30 Sights, Sounds and Smells of a Duquesne Summer

It has been unmercifully hot the past few nights here in Ocean Pines. I cannot remember the last time we were able to sleep with our windows open at night. We’ve become so dependent on air conditioning, I often wonder how we ever survived before.

The thoughts of the time before we all had AC brings back a lot of memories of what it was like, surviving a summer in Duquesne. I am sure we will all agree that it was quite as hot as it feels in the present day, so we had an opportunity to really appreciate the outdoors a lot more.

Just for fun, I’ve begun my list of favorite summertime memories growing up. Of course, Kennywood is a given, so I didn’t mention it in my list. However, I would enjoy hearing about some of your favorite Duquesne Summertime Memories, so please leave a comment and share it will all of us.

A few of my favorite summer memories:04oclo

1. Four o’clock flowers growing all around the neighborhood

2. Fields of lightening bugs

3. Tires on the bricks of Kennedy Ave. and throughout Duquesne

4. Kroger trucks delivering their shipments in the middle of the night.

5. Amber glow of street lights at night with a flurry of bugs flittering around them

6. The low murmur of neighbors talking on front porch while you drifted off to sleep at night

7.  The Hungarian Reform Church carillon on Sunday mornings

8.  Fields of Queen Ann’s Lace
9. Geraniums filling the greenhouses at Kopriver’s

10. PAT buses roar and doors opening

imagesCA6ODK0N11. Orange skies from the mills everywhere you looked at night.

12. Projects at the playground

13. The taste of water through the garden hose

14. Tiger lilies along the side of the road along Duquesne Rd., aka Rt. 837 toward Dravosburg

15. The smell of grilled burgers filling the air around the Duquesne Place Dairy Queen Brazier

16. Scavenging for empty pop bottles in empty lots and fields along the road

17. The drone of the transformers from the Duquesne Light Sub-Station located between Martin Street and Mifflin Street

18. Splitting and sharing a popsicle with your friend

19. The smell of chlorine from the swimming pool at the library.

20. Playing games in the middle of the street until the dark of night while your parents gabbed with the neighbors on the front porch

21. The thrill of going to the Duquesne Annex Fire Station’s Summer Fair at the top of Mellon Street
22. The sight of my dad coming home on a hot summer night carrying the familiar white cardboard box that Jim’s Hot Dogs used for take outs.

23. The sound of crickets filling the night air as I tried to fall asleep on a warm summer night with our bedroom windows open…. truly a summer symphony!

24. The ever present cacophony of machinery, distant trains and metal hitting metal that echoed over the hills from Duquesne’s steel mills.

25. The evening test of the siren at the Duquesne Annex Fire Station. I think it was tested every evening at 6 or 7 p.m.

26. Walking down Kennedy Ave from my home on Thomas Street to the library for swimming lessons and back home again. Always carried my bathing suit rolled tightly into my towel.

27. Wearing my heavy cassock and surplus and sweating while serving the 11 o’clock High Mass at Holy Name on a summer Sunday.
28. Weekend family picnics at my Uncle Gray’s and Aunt Helen’s house on Kenny St. in West Mifflin. No particular occasion other than just a reason to get together.

29. Watching my brother’s little league games at the ball field that was between City Hall and the high school, and sitting on the concrete bleachers that lined the field on the Kennedy Avenue side.

30. The special thrill of playing with grade school friends living throughout Duquesne all summer and being able to safely walk or ride my bike to any of their houses with a worry.

