As 2011 draws to a close, I’ve slipped into a rather “reflective” mood as one would expect. I have been writing and posting “The Duquesne Hunky” for over a year now. My first post was on 11-29-2010 when I declared that “Hunky Was Not A Four Letter Word.” Now, 122 posts later and 1,340 comments later I feel that I am once again “home,” within a community of friends, with common pasts, with a common love for their hometown and a common friendship even though they may have never met.
We are all Duquesne “Soul mates,” possessing a deep rooted admiration for not just a town, but for a way of life. In most cases, we have all taken paths that led our lives into directions neither we nor our parents would ever have dreamed of. We have all come to learn that the childhood we all hold dear and the moral compass we have all been given by the community in which we were raised, extends far across the nation and the globe; from Vermont to Florida to California, Washington State and Hawaii; throughout the United States to New Zealand and to London, England, Duquesne is there.
Who would of thought that the mention of Islay’s Chipped Ham, a hot dog from Jim’s, or Kennywood would bring a smile to the faces of such a large group of people. Sharing recollections, mutual friendships and family ties has become such a wonderful part of this blog. Truly, I’ve discovered that neighbors will always be neighbors and will span the longest distances and the longest periods of time. Personally, I’ve reconnected with many friends and neighbors from my youth and have picked-up as if we had never parted. To me, that makes this whole effort special beyond words to me.
During my recent visit to Duquesne, I sat in my hotel one evening and wrote the following:
A December wind wafts across my face as I cross Duquesne’s bricked main street. My spirit longs for my yesterdays as I visit my hometown.
In my memory, old friends stop by, but not long enough for my satisfaction. As I mentally reconnect to yesterday’s friends and neighbors, I am overwhelmed with love for this town, and for the people who have lived here.
My foundation, my youth, and most of life’s hard lessons, I learned in this town of smiling faces and orange skies. It is my solace, and makes me feel whole.
It is said that you can never go home again. However, I believe that home is the only place on earth and in your mind, where you can go to understand real love and true friendship.
Let me return time and time again, to the place where my family was always there to love me, friends and neighbors were there to welcome me, and a wee bit of heaven opened its arms to bless me and say, “Welcome home my child!”
– Jim Volk
As we all wait for yet another year to come into being, I can’t help but think of the many New Year’s Eves I spent celebrating with my parents and relatives. The evening of December 31st was always spent at my Uncle Hank and Aunt Clare’s home on Lindberg Ave. in Munhall. All of my aunts and uncles would arrive with casserole and bottle in hand and all of the kids in tow, ready to “party,” hunky style.
My aunt and uncle had a finished basement that lent itself as the perfect place for a party. We would all begin the evening in the basement sharing all of the wonderful food Aunt Clare had prepared and that my aunts had brought. For the New Year celebration, the menu was modified to include the obligatory pork and sauerkraut. Mom always made sure that my brother and I were partaking in the pork and sauerkraut each year or God forbid, bad luck would have come our way!
We all would continue eating and visiting until late into the evening, after which, the “celebrating” would begin with shots and beers for the guys, and whiskey sours for the ladies. At this point, all of the kids were rounded up and taken upstairs to the living room to watch the New Year’s celebration on TV, “Direct from the Roosevelt Hotel” and featuring “Guy Lombardo and his Orchestra.” All my cousins as well as my brother and I had arrived at the party wearing pajamas and by the time we were plopped in front of the TV, we were already half asleep and ready to nod off. Usually, the youngest among us never stayed awake long enough to see the New Year arrive. The veterans among us however, did remain awake long enough to see all of the partyers at the Roosevelt toast to the New Year, kiss each other(yuck), and continue to dance and enjoy the evening in their fancy dresses and tuxedos. In the meantime, our parents continued to party deep into the night, all the while knowing that the kids were safely tucked in for the evening in a massive heap in the living room. Ahh… good times!
So, 2012 is just a breath away, and I hope that you ALL will continue to share with me, all of the memories that you hold dear. I hope too, that you will continue to follow my blog, put up with my ramblings and recollections, and most importantly, help me keep the “Spirit of Duquesne” and of the hometown we remember, alive and well.