a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Silver Rivers

For a fleeting moment in the 1970s I considered a career in jewelry making during art school at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Then came the sticker shock of purchasing copper, silver and semi-precious stones on a budget that could barely afford nourishment, cigarettes and the rent. It was a dream quashed on the realization that I couldn't even afford to set up a studio with blow torches and lapidary equipment.

However, Jewelry 101 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania was motivating, fun and tedious enough to keep me out of trouble in college. The professor, Mr. Hamilton, had a reputation of being difficult, and he required his students to make a metal box and something containing silver and copper, among other things.

So I came up with this design mounted on walnut, an abstract of flowing rivers beside groves of trees in seven pieces, each of which could be worn on a necklace.

And then this creation ended up tuck away in a box in a drawer soon after I realized art wasn't paying down the student loan and a regular paycheck needed to be secured.

This art remained hidden away for three decades until the other day, when it became a discovery that took me back to sweet memories of youth, romance and idealism.

Monday, June 28, 2010

This burger is a tasty stretch

By Scott Beveridge

McMURRAY, Pa. – The Ostrich Burger's name on the menu at a Belgian beer bar chain in Pittsburgh is enough to pull any hungry man's head out of the sand at suppertime.

That burger is also more than enough to capture the attention of a small group of journalists, including myself, who gather last week for happy hour at its Sharp Edge Brasserie in Peters Township, Pa., and decide to divide one of the sandwiches up for a taste.

"It's a bit gamy," I remark, repeating a phrase some people say when they taste wild duck, turkey, pheasant or quail.

There is probably a much better word to describe this sandwich made with lean ostrich and sirloin blended with caramelized red onion, cracked pepper, pepper jack cheese and ancho chili aioli. That last ingredient sounds really fancy for something that a subsequent Google search reveals to be hot-spiced-up mayonnaise.

"I think it tastes likes a meatloaf kind of oniony spicy kind of flavor," says Amanda Gillooly, a freelance writer whose witty musings sometime show up on this blog.

She is right, I think, after dribbling up the tiny leftover clumps of food on the plate. That meat tastes better without the bun, really.

Another friend, who will remain nameless to protect her from losing her new newspaper gig, said she prefers the bar's soup over this burger.

"I don't think it replaces the the hop devil potato soup," she said.

And, after the plate is cleared, Breadline blogger Michael Jones chimes in, reminding us that $13.37 is a wee bit of a steep price to pay for any burger. He's probably right on that call.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A song for the Ferry Boat Frederick

Gary Antol performs at the Bowers Brothers Lounge's first annual Ferry Boat Festival in Fredericktown, Pa., along the Monongahela River. He is part of a local band, Antol & Wyels, which turned out to help promote tourism to this part of the woods.

Bar owner John Bowers said he participated int the event also sponsored by the Maxwell Basin Recreation Area, which formed three weeks ago.

The basin stretches from Maxwell Locks and Dam near Brownsville upriver to Point Marion, said Dennis Slagel, 59, who owns Bee’s Graphics in Fredericktown and founded the organization.

“The river is the asset,” he said.

The group kicked off this summer season with Memorial Day services followed by a rib fest at a local marina. It also will sponsor a festival around the Fourth of July, complete with fireworks at dark July 3.

“We’re testing the water so far, and we’ll build on what’s to come,” Slagel said.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Freaky cat Friday

Trinny01, originally uploaded by rew2010 photography.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ready, set, laugh until you roll

This jumping on a kid's plastic Big Wheel as an adult dressed foolishly and racing one down a steep hill actually sounds like a lot of fun. Go figure it would take an 80-something Monongahela, Pa., woman, who likes to take off some of her clothes for charity, and the Mon Valley YMCA to get in on this party. Her name is Lorys Crisafulli, and I will bet anything she is decorating her three-wheeled mini-cruiser for this August 29 event as we speak.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Red, white and blue Jesus

The Fourth of July, a wagon wheel, a bird bath planter and Christianity come together in this collection of yard art in Carroll Township, Pa.

Monday, June 21, 2010

All eyes on the gold

Sean Sullivan, general manager of The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, explains how radio frequencies will track microchips in gambling chips after table games open July 8 at the North Strabane Township, Pa., casino. (Observer-Reporter photo)

Cheating at blackjack won't be easy after the table game opens next month at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino near Washington, Pa.

The gaming tables there are being outfitted with electronic devices under the felt that will use radio frequency to read microchips inside the gambling chips and allow casino security to know the value of bets at all times.

“Counterfeiting of chips is virtually eliminated,”  casino manager Sean Sullivan said to the media circus that gathered today at the North Strabane Township casino after the expensive, high-tech chips were delivered under intense security.