This entry was posted in Church and School - Holy Name, Duquesne Carnegie Library, Duquesne High School, Duquesne Place, Food and Restaurants, Life in General, Miscellaneous, Playing and Games, Sports, Summertime, The Steel Mills. Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to 30 Sights, Sounds and Smells of a Duquesne Summer

  1. Lori Achtzehn says:

    Remember the fairs in the field next to City Hall? You had to buy/wear a felt hat with a feather or risk getting picked up and put in the Kangaroo Court? Remember buying Turkish Taffy and smashing it on the ground so you could eat the pieces? Remember jumping over the cracks in the sidewalks so you wouldnt “Break your Mother’s Back! Remember lining up outside in the alley behind the Middle School on S Sixth St to get your sugar cube? Remember punching holes in the lid of a jar filled with grass to keep the lightening bugs you caught? Remember hearing the bells of the Goody Bar man and running to get money for pushups? Remember the car riding around town with the speaker on top announcing all Duquesne activities? Remember making Kleenex flowers to put on cars for weddings and then watching them parade around town, beeping their horns after coming out of church? Remember the water sprinklers hung off the S Sixth St Middle School to cool you off on a hot summer day? Oh how I could go on and on!

  2. Frank Mullen says:

    What is the actual reason Duquesne High School closed?

  3. James White says:

    We’re not ‘Hunkys’ but my mom grew up in Duquesne and my grandma lived directly across from Duquesne High School. My brother and I used to spend summers going to Kennywood, Dairy Queen, and catching fireflies at the High School all summer long before heading back down South.

  4. Butch Fike says:

    I remember the concrete ‘bleachers’ at the ball-field towards the high school . And learned to swim at the library , sliding down the hand-rails on the steps . Remember jumping off the wall behind the library or standing on the path watching that stream blow out of the 2 or 3 pipes behind the library. (boilers to heat the pool , maybe?) How about a 16 oz. bottle of Lotta Cola at Sidney’s on the corner of Kennedy & 5th . Skyscraper ice cream cones at Isaly’s on Grant (below 2nd) for 15 cents

    • Frank Mullen says:

      As a boy, I treated that Isaly’s on Grant as something of a shrine and always had the hardest time deciding on a cone of the triple sherbet, White House, or Maricopa ice cream. Sometimes, I’d actually pig-out and get two of those three top choices, one right after the other.
      I’ve often wondered if that Isaly’s in Oakland, near the theater, were still open.

  5. Lorraine Stanko Smith says:

    I remember the mill whistle.
    Walking to Oliver School, the Jr. High School and then to Duquesne High School.
    Walking down Hamilton Avenue to school and sled riding down Hamilton Avenue in the wintertime when the street was closed due to snow. Skating on the ice patches on the sidewalks on the way to school.
    The slag trucks up and down Grant Avenue.

  6. Shirley Lemak Dilla says:

    Thank you so much for writing this wonderful blog, Jim. Memories keep us warm as we grow older. It would be so nice if everyone who writes a comment would put down the year that they graduated from Duquesne High School. It would be a nice point of reference.
    Thanks again, Jim.
    Shirley Lemak Dilla
    Class of 1961

  7. George says:

    While I can’t claim to being from Duquesne, my mother is, and I had spent many a summer visiting my grandmother on Catherine Street. I recall the sight of the flames coming from mill, the smell of the sulfur and how the valley was light up from the fires. The sound of the cars going up and down the brick street as well as the great times that I had at Kennywood; I’ve been to the website and to be honest I don’t recognize most of those rides. While its fair to say that things change on a constant basis, these events, sights and sounds are now a portion of my memory that will always be with me.

  8. Marlene Prosnik says:

    OMG, had forgotten about South Park County Fairs…what a treat! Especially loved the Drum and Bugle Corps competition (remember the Pittsburgh Rockets?) Remember climbing on the “huckster’s” produce truck to scope out the fresh fruit and vegetables. Stayed up late playing release and later watching the Steve Allen Show (my sister and I thought we were sooo grown up!) Popsicles and penny candy just down the street (Earl) from my maternal grandparents. Baldy (Mr. Balchunas) had such a choice of candy that once or twice Grandma came looking for us because we spent so much time choosing. Black and white movies in the playgrounds (Burns Heights, in my case). Watching the parades w/Fireman’s Fair @Duquesne Annex (those hose fights were the best!) Outdoor swimming meets w/Duquesne Dolphins, not to mention the years of delightful fun @Kennywood’s pool (who could ever duplicate that jewel?) Church picnics w/live polka bands! Walking everywhere to visit w/friends. Another time….

