December 27, 2011

Memories of Connellsville, Pennsylvania



     It was a hot and muggy day…and so the weather was on the July day we moved to Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

     My husband Monte always insisted moving himself, using a rented van. When he backed up to the front porch to unload the van, he accidentally ran the tires over the neighbor’s grassy patch between the sidewalk and the street. The irate woman approached him, calming down some when he said he would repair the damage. As time went on, we developed a pretty good friendship.

     Meanwhile, the neighbor across the street, Tom, and his son Jared, helped Monte unload the truck. The neighorliness struck me positively after a difficult move.

     Over time our friendships on that block of West Washington Avenue grew strong. Eventually the neighbors across the street joined with us to sponsor a foreign exchange student (we had the space, they had the teenage activities and fixed family meals).

     In several years we had the police barricade our block from traffic so we could enjoy block parties. It was fun to see everyone gather in a festive atmosphere. One neighbor, who owned a pizza shop, contributed balls of pizza dough, and everyone brought different toppings. Ovens warmed as individualized pizzas baked throughout the evening. Adults laid on their stomachs with the youth to see who could eat a bowl of jell-o the quickest, and later marshmallows were cooked over an open fire in our yard. It wasn’t just our neighbors: one year, friends of ours we met in New Castle (who moved to Florida) were in attendance. Their son, who had some disabilities, was aided by the young men in the community, and included in card games by the young women. He was thrilled to have gained so many girl friends.

         I must mention the wooden swing set the police had on the lawn between their home building and the railroad tracks. My granddaughter loved the trains, and we enjoyed many a picnic breakfast on that swing set, watching for trains.

     However, if Jordan was visiting us at our house and heard the train whistle, she immediately had to have me run with her down the sidewalk to a neighbor’s yard, just adjacent to the tracks. We did many a train-run during Jordan’s young years.

     The old train station building on West Crawford Avenue housed a stained glass shop that also sold glass-blown items. Two of our friends, siblings Russ and Pat, visited us for a few days. Russ was blind.

     He expressed a desire to go into the stained glass shop. I was reluctant, and agreed to take him in only if the clerk agreed. She did.

     I was amazed at the compassion and caring she demonstrated. She unlocked cases and took fragile items out, then handed them to Russ, allowing him to see them with his hands while she described them.

     Living three doors away from the old armory and writing for the newspaper allowed me to develop a positive relationship with the Army staff. I could walk in and chat with them, which I did frequently in search of news. I was invited to accompany them to training in Friedans (Westmoreland County) and West Virginia. I never accepted, however, because freelancers didn’t have the backing of the newspaper.

     Shortly after moving to our community four miles east of Ligonier, the Ligonier and Connellsville armories did a joint program. The director of the Ligonier Armory called me to cover the event after the director of the Connellsville Armory suggested he do so. It was a fun assignment I wrote for the newspaper.

     My neighbor Pet, who had yelled at Monte for the U-haul tracks on her grass, became a good friend. We did many things together, including feeding the ducks that hung around the water at the edge of the Yough(iogheny) River.

     I also made friends with the members of the now-defunct photographer’s group that met in Uniontown. Two of the members are now involved in the Westmoreland Photographers Society, to which I belong.

     The Carnegie Library four blocks from my house is one of the most impressive libraries I’ve experienced. It’s large, round, desk was a pleasure to work behind. The staff was composed of really nice persons who added pleasure to my stay in Connellsville. And I was fortunate to be there when the computer room was redone. I recall climbing the scaffolding to take photographs of the renovated ceiling artwork. What fun!

     The proximity of Connellsville to the Youghiogheny River afforded me many an opportunity to sit on a rock near the shore and relax, cooling off on hot summer days.

     I must not neglect to note the opportunity to develop my journalism. Paul Heyworth, editor of the Fay-West section of the Tribune-Review newspaper, not only took me in as a freelancer, he provided me the opportunity to become a better writer by having me sit with the editors as they edited my work. After Paul left, I worked with Ed Cope and Jerry Storey, gleaning more writing tips from their excellent viewpoints. It was a great on-the-job training. As far as I could see, I was the only freelance writer who did this.

      Although I experienced many negative situations in Fayette County, these were some of  the positive memories.



David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 1

Fayettenam (Pennsylvania)

Adelphoi Village to Mark Fortieth Anniversary August 18, 2011

Native American Warfare on the Western Frontier

Is Mars Closer Than Freedom? It is in Pennsylvania!

Gold-Flecked Ice Cream, Anyone?

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