Making Them Roll Their Eyes

I feel sorry for kids today. I think back to when I was a teenager in high school and how we all used to spend our summers. Perhaps each generation feels the same way, but life was so much more satisfying, so much mellower and far less complicated.

I have been listening to the T.L.Sound ( ) on my computer each evening ever since I discover that Terry Lee was still broadcasting. The songs that he places immediately whisks me back in time to that part of my life that I enjoyed so much. Songs like:

• Since I Fell For You – Lenny Welch

• Someone – The Contrails

• This Is My Love – The Beachcombers

• Baby – The Avons

• Sandy – Ronnie & Daytonas

• I Want to Be The Boy You Love – Four Buddies

As a teenager in Duquesne during the 60’s, we didn’t have the distractions nor the temptations of today’s teens. In the summer, we spent many evenings just sitting on a friend’s porch, hanging out with our friends and/or our “steady.” Aside from our conversations, the typical sounds that we’d here would be of crickets, Terry Lee’s “Music for Young Lovers” on our AM transistor radio, and the sounds emanating from the mills. We didn’t need lights or candles. The soft glow from a nearby window, a streetlamp, or Duquesne’s nighttime orange tinted sky, would typically suffice.

We rarely had issues with being outside at night since the air was usually cooler outside than inside our homes. Air conditioners weren’t in many homes at that time, if any. Time proven oscillating fans and breezy days and nights were our best cooling conveniences. We would spend hours on the porch just listening to the radio, singing along, and talking incessantly. Based on which friend’s house was the evening’s destination, determined what we would have for drinks and munchies. If it were my house on Thomas Street, we’d probably have been to Hilltop Dairy, the Dairy Delight across from the Duquesne Annex Firehall on Pennsylvania Ave, or Algerie’s. Our favorite place to hang out was Nancy Staisey’s house at the corner of Commonwealth Ave. and Harden Ave. in Duquesne Place. If we happened to be hanging out there, we had a treasure trove of food choices. Without exception, the Dairy Queen was always the favorite choice. Of course, we always had the option of hopping over to Kennywood and picking up some goodies there as well. In addition to the customary night sounds that were all around Duquesne, evenings at Nancy’s had the added bonus of Kennywood sounds as well.

I am convinced that each generation is charged with the responsibility to draw comparisons to their successive generation. I distinctly recall rolling my eyes as my dad, aunts and uncles would find prattle on about “the good ol’ days” of outhouses, kickball and chopping wood. Seriously, what could be “good” about having to trudge outside to relieve yourself in what had to be a rather “ripe” smelling small wooden enclosure? Nonetheless, as the next generation, we all would sit patiently and listen to their rhetoric, year after year. Well, now it’s our turn!! Protocol entitles us the privilege of spouting off about OUR “good ol’ days!” I realize that there is probably a snowball’s chance in hell that anyone from the next generation is even reading this blog AND pontificating about the “good ol’ days” is like preaching to the choir. None the less, I feel compelled to make my points. In order to make my points however, I bowed to a convenience that we did not have in OUR good ‘ol day….the computer and the internet. I was fortunate to find a site that detailed some general “back then” recollections which served as a good start. I’ve gone on to “Hunkify and Duquesnize” them. I invite all of you to add to the list and continue to bring a smile to our faces and provide “eye rolling fodder” to the next generation. Here goes…..


• All the girls had ugly gym uniforms?

• It took five minutes for the TV warm up?

• Nearly everyone’s Mom was at home when the kids got home from school?

• Nobody owned a purebred dog?

• When a quarter was a decent allowance?

• You’d reach into a muddy gutter for a penny?

• Your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces?

• All your male teachers wore neckties and female teachers had their hair done every day and wore high heels?

• You got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking, all for free, every time? And you didn’t pay for air? And, you got trading stamps to boot?

• Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box?

• It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents?

• Teachers threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed. . …and they did?

• When a 55 Chevy was everyone’s dream car…to cruise, peel out, lay rubber or watch submarine races, and people went steady.

• No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked?

• Lying on your back in the grass with your friends and saying things like, “That cloud looks like a …”

• Playing baseball with no adults to help kids with the rules of the game?

• Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger?

• When being sent to the principal’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited the student at home? Basically we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn’t because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat! But we survived because their love was greater than the threat.

• Decisions were made by going “eeny-meeny-miney-moe”?

• Mistakes were corrected by simply exclaiming, “Do Over!”?

• “Race issue” meant arguing about who ran the fastest?

• Catching the fireflies could happily occupy an entire evening?

• It wasn’t odd to have two or three “Best Friends”?

• The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was “cooties”?

• A foot of snow was a dream come true?

• Saturday morning cartoons weren’t 30-minute commercials for action figures?

• “Olly-olly-oxen-free” made perfect sense?

• Spinning around, getting dizzy, and falling down was cause for giggles?

