Monday, January 17, 2011

The Bridges of Pittsburgh

Got this e-mail from my brother today:

Hello Lee, Hello Jeff, Hello Susie:

   Judy scanned all of her parents old slides (721!) as a gift
for her mother.
   (We bought a little contraption made for that purpose,
essentially a mini viewer with a digital camera built in.)

   When we were reviewing the photos with Judy's mom,
one of the photos puzzled me because it appeared to
be the Point at Pittsburgh but the bridges were wrong.
(scanned slide is attached).

   When I got to work (of course!) I did a few seconds of
Google image searching and found the following.
   ...I thought it was interesting enough to share with my
fellow ex-Pittsburghers.


This was my response:


Hmmm, of 721 pictures, I found it perplexing that you found this one (of the Point) most exciting?
Yet, after looking at it... it is kinda interesting.  
I searched my memory of there ever being four bridges coming into the Point, and I came up blank.
I googled it and looked at current views of the Point to jog my memory (since you failed to include those).

Here they are:

Then, having way too much time on my hands... I went to , as per your links below, to find out more.

I found this interesting:

After the land was cleared of the tangle of commercial installations and decaying buildings, the park work was carried out between 1963 and 1968. Also planned was a great new highway that bisected the park, and to provide the necessary traffic interchanges, the bridges at the Point had to be removed and new ones built 900 feet upstream. The chief reason for this change was an aesthetic one, a "monumental" treatment of the Point itself which was to include a great fountain jet at the confluence of the rivers.
The Fort Pitt Bridge across the Monongahela was opened on 19 June, 1959 and accordingly the Point Bridge was closed on 21 June of the same year. (63) The Fort Duquesne Bridge over the Allegheny was completed not long afterward, but it could not be used for some years because it could not be connected with the ramps of the uncompleted highway system on the North Side. It was referred to locally as the "Bridge to Nowhere". Consequently the Manchester Bridge remained open until 1969.

No wonder I didn't remember anything, since it mostly all happened before we were born.
I do remember the phrase
"Bridge to Nowhere" being used, in reference to the Fort Duquesne Bridge.

My most lucid memory of Point State Park was probably the last time we were there as a family (I think it was the 4th of July).  There were a lot of Black people and I remember feeling uncomfortable walking around with Archie Bunker (Dad).  Then, for some reason, some wacko shvartzies started throwing lit sparklers in the air, into the crowd. This angered Dad and Jerry Sokolow (his friend), and I remember fearing for our lives, thinking a confrontation was inevitable. Nothing happened, we left.

It's been a long time since I've been to Pittsburgh... and it might be a while until I get back.

Yet, much of my leisure time is spent watching the sports teams of my youth.  

As I sit here, I'm watching a Pitt Basketball game (my Alma Mater).  
Last night, at the poker game, I wore a Steelers shirt and hat, taking shit from all the other losers (they hate us because we win).  They see me as a Steelers fan, before anything else.
I'm a big Penguins fan, and I often wear my Stanley Cup sweatshirt with pride.  
Come Stanley Cup playoff time, I have something important to do every other day.
I even have a Pirates hat that I wear on occasion. It mostly gets laughs.
Sports seems to be the only link I have left with Pittsburgh (besides for our parents).
What is most strange is that Barry has no sports ties (except vicariously through his wife Judy)... and I was thinking that if I was like Barry (not a sports fan), I'd have very little Pittsburgh left in me (except for my accent, which most people claim is still noticeable).

If I ever have a kid, you can be rest assured that he/she will be dressed up in a little Steelers outfit, even though they may never set foot in the 'Burgh... or be able to pick it out on a map.

Nobody puts Baby in a corner (except this kid's parents)


I have plans for my wife, too...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Somewhere, an old man is snoring

Every now and then, something spectacular happens in South Maui.
It rains.

Earlier today, around noon, I went to play tennis with a few friends.  Normally, the sun would be oppressively strong at that time of day, making outdoor sports/exercise better in or near the ocean.  Playing tennis in the noonday Maui sun usually feels like you're playing on the surface of the sun.
However, today was different.  It was cool when we got to the tennis courts, with a crisp southerly breeze, and the sun was obscured through a high layer of billowy clouds. 
The beach behind the courts were filled with kite surfers, who were taking advantage of the abnormal conditions, attacking the winds which were blowing from the opposite direction.

As we played tennis, it seemed like someone had put the air-conditioning on, and it was a strangely  comfortable couple of hours.  We got a set of doubles in, then we split up and played singles. We hit around for a while afterward, in no hurry, enjoying the coolness of the day.
As we were leaving the courts and heading to our cars, it began to drizzle.

"Nice timing," I said to my friend, as he said the same thing to me, at the same time.
I looked out at the ocean and noticed how dark the clouds had become on the horizon.
The wind had also picked up as the palms trees swayed and shook in unison.


By the time I got home, the rain had begun to fall steadily, but gently. 
I parked my car, then moved my scooter under the eaves of my cottage roof so it wouldn't get a soaking.
Even though it was only around 4:00, it was already starting to get dark and you could tell the real storm was about to come.  The rain continued to fall, getting stronger, and the wind became persistent and swirling .
Off in the distance, I heard the rumble of thunder.

A half of an hour later the rain really started to come down. 
The street was already filled with water, and small rivers formed and ran next to the curbs.  Lightning came unexpectedly, filling the darkened sky with a flash, quickly followed by a boom of thunder that shook my cottage.
It rained with gusto as the sky opened up in full force, unleashing a tropical deluge so thick that I could no longer see the house across the street.  The air was cool and dense, and as I stood in my doorway watching the show, I breathed deeply, gulping lungfuls that seemed clean and refreshing, so different from our everyday dust-filled, hot air.
It rained so hard that the street rivers joined and were becoming a lake.

Lightning and thunder continued for the next ten minutes, tapering off slowly as the rain began to subside.  The drizzle lasted for another ten minutes.
Then, it stopped... and it was quiet, except for the sounds of dripping.
The ground was soaked, and the wind was gone.

Tomorrow, the sun will shine as it does every day, and the tourists will go to the beach and wonder why the ocean is brown.
My cactus garden will have a group therapy meeting to work through their trauma.
My plumeria tree will be smiling, looking forward to the next rain, hoping not to have to wait another eight months.