Memories of Fall

It’s time for me to empty my notebook of miscellaneous subjects that I have been holding on to, BUT could never find an appropriate post to mention them. In past posts I referred to this dilemma as needing to “empty the ketchup bottle” and getting out every last tidbit of memories that I might have thought of into a post. Now that it is officially Autumn, many memories about this time of year in Duquesne come rushing back to me.

I use The Duquesne Times as a constant source of research and recollections. I will often read through The Times for a particular time of year and instantly find inspiration for another post for The Duquesne Hunky. A subject that I haven’t really addressed, but one that was a heated topic among many Duquesne citizens, was city political candidates. I remember my dad and my uncles talking about mayoral and city council candidates whenever election time was near. Of course, the candidates were usually being discussed over shots and beers and a game of euchre, so the accuracy of the various comments and discussions became rather suspect, especially as the night rolled on.

1957 1

1957 Candidates

1957 2

1957 Candidates

I was clueless about who the people were that they were talking about, but I remembered many of the names that were always mentioned. In addition, there were signs all around the city that were posted to walls, telephone poles, on pins that people wore on their jackets or their lapels, and even the occasional billboard. As I review the copies of The Duquesne Times from the years of my youth, I still recall so many names of the men who ran for office. Unfortunately, I have yet to discover a female candidate for office in any of the issues yet.

I could never forget the name that my father ALWAYS talked about, Kopriver. Who could ever forget the campaign slogan “Pull the Top Lever for Kopriver!” His name resonated year after year, after year. Frank Kopriver Jr. was Duquesne’s mayor through most of my childhood. In November of 1945, then Councilman Kopriver was first elected mayor of Duquesne. He went on to win re-election in 1949, 1953 and 1957. Quite a run in office! Mayor Kopriver was also delegate to at the Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania in 1948 and member of Pennsylvania state senate 45th District, 1953-60.


1953 Candidates

1953 Candidates


1953 Candidates

The other name that I remember being discussed was Leonard Staisey. When I was a teen,staiseyfamily_leonardcstaiseypapersandphotographs_mss_0275 I was very good friends with his daughter, Nancy, but knew little about his political career. My uncle, Sam Carr, first introduced me to Nancy, but didn’t go into detail about her dad. Since I have been writing this blog, I have learned so much about Senator Staisey. He was a very active member of Duquesne government as a Councilman, various Board memberships and an unsuccessful run for mayor in 1957 against Mayor Kopriver.

According to Wikipedia:

Leonard C. Staisey (November 10, 1920 – October 4, 1990) was a Democratic politician from Pennsylvania. Although Senator Staisey was born in Pittsburgh, he lived for most of his life in Duquesne. He was a member of the State Senate from 1961 to 1966, when he resigned to run for Lieutenant Governor. staisey_leonardcstaiseypapersandphotographs_mss_02751Considered a rising star in the Democratic party, he ran on a ticket with Milton Shapp, who would lose to Ray Shafer. From 1968 to 1976, he served as an Allegheny County Commissioner. In 1979, he was appointed as a federal judge, and he served in this position until he resigned due to illness in 1989. The name of Staisey, who was legally blind, adorns a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh branch specializing in providing access for the physically handicapped.

I remember him as just a kind and friendly dad who always made me and all of Nancy’s friends feel at home. Just a regular guy.


Eagle AD

OK, here’s a thought from left field for you to think about. Who remembers being given some sweet, wonderful tasting, yellow syrupy liquid that Mom used to keep in the fridge? Homocebrin! Just before bed each evening, Mom would call my brother and I into the kitchen for our teaspoonful of the “it’ll make you grown up stronger and stronger” elixir. We never hesitated since it tasted so good. I remember the dark brown bottle and how the liquid just seemed to ooze out. I found an ad in the Duquesne times that advertised the vitamin and thought you’d enjoy seeing it and the “medicine showish” advertising! Kinda reminds me of Lucy Ricardo hawking Vitameatavegamin on I Love Lucy!


LeavesWhen I visited Duquesne a few weeks ago, I traveled from Breezewood via Rt. 30. Most people roll their eyes thinking of me traversing the mountains on a one lane road instead of the Turnpike, but it was the route that my dad always took. I enjoy traveling along the mountainside scenery, especial in the fall, since I can enjoy the sights, sounds and smells that autumn brings. Specifically, the faint smell of someone burning a pile of leaves in their yard.

As a young boy, I remember that many of our neighbors would burning their leaves each fall. I have no idea whether ordinances were in place that restricted burning the leaves, but it they were in place, many people ignored them. As we would drive down Kennedy Ave. or just about any street in Duquesne, I would often see a small pile of leaves smoldering along the curb, being tended by a sentry armed with a rake.

The smell was somewhat pungent and would burn in our noses, but we never seemed to mind. Today, the smell just reminds me of a bygone era. To me, it’s the aroma of Autumn, just like the fragrance of pine is the aroma of Christmas.


In closing, I need you to think about the Halloweens of your youth. Candy was safe to eat, costumes were as simple as an old white sheet with two eye holes cut into it, it was safe for a child to walk the streets at night trick or treating, dried fallen leaves crunched under your feet as you walked along the sidewalks, every home had a warm and bright welcoming front porch light greeting you and the amount and size of the candy bars you received was monumental. So grab a cup of hot apple cider, cozy down into a comfortable chair and enjoy a few Halloween recaps from The Duquesne Times.

