Jul 3, 2011

Growing up Parkway

I'm a baby boomer. I was born in December of 1946. As soon as my mother climbed out of the hospital bed, another woman climbed in. I grew up in the neighborhood now called Little Lehigh Manor, wedged between Lehigh Street and the top of the ravine above Lehigh Parkway. That's me on our lawn at the intersection of Catalina and Liberator Avenues, named after airplanes made by Vultee Corporation for the War. We had our own elementary school, our own grocery store, and the park to play in. On Saturdays, older kids would take us along on the trolley, and later the bus, over the 8TH Street Bridge to Hamilton Street. There were far too many stores to see everything. After a matinee of cartoons or Flash Gordon, and a banana split at one of the five and dimes, we would take the bus back over the bridge to Lehigh Street.

Not that many people know where Lehigh Parkway Elementary School is. It's tucked up at the back of the development of twin homes on a dead end street, but I won't say exactly where. I do want to talk about the photograph. It's May Day, around 1952-53. May Day was big then, so were the unions; Most of the fathers worked at the Steel, Mack, Black and Decker, and a hundred other factories going full tilt after the war. The houses were about 8 years old, and there were no fences yet. Hundreds of kids would migrate from one yard to another, and every mother would assume some responsibility for the herd when it was in her yard. Laundry was hung out to dry. If you notice, most of the "audience" are mothers, dads mostly were at work. I'm at the front, right of center, with a light shirt and long belt tail. Don't remember the girl, but see the boy in front of me with the big head? His father had the whole basement setup year round with a huge model train layout. There were so many kid's, the school only went up to second grade. We would then be bused to Jefferson School for third through sixth grade. The neighborhood had its own Halloween Parade and Easter egg hunt. We all walked to school, no one being more than four blocks away. Years ago when I met my significant other, she told me she taught at an elementary school on the south side, but that I would have no idea where it was.

compilation of two posts from June 2008

reproduced and retitled from Dec. 21, 2009


gary ledebur said...

I too am a baby boomer and remember the many steel mills in western Pennsylvania where I grew up. All the fathers in my community worked in the mills and life was very nice.

I was at the LeMont Restaurant on the top of Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh in 1973 or 1974 with my significant other and we were watching helicopters take off and land atop the US Steel building downtown. It was a busy night for the steel execs.

Well the next day the call-in radio shows, the blogs of the day, were flooded with irate citizens. Were they irate about the steel execs? No. They were irate about Pittsburgh City Council giving themselves a pay raise. No a word about the helicopters and what they might be doing.

Also the next day US Steel announced the closing of three steel mills.

Anonymous said...

Great post Michael. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky
This comment is not about the Parkway but nearby Walnut at 11th where a property owner seeks zoning permission for additional apartments. Maybe someone who lives nearby may be concerned.

Anonymous said...

The "Liberator" was the B24 (Consolidated), a heavy 4 engine bomber. One of these crashed in the Libyan desert during WW2. I spent much time in Libya during the early 60's at a base called Wheelus. One of the propellers of the "Lady Be Good" was on display under the American flag near the air terminal with a plaque describing what happened to the crew. The story is here: http://www.rommelinlibya.com/ladybegood/ladybegood.html


Anonymous said...
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michael molovinsky said...

i suppose a few guidelines on comments are in order, in that i have deleted several from this post. first of all, my guidelines are admittedly inconsistent. on this post, for instance, i'm particularly sensitive, because i'm partial to this neighborhood, and my past. because the comments become somewhat associated with a post, i may delete a comment which reflects an attitude that i do not want to be associated with my post. i may delete a comment which i think is going to foster an off topic back and forth. i may delete a comment i find redundant. never the less, i do appreciate people reading this blog and commenting.

Anonymous said...

Mike I was at the Queen City Diner for breakfast Monday and saw a car in the parking lot with a "Parkway Elementary" magnetic sign on the back.

I liked seeing it. Sure it's only a magnet, but a kid cared enough to probably hound his parents to get one and slap it on there. That's a good thing.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Love the looks back. Also a Baby Boomer, and I too tend to remember with fondness those quaint days of stay at home moms, nuclear families, and a society that made sense to me.

Now pardon me while I chase some kids from my lawn.

Voice of Reason

Mike Schware said...

MM -

Lehigh Parkway was my first school experience, as I attended kindergarten there. I can still remember the ride in the yellow school bus each day from Alton Park (where I lived).

Great memories of school and the annual festival, which I attended for several years even though I was no longer a student there.

Anonymous said...

This could get interesting,Im also a boomer from south mountain and remember your area well.Your neighborhood anchor was parkway shopping center with Grants,Woolworths and the putt putt golf course.The rezzie,Traubs mkt,and Arena gardens skating rink were my hangouts not to mention Zestos and mountainville memorial on South 4th.For the most part fond memories.Cant imagine 50 years from now looking back to the current life and times in this town.More than sad.

Michelle Sbrocchi said...

Hello sir,

I have just recently moved to this exact neighborhood and I love it! I am originally from Chicago and my husband is from Nazareth. We relocated after living in Las Vegas for the last 5 years. Our main reason was to provide a better family life for our 18 month son. Las Vegas certainly wasn't it.

Our landlord, who grew up in the house we're renting, speaks fondly of the neighborhood and how families of 2 to 5 kids managed to fit in the cozy homes.

The neighborhood has completely won this city girl over. Now that it's starting to warm up the community is a buzz with garden work, kids running through the yards, laundry still hanging out to dry and the ever present whistle of the freight train.

Thank you for sharing your memories.