• The worst embarrassment was being picked last for a team?

• War was a card game?

• Baseball cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle?

• Taking drugs meant orange-flavored chewable aspirin?

• Water balloons were the ultimate weapon?

• Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Laurel and Hardy, Howdy Doody and the Peanut Gallery, the Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows, Nellie Bell, Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk.

• Summers filled with bike rides, baseball games, Hula Hoops, bowling and visits to the pool, and eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar.

• Candy cigarettes

• Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside

• Red wax lips

• Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles

• Coffee shops with tableside jukeboxes

• Mom used to merely scream your name from the front stoop to get you to come in for lunch or dinner

• Having to come in for the evening when the street lights came on.

• Blackjack, Clove and Teaberry chewing gum

• Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers

• Newsreels before the movie

• P.F. Fliers

• Telephone numbers with a word prefix….(Hobart 4-601).

• Party lines

• Peashooters

• Howdy Doody

• 45 RPM records

• Green Stamps

• Hi-Fi’s

• Washtub wringers

• The Fuller Brush Man

• Reel-To-Reel tape recorders

• Tinkertoys

• Erector Sets

• The Fort Apache Play Set

• Lincoln Logs

• 15 cent McDonald hamburgers

• 5 cent packs of baseball cards – with that awful pink slab of bubble gum

• Penny candy

• 35 cent a gallon gasoline

• Jiffy Pop popcorn

• Metal ice cubes trays with levers

• Mimeograph paper

• Beanie and Cecil

• Roller-skate keys

• Cork pop guns

• Drive ins

• Studebakers

Now, if you grew up in Duquesne, do you remember:

• Being able to swim at the library or the Kennywood pool?

• Painting Plaster of Paris decorations at the playground?

• Getting a Hucksterburger from Huckster’s Bar or a pizza from Irene’s was the ultimate treat?

• When there were bake shops in your neighborhood?

• When taking a vacation to Lake Erie was the equivalent of a trip around the world in our eyes?

• The circus coming to town and their tents in Kennywood’s parking lot?

• The distinctive sound that tires made on Duquesne’s brick roads especially in the winter when cars used chains on their tires?

• Summer fairs at the Duquesne Annex Fire Dept..

• The smell of roasting peanuts in the Avenue News – a.k.a. Elsie’s.

• Being taken to Emerson or another school to get sugar cubes with polio vaccine on them?

• Slow dancing to Scott English’s “High on a Hill?”

• Catching grasshoppers and having them “spit chewing tobacco” on your arm.

• The beautiful white altar at Holy Name with the gold tabernacle?

• The small boxes of children’s collection envelopes that you received each year at church.

• Getting paid in cash that was in a small envelope from Duquesne City Bank

• Getting a root beer in a frosted mug or a hot dog from the A&W across from the Claber’s Shopping Center on Rt. 30 in North Versailles.

• Taking music lessons from Melody Music in the Mifflin Manor Shopping Center by North High School?

• Sister Delores playing “Gallop My Chargers” so wildly on the piano that her headdress would almost fall off.

• Wondering if “Brick Alley” in McKeesport really existed?

• Paperboys knocking on the door, simply stating “Collecting,” and getting a small perforated piece of paper the size of a trading stamp as a receipt?

• How clean the city smelled after a hard rain that washed away all of the mill grit?

OK everyone….. time to contribute!!! We want to hear form you.

This entry was posted in Life in General, Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Making Them Roll Their Eyes

  1. Deanne Harris Seese says:

    Just met Maz at my work. He was signing poster of himself that were painted by one of our customers and printed by the company that I work for. Such a nice man. I remember going “downtown” with my cousins, the Hedbergs from Sherman Ave. to revel with everyone when the Pirates won the Pennant. Didn’t even watch baseball, but went along and had a great time!

  2. Bob Chermonitz says:

    How about getting “drafted” to one of the little league teams at 8 years old and trying out at the field behind City Hall only to be CUT because the 11 and 12 year olds got picked first (and rightly so). What a disappointment to have to go home and tell your dad you didn’t make it, again! BUT the point is that you learned to deal with it and practiced even harder so that one day you could wear that uniform (Yankees in my case). I never made it until the new field at Polish Hill finally opened. In 8th grade we won the Duquesne Little League World Series! It was worth getting CUT 3 years in a row. Today everyone gets a trophy. In Duquesne you learned life was tough, the guys in the mills already knew that.

  3. Linda Perhacs says:

    Watching Little League games at Polish Hill. The boys looked cute in their uniforms.

    Marching in the Halloween Parade.

    Taking lessons at Pat’s Dance Studio…from Gallagher’s basement, to the upstairs and downstairs of the GBU, to the Eagle”s in Duquesne Place, and to her last home on Kennywood Blvd. between the auto parts store and the bar.

  4. hobey8 says:

    captain jim’s popeye club….sgt. preston of the yukon…rin tin tin….sky king….

