a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Monday, May 31, 2010

Honoring a soldier

We pause to pay tribute to this unidentified American veteran of World War I in honor of Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

June Hart Beveridge

Travel With a Beveridge has taken a break, due to a death in the family

June Hart Beveridge, 80, of Third Street, Webster, died Friday, May 21, 2010, in her home following a long struggle with emphysema.

She was born July 2, 1929, in Newell, Fayette County, Pa., a daughter of Howard Swope and Iva Dail Coughenour Hart.

On July 5, 1952, she married James Robert Beveridge, who died March 5, 2007.

Mrs. Beveridge was a career woman most of her adult life, having retired in 2009 from Rostraver Township, where she worked as a police clerk. She also was retired from Gerald Vitale Construction of North Charleroi, where she worked as office manager and bookkeeper. She also was a notary, and just recently had started blogging, anonymously.

She loved to crochet, and had belonged to a card club with her friends for more than five decades. She also was an avid self-taught genealogist.

Mrs. Beveridge was recently accepted into the Daughters of the American Revolution as a direct descendant of Henry Lenox Sheppard, an early Westmoreland County settler who served in the Continental Army.

She was a long-time member of the Rostraver Township Recreation Commission, on which she served as board secretary.

Surviving are three sons: James L. Beveridge and wife, Kristie, of Lewisville, Texas; Scott Beveridge of Webster; and G. Kelly Beveridge and wife, Charity, of Greensburg; seven grandchildren, Casey, Shannon, Dillon and Victoria Beveridge of Texas and Kami, Kyle and Kenzie Beveridge of Greensburg; two sisters, Shirley Rozik of Greensburg and Bonnie Rozik of Webster; and a brother, James Hart, also of Webster; and numerous nieces and nephews.

In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by four brothers, Harold, William, Robert and Herk Hart; and a sister, Nancy Hart.

Arrangements were being handled by James C. Stump Funeral Home Inc.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mom and the girls

Mom, center, with her best friend, Stella Borrelli, right, and an unidentified woman at Stella's row house near Bentleyville, Pa, circa 1956.

By Scott Beveridge,

Mom was driving along when she noticed the brute beating up his woman.

He was socking the lady in the head, carrying her over a shoulder and running down a long set of wooden stairs to the street in East Monongahela, Pa.

It was a cool evening in the mid-1960s. With the car windows rolled down, we could hear the woman screaming for help.

Without hesitation, my mother - June Hart Beveridge - standing 5 feet, 2 inches tall and about 35 years old, pulled over her car and jumped out to intervene.

"Put her down," she screamed to the stranger.

The guy obeyed her command. And then he started running toward us, arms free.

June, startled and flustered, jumped back in her clunker of a car and engaged its engine.  Looking down at the dashboard, she announced to no surprise that we were cruising again on an empty tank of gasoline.

We sped off, with my brother, Kelly, younger than me by two years, staring out the rear-view mirror to see if that bastard would give chase. He was about 6 years old. We almost peed ourselves in fear that our car might break down or run out of gas before we would reach the three miles to our home in Webster and to protection. The moron left us alone. Mom hoped the interruption gave the victim time to get away.

This has become my favorite story about mom, who has made incredible bonds with the many women who came into her life. There were several times over the years when her female friends showed at our house with blackened eyes or bleeding noses after their husbands had beaten the crap out of them.

Mom comforted them with common-sense advise on how to get through the abuse, and also prevent it from happening again. They admired her, greatly.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No surprise here

It would seem that journalist Amanda Gillooly's lazy, corpulent cat, Lincoln, is becoming addicted to Facebook, too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The brownie extreme

It's not just icing atop the gourmet brownies at the new Giant Eagle Market District mega-grocery store in Robinson Township, near Pittsburgh.

It's art.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guys who prefer horseshoes over Wii bowling

By Scott Beveridge

WASHINGTON, Pa. – It's been so long since a woman entered the competition at the Washington County Horseshoe Club that no one there can even remember her name.

And the men who hang out at this low-rent club don't seem to care that discrimination barriers are not being challenged or broken there nearly four decades after the Equal Rights Amendment became law. 

"When my wife came in one day, it was like a church," said Jason Conkle of Washington, Pa., who, at 32, is one of the youngest members of the club. 

