Voices from Duquesne LIVES!

I cannot believe it, but I have not posted a “Voices from Duquesne” since October, 2011!! I don’t know if its that I have been derelict in my duties or if I just haven’t been receiving many emails from all of you. None the less, I am attempting to play catch-up with some  emails that I received since December of last year. I hope you enjoy them, and perhaps can help some of the folks out!

Thank you for the outpouring of prayers and love for Fr. Dennis, Pastor of Christ the Light of the World in Duquesne. With your help, the Duquesne Deluge of Prayers reached over 3,000 readers in two days!!! I am confident that Fr. Dennis will be overwhelmed and so appreciative of the prayers and comments. Keep them coming! In case you missed the posting, click HERE.

Now, enjoy the voices from Duquesne……



Just wanted to reach out and thank you for such a wonderful blog. I actually stumbled on Facebook post regarding Fr. Dennis’ diagnosis that led me to your page.

I shared this sad new with my 91 year old friend Deloris Pohelia, who admires Fr. Dennis and continues to support the church although she now resides in Verona, PA. Deloris and her brother Cy, who was buried from Holy Name, he passed on 11-11-11, Veteran’s Day….

I am so looking forward to printing out most of your blog for her reading, she will greatly enjoy it! She was so curious to find out who you were, and I finally did some digging on the site and found your name, so I will pass it along to her, I am sure she will remember the name Volk. Her family resided in Duquesne all of their lives and even had to raise up the house when they did something on North Second Street many years ago.

I bought the old Boucher house at 114 N. 3rd Street many years ago, and really enjoyed the house…………….. I moved to Elizabeth, and was actually 2 doors down from the Boucher family relatives! Mr. Boucher from Elizabeth was instrumental in the re-enactment of the Lewis and Clark exposition that they did in town.

Anyway, I wanted to pass along my gratitude for your putting together so much wonderful information, I know Deloris will greatly enjoy the many newspaper clippings and the wonderfully written articles on your site. She’ll be very excited to see the article about Matt Gallagher as well!

Thanks again,



DH, Good Morning. My name is Paul Cherkes. I am a newly appointed trustee at the Duquesne Croatian Lodge. I am not Cro Cluboriginally from Duquesne, but really enjoy your stories about the past. We have recently hosted the 70th annual Croatian Basketball Tournament. The Lodge is still an active fixture in Duquesne with many proud and dedicated members ( we are always looking for more members). We have a loyal following to our Tuesday Wing night and Friday Fish Fry. I was hoping you might want to do an article about the lodge. Our 13 to 15 year Boys team won the championship yesterday. It was a great way to end the tournament. What we have going on at the Cro is a feel good story. I am sure from your research you have plenty of general information on the clubs past. Please consider an article about our lodge. I am sure our board members can provide pictures and candid insight to today’s Croatian Club. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you. Paul Cherkes

P.S. I am an active member of Christ the Light of the World Parish. My wife’s maiden name is Plake, her father was a Duquesne High teacher forever.


Hi Jim,

I had a flash back last week to a guy that was a couple of years older than I.

We used to ride bikes together along with a few others that respond to your posts.

Glenn Swank lived on Wilmot St near the intersection with Sherman Ave. I graduated DHS in ’54 and I think he would have been in the class of ’52 but I don’t remember him in the high school era, mostly during Jr. High.

I have a bit of memory about Glenn going into the Air Force and earning himself a name there. He was a pilot but I don’t remember his claim to fame.

Maybe with your contacts you could locate something about him and use it for a post.

Jack Schalk



I thought our fellow “Dukes” might have reminiscences of the local movie theater next to Woody’s drugstore. I remember my parents giving my sisters and I 50 cents apiece to see the Duq Paza theatreSaturday morning extravaganzas (can anyone ever get enough of Wile E. Coyote or the Chicken Hawk? I also remember being scared out of my wits at a screening of the Vincent Price flick, House of Wax. I actually sat on the floor because I couldn’t watch anymore! I also remember coming out of screenings in the winter and then running all the way home because we girls were afraid someone might follow us (oh, the drama!) There was another theater on the same side of the street but across from Helmstadter’s, I think, that showed B movies. That one didn’t last long.