  5. Sandi Algeri Bullard says:

    Algeri’s store was my Uncle and Grandmothers.

  6. Paula Niedoba says:

    How about “singing” for your friend to come out and play? We never knocked on the door. I can still hear my friends singing ” hey Paula”.
    Playing release or tag at night on 7th street. And I think the saying was “All the all the outs in free”!
    The sycamore trees that lined Kennedy Avenue and the distinct smell of the leaves in the fall. Not to mention monkey balls.
    Having a “cook out” was a big deal.
    Going to the drive in with family was a big deal.
    Running around the streets during a summer rain, in my bare feet.
    ; D

    • Jim says:

      Paula, its wonderful when two people can both be right. I checked out your phase “All the all the outs in free” versus the phrase we used and I am familiar with “Olly Olly Oxen Free.” Wikipedia basically the both. Check it out:

      Olly olly oxen free (and variants: olly-olly-ee, ally ally in free[1] ) is a catchphrase used in such children’s games as hide and seek to indicate that players who are hiding can come out into the open without losing the game. It is thought to derive from the phrase “All ye, all ye ‘outs’ in free;” in other words: all who are “out” may come in without penalty.[2] However, this may not be the etymology at all–“Olly olly oxen free” is suspiciously close to the German phrase “Alle, alle auch sind frei,” meaning “everyone, everyone is also free.”[citation needed] Various calls used for such purposes go by the collective name of “ollyoxalls” in some places.[3]

      The phrase can also be used to coordinate hidden players in the game kick the can, in which a group of people hide within a given radius and a “seeker” is left to guard a can filled with rocks. The seeker has to try to find the “hiders” without allowing them to sneak in and kick the can. In many areas the phrase used is “All-y all-y in come free” which is a way to tell the remainder of hidden players that it is time to regroup in order to restart the game. The phrase is announced by a hider who successfully sneaks in and kicks the can

  7. I am so glad Terry Lee is now on the radio and the internet! I am enjoying all the music and all the great memories!

  8. Scott White says:

    I remember my dad taking my brother and I to see Santa Claus at that fire hall!

  9. Jack Schalk says:

    Brick Alley did exist and can be attested to by the myriad groups of Dukes that would cruise this area to get the quarters on the window “tap tap” that would signal we are open. No one that I know of ever really participated.

    I remember passing out a lot of those little rectangles for the receipt of payment for the newspaper. I also remember in the early Fifties, Mr. Cole and the Sun Tele offering tickets to the Steelers game if you sold 5 new subscriptions. I worked my butt off even knowing that I was going to see the Steelers lose. Thanks to the teams of the 70s and later, that has all changed.

    What was the name of the announcer for the Pirates that preceded Bob Prince? His biggy was “open the window Aunt Nellie, here she comes” when a Pirate hit a homer.

    Jim, the rarest comment in all the wonderful items above was regarding the plaster of paris figures. I wouldn’t have remembered that in two lifetimes. Well done!

  10. Michael Bashista says:

    Huckster meant the guy selling fresh fruits and vegetables from his truck.
    the iceman making the weekly ice delivery for your “icebox”
    The perfect night for me as a small kid in my folks’ store – a soda, ice cream cone, the latest comic books and maybe some penny candy
    Dances at the high school or vogue terrrace or berk glenn ballroom
    after prom or other big dance at Holiday House in Monroeville
    Making the rounds to grandparents and cousins homes for Christmas
    The extended families we all had with our best friends parents [and all my neighbors on Auriles St.]
    Winter sledding down the hill from Goldstrom Lane and hoping no cars were coming down Catherine St.
    Playing tackle football in the sand lot or any open grass lot
    Vacation in Ligonier/Latrobe – really country!!
    Bazooka bubble gum and TOPS cards in gum
    Who could blow the biggest bubble with their bubble gum
    Watching or driving in the Soapbox Derby
    Great fish sandwiches on Italian bread from Dudey’s or Slovak Club on Fridays

  11. Joe Haver says:

    Boy,did you bring back some memories,THANKS!!!!!

  12. Vickie Brady Little says:

    Going Trick or treating at night with the porch lights on
    Hanging clothes outside to dry

  13. Ed Kozarian says:

    Had to laugh at the Brick alley comment. I remember a blue rubber ball stuck in the Wing of the Eagle on the old memorial. I tried for most of my teen life to get that ball. Never did…just remembering

  14. Lou says:

    “We would spend hours on the porch just listening to the radio…..” whether we wanted to or not! I will never forget hot summer nights when the Pirates would play a Twi-night doubleheader on the west coast; the men would be home from 3-11, out on their porches, every radio on the block tuned to KDKA 1020AM, with Bob Prince announcing and shouting about the GREEN WEENIE! Inside or out, all the windows and screendoors were open and you couldn’t NOT listen to the Buccos! Remember Mazeroski and the 1960 World Series?

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