Men from all walks of life – rich types, steelworkers, mechanics and farmers – join in these games three days a week inside the club's barn at Washington County Fairgrounds, its members say. 

The fair leases the place to the club with about 40 players and dwindling membership for $1,200 a year, member Albert "Dutch" Germeyer of McMurray said. 

This is a game requiring real-time skills and facing much cooler competition with the rapidly growing computer/video gaming industry. 

"When we were young, that's all there was to do," said Germeyer, 65. 

But, the highest-tech gadget in this barn is an old General Electric clock on one wall. The scores are kept on hand-turned dials, and members receive memos on a slate blackboard hanging on a wall. 

These guys also relieve themselves in an outhouse reached from a door at the back of the barn, and wash their hands in rainwater collected in a barrel from the roof. 

"There is no running water here," said Andy Roman of Burgettstown, who suffered one of the worst injuries tossing horseshoes in the club's history.

"I broke a toe," Roman, 75, said. "The horseshoe came off the peg and hit my big toe." 

Something more serious as fighting over a ringer will get players thrown out and suspended. 

That's rare here, though, where the friendships, comedy and food are more important than winning at shoes. 

The game is played using two pits on each end of the room, set apart a distance of 40 feet. Each pit holds a steel stake at its center that serves as the target. There are two teams of as many players, with each throwing two shoes per inning. A shoe encircling the stake, or a ringer, is worth three points. When there is no ringer, the person who tosses a horseshoe closest to the stake earns a point. 

On a recent spring night, the players are enjoying hot sausage sandwiches someone brought from home. For those who want something stronger than the coffee on the back shelf, it's OK to bring their own beer. 

That's about as fancy as it gets on any good night. 

This room is little more than a concrete floor with four cut-outs for the clay pits. A players' gallery lines one wall behind a counter, where the audience watches the competitions from plain wooden benches. 

A display of yellowing newspaper clippings is tacked to an opposing wall, reminders of the days before such inventions as Wii bowling helped to cause people to lose interest in this game. 

Thirty, 40 years ago there were seven or eight men in the Pittsburgh area who threw 80 ringers out of every 100 tosses, Germeyer said. 

"Now there are only two guys in the world who are that good," he said. "It's a dying sport." 

The competition isn't all that important these days, said Joe Tokarski of McDonald. 

"You'll have guys who enjoy the game every bits as much as the comedy," Tokarski said. 

"I come here after work to unwind," added Drew Koteles, 56, who owns a Finleyville auto service garage. "This is my therapy."

This article originally appeared in the Observer-Reporter newspaper, Washington, Pa.

Monday, May 10, 2010

An open-minded letter from Amanda Gillooly

Dear RuPaul,

The fact my Pap thought you were sexy endeared you to me way back in ’93.

You were sashaying down a cat walk in a skin-tight white dress and hair stacked high and mightily. Despite your perfectly applied eye makeup and impeccable lip liner, I knew – we all knew – you were a man.

Except Pap.

Although never a fan of the new fangled music featured on MTV, he would sit in the living room while it was on, reading the newspaper or suffering over the last few clues of the daily crossword puzzle.

I had been waiting for him to look up, see a man in full-on glam mode and utter a less-than-kind assessment of your talent, Ru.

But when he finally looked up, a sly grin had worked itself across his wrinkled face and there was no trace of disdain.

“That’s a good looking woman,” Pap said, his eyes fixed to the screen.

In my head a record had screeched. Had my 70-something-year-old Pap just called a drag queen a siren?

I could have let it go, and perhaps should have let it go. But leaving well enough alone has never been my best look.

So I said: “Pap, you realize that’s a dude, right?”

His response was dubious.

“You’re crazy. Look at her…”

And then he did. For a good minute he drank you in. But when he spoke next, it wasn’t what I expected.

“Well, he’s a good lookin’ woman,” he said simply, shrugging his shoulders with a little surprised chuckle before going back to that day’s 43 across or 27 down.

We’ve come a long way since 1993. Since then, you’ve become the symbol of drag queen glamour, and most recently introduced main stream America to the inner-workings of gender bending through your hit cable television series “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

I regret that I did not see that first season. By the time I got on the ‘Drag Race’ bandwagon, you had assembled a second ensemble for your sophomore effort.