Does anyone remember the roller rink on Polish Hill? That was a fun place to go in the late 50’s. Not sure how long it hung on.

BTW, what year did you graduate? (I’m from the Serra Class of 1969)

Marlene Prosnik (’64)



I really enjoy when you write your reflections in the Duquesne Hunky about your family’s customs and traditions. There is always a lot of interest when you include recipes. It helps get the gray matter stirred up. Some readers want to attempt to make them. In a lot of cases the grandmothers, mothers, and aunts have passed away. We are lucky if we have some of those old favorite recipes handed down. You Mentioned a good source, the Slovak-American Cook Book in one of your latest articles, Hunky Springtime Rituals.

Baba's KitchenI’d like to recommend the book Baba’s Kitchen, Slovak & Rusyn Family Recipes & Traditions by Lisa Alzo. You list her on your blogroll. Lisa is my cousin and Godchild. She gave me a copy after it came out. I had loaned it to a neighbor who returned it today. As I reviewed through it I remembered your recent recipe posting and thought you might mention it if some of your readers may be interested. As the title states, she has included not only family recipes but traditions, and history also. Additional details about the book can be viewed on the Baba’s Kitchen Web site. Click HERE.

This past June my wife and I had the pleasure of traveling with Lisa on her second trip to Slovakia. We went to visit the family of our mutual grandfather she located on her previous trip. Beside visiting our grandfather’s family, Lisa went to do more research of her maternal grandfather. It was the trip of a lifetime.

John (Jack) Berta


“All the Right Moves” with Tom Cruise and Lea Thompson was GEO COVERbased on this GEO article. As principal of Westmont Hilltop High School in Johnstown PA at the time, I had occasion to work with Phil Goldfarb, one of the film’s producers. 20th Century Fox staged the film’s football game at Point Stadium in Johnstown and worked with local school districts to secure football players, uniforms, band members, instruments, etc. The more Mr.Goldfarb talked about the screenplay, the more curious I became about the source of the story. He then provided me a copy of the GEO article. What a surprise to learn that Duquesne High School, my alma mater, and my neighbors and friends, the Gedman family lived the story being developed by the film makers.

Carol Macus Strange

Columbia, S.C.


Hi there: I just took a walk down memory lane after being informed of your blog. What a joy. My family (Kennedy) was one of the three founding families of Duquesne. Kennedy Ave, Priscilla, Catherine, Aurilles and other streets are named after family members. My Dad was a police officer in Duquesne for awhile and later became a plumber. My Mom owned a corner store on 5th St. and the family homestead still stands at 309 Kennedy Ave. across from the high school. I went to kindergarten at the old Kennedy school on 6th St. It was across the street from the Jr. High and was demolished either in the late 40’s or early 50’s. I was 13 or 14 when the tornado hit, I slept through it but remember it hit a lot of the bars on Grant Ave.(named after U.S. Grant). I could go on and on remembering snake dances before Duquesne and McKeesport football games and kangaroo courts when the men grew beards or got hauled through the streets in a cage and paid a fine but I’d be on this line forever. Thanks so much to all that have contributed to your blog but most of all to you for creating it. Almost forgot, my best friend still lives in Duquesne in the house she was raised in and she is half Croatian, her maiden name is Gorscak. There were 5 of us who went through all our school years from kindergarten through high school that have maintained our friendship and keep in contact, one died several years ago but the rest of us are still hanging in there and see each other every 5 years for school reunions. Anyway, thanks again!!!!!

Janie King



I am a Steel Valley native and I am enjoying your blog! I am in search of OLD photos of 8th Avenue in Homestead at Holiday time. I have such fond memories of the illuminated bells that hung over the street. It seemed like there were hundreds of them. One year, we were Christmas shopping and it was snowing and all the lights were lit up…. So beautiful!

Enjoy your time there….if you get an opportunity, visit St. Nicholas Church in Homestead on 9th Ave. Very beautiful and the choir is outstanding.

Happy Holidays,


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17 Responses to Voices from Duquesne LIVES!

