As I was growing up, Duquesne Place was always held in high regard by many of the residents of Duquesne, my parents included. Living in Duquesne Place was viewed the same as living in New York City’s Upper East Side. Compared to the busier and, dare I say, urban atmosphere of life in closer proximity to the mill, living in Duquesne Place offer a quieter and slightly less congested lifestyle.
There were some very large homes in Duquesne Place that stood majestically amid beautifully manicured yards. Even the names of the streets themselves evoked a more upscale area; Commonwealth Ave, Richford Ave, and Stockton Way, to name just a few.
I recall driving through many of the streets with my Aunt Mary, who seemed to be an expert on the various residents and homes throughout Duquesne Place. One home in particular that always impressed me with its size and grandeur was Dr. and Mrs. Linn’s home. It had these wonderful stately columns and was painted a pristine white. My aunt had lived on Commonwealth Ave. in Duquesne Place for a brief time while her husband, my Uncle Lou (Goldman), was in the service. I’m not sure if that was when she came to meet Mrs. Pat Linn or if it was when they were parishioners at Holy Name Church. I had never met Mrs. Linn until she moved to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. There, she opened a very upscale gift store. I visited her and introduced myself to her when my family and I were visiting Rehoboth one summer about 10 years ago. We would reminisce about my Aunt Mary, as well as Duquesne and Holy Name each time I visited her over the course of the next few years. There truly is a wonderfully warm and loving thread that connects all of us that were fortunate to grow up in Duquesne.
My Aunt Rose and Uncle Sam (Carr) moved to Duquesne Place when they built a home on Clonmel Ave., just above and overlooking the Duquesne High School Football Field in 1964. I think this was the first time that anyone in our family ever had a home built. Today, the home would be referred to as “Mid-Century Modern,” but as a brand new teenage, I just thought it to be so cool. I recall that there was this space age shaped ceiling light as you came in the front door. Sort of looked like the “Sputnik” satellite and totally neat.
I remember that my cousins Bobbie and Joanne Carr would invite me up to their house when Duquesne was playing a home game and we would watch the game from the kitchen window while they would bake chocolate chip cookies. Think about it, a wonderful game view, a cool and crisp autumn evening, warm chocolate chip cookies… ahh, heaven to a young boy. In fact, it was Bobbie and Joanne that taught me the joy of eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough. Yes, I know all about the dangers of eating uncooked eggs and all that jazz, but come on, our parents ate pig’s feet and coagulated blood sausage, so cut me a break!
It was Aunt Rose that allowed me to host my first Boy/Girl Party in her basement “Rec Room.” I think it was during my freshman year of high school, the year following my mom’s death. Aunt Rose was her oldest sister. They had just finished the room with the very latest trend in home fashion, wood paneling! It was the perfect place for a party and I took full advantage of it. I had my mom’s hi-fi stereo record player there and cranked it up, playing songs by the Association, the Righteous Brothers, the Four Tops, and the Supremes. Of course, none of the boys would fast dance with the girls, but slow songs got us quickly to our feet. If I recall correctly, the slow songs also managed to get either Aunt Rose or Uncle Sam to come down from upstairs to be sure we were not getting into trouble. By the time the evening wore on, the music shifted from playing 45’s to tuning into WMCK and Terry Lee’s “Music for Young Lovers” program, complete with its resplendent echo chamber.
Just like some scene from a retro sitcom today, at one point, we all sat down and played “spin the bottle.” We didn’t know if that was something that was really done at parties, but we had heard so much about it, that we decided to try. We were naïve little freshmen. What did we know?!? Since only half of Aunt Rose’s basement was finished, each randomly paired couple would retreat into the unfinished portion of the basement once they were matched. Of course, we were supposed to “make out” and then return to the party before the next couple entered. What I came to find out in later years, was that most couples just giggled and laughed at each other when they were out of the room amid my aunt and uncle’s hanging laundry.
To this day, I often wonder if the current residents of Aunt Rose’s home have ever discovered a hidden treasure that lurked in the basement. My cousin Bobbie is a very talented artist. Prior to the installation of the paneled walls, Bobbie had begun sketching a wall mural on one of the basement walls. It was of a collection of instruments, and was really quite good. However, being a perfectionist, she felt that she had made an error in the perspective of one of the instruments (the violin I believe) that could not be corrected. For that reason, she abandoned the project and it was eventually walled up and perhaps still lies beneath the walls.
It wasn’t until I was into 7th or 8th grade and thereafter that I began to go to Duquesne Place more regularly. Prior to that time, my only exposure to that area was as a pass through on the way to Kennywood Park. I usually was so excited about going to Kennywood, that I didn’t pay much attention to my surroundings until we would pull into Kennywood’s parking lot. When I finally began to frequent Duquesne Place more often, one of the stops I would make with my friends would be the Dairy Queen on Duquesne Blvd. This was where I had my first “brain freeze” courtesy of one of their Mr. Misty ice drinks. I remember how much we enjoyed going there. No parents around, just a bunch of preteens trying to be cool. How sad was that?!? Dairy Queen is still operating in the same spot and the last time I was there, they were just as busy as when I was a kid. You just can’t beat those charbroiled burgers!
I thought you might enjoy seeing the old Duquesne High School Football Stadium as it stands today. It is actually pretty well maintained. Unfortunately, its one of the few places in Duquesne, except for the government builds, that are! Since I attended Serra Catholic High, I never went to a game at the stadium, but as I wrote earlier, I watched plenty from my aunt and uncle’s home. I remember hearing the crowds cheering, the sound of the band and the cheerleaders even encouraging more spirit, even though it seemed to fill the air already.
I had several friends who lived in Duquesne Place that I visited. Since my Uncle Sam Carr was in local politics, he introduced me to Nancy Staisey, Senator Staisey’s daughter. She and I became very good friends during high school. My Holy Name buddy, Geno Sabolcik was a D.P. resident as well as Alan Belancik, a high school friend. I sometimes would drive with my Aunt Mary when she would take my cousin Karla Goldman to Pat’s Dance Studio on Duquesne Blvd. I also remember going to Palchak’s Drug Store as well and taking advantage of their Soda Fountain.
In closing, I wanted to share an interesting article about an event that occurred at Palchak’s back in 1947. A bit before my time, but perhaps some of you might remember. In the meantime, I would love to hear some of your recollections about Duquesne Place. Be sure to post your comments AND most of all, be sure to keep on reading! Later my Hunky friends!