the book to her she remembered Nick Lee Hollow.  It was located below Holy Name Church near where the railroad tracks are in Duquesne.

My husband also remembers your mother.  I think she died young.  If he tells me any stories I will relay them to you. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me.  I am a history person and I have researched my own family back to the 1700’s.  I spent many, many hours at the family history library in Greentree and in little Washington.  It is fascinating work.  I have copies of so many documents of their life in the old country and here.  I have a photo copy of my grandparent’s marriage license from 1867.  There is so much info available now on line.  When I started I had to comb through old microfilm reel by reel.  So remember please contact me if you have any questions.  

Terry Vekosky 















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Where Are Albert’s Friends? – Duquesne High School Classmate

It’s time to pull together and pull all of our resources to find classmates for a Duquesne High School graduate. Some months ago, I was contacted by a young lady who was trying to find some of her grandfather’s high school friends. Here’s the information I have:

  • Amanda Opalko is looking for friends of her grandfather ALBERT OPALKO
  • ALBERT OPALKO was part of Duquesne High School’s Class of 1952
  • ALBERT will be turning 80 years old on his next birthday.

I was able to locate the list of graduates in the Class of 1952 from an article published in the Duquesne Times on June 5, 1952. If you were a member or know anyone who was, please encourage them to respond to this post and send some Happy Birthday greetings to one of Duquesne’s native sons. (If you click on the image below, you should be able to see a larger version.)




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