  1. Michael says:

    Barry & Jack,
    I am glad to have found your stories. My name is Michael Swank. Glenny Swank your friend from childhood was my grandfather. I have been trying to find information about our Swank family line when I stumbled across this site. It was nice to hear your stories. If you know any additional information about Glenny or his parents, I would appreciate any info. I have been able to trace Vivien’s birth to 11/28/1907, but can’t find anything past that. Also, I have been trying to find Agnes’s maiden name. Thanks for keeping my families memory alive. My father still lives in the area and I know he will appreciate your stories as well.

    • Barry Long says:

      Michael, other than what is already written about Glenny & his parents, Vivien played a Ukelele & I remember him playing at our house on Grant Ave. When Agnes came to the house my Dad called her “GRAVEL GERTIE” until my mother got him aside & made him stop. The reason this started was Agnes had a gall bladder operation in the late 40’s & the Doctor said he’d give her the gallstones. She was asleep when the nurse put the small stones on a Kleenex by her bed after the operation. Agnes woke up, thought they were her pain pills & took 2 of them with water.The Nurse came in later & discovered what happened to 1/2 of the gallstones.” Gravel Gertie” was the name of a new character in Dick Tracy comic strip so Glenny’s Mom was teased about her swallowing the STONES & had that nick-name until the Mom’s straightened out the Dads. She was a very tiny lady & had a wonderful laugh.I loved to see her arriving with an armful of Glenny’s out-grown clothes.We still wore nickers then.

  2. Mike Sobeck says:

    Mike Sobeck say’s Glenn was in my class, 1951 He had the first car, we would jam as many guys in as we could , 1937 Chevy black , all you had to do was look in your Echo, 1951 class reunion book. Iam still trying to find out about Larry Curren is he still with us, Bill Karaco and I went to the 65 class reunion at the golf course.

  3. Rome Sikora says:

    Does the Duquesne nickname “Puckeye” ring a bell with anyone out there? Since reading everyones posts here, this name keeps rolling around in my head. If anyone replies, I think I already know what they will say. As I had mentioned on a previous occasion, in Duquesne most everyone had a nickname.

    Rome Sikora

  4. Barry Long says:

    JACK: if you read the sentence ending in,”Not to go into Duquesne.” After Duquesne there is a period.(end of sentence) BL are my initials signing out. Sorry to confuse you!

    • Jack Schalk says:

      I started life confused Barry, and now my eyes can’t even pick out a period at the end of a sentence. The Golden years indeed.

  5. Jack Schalk says:

    I remember a lot of things about Glenn but I wasn’t there when the dart incident occurred. I think he was the first guy I knew that put cards in his bike spokes to get the “sound”. I remember the cave and the grape arbor. I think his Dad must have had some knowledge about wines.
    We have grown up with a group of guys that were a little bit different than the norm.
    What is the Duquesne BL?

    • Barry Long says:

      Jack: Glenny”s Dad was a Streetcar Driver & his name was VIVIAN. His mom’s name was AGNES & I loved when she came to our house with stacks of warm clothes that Glenny had grown out of. I once found a Capt.America Badge i had traded to Glenny for a Sky King code Ring, in the pocket of a nice pair of corduroy pants he sent to me. Keeping that badge cost me 3 Our Fathers, & 3 Hail Marys from Father Ferenbach at confession the following week. Oh, the lessons we learned. BL

      • Jack Schalk says:

        Fr. Ferenbach must have been in a good mood to give you only three Hail Marys and three Our Fathers.
        Everyone knows what those Capt. America badges were priceless. The bad part about the rings was trying to get the green residue off your fingers.

