Friday, January 30, 2009

Rhino virus be gone and raise a glass to Pittsburgh

Today, it's what my mother would call 'pneumonia weather' outside. Although the rains have finally stopped and the Florida sunshine is peeking through the steely clouds, giving me hope of a warming tend, it's still cold and drippy wet and nasty. I'm still trying to get over my rhino virus too. I was feeling so much better yesterday that I went out to an art festival patrons party and the world premiere of a new play about Annie Russell at Rollins College. I enjoyed the night out but from a health standpoint it was a mistake. It was a rainy night and after trudging around in the puddles huddled under golf umbrella, my unwelcome rhino guest is rearing his germy horn all over the place. I'm congested and coughing and staying homebound. The dogs were content to curl up on the bed with me until the raindrops stopped falling a few minutes ago but are now looking out the French doors and giving me sad sidelong glances in hope of a walk which they aren't going to get unless the temp goes into the sixties at least. Its supposed to be cold over the week end again. Phooey. I know we're faring a heck of a lot better than the northeast and true south is right now, but heck, this is FLorida and its supposed to be warm here!

At least it won't hamper my Steelers if its frosty in Tampa. Pittsburghers are used to the cold. I was too when I lived there. By the way, the President is rooting for the Steelers to win the Super Bowl, too. Right thinking, Mr. Obama! A Cardinal just landed on a bush outside the window and is looking at me. I can't tell if he's rebuking me or not. Anyway, Pittsburgh is a great place and the Steelers rock. Go Steelers!!

Speaking of things Pittsburgh, what do you think about when you hear the name? Maybe the name evokes The Steelers, Pirates, Penguins. Pittsburgh's past and deserved image as 'The Smokey City'. Or Mike Keel and some rascally riverboat pirates luring flat-boaters to their doom. 'The Gateway to the West' in pioneer days with endless trains of Conestoga wagons rolling down Indian trails. Union battles, steel mills and coal mining. Mega corporations like Alcoa and Westinghouse. Heinz ketchup and baked beans and Iron City beer. Robber barons like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick. Maybe you think of Pittsburg's master of the macabre, George Romero and The Night of the Living Dead. Or Stephen Bochco's Hill Street Blues. Mr Rogers Neighborhood. Andy Warhol, Annie Dillard, and Rachel Carson. Maybe your tummy sends images ofChipped ham and beer, polkas and Klondike Bars to your brain. Theme park aficionados may recall historic Kennywood Amusement Park with its wooden coaster beloved of many generations of children. Well, if those things evoke Pittsburgh to yuns, (you ones) yuns are right on track but here are some things you may not know about the city in which I was born:

1.Pittsburgh was founded by General John Forbes in 1758 and was originally supposed to be pronounced the Scottish way as Pittsburra not Pittsburg. The 'h' at the end of the city's name was customary if unusual and made official in 1911 by public demand. Control of the area was a primary cause of the French and Indian Wars, having been originally discovered by 'le francois' LaSalle in 1669. The French wanted western Pennsylvania to be a part of French Canada and later was a hot bed of contention between the Pennsylvania and Virginia colonies.
2. The city proper is surrounded by three rivers (Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio) and has more bridges than Venice, Italy.
3. It is comprised of very hilly terrain and has more outdoor steps than San Francisco. Until the rapid transit system was completed in the late 20th century, a primary method of public transportation was cable cars just like San Francisco (although we called them streetcars like New Orleans)
4. Pittsburgh has an annual Zombie fest.
5.The unusual English dialect spoken by Pittsburghers is attributed to influences of the Welsh/Scottish/ German/eastern European settlers and speakers are called "Yunzers". The New York Times called Pittsburg "The Galapagos Islands of American dialect".
6. The first radio station in America was KDKA in Pittsburgh.

So now you know about my place. I miss it despite decades of living in Florida....but not in winter.

Hope yuns have a great weekend. Irregardless, look aht for folks who are sneezing. Ferget about goin dahntahn all dressed up and wearin high hills. Don't worry about wershing clothes or redding up yer place either. Jest settle dahn in front of the TV with some Pop or an Arn, a chipp chopp sandwich or jumbo an a dill an a Klondike fer dessert an root fer the Stillers over that team from that place west of Ahia.

If you could read and understand the above message, you can speak Pittsburgh. Ta.

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