When I think of home, I think of a place
where there was love overflowing.
I wish I was home, I wish I was back there.
Mid all the things I knew while I was growing.
‘Neath the amber colored night, sidewalks glistened gritty beauty,
When suddenly the raindrops that fall, had a mission, a duty
as they showered Duquesne, with a cool cleansing rain.
Maybe there’s a chance for me to go back
Now that I have some direction.
It sure would be so nice to be back home
where there’s love and affection.
And just maybe, I can convince time to slow up,
giving me enough time in my life, to grow up.
Time be my friend and let me start again.
That world is gone now and changed its face,
but I still know where I’m going.
My mind has been part of life’s foolish rat race,
and yet I’ve felt it growing.
I’ve learned that we must look inside our hearts to find
a world full of love, like our childhood’s kind,
(Adapted from “Home,” by Charlie Smalls)
For some reason, I feel more homesick for the Duquesne of my childhood than ever. Perhaps it’s the result of several wonderful and positive comments that my blog recently received from all of you. It certainly made me feel that my efforts were worthwhile, and that more importantly, I was at least bringing a smile to someone’s face. I am overjoyed with the fact that The Duquesne Hunky Blog has had over 257,000 hits since its inception. Who would have thought!
I tend to think of my posts at times as just some of the casual ramblings that friends and neighbors used to have while sitting around on a cool summer evening. Let’s just call them “Front Porch Conversations.”
As I got older, running and playing the outdoor games that children play at night became a thing of the past. Catching lightening bugs, hide and go seek or just the simple joy of chasing one another, gave way to spending idle time, with family, friends and neighbors.
All during high school and college, I spent so many summer days and/or evenings sitting on my Aunt Mary’s front porch at her home on Martin St. The porch was a shady retreat from the summer heat as well as a cool rainy day. Since the front and sides of the porch had heavy canvas awnings, we were always protected from the scorching sun and from the foulest of summer showers. I recall sitting for hours on end, talking about whatever crossed our minds as a steady stream of neighbors would come, sit a spell and then move on to other activities.
Coffee was always the beverage of choice regardless of the temperature. Somehow, sitting there chatting while drinking a hot cup of coffee, made the conversation sweeter. It reminds me of the story that someone forwarded to me years ago. It puts a smile on my face every time I read it.
On the first day of class, a university professor stood in front of his philosophy class with an empty mayonnaise jar.
Without saying a word to his students, he removed the lid of the jar and filled it with golf balls. When no more golf bars fit he closed the jar with its lid. He then asked his class, “Would you say that the jar is now full?” His students observed the jar and concluded that the jar was indeed full.
The professor then proceeded to open the jar up and started inserting marbles into the jar. The marbles started to fill the gaps between the golf balls. After sealing the jar, he asked his class once again if they thought the jar was now full. The class concluded that the jar was indeed now full.
The professor opened the jar a third time and started pouring in sand. Obviously, the sand started filling the gaps between the golf balls and the marbles. He then sealed the jar and asked his class a third time if the jar was full. His class chuckled and replied in unison, “Yes, it is now full!”
The professor opened the jar and emptied two small cups of coffee in the jar. The liquid had completely filled the gap between the golf balls, the marbles, and the grains of sand. He then began his lecture.
“I hope you realize that life is very much like this jar. The golf balls represent the important things in life, like God, family, loved ones, health, things that you care intimately about. If we lost everything else in life, our lives would still be ‘full’. The marbles are the other things in our lives that are important, but our happiness shouldn’t depend on them. Things like our work, our house, our car, etc. Finally, the sand represents everything else; the small stuff.
“If we were to have filled our jar up with sand first, there we wouldn’t have had enough room for the marbles or the golf balls. If we use all our life and energy on the small stuff, we won’t have any room for the important things.”
After a brief moment of silence, one of the students asked, “Professor, what does the coffee represent?”
“Ah, I’m glad you asked,” replied the professor. “It means that no matter how full your life is, there is always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.”
I think that the jar represents each person, and the way they choose to fill it represents their life choices. Sometimes, when I read it, I recognize that maybe I’ve given golf ball space to something that should be marble or sand sized. At any rate, it always gives me something to think about.
GROWING UP, I HEARD SO MANY STORIES ABOUT MY MOTHER’S LIFE “BELOW THE TRACKS”. DIDN’T REALLY PAY A LOT OF ATTENTION. MY SON, HOWEVER, IS VERY INTERESTED IN EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED AND LIKES THE DETAILS OF HER FAMILY’S LIFE. THERE ARE A LOT OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE WANTING TO KNOW THEIR FAMILY’S HISTORY. THE MEMORIES OF OTHER’S WHO LIVED IN DUQUESNE ARE WHAT ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS, ESPECIALLY IF ALL OF THE OLDER RELATIVES ARE DECEASED.