  6. Barry Long says:

    JIM, about the GEO magazine in your blog. In 1980 Rome Sikora DHS1953 (lived on 5th St)called me. he lives in Seattle Wa & I live in Kirkland Wa; 20 miles away. He said he had gotten a magazine with a article about DUQUESNE & the Gedman family in it from one of my company’s airplanes & Wayne Gedman was in our DHS 53 class. I was on a trip the following day & went back & found a copy in the rack while on a trip to Tokyo. I made several copies of the article. I sent one to Pinky (DON) Pincoskie, one to John “YUNNO” DURIC, one to Joe Dzurcanin & the magazine to Dan Radakovich. Pinky was in Great Falls Montana,YUNNO was still in the Pgh. Pa; area & Dan had been an offensive line coach for a few NFL Teams and was winning Titles for ROBERT MORRIS’ football team. All of us were 1953 & Pinky was 54 with Joe.Joe was a retired Federal Cop in Vancouver WA. Some of the coaches were our teachers. It was a very nostalgic read. Now i have to find the movie.Keep up the good work with your blog i think i must miss some. Maybe I forget to check the notify squares? Hope you sold the house by now. Hang in there, things are starting to move slowly, but I didn’t like March’s job reports. DHS.1953 has our reunion this July26-27th @ Westwood Golf CLUB.

  7. Ken Denne says:

    Jack Schalk was a bad kid in school. No wonder John Plake had to set him straight. Jack still owes me a dollar that he borrowed from me in 1954!!!

    • Jack Schalk says:

      I still have that dollar all rolled up and waiting to give to you. I just didn’t know where you landed!
      Mr. Plake could set anyone straight.

  8. Colleen Byrne Travis says:

    Jim, We all enjoy your blog. Didn’t we get sooooo much pleasure out of just simple things? I went to Holy Name and graduated from West Mifflin North in 1968. Paul Cherekes said he is married to a Plake girl. I remember people talking about Mr. Plake, a teacher at Duquesne High School. He and his family ( of many, I might add) lived in a brick ranch house on Homestead Duquesne Road. The movie theater in Duquesne was the Plaza. That’s where the West Mifflin kids waited for the bus DMCL (Duquesne Motor Coach Lines). Of course, Woody’s Drug Store was near the theater. We would go into Woody’s for a candy bar or some treat for the bus ride up the hill. Or, maybe before we got to that stop, we went into Elsies and harrased her before buying a candy bar. There was a bus stop on Grant Ave. near a store with live chickens in the window; The next stop was for the St. Joe’s West Mifflin kids. Then, on home to watch Hank Stoll with Rodney and Kinish. Those were good times. The mill was working and men were providing for their families. They had money to pay Steve Volk for car repairs!!!!! Jim, keep it going and best wishes to Father Dennis! He is a great guy.

    • Jack Schalk says:

      You brought a name from the past to the present.
      John Plake was one of my teachers and I identify with him as being meticulous in dress and a bit hard at putting up with guys like me. He may have been a Marine during the war and brought his training home with him.
      I liked him for his style.

      • Barry Long says:

        Jack: Mr. Plake’s first day at school,he threw Ed Pakasha out of our class & I sat much straighter in my seat after that. Glenn Swank was “Glenny”to us guys. He grew out of his clothes just when I could fit into them.His mother would give them to my Mom & I had a new wardrobe for school. He enlisted in the USAF & was a crewmember. He married & his wife died leaving him with 5 small children. He raised the kids & died very young. Tom Kenny also was a friend of Glenny,s. Tom lived on Catherine St. When consumer goods started coming on the market after WW2 we all bought 5cent darts with real metal points & were throwing them into the air when Tom’s dart stuck in Glenny’s back & he never felt it. The point stayed in his back when Tom pulled on the dart. We got Tom”s Dad, & he pulled the point out using a PLIERS. I always considered Glenny Swank indestructible after that. He had a Red Ryder pump BB gun that he would shoot wooden matches from, by dropping them down the muzzle. They would ignite by firing them against the garage wall. They lived 2 houses from Margaret’s Grocery next to TIERNEY’S. Jack,do you remember the cave he had off the grape arbor behind the house? It was once a wine cellar & white-wased inside. Drop me a line. DHS 1953 has a reunion this summer 26-27-28 July @ the old Duquesne golf club (now WESTWOOD).
        We’ve been warned NOT to go into Duquesne.BL

      • Bob Chermonitz says:

        Jack, Mr. Plake was WWII Navy. Even in the later 60’s one did not mess with him! He would often take smart asses into his “private office” across the hall (the men’s room). Anyone who went returned a different person. I tried to avoid that special lesson. I had him right after lunch. Lunch was always at Novak’s Bar. After lunch was not a time to mess with him. If you get my drift. 😁

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