THANK YOU Duquesne!

Sometimes, inspiration comes from the most unlikely sources. My two daughters have been posting daily comments on Facebook about things they are grateful for. I began to think about how much I have written about Duquesne and my childhood over the past year. In addition, I have read countless comments from all of you regarding the shared gratitude for our hometown.

For those reasons, I thought it would be appropriate for this post to take on a spirit of thankfulness for “All Things Duquesne.”

I am thankful for:

•       The value system that the people of Duquesne had and taught to their youth. There never was any confusion on which “side” we should take in the battle of “right vs. wrong.”

•       The sensory experiences that meant so much; the persimmon colored skies at night, the sounds of industry that emanated throughout the day and night at the hands of our fathers, families and neighbors, the smells and sounds of fallen leaves on brick roads and the distant sound of laughter, screams of excitement and the clanking of the coasters from Kennywood Park.

•       The good sisters and teachers at Holy Name Elementary School who provided such a strong educational foundation and religious fervor to all of their students. Somehow, their tugs at our ears, occasional knuckle slaps with their ruler and timeouts in the cloak rooms, paid off with a well-disciplined, respectful and pious student.

•       Bud and Jerry’s Doughnuts – need I say more??

•       Jim Hartman who has provided me with such a wealth of information and collateral to enrich my blog and provide you all with tons of memories! Thanks Jim!

Now PLEASE, add your two cents in the comments section following this post, and let us all know what was special about Duquesne to you. Help me to pay tribute to OUR hometown.

Before you do that, take a few minutes and remenisce a bit with the images and poem below. It certainly will put you in the right frame of mind!

Thanksgiving                                                                                                                                      By Edgar Albert Guest – published in 1917

Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,
An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;
An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they
Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;
Chattin’ an’ braggin’ a bit with the men,
Buildin’ the old family circle again;
Livin’ the wholesome an’ old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.
Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all.
Father’s a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an’ to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin’ our stories as women an’ men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we’re grateful an’ glad to be there.
Home from the east land an’ home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an’ best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We’ve come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an’ be frank,
Forgettin’ position an’ station an’ rank.

Give me the end of the year an’ its fun
When most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An’ I’ll put soul in my Thanksgivin’ prayers.

Since I have spent my entire career as a retail manager, I have always been part of the madness that ensues on the day after Thanksgiving, a.k.a. Black Friday. I thought it would be interesting to see how the biggest shopping day of the year was advertised in The Duquesne Times and if there were any articles about the size of the crowds in downtown Duquesne. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find any reference to Black Friday, nor could I find any ads that reflected the HUGE Door Buster Specials that virtually EVERY store advertises to get the shoppers in their doors in the wee morning hours after Thanksgiving.

After some reasearch, I discovered that the shopping frenzy that retailers have created and fed off of on Black Friday is a relatively new phenomenon. It wasn’t until 1966 that the phrase Black Friday was even used to describe the day after Thanksgiving. I pulled the headlines and an ad from the Duquesne Times that was published on Thanksgiving Day in 1958. As you’ll see in the images below, merchants really didn’t begin the shopping push until the week AFTER Thanksgiving!

The more I thought about this, I now remember traveling on the 61C with my mother, brother, Aunt Mary and her two daughters to downtown Pittsburgh on the day after Thanksgiving. There wasn’t madness in the air, but more of an air of excitement as we would head to Pittsburgh to view the Christmas display windows of the BIG department stores; Gimbels, Kaufmanns and Hornes. The day wasn’t spent shopping, but rather enjoying all of the fantastic decorations and window animations. We would be treated to a wonderful lunch at the restaurant located in Kaufmann’s Book Department and spent the day “drinking in” the Christmas season! By the time we ready to return home, it was dark and downtown Pittsburgh was ablaze with Christmas lights signaling the arrival of the holdays everywhere you looked. We’d all settle into our seats on the bus and eventually nod off to sleep on before we had even left the city. I’d love to be transported back in time to that special day just once to drink in all of the joys that it provided.

This entry was posted in Christmas Memories, Life in General, McKeesport, Stores and Businesses. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to THANK YOU Duquesne!

  1. Bill Gallagher says:

    Duquesne had three railroad stations at one time (early 1900’s) The North Duquesne Station (the last one standing) was known as the OLIVER STATION. The Grant Ave Station was right at the bottom of Grant Ave and was only for DELIVERIES such as fresh fish..groceries..luggage, supplies. (RAILWAY EXPRESS WAS EXTENSIVELY USED THEN). The reason Deanne Harris got on the train in Mckeesport was The Duquesne Station was closed in the 50’s. You got on the Baltimore @ Ohio in Mckeesport. That Station lasted a much longer time than ours. The Third Station was in South Duquesne..it was called the COCHRAN STATION. I hope this helps you younger folks !