And I was hooked. It was really quite compelling. From famous taglines such as, “Shantay, you stay” and “It’s time to lip sync… for your life – and don’t (bleep) it up” to the wonky challenges, I tuned in regularly.

I’ll admit my 50-something bachelor uncle was less than pleased when I declared I was watching an episode I had saved on the DVR one evening. He groaned and uttered the appropriate “I’m a straight alpha male, what is this crap?” grumblings by the first commercial break.

By the end of the first show, he told me, “If you tell anybody I like ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ I will adamantly deny it.”

By the end of the second show, he informed me Jujube was the queen to beat. I, of course, politely disagreed – Raven was clearly the front runner.

As it turned out, we were both wrong (but both of our chosen queens still made it to the top three, so there’s something). And to me, there was as much sentimentality as humor in the show, which I appreciated.

Forgive me for this sort of “Wonder Years” revelation, but the contestants’ backgrounds showed the humanity behind the makeup.

As they put on their padding and applied their foundation and lashes, they also dished about their lives. About how they want to marry their longtime partners and aren’t legally permitted to. How their parents disowned them when they discovered their sexual preference. But at base, how they all found a sort of security and newfound sense of self in their female alter egos. 

Having attended Point Park University when it was still just two buildings in downtown Pittsburgh and a Playhouse in Oakland, some of my best friends are fabulous gay men and some of those fabulous gay men are even more fabulous drag queens.

So I thank you for helping people put a more human face on the whole culture, all while maintaining the levity that allows people like my uncle and even my Pap to see the beauty in what may at first seem too different for folks like then to be comfortable with in a more sanitized setting.

I’ll be watching your newest venture, “Drag U,” which will help actual ladies get in touch with their inner divas with the help of your instructors – your “Drag Race” contestants. And I can’t help but wonder what my Drag Point Average would be.

Warmest Regards,

Amanda “Raven needs to teach me the smoky eye technique” Gillooly

Amanda Gillooly is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh, and currently working on a project at The Innocence Institute of Point Park University. She can be reached at, amandabgillooly@gmail.com

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Good Mother's Day to you

A message from my mom, June Hart Beveridge, shown above in her house in 1986:

"There was never a great man who had not a great mother,"

-Olive Schreiner, "The Story of an African Farm"

Friday, May 7, 2010

Collapsed ice arena being ground down

The Rostraver Ice Garden's arched trusses that gave way under a heavy February snow are being ground into mulch as the landmark is being demolished. Word has it that the place might reopen on time, and it appears in the photo, below,  as if the owner is keeping Murph's Pub intact.

Here is what the owner of the indoor hockey arena had to say to the Observer-Reporter newspaper two months ago about his plans to rebuild:

The roof at an indoor Mon Valley ice rink likely collapsed last month because of a disproportionate load of snow atop the structure, the owner announced today.
An engineering firm made the determination because of drifting that put 5 feet of snow on one side of the roof at Rostraver Ice Garden and about 18 inches on the other, owner Jim Murphy said.
He made the announcement during a news conference, where he firmed up his plans to rebuild in time for the start of the next hockey season in early September.
"We're going to be able to pull this off," Murphy said. "It's not going to be an easy task."
No one was injured when a large section of the roof slowly fell onto the ice Feb. 14 during a break in a youth hockey tournament.
Nearly 100 people fled the 50-year-old building that afternoon as the compression blew food off plates at two parties, Murphy said.
"You could sense the overall fear throughout the facility," he said.
Pressure from the collapse of three arched wooden trusses also lifted other roof support beams off their foundations, damaging them significantly, Murphy said.
Four of the other eight trusses probably will be demolished because of the damages, he said. In all likelihood, a new prefabricated steel building will be erected over the ice rink.
Murphy said the building is insured for $3.5 million, and that the rink did not appear to sustain damages. Debris removal should begin this week, he said.

"A Little Bluer Than That"

By Irene Kelley of Nashville, Tenn., formerly of Latrobe, Pa.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

License and Registration Please

License and Registration Please, originally uploaded by anyjazz65.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

High school dress code, flashback to the 1970s

Members of the International Thespian Society of 1973 at Belle Vernon Area High School.