It has been said that we cannot go home again. But I say we can. We do so every time we look inside and recognize ourselves and see the places, people, and experiences that were home to us. No decay is there. Only a warming light.
Jim, it’s amazing how many wonderful, but half forgotten, memories your blog evokes. I suppose I’ve never considered how a little thing like coffee could bring so much happiness to folks who raised us but it did. As I look back at the role coffee played at our house I’m surprised I didn’t see this myself. As I recall that old percolator worked almost as much as my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and older family friends and neighbors combined. Almost 24/7 as they say today. Whenever I’d walk in house some visitor was always enjoying coffee at either the kitchen or dining room table or out side on one of the porches. My dad seemed to be in charge of the old pot, on the gas stove at first the later a plug in percolator. When the little glass cover would break and no replacement was at hand my dad always had a whiskey shot glass at the ready as a backup. The only one on both sides of my family who never appreciated a good cup of coffee was my grandmother who came from Ireland. A cup of tea was her relief. BTW: thanks to you I now have all those old coffee jingles from TV and radio running through my head. So to honor this blog: Let’s have another cup of coffee yes let’s have a cup of NesCafe.
Your blog brings back so many memories from growing up on Mifflin Street across from St. Joe’s cemetary gates. Up that high we had a wonderful view of the sunset and then the glow of Brown’s reserve (Century III Mall). My parents and brother and I spent so many evenings just musing on that porch. Thanks for bringing it back for me.
Your blog is a warm, small pleasure in my reading life. I stumbled upon The Duquesne Hunky while doing some online research on the Duquesne Carnegie Library. My connection with Duquesne is only tangential, based on my summer jobs at the Duquesne steel mill as I mentioned in some comments to one of your previous postings. Yet I find myself returning to your blog regularly for your cordial reminiscences on life in a simpler time. Your postings and the wonderful accompanying photos are indeed like friendly conversations on a front porch and they evoke the loyalties and allegiances we developed, if we were lucky, to family, tribe, friends, place and values during our formative years. To revisit and evoke memories of those times reminds us of who we were and how we came to be what we are now. That your blog has had over 257,000 hits is not a surprise to me. As I have read the comments of your readers over time, it is clear that your blog touches a good in place in people and provides a restorative effect. I know it does in me. Thanks for the opportunity to hang out with your crowd on your front porch and congratulations on the blog’s popularity and quality. Well done, Jim.
Just wanted to share that I enjoyed the the Analogy of Life relating to the Golf Balls, Pebbles, Sand and Coffee. Years ago when I first heard the story the liquid was beer, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Up until I was around 27 my jar, I believe my jar was filed mostly with sand and a few pebbles. Fortunately with maturity I emptied my jar and began filling it with the golf balls, pebbles etc.
The epiphany which I don’t recall was fortunate and timely for me and better things started to happen in my professional and personal life. The moral is if you feel you have too much sand in your jar, it is never to late to empty your jar and begin the process a new.
We all enjoy your Blog as we can identify with the culture and times when we grew up and all those memories and renewed friendships you have rekindled are precious to all of us so keep up the good work.
I agree with you, Dave, and you used some key words, like “rekindled” and “precious.” Notwithstanding Tom’s remark about living in the past, I sure do like “visiting” there every once in a while. One very pleasant venue for time-travel has been this wonderful blog of Jim’s. Our Class (of 1962) Reunion was another. To have had the chance to sit across the table from you and Jack Proksa, let alone socialize with my other classmates, was beyond a joyful privilege for me. When I first saw you two friends, at the reunion, you were exactly who you were 50 years ago, fun, good people, and heroes on the football field. I could see you, clearly, on the Duquesne Place field, mists of labored breath exhaled into the early evening air, as you contemplated your next moves. And immediately, as our conversation progressed at the reunion, I wanted to know who you guys had become. What a wonderful combination – past and present – just like this blog, past and present mixed together for the value of knowing who we are and who we have become. Duquesne was the foundation for it all. I can’t separate the two.
When you mentioned sitting on the front “porch” I was reminded of living in Burns Heights around 1958 or so. We lived in a cul-de-sac and on the weekends, everyone gathered at the apartment at the end of the row. The children played in the street while the adults visited. My mother and father played guitars and the night was filled with music. The adults loved singing to the old country western songs. Thank you, Jim.
