I received a wonder email from Michael Ferchak that shared many of his recollections about his youth in Duquesne. Mike grew up on Chestnut Street, off of Center Street. I attempted to find an image of Mike’s home, but not knowing the address came up empty handed. I checked the 1940 Census since the 1950 Census has yet to be published on in US Archives, but no Ferchak listed on Chestnut St. (Mike, do you remember your house number on Chestnut?)
Mike asks a lot of questions about “What happened?” to our hometown. I am sure we all constantly scratch our heads wondering the same thing!
I graduated from Holy Trinity in 1963. We lived on Chestnut Street, a dead end off Center St, above Oak. There were a lot of kids in just one block: Bobby & Donna Namejo, Richard & Kathy Erikson, Lori Carcho, Terry & Jill (Butcher?), Andy “Duke” Dyakan, 5 Cimbala’s–Charlotte, Eddie, Carl, Marlene & Johnnie, Valerie (Lagan?), Jim & Steve “Sandy” Skalican, whose dad Steve had a body shop in the alley. There was a vacant church at the top of the hill and I can recall the steeple being removed. There was a mom and pop store on every corner, Ivan’s Market at the top of High Street, near the Valiknac’s (Vilma went to HT and her older brother Tommy, a really nice kid).
We moved to West Mifflin in 1957, Mellon St in Duquesne Annex, a block from the fire hall & the Village Tavern, where you could get a fish sandwich for 35 cents, which was so big it would feed 4 of us for Friday dinner.
My brother, Damian and I had a paper route on Crawford, Maryland, Burns & Wools streets in Duquesne, where we delivered the McKeesport Daily News. The paper cost 6 cents. We had about a hundred customers and most of the tipped at Christmas. Nice Mrs. Bedont (who also owned the market on Crawford across from the Union Grill, I think) tipped us every week. We earned a penny on every paper we delivered. Most of our customers were nice, some crabby and a couple were disagreeable, demanding or just deadbeats. One guy insisted that we deliver the paper around back up the back porch steps, when his front door was two steps off the front walk. I was chased by dogs a few times, and I still don’t like them. Damian and I also worked at the Duquesne Isaly’s in the late 60’s but that’s a story for another time.
But why was the thriving business district demolished and replaced with a cheesy strip mall? Alexander’s market, Woody’s drugs, 5 & 10, Feig’s Bakery, Plaza Theater where admission was 25 cents, Stone’s and Levine’s–2 hardware stores, Jerry & Bud’s donut shop and the shoe store (Karen’s) where you could see your toes though a real X-ray machine!!! All gone.
I posted the following article from The Duquesne Times that was published on 5/26/1960. I remember how the redevelopment seriously impacted my father’s service station on North 2nd Street. To his dying day, he never got past the fact that his livelihood was taken away from him as a result of “eminent domain” and the Redevelopment, and it yielded a parking lot as a result.
I understand that the current strip center located on what was South 2nd Street is destined for a renovation of sorts. If anyone has information that they would like to share about the chamges that are supposed to occur, please share them with us.