    • Jim says:

      Thanks for the info Bill. When did the Brownsville Local stop running in Duquesne. Did the North Duquesne Station close then? – Jim Volk

    • Lou says:

      I remember one Saturday (between 1981 &1984?) when I took my wife and daughters for their first Pittsburgh train ride: drove to McKeesport, parked at the free Park-N-Ride bus & train terminal on Lysle Blvd, We boarded the PATrain headed inbound from Versailles, got a FAMILY PASS roundtrip ticket and settled into our seats on a comfortable, shiny Budd car for a 20 minute trip into DahnTahn. Spent the day shopping and returned late in the day. A good time was had by all. Here are links you might enjoy,

      http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit/pat/patrain/history.html

      http://www.budd-rdc.org/

  2. Bill Gallagher says:

    Addendum to our train station in Duquesne. The cost of my railroad ticked was about $ 4.00 for a 10 trip pass. (factors out at 40 cents per trip) Can you imagine ! The locomotive was a STEAM ENGINE…medium size….and when we heard it blow it’s whistle in SOUTH DUQUESNE we would all go out and stand crossing over. The stop lasted about 3-4 minutes..and off we went chug chug…only one stop more..Homestead where about 20 more were picked up..then on to Pgh and the 4th Ave Station. It then went on thru a tunnel and arrived at the big Pennsylvania Station…

  3. Bill Gallagher says:

    When I was going to Duquesne University (1948-1952) I road the train often to and from school.It was the fastest way (20 minutes). Two trains in AM and two in the evening. It was the Pennsylvania Railroad on THIS SIDE of the river. Then there was only one station..Known as the NORTH DUQUESNE STATION…to get there you went all the way down Hamilton Ave to the Duquesne Blvd ( Route 837) and turned LEFT. It was about 150 yards down that way..on the right..next to the tracks. It was a one story building..about 60 feet long..frame..with a waiting room , ticket office,and an outdoor loading platform. The train was known as the BROWNSVILLE LOCAL by everyone who road it. About 30 or 40 from Duquesne would use it daily. (mostly those that worked at Kaufmann”s etc and those that worked at the Allegheny County State/Office Bldg.We would all get off at the FOURTH AVENUE STATION (right next to THE MORGUE). It was very convenient for Duquesne University Students. In those days almost all of us commuted to school

  4. Cathy Cardilla Gallucci says:

    Dear Jim,

    I especially remember that Black Friday in November of 1950. It had started snowing the night before but my mom said we were going to go shopping anyway. We took the train into downtown and after arriving after a wonderful trip headed for Kaufmann’s. We stayed there all day shopping and mom saying she didn’t want to carry any packages decided to have everything shipped. Kaufmann’s had their own trunks in those days. When we came out of Kaufmann’s at 5 PM there was snow everywhere so we started to walk to Pennsylvania Station. We heard from some passersby that the last train out of town was leaving in 15 minutes or it wouldn’t get through all the snow. We ran like heck and just made the last train out of Pittsburgh. It took what seemed like hours to get to Duquesne. We jumped down from the train into about a foot of snow with no bus in sight to take us up to West Mifflin where we lived the. Thankfully a kind gentleman with chains of the front and back wheels of his car offered us a ride. That was the beginning of one of biggest
    snow storms in our history. I am sure that a lot of you remember that school was closed for 2-3 weeks and we all had the best time playing in all that snow. Christmas was special that year with all that snow. It was like the North Pole. I think we had snow on the ground until February or March of 1951.
    By the way Jim, my mom worked at Bud and Jerry’s Donut Shop in the 50’s. She made all the pies and nut horns cookies.
    Thanks for the memories.
    Cathy

  5. Bob Chermonitz says:

    I’m not surprised to find Edgar Gilbert’s poem of 1917 so poignant some 94 years later. Afterall, in this age with families so spread out and no time for each other, with the distractions of modern hi-tech and work and school and the “importance” of getting kids to soccer/hockey/dance/practice and games, the heart longs for the hearth and home we all once knew! Where we could be ourselves and everyone accepted one another ( at least for a couple of days) for what we were and not what we thought we were.
    What a thrill it would be over the holidays, if once more those we loved could walk through that front door as they had a long time ago. Mom and Dad, grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins! Neighbors, friends and that “special” girl we couldn’t wait to introduce to the family.
    I could go on and on. But I do miss them so. And I’m sorry if I ever took those Duquesne folks for granted. I know God made others, but the best he located in and around Duquesne!
    God bless us, everyone!

