I grew up on what had been an old apple orchard, and fall meant turning the crank of our oak-and-iron cider press. It meant picking up apples from the grass and quickly unhanding those whose undersides had rotted and were crawling with yellowjackets. After a strong rain, it meant the inevitable loss of old trees whose branches sagged with apples and broke with the rain’s extra weight.
We had a farm an hour and a half away, and fall there was a time of relative quiet, for me at least. As a teenager, I was allowed to plow and disc the land, but harvesting was left to a pro. After the corn and beans and heat and bugs were gone, it was a great time to walk the empty fields, looking for arrowheads, bones and other treasures.
Fall also meant football. My earliest memory is a big, wobbly, brown leather football being rolled to me. The Saturday afternoon when my Dad brought home our first color TV, what came onto the screen? The bright red of the Oklahoma Sooners against some hapless opponent on the beautiful, green grass. I played from second grade through college. And thinking back, the best part of it was spending every fall afternoon outdoors.
Of course, fall in Pittsburgh means football big-time. But there’s a lot going on outside of the gridiron. For instance, you may be wondering why dinosaurs are prowling through Downtown in our cover illustration by Ted Crow. It’s because this fall brings the much-anticipated opening of the $36 million exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History: “Dinosaurs in Their World.”
This is our biggest issue yet, with a variety of great stories, from our regular columnist Mark DeSantis and his quest to become a Republican mayor in Pittsburgh to Bill Dietrich’s story on the genesis of the Mellon empire. And Dan Fitzpatrick, runner-up in the Overseas Press Club awards this year, offers a look into the lessons of Pittsburgh companies as they do business in China.
The stories are many, but I believe my favorite is the package by former WTAE-TV reporter Adam Lynch on racing pigeons. Some of that may be colored by the good time I’ve had getting to know Adam. I would also point out fine pieces by Barry Paris and Graham Shearing. And about 20 others.
Finally, thanks for opening Pittsburgh Quarterly. Now pour yourself a nice drink, find a comfortable spot and read on.