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History

Standing the Test of Time

Never before has the nation been presented with the distinct possibility that a woman or a man of color could be elected president. Yet here it is: the two front runners for the Democratic nomination are New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. their children in case of legal separation. Divorce was …

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George C. Marshall: True soldier

On Sept. 1, 1939, as German troops thundered across the Polish border, Gen. George C. Marshall succeeded Malin Craig as the U.S. Army Chief of Staff. One week later, Marshall returned to his birthplace and childhood home in Uniontown, 46 miles southeast of Pittsburgh for a homecoming celebration. The man President Harry Truman was to …

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Friends in Unfriendly Times

Adena Johnson Davis remembers marching up to the front desk at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing, plunking down her test scores, report cards and transcripts. She was a slight, young woman and had been an ‘A’ student at Peabody High School. For sure, she thought, this will get me in. The school’s secretary, …

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Andrew W. Mellon: Building a Banking Empire

The year was 1866. With monotonous regularity, an older man and a little boy boarded the train in East Liberty for the short run downtown. The older man, attired in a long-tailed frock coat and a high-starched wing collar, spoke to the boy about matters of consequence; he spoke to him as an adult. The …

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Andrew Carnegie: The Black and the white

Andrew Carnegie was America’s first great industrialist, the nation’s quintessential philanthropist, and, closer to home, Pittsburgh’s favorite son. He was also, however, a man of startling ethical and moral contrasts, and those paradoxes threaten his reputation. Was his bountiful philanthropy based upon purely beatific instincts or was it, to paraphrase Clausewitz, simply self-promotion “by other …

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Raging Grannies

Sometimes we Raging Grannies create quite a stir. Being of a “certain age,” none of us ever expected to find ourselves before an audience, let alone exiting to applause. But there we are, clambering up on stages and platforms, wearing outrageous hats and running shoes, singing like canaries and loving it. A feisty dozen women …

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The Real George

The blood splatters on the lawn would wash away with the next rain, but Mary and I knew the crimson stains on the tree trunk would be there a long time. The most jarring moments came when we encountered the body on the floor, head half shot away. His name was Trevor, and he lay …

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George Westinghouse: The Mystery

It was a dreary fall day when, on a friend’s suggestion, I visited the George Westinghouse Museum in Wilmerding. It is housed inside the former Westinghouse Air Brake offices, a gray stone building with a hint of the medieval, appropriately named “the Castle.” The edifice was built by a man who lived 68 years and …

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What is Pittsburgh?

Before Pittsburgh became a place, before it was an idea, before its stories, its heroes, its villains, its tales of exploration, adventure, discovery and struggle became part of the popular imagination and American life, it was a space defined only by the movement of water through mountains, valleys, forests and a dark wilderness. A young …

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