  6. Megan says:

    Jackson and I are thankful for Pap Pap! 🙂

  7. Don Madak says:

    Jim- You mentioned traveling on the 61C to Downtown Pittsburgh .You may not be old enough to remember, but one of my memories of the day after Thanksgiving, was to ride the train from the Duquesne station to downtown Pgh to begin Christmas shopping with my Mom and sister Rita. It was either the B & O or the Pennsylvania RR, I don’t remember for sure. Yes, Duquesne had a real train station !
    Keep up the good work with the memories !
    Don Madak
    Atlanta, Ga

    • Jim says:

      Don, I can’t even imagine how exciting it must have been to ride a train to Pittsburgh. I’m curious, where was the station located in Duquesne? Was it on South Duquesne Blvd? Thanks again for the memories and Happy Thanksgiving! – Jim

      • Deanne Harris Seese says:

        I remember riding the train to Pittsburgh, but we went to Mckeesport to get on the train. It ended up at Grant Street downtown.

    • John (Jack) Berta says:

      Hi Don, I’m an old friend of your cousin Bill Lippert. We grew up around the Crawford School. In 1965 when I got drafted, I saw you at the reception center at Ft. Jackson. The best recollection I have about the trains is the B&O was on the McKeesport side of the river and the Pennsylvania RR ran on the Duquesne side. I thought there was a station in Duquesne but not sure where it was. Best guess would be at or near the Grant St. crossing. Jack Berta

  8. Linda Perhacs says:

    I’m thankful Duquesne had so many good people living there for so many years. Because of those good people, we, all, have fond and wonderful memories of family, friends, and life as it once was.

  9. Ralph DeRose says:

    Dear Jim:
    Thank you for the time you take to update the now famous “Duquesne Hunky” blog. I have enjoyed your articles so much and have the opportunity not only to share your writtings, but also locate and communicate so many of my old friends and acquitances from years ago. You are doing such a great service to many of us senior persons. Have a Blessed Holiday Seasons and to all of our Duquesne People.

    • Jim says:

      Thanks Ralph, it is my pleasure.

    • David Marks says:

      Jim and everyone –

      I give thanks to God every day. He has given us Jim and his wonderful blog to share so many positive memories, and a vehicle to create new ones.

      This is the season for special remembrances and thanks. We love our veterans and cry tears of appreciation and joy for your sacrifice and service. God has blessed America partly through you. His Grace and Mercy has brought you home from the battlefields and from duty across every sea.

      I also have a special place in my heart for the 120 million turkeys to be sacrificed this month. Oy vey! No, I’m not switching to tofu, but really!

      Like many other towns across the nation and the world, I am thankful for the wonderful memories of Duquesne neighbors caring for one another. This more contemporary world of instant gratification has surely lost some of this quality. Faster is not better folks, especially when we long for those days with family and friends where we would just sit and talk, and perhaps play cards or a board game that took hours. And yes, after 1960 maybe the television was on, but it was likely worthwhile to watch, and not this sex-infused fast-paced nonsense. I’m no prude by any stretch of the imagination, but Jim’s blog is a strong reminder of what is good, and how God has smiled on us all.

      “…We’re proud to be part of Duquesne High School’s heart,
      Though years may pass, its faith-teaching truth shall last…”

      Happy Holidays everyone. May they be meaningful to you and those you love, as we give thanks to Him who has provided every loving moment.

    • David Marks says:

      Not sure how old you are, but my mom, Louise Karpas Marks, sure remembers a Ralph DeRose and speaks so lovingly of the memories of perhaps your mom.

    • Deanne Harris Seese says:

      Hi Ralph, senior person that you are. LOL Remember Judy Harris and me her younger sister Deanne. Merry Christmas

    • Georgenne Tkocs Kacik says:

      Ralph DeRose, Its been many years since I have seen you. My parents were very good friends of you mom and dad and also your Aunt Francie Gelbish. My maiden name was Tkocs….grew up in Burns Heights. Drop me a note sometime…where are you living now. How is your brother Joe doing? I am in International Falls, Minnesota. Take care now.

      Georgenne Tkocs Kacik

  10. Linda (Negley) Gibb says:

    Thank you for the Edger Guest poem.
    I’m thankful for living in a nice child-friendly safe Duquesne where you could go out trick or treating without your parents & go to every house in town without fear of being harmed.

    • cheryl says:

      Yes @ Linda my grandfather Joe Tomovcsik took me trick or treating and yes we did all the houses and always, always came home with candy to last all year long that’s how much we got walked around in the dark and no one bothered anyone everyone was freindly & always stopped to talk to everyone. those were the days

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