The cases of chips were unwrapped inside a sally port by casino workers dressed in blue coveralls without pockets to make it harder for them to slip a handful into their clothing.

This casino has already exceeded anticipated revenues, while also making the county a hot tourist destination. At the same time, shares of the pot from the existing slots machines have been going back to the local communities and making the county richer by the moment.

Gamblers' money has been helping to support the local literacy program, restore historic buildings and digitize patient records at local hospitals. That pot of gold will only increase after cards and dice begin to fly at the casino on Racetrack Road on July 8.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The town was cooler then

This place where I live - Webster, Pa., - survived pretty much just like the photo, above, into the 1960s. Nearly everything in this photo since has been demolished.

Yes, pollution from that U.S. Steel zinc mill barely visible across the Monongahela River in Donora did a lot to destroy these cool old buildings. Had they survived, this part of town could easily have doubled as a set for a movie about the Wild West.

Judging by the photo, the village looked much more interesting then than is does today. A new brick machine shop has sprung up and the neighboring houses have all been covered in boring vinyl siding. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My dad, the Maytag Man

Maytag Man Inflatable, originally uploaded by arbyreed.

By Lorys Crisafulli

My dad was a Maytag Man, but he never was loneseome.

He made house calls. There was no repair shop that I knew of so six days a week, he would drive to the offices in Charleroi, Canonsburg and Washington, Pa., to pick up information on the calls to be made that day.

He fixed Maytags all over Washington County and knew all the farmers, many of whom we later would visit as friends.

I can still see the chickens and pigs being shooed out of kitchens so he could get inside to work.

He knew every village and back roads, whether they were were paved in mud or red dog. He also traveled further south into Greene County, where he would joke about the steep hillsides where the sheep's legs where shorter on the upside of the hills.

Many farms had no electricity so he kept the gasoline motors running on the washer. He even found a lady who made butter in her washing machine because it made the perfect churn. The Maytag company even marketed a meat grinder that attached to the upright arm of its washing machines and also held the wringer.

Dad bought half a hog every year and we ground it into sausage on that powerful grinder.

We shaped it into patties, browned them on the old gas stove (grease everywhere) and layered them with lard in heavy crocks. Mmm. I must admit is sounds as though we should have all died of salmonella, but they lasted all winter and we ate them with pancakes and maple syrup.

Breakfast was never cereal or just toast. It was always bacon and eggs or sausage and pancakes - all with homemade bread. Our grandma live with us and baked bread and biscuits several times a week.

We probably needed all that energy as we always walked everywhere. We never were driven anywhere unless visiting relatives on Sunday.

We were outdoors summer and winter unless it was raining, maybe. Even when it was raining we stomped around mud puddles while carrying an umbrella.

The first sign of snow was greeted with a scramble for the sleds. Otherwise we slid down the hills on anything we could find, from a license plate to curtain rods for skis. Our Maytag Man once made us a bobsled that was so heavy it took two of us to pull it back up a hill for another ride.

He put so many miles on his Chevy - always a maroon Chevy - that he needed a new one every two years. The one he bought in the mid-1930s cost him $395. It had a wool-felt interior, which scratched but was great to fall asleep on when returning from those Sunday visits.

I remember dad carrying us into the house and tucking us into bed after a long day. His car had window blinds, but it didn't have windshield defrosters. In freezing weather he had to drive with his head out his window to see. Then along came a wonderful invention - two suction cups one foot apart with connecting wires fastened to a heater on the floor between the seats - to help clear the windshield of ice and snow.

All summer and fall we never knew what dad would take out of the car trunk when he arrived home. A bushel of tomatoes or beets, two chickens? A basket of grapes or peaches? Whatever they were, we  had to do something with them that evening after supper. We sterilized canning jars and peeled fruit because we knew how great it would be to have next winter.

Then came World War II with such a shortage of gas that the Maytag Man couldn't travel anymore. So he opened up a small repair shop in Monongahela. There were no more Sunday trips to see airplanes take off from the Allegheny County Airport or the Isaly's plant for a 5-cent ice cream cone. Its cones were called a skyscraper and dad, on those occasions, always wore a straw boater hat and "ice cream (seersucker) pants."

Dad has been gone 36 years now, but folks in town still remember that he could fix anything from a gas engine to those washers, which gently laundered the first lingerie ever sold. Yep. He really was the Maytag Man.

Lorys CrisafullLorys Crisafulli is an entrepreneur and retired schoolteacher from Monongahela. She is known around the globe as Miss January, producer of a 2008 calendar featuring older women posing semi-nude for portraits to raise money for charity. Another calendar is in the works for 2011.

Guitar players show up at the wrong show

Monday, June 14, 2010

Almost groovy

By Scott Beveridge

The declaration of independence from my parents arrived in the form of a hipster Nehru shirt during junior high school in the late 1960s.

