Finding Dorothy’s Slippers

Just to catch you up on what has been happening these past two days, I decided to do a quick post about my adventures thus far …..

Friday really seemed that I had  found the Emerald City, complete with Dorothy’s ruby slippers. I spent the day visiting the Mifflin Township Historical Societyin the  company of Jim Hartman, President of the Society.

I met Jim at the local McDonald’s for coffee that morning. We sat and talked about “all things historical” and got to know one another. We sat in the midst of the morning “regulars” at that McDonalds, and I was introduced to each one. As Jim and I continued to talk, one of the regulars placed two homebaked “goodies” in front of us to enjoy. She explained that her friend who was sitting with her (another regular), had baked them that morning and wanted to share them with us. You know, that just doesn’t happen anymore. Once this occured, I knew I was “home” and “the village” was still there to care for one another.

After talking for an hour or so, Jim and I departed for the Historical Society’s Office and Reference Room which is located across from the Allegheny County Airport on Lebanon Church Road in the West Mifflin Borough Building. The Society chose this space since it was a central location for all of the communities it embraces on a historical basis. The communities included are:

As Jim explained, Allegheny County was carved from Westmoreland and Washington counties in 1788. At that time seven townships were created in Allegheny County;  Elizabeth Township, Mifflin Township, Moon Township, Pitt Township, Plum Township, St. Clair Township and Versailles Township. Within each “Township” communities were formed and seperate towns, villages and boroughs were incorporated. Once Jim explained this to me, I completely understood that the “Mifflin Township” Historical Society did NOT just archive historical data for the West Mifflin area, but rather for ALL the communities that are part of the original area known as Mifflin Township in 1788.

So, back to my day and my visit. When I entered the Society’s Office and Reading Room, my eyes grew wide, I drew a deep breath and uttered the most awe inspired “Oh my God” I could muster. The best way to describe how I felt, would be if you could imagine your mom or dad handing you a $20 bill as a child, and you being told to go and treat yourself to whatever you would like from either Murphy’s 5&10 Store or Sidneys Candy Store at the corner of 5th and Kennedy!! There were literally shelf after shelf of old documents, maps, yearbooks, school books, etc. that lay before me. Aside from the immediately tangible items, what I found most exciting were the 3 or 4 data banks that were available. Newspapers, photographs, directories and countless other pieces of documentation have been meticulously archived by Jim and Society members into PDF and other types of computer files. Truely, being able to access this information was very much like clicking the heels of Dorothy’s slippers together and being transported home!

I have so much to share with you now and I cannot wait to take you on the journey back to our youth. I would be remise if I didn’t put in a plug for Jim and the Historical Society. Without question, every penny contributed to the Society by becoming a member is worth it. It pays for the equipment, the materials, the website and everything that is needed to maintain this wonderful “memory bank.” The cost to join the Society as a non-voting member is a mere $17.00 a year if you are 62 years of age or older; $20.00 if you are under 62 years old. To read more and understand membership options more, CLICK HERE!

I spent the greater part of the day at the Historical Society, but I did manage to venture out and photograph some familiar places throughout Duquesne. For instance:

Gallaghers Pharmacy – Now Vacant

View of South First and Grant

Schinks Hardware

Stay tuned for more my friends. There is a lot more coming you way!!

This entry was posted in Duquesne History, Duquesne's Special Citizens, Visits to Duquesne. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Finding Dorothy’s Slippers

  1. Gene (Geno) Sabolcik says:

    Sounds like you hit the mother lode, Jim. I’m looking forward to seeing what you were able to dig up.

    The pictures of the current Duquesne show that the city is a shell of its former self. Too bad. At least many of us can still cherish the memories of what once was.

    (sung to the tune of the Notre Dame fight song)

    Cheers! Cheers for old Duquesne High!
    You bring the whiskey, I’ll bring the rye
    Send the Freshman out for gin and don’t let a sober Sophmore in
    Juniors never stagger, Seniors never fall
    They sober up on pure alcohol
    When we’re through we’ll burn the school in honor of Duquesne High!

    (How times have changed!!!)

  2. Thanks so much for sharing. I will visit and use the Society for sure!

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