  9. Lori Achtzehn says:

    Jimmy, It is amazing just how many memories that you share that are exactly like the memories I have. Lori

  10. John aka Jack Berta says:

    Hey! Anyone remember Curly the junkman?

    • Lou A. says:

      When you were ‘bad’, did your parents ever threaten to put you out for the junkman?
      “HEEEEEY, junkman!”

      • Fran Mullen says:

        The few times I was “bad,” I either received the silent-treatment/cold-shoulder, was placed under house-arrest, or (once) “got a [brief] lickin’,” which was something not in need of being repeated. Usually, if we were out in public or at relatives’ homes, a brief pressure applied to my wrist while my hand was being held (our little, secret Code) was message enough that I was being too rambunctious. I would immediately cool-my-jets.

      • Frank Mullen says:

        That’s supposed to be FRANK Mullen not “Fran” (my typo-) .Sorry.

      • John aka Jack Berta says:

        Oh yeah! And the junk I collected to take to the scrapyard my grandmother would give it to Curley to get rid of it.

    • michael voron says:

      Here comes curly…..there goes curly. Saw his truck many times on Ash Alley. Urban legend , curly also had a Caddilac
      .Who was the huckster that drove a red wagon pulled by a
      bay horse , There were quite a few lovable scoundrels, peddlers, and knights of the roads..

  11. Earl says:

    I’m late to the party, but…

    We lived in Duquesne Place. I remember seeing the lights of the Racer outside my bedroom window, and watching the Fourth of July and Italian Day fireworks from our back porch. Also, Little League games at Polish Hill, and Pony and American Legion games at the Duquesne Place field.

    • Frank Mullen says:

      Hey Earl, It sounds like you lived in one of those dark brick houses at the bottom of Herman Ave where it meets Duquesne Blvd, by the Dairy Queen. I lived on Miller Ave. Were we neighbors?

  12. Colleen Byrne Travis says:

    I remember playing a game called “Goose Egg” on a neighbor’s wall on Omar Street. Of course, it was after”street lights” which meant that you played under the street lights near your house. Our mothers washed the bed linens and hung them to dry. The linens were starched then ironed. Slipping into bed on a hot summer evening felt soooo good . The linens were so stiff yet fresh. A nice breeze from the window was great. Sunburn from swimming at Kennywood or South Park was cooled by Noxema or Sea Breeze. We did our chores, then went to the playground to make our” projects”. I had a wonderful childhood. What fun. I wish my children had that experience. I WANT IT TO BE SUMMER IN 1957 AGAIN!!!!! But it is 2013 — we drive into our garage after pushing the button to open the garage door — pour a glass of wine — enjoy the A.C. — we don’t know our neighbors — our grand children don’t know how to write — next they will not know how to spell — Oh God take us all back!

  13. Ken Denne says:

    Getting a foul ball at the Zemps game and hoping Bucky Sable or Pro Micklo gives you .$25 cents to give it back !!!

    • Judy Kray Lochner says:

      Ken, My sister Phyllis Kray Vaniel said to tell you hello. She wanted to know who still lives in your area?

      • Ken Denne says:

        I;m living in Wilmington, NC along with Dan Janusek and Marge. Roney Klemens lived here also but he passed away several years ago. Hope Phyliss is doing well. Say Heh !!!!

      • Ken Denne says:

        Again, this is Judy, the pretty petite blonde younger sister of Phyliss from Lincoln Avenue!!!!

      • Judy Kray Lochner says:

        Yes, this is the younger,pretty sister from Lincoln Ave. (Ha Ha) I told Phyllis and she wanted to know if you have gone to any of t.he reunions lately? She still lives in Hollidaysburg. Didn’t Jimmy Kosko live near you./ Phyllis and Ed were down to see us last week. We live in Chartleston,SC. We were going back to Pa one time and talked to a couple that knew you from NC.Dan’s mom lived behind my mother on Grant Ave. Small world

      • Ken Denne says:

        The last time I saw Phylis was in Hollidaysburgh in the 90;s when I was applying for a principal;s position. We had our 75 the reunion.. We all turned 75!!! Our best friends had a GNC store in Mt. Pleasant and we spent a lot of time in Charleston in the 90;s. They sold it about ten years ago and moved to Deleware. Jimmy Kosko lived in Cleveland and passed away about ten yers ago My best to Phylis ..

