Monday, December 01, 2003

Thanksgiving in the Steel City

We spent our Thanksgiving weekend in Pittsburgh. Dean and I lived there for four years in the early 1980's and have lots of good memories of the town. Since Dean's friend, Mike, has a sister in Pittsburgh who always "has" Thanksgiving, we decided to tag along with him and his family. Actually, we were invited for the past few years, and finally accepted this time.

Clare and Andrew had never really been there. We had visited the outskirts on the way to Illinois a few times when we stopped and went to Kennywood (to tire the children out).

We started off at Mike's sister's house in Squirrel Hill. Ginny and Harold have twin daughters, Rachel and Laurel, both in their first year of college. Rachel is a violinist and Laurel is an aspiring film maker. Harold plays English Horn for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Ginny is Production Art Coordinator for PPG in their self-named building.

Also at dinner were Mike, Maria and their two boys, Harold's parents, a neighbor and Kris, a friend of Rachel and Laurel. Kris was on the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine in September. All in all, it was a pleasant evening. It is always a little awkward when dining with strangers, but the Smoliars are a friendly and unassuming bunch and we are good friends with Mike and Maria.

Checking into the hotel was interesting. The valet, Clarence, was in a foul mood and yelled at Dean for driving around a car. I asked him what his problem was, and he informed me he was in a bad mood because it was Thanksgiving and he was working and someone had scraped a car up by driving around it. I tried to be nice, but he was not in the mood. I ended up complaining about him and the lack of a second Sponge Bob toy set in our room. I wonder what will come of it, if anything.

On Friday we went to the Phipps conservatory and the Carnegie Museum. Then we went to the Elbow Room for lunch in our old neighborhood and drove around our old haunts. Clare kept saying, "Mom and Dad are traveling down Memory Lane again."

Driving past our old apartment was a low point. The house is in disrepair, with brown stains down the middle of the front of the house. The College Inn is shut down, so it is possible something is up with the family. Gus's was also shut down, suddenly, as told to us by our waiter. He thinks someone in the family died.

Saturday we went to the Strip District, a neighborhood where we used to do our shopping. I heard it had changed, but was pleasantly surprised to still see the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company in business. We had a hearty and delicious breakfast at DeLuca's where signs boast of "Pittsburgh's Best Breakfast". We bought about 3 lb of cheese and twice as much pasta. Andrew found some Steeler's gear.

Then we headed back to Squirrel Hill and to the Frick Art Center. We had hoped to go into the house, but it was booked through the evening. Mrs. Frick was still alive when we lived in Pittsburgh, so this was not an option then.

Then we went to Homewood Cemetfry and drove around the grounds. On a nicer day we would have gotten out and walked, but it was very cold. After the drive drove home to Bethesda.

We will definitely go back to Pittsburgh someday soon, most likely in the summer so we can go to Kennywood and the new Sandcastle attraction.

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