The shirt, along with a matching pair of ridiculously pimpish, olive green, pinstripe bell-bottoms, became the first outfit I purchased with my own money and without parental supervision.

It also was my way of informing my parents they simply were not cool when I was in those awkward teenage years, and adults, like them, were freaking out about their kids wanting to let their bangs fall across their foreheads to match the Beatles’ haircuts.

My father was a steelworker who never managed to save a dime, but always dressed off-hours as if he stepped out of a 1940s men’s style magazine.

A product of the Great Depression, he made it a tradition to buy his three sons just one new outfit apiece for the start of school, and matching shoes if last year’s no longer fit.

For eighth grade I was given a pair of light gray, polyester pants, which were better suited for an old man gumming his teeth and waiting for a bus at Murphy’s five-and-dime in Charleroi.

I was embarrassed to be seen in those dress pants at my junior high school in Rostraver Township and abruptly told my father so after the first day of classes that term.

“If you don’t like the clothes I get you, find a job and buy your own,” he steamed.

So I saved every nickel earned delivering the afternoon newspaper, went to work on a nearby farm, starting baby-sitting and looking for other ways to earn money for a new wardrobe. Back then you could even earn money by collecting glass soda pop bottles and returning them to the store for small refunds.

Then, I went shopping with the goal of looking like one of The Monkees – the rock quartet that was all the rage in their mod television show between 1966 and 1970.

In no time I was sporting multicolor, patchwork suede platform shoes at a school mostly populated by children either from farming families or with dads who worked in the steel mills. Most of the kids there were still stuck in the 1950s and dressed accordingly.

Needless to say I did not blend into the crowd. My classmates snickered at my fashion statement.

Although I wore that outfit until I outgrew it, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I actually was more comfortable in public wearing worn blue jeans and a T-shirt or flannel shirt.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A trim for the Gulf Coast

Carrie Holman of Fredericktown, manager of Douglas Education Center's cosmetology school, center, and her student, Kristina Bartley, are saving hair in a national environmental project to use it to create booms to collect oil from the spill accumulating on the Gulf Coast. They are shown last week cutting the hair of Sydney DeCurtis, 7, of Texas, at the Monessen, Pa., academy. (Observer-Reporter photo)

Contributing to efforts to clean up the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster is as easy as getting a hair cut.

Salons across the United States are saving hair and sending it to an environmental group that is stuffing it into used pantyhose to use as booms to help suck up all of that nasty oil that is accumulating on the beaches.

Here in the Mon Valley, Pa., the cosmetology academy at Douglas School of Business in Monessen, Pa., is embracing the project, which also was used in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez spill.

The Observer-Reporter newspaper carried a story about the initiative. Here is part of that story:

MONESSEN - When there is a world crisis, American hairdressers often find themselves in a profession that struggles to find a way to help.

So when Douglas Education Center in Monessen heard about a drive to collect hair to make booms to soak up the oil spilling onto the Gulf Coast, the cosmetology school decided to join the effort.

"What can hairdressers do to give back? We cut hair and nails," said Carrie Holman of Fredericktown, supervisor of the school's cosmetology academy.

The invitation from the American Association of Cosmetology Schools to participate arrived in the e-mail of Karen Nelson, director of the Monessen program.

"It indicated they were asking the schools to step up to the plate to help the Gulf oil disaster to save hair, which for us is easy," Nelson said.

The new semester began Tuesday and the following day the 24 students and their teachers had already collected half of the first four-pound box of hair for the environmental group, Matter of Trust.
The San Francisco-based nonprofit is asking salons, groomers, wool and alpaca fleece farmers, pet owners and "hairy individuals" to donate clean, cut hair to assist in the oil cleanup. The hair is stuffed into old nylon pantyhose to create booms that work well as an absorbent, Nelson said.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The new dealers

MEADOW LANDS, Pa. – Congratulations to my friend, Marilyn Dubrovich Bradley, who helped to make Pennsylvania casino gaming history tonight.

The Rostraver Township, Pa., woman became the 11th person ever in this state to receive a table games certificate before they open for the first time July 8. (The large class graduated in alphabetical order)

She is among nearly 200 new dealers who attended the first graduating class of its kind in the Keystone State at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County, which has met with shining success since slots gambling opened there a couple years ago.

One of the casino's principals, Bill Paulos, delivered a boisterous speech before the Community College of Beaver County passed out the dealers' licenses.

"I always wanted to give a commencement address. I didn't realize I'd have to hire the entire graduating class to do it," Paulos said.

The new dealers will bring the total number of jobs at the casino on Racetrack Road to 1,700.

"The Meadows holds a special place in my heart. It's been a pretty damned good bet," Paulos said.