Speaking of sitting on the front “porch” and chatting with friends, I was reminded when we lived in Burns Heights around 1958 or so. We lived in a cul-de-sac and on the weekends everyone gathered at the end house. The parents visited and the children played on the street. My mother and father used to play guitars and the adults loved to sing the old country western songs. What great memories I have. Thank you, Jim.
Thanks again for your fond ramblings. They remind me of the song “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce. The many times of our past lives that we ‘ve put in a bottle. Now, we are able to see them and revisit them again and again and even share ours with others and they with us, somehow, through the magic of your blog. Sometime I think there are times we wish we could call out “Do over” and like the movie “Groundhog Day” we’d have a chance to do something over until we got it right. Unfortunately life isn’t like the movies so we enjoy looking into the bottle and listening to the echo of our minds. Speaking of Echo, wasn’t that the name of the DHS yearbook?
Jim, Your efforts HAVE been worthwhile — you have brought smiles to our faces and sometimes tears — good tears, because we remember those great days — it’s is always good if you can remember your childhood with good memories — simple things like our parents entertaining on their porch with coffee — pagan babies — buying a peechee for ten cents at the “supplies store’ on the second floor of Holy Name — Kennywood — Duquesne Annex Fair etc. et. etc. you do a great job — keep the memories coming!!!!
Jim, what a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing and thanks for always sharing such wonderful memories of our past. You are amazing!!
P.S. next time you’re in town – I’ll buy (or make) you a cup of coffee!!!
It’s a date Sharyn!
Jim – sharing memories is NOT living in the past – it’s simply taking some time out of our busy lives to remember – it’s why there are class reunions, family reunions, Christmas newsletters, and Ancestry websites, traditions learned & passed on, holidays celebrated: Veterans Day, 4th of July, Memorial Day, MLK Day & on & on. Being a little older, I don’t know you personally but we sure do share alot. Thanks for the memories!
Personally, I loved it. Thank you for putting MY feelings into your words. My childhood was wonderful and I’d do it all over again, if I only could. I am today, because of who I was then.
Hey Tom, name of the blog I’d “Growing Up in Duquesne, PA. Our past shapes who we are and what we do in the future, whether you like it or not. Facing the past is inevitable, why not enjoy it?
No need to change what his blog is about, now should he? If it’s that much of an issue, please don’t read. I’m sure there’s many things out you could be doing to live in the future, rather than sit on your computer and read a blog about the past.
“In this bright future, you can’t forget your past.” -Bob Marley
Hey Tom! If you don’t like Jim’s blog that he is extremely passionate about, There is one simple thing you can do, and that is dont read it! If someone wants to blog about the past to reminisce about their childhood so be it. You are free to read it just keep your negative comments to yourself!
I did not say I did not like it. Just to that living in the past is a waste of living.
And marginalizing or forgetting the past is a waste of great living memories. Sorry, not willing to surrender them up to reality.
I think that growing up around the outskirts of Pittsburgh was truly a magical experience. We didn’t know it then, thus comes our lamentation and a desire to return. Where else could you go to sleep at night with huge bursts of fire skies beckoning outside your bedroom window, turning black night into orange day? Just listen to the magic of the language: Youghiogheny, Monongahela, Allegheny, say that three times and you get your wish! Where did that magic come from? Was it all the ole Bubbies from the old countries bringing in Slavic lure under their babushkas? Or did Queen Alliquippa put a curse on the generations of white man for the Battle of Fort Necessity? Who knows? All that I know is when I read your blog, and am reminded of my youth I get a feeling that only a Greek can convey: “He who learns must suffer,and even in our sleep,pain that can not forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair,against our will comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” Aeschylus ..
McKeesport, my youth , my memories fall drop by drop on my heart!
Jim, I have been a big fan of your writing, but we can not live in the past. It is nice to remember, but it distracts us from our present life, then where are we??? I do not mean to stop writing, but only to see if we can make more connections to our current life. Not is a “aint it awful” way but what did we understand then that we do not seem to understand now. Without blaming anyone.
I am sure many of us find a longing for the past on occasion. Doing so, it by NO means that we are living in the past. Sometimes distractions from the present life are necessary.
You are a sentimental nostalgic sap, as are those of us who love your blog. We all want to go back, yet none can.
257,000 hits is only the beginning our brother, only the beginning.
You know this: you can never go back.
Who wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Robert Pirseg, or something like that. He wrote, “to travel is better than to arrive.”
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