Happy Halloween my friends!

Halloween 1945

Halloween 1945

Halloween - 1950

Halloween – 1950


This entry was posted in Autumntime, Duquesne's Special Citizens, Holidays - Non-Christmas and New Years, Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Memories of Fall

  1. Doris (Voron) McCreary says:

    Alan, I just heard from cousin Patty about your mother. I wish to send my condolences to you and family on her passing. I remember her always with a smile. I’ve been involved with genealogy for the past several years and have info on the Belancik family. If you’d like me to send it to you contact me at my email: Doris (Voron) McCreary

  2. Alan says:

    Jim, Happy Birthday! My wife, Lynne, and I were recently in Duquesne, but the trip was a sad one. We buried my Mom on Oct. 31st. Anyone who knew her would say she was outgoing and kind and friendly to all. We’ll miss her. The beauty of the autumn trees cushioned the sadness at the cemetery at Holy Trinity.

    Be well. Thanks for all you do for us hunkies!!

    Cheers, Alan Belancik

    • Lou A. says:

      Alan, my condolences on your loss. I remember your mother from our years at Serra; I hadn’t seen her for decades until a few years ago when she recognized me at a Saturday night Mass at HT. I did not immediately recognize her, but Mom reminded me. She and Mom are from a diminishing circle…. We go to Mass at HT often when we visit Mom, who is still living alone at 89 at home on Maryland Ave.

    • Bob Chermonitz says:

      Alan, I am sorry to hear of your mothers passing. I recall your mother, as well as your dad, fondly. When I lived on Clearview we had a lot of good times. How quickly time passes but the good memories live on. Bob

  3. Steve Balta says:

    Memories of Fall stirs thoughts in a totally different direction for me. My gang of buddies and I were fervent followers of many TV shows such as The Lone Ranger, Hop Along Cassidy, The Cisco Kid and others of that genre. As imaginative youngsters of about 8 years old, we loved to reenact what we had seen on the small screen. Playing Cowboys and Indians was a favorite diversion, and we were quite adept at producing costumes and accessories, including very functional bows and arrows. So, to our way of thinking, it was totally logical to launch an attack on the Cowboy fort with flaming arrows! It never occurred to a bunch of 8 year olds that such a tactic would ignite the fallen dry autumn leaves and underbrush, thus setting the entire hillside ablaze. After ditching the costumes, we were totally engrossed watching the awesome Duquesne Fire Department quickly extinguish the blaze. Oh those Fall memories!

  4. Colleen Byrne Travis says:

    I remember that brown bottle of Homocibrin in the fridge! It really did taste good.

  5. Jack Schalk says:

    Jim, you really know where to look to loosen the grip of time for these old memories.
    My Dad led the Mummers parade in 1948 in a new Jeepster from his car dealership. A few of us sat in back passing out candy while driving along the parade route. I was amazed at the number of people that stood along the sidewalk.
    Then there is the picture of my father in law, Gene Hollar, shown when he was running for school director. I’m going to print this out for my kids. They’ll love it and thank you for posting it.

    • Ken Denne says:

      Gene Hollar told Myles Zeleznik that there was a basketball player on Friendship St. that he should look at!!!!

      • Jack Schalk says:

        Your abilities were well known in Duquesne, away from the bricks of Friendship St.
        I was always amazed at how easy sports were for you while I just stumbled around.

  6. jane king says:

    Dear Jim : Love your posts ,so many memories. I’m writing to ask how you get access to The Duquesne Times. I’m very involved in geneaology and would love it if it is on line. I’ve tried to find it and can;t. Any help is appreciated. Janie King

    Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 15:17:28 +0000 To:

  7. Greg Moran says:

    Do you remember when George Pastrick used to ride around the streets of Duquesne with speakers on top of his truck announcing the Zemps games and other events happening that day, including parades.

    • Steve Balta says:

      I sure do! I also remember the huckster coming up Crawford with a horse drawn wagon, the umbrella man fixing umbrellas, the knife sharpener, and best of all Mr. Medich, aka “Dairy Dan” driving around selling soft serve. One of the best memories is that of your Mom’s fish sandwhiches at the Union Grill.

  8. Can’t relate to too many things on this blog but enjoy it just the same….I DID take the liquid U refer to and knew the name (it was a vitamin elixir that I remember)! FUNNY….some things U never forget!!!!!! (60 years or 65 ago we had it in the frig!!!)
    Thanks for the MEMORIES!!!!!

  9. says:

    Hi Jim: I’m 82 and have lived in Duquesne all my life.You brought so many memories back, I remember all these politicians. Thank you for the memories. Dorothy Hubbell

  10. pjangus says:

    Funny you should write about Halloween after reading the Times. I was recently looking through 1930 issues of the Duquesne Times, and the Mummers Parade articles really sent me down memory lane as well. Halloween was sure different when I was a kid. My mother always sewed us unique costumes out of old drapes or inexpensive fabric, and we would participate in parades. Her costumes frequently won prizes in the competitions associated with the parades. I also remember we always had a Leonard Staisey campaign sign out in our front yard at election time! I personally did not know him, but my dad did. And yes, Candy was safe to eat and we got so many full size candy bars in our stash! Now those were the days! Thanks for the memories, Jim!

  11. Sam Gizzi says:

    We were neighbors of Jasper Falvo. They were a great family to have next door to us.

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