a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Friday, August 7, 2009

Let's party at the river

By Scott Beveridge

MONONGAHELA, Pa. – This antique photo is among an assortment of quirky items on display this weekend to celebrate the 40th birthday of an odd riverfront arena in Monongahela, Pa.

It shows Maywood Kesterson posing beside a wagon once used by J. E. Long Dairy, and on the reverse side of the postcard, someone scribbled a message to take note of the Bell Telephone lettering on the vehicle.

Kesterson’s image is tacked to a display beside a number of photographs of the old Monongahela River falling into the Monongahela River with the help of dynamite about 20 years ago.

Nearby are a few T-shirts on sale bearing hand-drawn sayings spouted by a guy named Earl who thinks you never lived until you had a snake on your head. This exhibit in the old Monongahela Ford showroom at Fourth and Chess streets pays perfect homage to something named the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium.

The stage between Third and Fourth streets where they meet the Mon has wooden plank seats painted red, white and blue to look from the sky like a U.S. flag. People go there to feed ducks or, up until recently, exchange money for drugs until the dealers were scared off or arrested by the “new sheriff in town.”

The aquatorium is in bad shape and scheduled to close after this party to undergo more than $1 million in rehabilitation work.

So hurry down to the river here at noon Saturday to witness the main event. It will feature local actors playing out an old folk song, “Monongahela Sal.” The tune is about a riverboat captain who tosses a pretty girl named Sal overboard after a night of wild lovemaking when he promised his everlasting love. Sal swims ashore and returns to shoot him in the head and then beat the rap.

This only gets better. A couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary are supposed to stop by the nearby Chess Park at noon p.m. Sunday to renew their marriage vows in a hippie-theme ceremony. We pray they keep their clothes on their bodies.

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