2021 Fall

Franklin, Cosetti, Mann, Robinson, Hillebrand, Eide

Don Franklin, 82: A renowned Baroque musicologist, Franklin was professor of music, emeritus, at the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as chair twice from 1970 until his retirement in 2009. A Willmar, Minn. native, he was the youngest trumpet player to play taps at the Willmar Cemetery and was a gifted pianist who earned …

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What’s that Otherworldly Sound in the Wee Hours?

The medical residents were gathered in the library of the house on Pembroke Place in Shadyside for their monthly journal club when a knock came at the home’s entrance. After a brief exchange, there was a strange request: “Doctors,” said the convening surgeon, “we’re needed next door. There is an unusual intruder.” It seems an …

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The Last Liberal Republican: An Insider’s Perspective on Nixon’s Surprising Social Policy

“The Last Liberal Republican” is a memoir of my decade in politics, especially the first three years in Richard Nixon’s White House. As special assistant to the president, I worked with him on his universal health insurance proposal, his overhaul of the Food Stamp program and, most significantly, his Family Assistance Plan (FAP), to place …

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My Big Moment

As I mentioned earlier, the Republican convention was being held that year in Miami Beach and it was being run by Gerald Ford, then Speaker of the House. Previously in this series: “Lugar for Veep” Ford had the nifty idea of having a woman give the keynote address. It turned out that in the history of …

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A Trashy Ordeal

Last year, I rode my bike on back roads near our farm. I prefer swimming, but our YMCA was closed, so I dusted off my 30-year-old red Cannondale and set out in a beautiful valley between two ridges of the Allegheny Mountains. My favorite ride was a seven-mile loop with steep hills and as I …

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Wertz, Wilde, Zappala, Rosenberg, Rangos, Blasier

Ricki Wertz, 86: From 1959 to 1969, Wertz hosted the popular children’s show ”Ricki and Copper” on WTAE. Her co-host was a retriever mix who came from a shelter and was Wertz’s own pet, a wedding gift from her husband. She went on to host “Junior High Quiz” on WTAE for the next 20 years …

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The Glacial Landscape of French Creek’s West Branch

Prehistoric continental glaciers sculpted the broad valleys and rounded hills of the northwest corner of Pennsylvania. And much of this region — Erie, Crawford, Mercer and Lawrence counties — is within the watershed of French Creek, a major tributary of the Allegheny River. French Creek is known for its abundance of freshwater mussels and fish, …

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Lugar for Veep?

I’ll close out my series on Richard Lugar with a three-part episode I’ll call  “Veep.” Previously in this series: “The Hug that Rocked Indianapolis: Richard Lugar, Part VII” Richard Lugar wasn’t just the Mayor of Indianapolis and he wasn’t just running for the U.S. Senate – he was also being mooted as President Nixon’s running mate. …

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The Global Supply Chain is Collapsing

Over the past 18 months, I’m betting there isn’t a single person who hasn’t been affected by supply chain issues. From toilet paper to home appliances to semiconductor chips, it has become obvious that the global supply chain we have blindly depended on for so long is collapsing. Today we’re experiencing a period of massive …

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Reforming Education on the Fly

It was against the backdrop of war and pandemic that public education in America underwent radical innovation during the early decades of the 20th century. While the nation endured World War I and the Spanish flu, public education was quietly reshaped by a surge in public school enrollment and a wave of reform. It was …

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On a Pedestal, Fall 2021

Jeffrey Romoff After nearly 50 years at the university of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Jeffrey Romoff can look back at what he has created with a sense of accomplishment that few, if any, people in Pittsburgh during that period can match. He is the visionary leader who, along with the man who hired him 48 years …

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Corning Museum of Glass

A Trip to Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

With fall approaching, who isn’t itching to hit the road? No matter your age or interests, Corning, N.Y. and the Southern Finger Lakes region might provide the perfect escape. Much of the 4 1/2-hour drive goes through beautiful tree-filled valleys that will be exploding with autumn color. Charming, walkable Corning sits along the Chemung River …

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Roberto Clemente in Retrospect

The last time Roberto Clemente stepped up to home plate was on a field on Puerto Rico’s west coast where he was teaching boys to play baseball. Locals had coaxed him into taking a swing, and he obliged, hitting the ball out of the park. It’s not surprising that one of the world’s greatest athletes …

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Policeman profile photo

Lie Down with Dogs…

“On my honor, I will never betray my integrity, my character, or the public trust.” –Indianapolis Police Dept. Oath Previously in this series: “You Meet the Strangest People…: Richard Lugar, Part V” Only a day or two after the episode of Drinking the Kool-Aid, there was the episode I’ll call:  See No Evil  Late in the afternoon a guy …

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Just Askin’… Gretchen Baker

Q: What’s the most interesting thing about your job? A: Within a single day, I can spend time with dinosaur experts looking at fossils, review plans with talented exhibit designers, watch an energetic educator engage a group of kids in our galleries, meet with community partners, and work on a budget. My job activates almost …

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Christopher Howard: Living Life in the Moment

I come from a family of proud people who didn’t have a lot. My great-great-grandfather started out as an “enslaved human being” in Texas. Later, he and my grandfather were sharecroppers until my grandfather got a job in a factory. It’s kind of a Pittsburgh story: Man becomes “blue collar” because of factory work. My …

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Pittsburgh’s Huge Flathead Catfish Rule the Rivers

Late one August night last year, Dusty Learn, an Indiana County farmer and factory worker, caught what is, perhaps, the most spectacular catfish Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers have been known to ever yield. Although not the VW Beetle-sized beast of urban legend, Learn’s flathead — nabbed on a piece of cut bluegill — might have beaten …

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A Lifelong Friend

I’ve been lucky to have many close friends. But as I look back, it’s clear to me that, of all of them, my life has been most closely intertwined with that of my friend Chris Bentley. Chris and I were born less than two months apart, in early 1962, and we met before either of …

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Norris Beach: “Swim Where You Will Be Welcomed”

Ninety years ago, on August 14, 1931, the city of Pittsburgh opened its largest and most luxurious public swimming pool in Highland Park. Opening day was one of great fanfare and pride. However, it was also a day that saw African Americans who tried to enter the pool turned away. When Black citizens returned the …

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