Bradley is a perfect fit for her new job as a blackjack and Baccarat dealer. She is attractive, has a friendly personality and loves to play cards.

It's too bad, though, the casino is dressing her and the other new dealers in uniforms that are better suited for a bowling alley than a graduating class that is this special.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Golden Mouse ceremony

It's with great pride that I accept the esteemed Gold Mouse Award tonight from my fellow bloggers, Michael Jones, right, and Amanda Gillooly.

Without their cooperation and grand editing skills, the Travel With a Beveridge blog would never had been recognized in such a manner for having exceeded 100,000 one time page views a few days ago.

"You have put a lot of work into your blog," said Jones, during the award presentation at Pizza and Wings restaurant in Bridgeville, Pa.

Jones spent $8 on a piece of plywood from Home Depot, and also spray painted an old computer mouse to create this special honor. This plaque will be cherished and displayed prominently on a wall at my house as motivation to continue to spill forth words on this blog.

"Good friends and kind gestures is what life is all about," I said, as an old man attempting to share sage wisdom with my much-younger colleagues.

Gillooly sometimes takes my advice, and was so, so proud to take part in the ceremony.

"He has called me Grasshopper for years," she said.  "It was my distinct honor to have presented Mr. Beveridge with this most awesome award."

Tell me again why I refer to you as an ugly insect.

(Photo by: Tiffany Wheatley)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mom's things

By Scott Beveridge

WEBSTER, Pa. – The most-difficult part of mom's death is behind us, that being her funeral.

The days are easier to get through, despite the task of fingering through her belongings after everyone else has gone home with what they perceive to be the good stuff. Still, it is bittersweet today to find a colorful box holding memorabilia of her long life.

June Hart Beveridge had made countless scrapbooks over time of the little things that made each of her three sons and five grandchildren special to her. They include receipts from trips to hospitals, and those goofy, embarrassing high school prom portraits. Those things and many others all here for us to ponder and laugh.

But, she never made a scrapbook of her life. It would seem that the contents of this small box are just that.

Atop is a portrait of mom's niece, Denise Iva Hart, as a baby dressed in red. The child's middle name is that of mom's mother, and mom saw a lot of herself in this little girl when she became a woman.

There is a smaller photo of mom's joyous sister, Shirley, holding her baby daughter, Tracy, in our Webster, Pa., back yard in January 1972.  There is another of a shy cousin Brian all alone studying a round object in May 1966 and sharply dressed for the First Holy Communion party for one of Aunt Shirley's other kids. Below that is a sepia antique photo of a sad-looking ancestor, Sarah Hart Morris, dressed in dark from bosom to toe and standing in a flower garden. Around her neck is a delicate, handmade lace collar that makes her appear regal.

I continue to leaf through the contents, only to find a glamorous photo of mom taken about 1950 after she had lost weight and undergone surgery to correct her crossed left eye. It's no wonder her beauty caught the eye of our dad.

Then I stumble on a shot of her smiling about 10 years ago with her right hand on the mouse of her first computer - a blueberry iMac. That computer did more to get her through two bouts of lung cancer and the emphysema that eventually helped to take her life about two weeks ago at age 80.

Sorting through the rest of box will come later. It's not the right time.

Still it's a mystery as to how her life ended up inside something smaller than a shoebox.

Did the same relatives who ransacked her house in the days after the funeral put these things there hoping to retrieve them on their next trip to town? Or did mom sort them hoping one of us would finally create for her a scrapbook?

It's anyone's guess. I think I know, though.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mark Dignam

We stumble onto Mark Dignam performing this song Saturday at Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh, and really like his Irish-influenced sound. A lot.

Please allow us the opportunity to also use this post to introduce journalist Amanda Gillooly in her first cameo appearance in a music video. She is shown at her best, cell phone in hand and using it to send a text message.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Shorts on parade

One of our favorites pastimes as kids was something our mom called watching the Scottish parade.

It involved sitting in the car or on a park bench in any downtown and commenting on the funny things we saw as people passed our way. OK. We were poor, and didn't have smart phones or portable video games in the 1960s to distract our attention.

It still was fun to look at the odd ways in which people dressed or carried themselves around town.

The game came back to me today on the Boulevard of the Allies in Pittsburgh, when these two guys walked out of a parking garage a few steps ahead of my buddy and me en route to the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

We had a good laugh at how the guy on the right preferred to store his water bottle. Then I said, "I need to get myself a pair of those crazy, patch shorts on the other guy."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

With much appreciation ...

More Hobnail Fresh Flowers, originally uploaded by jenscloset.
It's so humbling to count the number of sympathy cards that have come this way following the death last week of our mom.

These small acts of kindness are what matter more than any possessions she might have owned, and really help us deal with the greed that surfaces following a death in a family.