My yellowing high school student handbook turned up in the desk this morning while I rummaged for an old-fashioned checkbook to pay the monthly electric bill to a supplier whose online services have not been user friendly.

So late tonight I flipped through the rules for 1970 to 1973 to attend Belle Vernon Area High School to the dress code for a time when such things as marijuana and cigarette smoking were pretty much overlooked by the teachers.

Yet there were still a few teachers there with measuring sticks to check the lengths of girls' skirts to make sure they didn't fall too high above the knee. (Well that probably was a lame an excuse for freaky adults to get closer looks at the young girls' legs.)

A quick glance at our 1973 yearbook revealed the girls were some of the biggest violators of the code for their having had the audacity to wear trousers, no matter how kooky they looked in extra wide cut slacks with bold plaid prints. 

It seemed, though, that most of my classmates at the public school in southwestern Pennsylvania followed the following silly dress code:

1. Dresses and skirts

A. The length of a dress or skirt should be modest and in good taste.
B. Skirts should be loose enough to fall freely and allow comfort when sitting.
C. No jump suits, bloomer dresses, slacks or shorts will be permitted to be worn in school.

II. Trousers

A. Any trousers may be worn so long as they are clean, pressed and neat-looking, provided they are moderately fitted. Blue jeans are not considered proper school attire.
B. The tops of trousers should be worn above the hips.

III. Shirts

A. Shirts should have only one button open at the collar
B. The collar on shirts should be kept down
C. Shirts that are styled to be worn outside may be worn so, provided they are square cut. Shirts that are styled to be worn inside the trousers must be worn that way.
D. "T" shirts will not be permitted to be worn as an outer garment.

IV. Sweatshirts

A. The wearing of sweatshirts is not considered proper school attire

Meanwhile, shoes were expected to be neat and clean. Boys and girls were required to wear socks at all times. Girls had the option of wearing stockings. Girls were supposed to also wear moderate amounts of make-up.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Miss Jessie Sine

Aunt Jess wore her sorrows on her sleeves until the day she died.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The "greener" burger

By Scott Beveridge

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Sonoma Grille dishes up a beautiful burger on a shiny bun next to a pile of seasoned French fries, three thick plum tomato slices and a nice dill pickle.

Looks aside, this sandwich is far from ordinary at the West Coast-style wine bar in Pittsburgh's Penn Avenue Cultural District.

The plump burger comes from a grass-fed cow supplied to a restaurant that is buying into the fast-growing "buy local" trend followed by people who want to know where their food comes from and how far it has traveled from farm to the plate. It also serves a local braised short rib, and a mache salad with local spring radish. Fear not, though, the menu does not suggest the main ingredient in the duck dishes was shot down over in the nearby Allegheny River.

The beef in my burger, according to the menu, once had a life at the Ron Gargasz organic farm in Volant, a Pennsylvania town that really isn't local to Pittsburgh, either. The beautiful village of Volant is an hour's drive from the city, but it's close enough at time when the average cow has been traveling 1,200 miles from the farm to a feed lot before its meat is sold in supermarkets.

Consumers have been considering alternatives to feeding on products sold from corporate farms because of all of the food scares, the most famous of which put Chi Chi's out of business after three people died of liver failure in 2003 after they ate tainted green onions at one of its chains north of Pittsburgh.

Then Time magazine featured a cover story last summer, "From Farm to Fork," exposing crowded livestock practices at farms owned by megacorporations. The article concluded that America's addiction to meat has contributed to an epidemic of obesity. At the same time, these giant farms consume more fossil fuels than any other source, and seep fertilizers that are damaging the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico, the magazine reported. The investigative piece came out shortly after a documentary, Food Inc., tackled similar concerns.

The Sonoma burger was the first organic one of its kind that I have ever ordered from a menu, and I admit that it wasn't as flavorful as those from cows, which had been fed corn, antibiotics and hormones. It was a bit dry, almost like chewing on meat mixed with whole grains. And the fact it was paired with processed potatoes was odd, considering that people who have been turning away from non-local products also don't want to eat processed foods. I'm thinking deep-fried green beans or freshly-made potato chips would have been a better marriage on that plate for those wanting to feed on supposedly healthier red meat.

Regardless, I've been digging this buy local concept. And that sandwich didn't sit in my belly like a lead balloon, as have most of its competition in the burger wars.