private life

City Chic

Like many diamonds, the house that sits discreetly back on one of the most beautiful streets in the city was in the rough when the owner first saw it. “I walked through the front door and immediately loved the home, but envisioned five or six changes I would make,” she recalls. Standing in the entrance …

City Chic Read More »

Big Business Now and Then

Be careful what you wish for” is the adage that best applies to the McGraw family and their neighbors on the failed and failing dairy farms northwest of Scranton, Pa. After generations of scraping by, their dreams are finally poised to come true, now that corporate prospectors have come calling, offering buckets of cash in …

Big Business Now and Then Read More »

Beachy Keen

Waiting at the drawbridge for the fishing boats to pass, a bag of fresh crabs in the back seat and a lazy Gulf breeze ruffling the palms, it’s easy to see why a family from Pittsburgh would want to linger in Boca Grande. Located on tiny Gasparilla Island on the west coast of Florida, it …

Beachy Keen Read More »

A Touch of Gray

A thick report called “Boomers in the ’Burgh” arrived the other day, proposing that the city pitch AARP candidates on retiring here. The newest twist on the most-livable-city theme rang a bell. Back in the day, I wrote copy for a local inventions marketing firm, detailing the vast potential for improbable new ideas at $25 …

A Touch of Gray Read More »

Literary Pittsburgh

Kathleen “kit” McCafferty, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, has never discussed her trauma with anyone, and its residual rage and pain have left her estranged from her shell-shocked husband and grown children. Now approaching death, Kit is determined to complete and bequeath to her family a series of confessional notebooks, in order to break …

Literary Pittsburgh Read More »

A Friend in Need

Eleanor Ott grew up in a family that encouraged her to pursue her passion in life. What that passion was didn’t become clear until after she left her Lawrence, Kan. home as a high school valedictorian with a college scholarship. She discovered it among refugee families from Iraq, Burundi, Somalia and other desperate lands whose …

A Friend in Need Read More »

David M. Matter

If there’s one thread that runs through my life, it’s the importance of mentorship. I was born in 1946, which makes me a baby-boomer—barely—and grew up in Carrick. Overall, I had a pretty normal upbringing.My first mentor was a high school teacher named Bob Hickey. I had him for German, and he became a dear friend …

David M. Matter Read More »

La Petite Maison

Unlike most of the homes designed by architect Brandon Smith, the stucco, brick and limestone residence in Squirrel Hill isn’t large or imposing. It was built in 1948 for a retired couple who were downsizing, but who wanted an elegant and formal town house. The result is something rare—a small home that boasts the structure …

La Petite Maison Read More »

Gilechrist, Warhola, Tanner, Thunhurst, Pellegrini, Chosky, Keidan, Hoerth

Carlton “Cookie” Gilchrist, 75 Gilchrist was a 250-pound running back, considered by many to be the greatest ever to play pro football. The Brackenridge native dominated defenses in the Canadian Football League and later in the American Football League, where he was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.He also was an early civil rights crusader, leading …

Gilechrist, Warhola, Tanner, Thunhurst, Pellegrini, Chosky, Keidan, Hoerth Read More »

Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D.

My mother and father were immigrants who had a mom-and-pop grocery store, and they worked hard. I was an only child—born March 20, 1931—and, from the beginning, my father told me that I was going to be a doctor. I was an obedient child, so I never questioned it. Then as I moved through high …

Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D. Read More »

Chip Ganassi, Auto Racing Entrepreneur

Growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, Pittsburgh was the center of the universe. All the biggest companies were here: U.S. Steel, Gulf Oil, Alcoa, PPG, Westinghouse; you name it. And on top of that, we had the Pirates and the Steelers. The city was firing on all cylinders, and I pictured myself running one …

Chip Ganassi, Auto Racing Entrepreneur Read More »

Try a blind tasting

We ran a fun little wine-tasting experiment at the restaurant the other day, one you should try at home. It will be educational and thought-provoking. And if it goes as ours went, you may be a bit miffed by the results. With some family and colleagues, we gathered nine bottles of wine, all domestic red …

Try a blind tasting Read More »

The Frank House: A Bauhaus Beauty

At a glance, the buff-colored residence nestled among the more traditional homes on Woodland Road seems an oddity, an almost institutional-looking structure resplendent in its obscurity. The mature trees that soften its façade testify to the fact that the home has stood on its spot for many years—70, to be exact—yet few have noticed. Until …

The Frank House: A Bauhaus Beauty Read More »

The Power of the Pelt

Behold the beaver! Beady-eyed, snubnosed and bucktoothed, it is hardly a thing of beauty, yet the pursuit of this oversized rodent across North America launched more ships (and keelboats, rafts and canoes) than the lovely Helen of Troy, for all her charms. Desire for the legendary queen may have prompted the decade-long Trojan War, but …

The Power of the Pelt Read More »

Thaddeus Mosley, Sculptor

Art is about personal expression. Anyone who discovers and practices this has something to live for other than what they have to do to make a living. People who write poetry don’t make a lot of money, but seeing their words on the page provides more satisfaction than any job could offer. It’s the same …

Thaddeus Mosley, Sculptor Read More »

Robert Qualters, Artist

What’s it like to be 75? Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve had two knee replacements. I’ve had back surgery. I keep falling down and breaking things: my fingers, my skull. But overall I feel pretty good, actually. I still like to work. I just keep on going. I find some way to continue. My most …

Robert Qualters, Artist Read More »

Barbara Luderowski, The Mattress Factory

I arrived in Pittsburgh about the same time that Columbus arrived in America. Actually, it was in 1972, or thereabouts. I was driving through, hustling my work, and stopped at Pittsburgh History & Landmarks to try to interest them in a garden I wanted to design for them. That didn’t work out. But they gave …

Barbara Luderowski, The Mattress Factory Read More »

Dick Thornburgh, Lawyer and Politician

I’ve had three distinct phases of my career—from public prosecutor to elected official to Washington lawyer—and, strangely, they all came about serendipitously. I grew up in Pittsburgh and went to Yale as an engineering student, even though I was not really suited for it. A number of my family members were engineers, so I explored …

Dick Thornburgh, Lawyer and Politician Read More »

Follow Your Palate

All right people. Can we just chill out about food and wine pairings? It seems the more we’re interested in food and the more we learn about wine, the more stressed we are about choosing wines to have with dinner. Customers agonize over the wine list in my restaurant—so afraid they’re going to make a …

Follow Your Palate Read More »

Glorious Glendorn

The monogrammed silver vanity set sits, as it has for decades, on the dressing table in Miller’s Cabin. There aren’t many resorts that would leave such a family heirloom lying around, but then again, there aren’t many resorts like The Lodge at Glendorn. Nestled in the woods of northwestern Pennsylvania, the 1,280-acre retreat is just …

Glorious Glendorn Read More »

A Checkered Past

Renaissance, schmenaissance. To read Joe W. Trotter and Jared N. Day’s new book, “Race and Renaissance: African Americans in Pittsburgh Since World War II,” is to realize an inconvenient truth. The skies above our city may have cleared, but racial inequities of generations past still cast a pall on the quality of life for many …

A Checkered Past Read More »

Savoring Digestifs

Is it wrong that one of my favorite childhood chores was running to the A&P for my grandmother and buying her a bottle of Fernet-Branca and a box of snuff? It’s probably not the kind of wholesome memory most people hope to create for their kids, but I can’t help but look back fondly on …

Savoring Digestifs Read More »

Top