  14. Merle Pastrick Linn says:

    Hearing my Uncle George in his sound truck reminding people to come to watch the Zemp’s baseball game at Polish Hill Field and hearing “Dairy Dan” Mr. Medich’s truck coming. I wish just once I could hear them again.

  15. Jack Schalk says:

    Walking to the Union Woods to cook a meal over an open fire or just to shower in the sulfur waterfalls. There were a group of us that did this.
    Walking in the warm summer rains when all cares were small.
    Ball games at the slag dump off of Grant Ave. extension.
    Listening to the sounds of bells and whistles at night from the trains, and the tugboats on the Monon.
    The roar of the heavily loaded slag trucks as the made their way from the mill to the dump. They had to work hard to climb Grant Ave.

  16. Frank Mullen says:

    Though it was probably more toward the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn, (I’m not certain of the season, but the weather was always nice, and harvest time must have figured into the timing, of course; perhaps, just before school started up again,) I remember going with my mother to the “South Park County Fair.”. I always wondered who got to eat the perfect produce and baked goods after they were sampled by the judges. One year, there was a giant wastebasket announcing the anti-litter campaign, a new concept at the time, coining the term “Litter Bug.” Also, a wholly new product, represented by a giant model of it, was the “Magic Marker.” They seemed a little strange and unnecessary at the time (but they sure caught-on quickly, didn’t they.)
    During such occasions, we got to see the bison that were kept safe in South Park, which was always a unique treat I remember being told that what used to be immense heards of them wandering at-will over huge swaths of several states were, by modern times, reduced to a few individuals. I have a distinct memory of feeling sad at such loss, even as a small boy.

  17. Bob McCabe says:

    Cleaning out the coal shed each spring for our clubhouse with Bob and David Salopek and Paul Vuckevich (sp?)

  18. Memories of walking up north third street to the bridge to watch fireworks that were shot from Kennywood, sleeping on the living room floor with the front door open cause it was too hot upstairs, hanging out on Basic’s store steps while while our parents sat around and talked, going down to the shopping center and pushing carts for people from the grocery store making some pocket change, sliding down the handrails at the library and the memorial, just to mention a few

  19. Paul Neslanik says:

    Sorry Jim, I can’t remember concrete bleachers on the Kennedy avenue side of the field. I do remember the various levels of concrete to sit on in the out field underneath the high school? My memory lapses now and then.

  20. Greg says:

    The only reason you could sleep at night with the windows and doors open because it was safe back then. Today, you have to make sure all the windows and doors are locked or at some time or another some unwelcome guest will pay you a visit and it may not be friendly.

  21. Lolly says:

    How about walks to the corner store to buy some penny candy, especially during the summer months. My husband once told me that Mr. Pusky (sp?) even sold half Popsicles!

  22. Michael Bashista says:

    Great memories as always Jim.
    Watching all the fruit trees in bloom and then seeing all the fruits that we could pick and eat.
    Seeing friends at Summer Vacation Bible School
    Looking forward to spending vacation time at Ligonier summer cottage – fishing, swimming and hiking.

  23. Ray Krise says:

    Watching the water battles at the Duquesne Annex Fire station. Don’t remember if it was during the fair. Also, watching the parade from the front porch of my aunt’s house at 1510 Pennsylvania Avenue in WestMifflin.

    Spent many holiday’s at my grand parents house on Kahler Street.

    Ray Krise

    • Tom Lane says:

      Hey Ray, how about all the kids sitting on the “wall” in front of Larry’s house on Doney! Many nights there with you, sonny, Chuck, Kenny, Jerry, Larry, Jane, Cookie, and others after we played “release” or other games until the 10 curfew.

  24. Best one is #30. Such a shame its not like that anymore.

  25. Beth Pastrick Keane says:

    thanks for sharing your lovely memories

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s