Profiles

Sarah’s Wisdom Behind the Counter

“Okay, what’s today’s joke?” The guy at the counter orders his Americano, sits down, lets the anticipation build for a few seconds. His eyes are dancing behind thick black glasses, grinning like he’s about to bubble over into a thousand little joy bubbles, because he’s got a joke.

Tommy the Unlikely Donut Man

by Kate Benz, photography by John Altdorfer
Tommy Gozion had never made a donut in his entire life. Which was weird, given the fact that he tacked some neon to the storefront along Route 8 and announced to the world that Valencia Donut was open for business.

All Quiet on the Ohio — Just the Way He Likes It

There’s a lot of sitting and waiting, on a day like this. The water in the Ohio is calm, running chocolate-​brown like something out of Willy Wonka’s Factory. Clear, blue sky. A handful of cottony clouds skirting by. Nothing like the winter, when the damned ice ensures you can barely…

Thrifty Tom and His Peanut Butter

The 52-​ounce can of Planter’s Peanuts came from Sam’s Club. Because they’re the best, really. Extra Large Virginia Peanuts. You’ll never find a bad one in the bunch.

Ahmad Jamal, Jazz Master

I’ll bet that I’m the only musician ever to record a CD simply titled “Pittsburgh,” which is a tribute to my beloved hometown. It’s a “miracle city,” really. When it comes to industry, culture and the arts, Pittsburgh has contributed more to the world than most people can begin to…

Looking Good

To flip through Hans Jonas’s album, which is indistinguishable on the outside from a family photo album, is to view Pittsburghers as if they were a family: a beloved aunt Sally Wiggin, a hardworking cousin Willie Stargell, and of course, everybody’s favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers.

A Baker’s Ways

by Kate Benz, photography by John Altdorfer
Calling it “Joe’s Bakery” would never work. Who wants to buy pastries from some guy named Joe?

Walking the Dog with Dave

by Kate Benz, photography by John Altdorfer
Dave has his boss’s dog on a leash. A yippy little black and brown dog the size of a football that is completely oblivious to its unimpressive size, snorting and slobbering its way down the sidewalk near its home on Observatory Hill.

The Corner Barber Shop

by Kate Benz, photography by John Altdorfer
The guy currently occupying the Emil C. Paidar barber chair circa 1932 showed up at 11:30 a.m., half an hour before the Humble Barber Co. opened for the day. He thought he’d be the first in line. Turns out, he’s second.

Christina Cassotis, Allegheny County Airport Authority

by Jeff Sewald
I grew up in Southern New Hampshire in essentially a suburb of Boston. My mother was a homemaker, as many women were back then, and my father was a commercial airline pilot for Pan American World Airways, having been a U.S. Marine fighter pilot during the Vietnam War.

A Fine Suit of Clothes

by Kate Benz, photography by John Altdorfer
You’re never going to see him cross his arms. Why risk wrinkling his suit? You’ll also never see him walking around with scuffs on his shoes, covered in dirt from the last steps he took. No chance he’s going to ruin his soles. Has about a gazillion of them. He…

Elsie Hillman, Political and Civic Leader

My husband, Henry Lea Hillman, is seven years older than me. He is the son, of course, of Pittsburgh steel mogul John H. Hillman, Jr., an industrialist who built Pittsburgh Coke & Chemical. Anyway, Henry was a friend of my older sister, and I knew his younger sister, so we…

The Voice of…Living

It’s that voice. Like smoldering embers from a raging bonfire, three ice-​cold rocks swimming in aged whiskey. No, make that scotch. Deep. Mysterious. Alluring. The no-​way-​in-​hell-​you-​can-​or-​want-​to-​ignore-​that voice.

A Crumbling Pittsburgh Treasure

There may be an historical marker outside 1727 Bedford Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, but the building’s condition says a lot more than the words on the marker. Plywood patches where a front door used to be. Beyond it, plaster has fallen from the interior walls, exposing the crumbling red…

Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive

I was born and raised in the Bloomfield-​Garfield section of Pittsburgh, which is now called “Friendship.” I attended St. Lawrence O’Toole Grade School in Garfield, Central Catholic High and then Carnegie Mellon University in nearby Oakland, and have lived and raised my family in Squirrel Hill for the past 33
Welcome to Pittsburgh Quarterly
Keep up with the latest

Sign up for our enewsletter, Pittsburgh Quarterly This Week.

We’ll keep in touch, but only when we think there’s something worth sharing. To receive exclusive Pittsburgh Quarterly news and stories, please fill out the form below. Be sure to check your email for a link to confirm your subscription!

View past newsletters here.

Keep up with the latest from Pittsburgh Quarterly.

Enter your email address to receive exclusive Pittsburgh Quarterly news and updates via our enewsletter, Pittsburgh Quarterly This Week. We’ll keep in touch, but only when we think there’s something worth sharing — and worth your time.

Already signed up? Please click the “Don’t Show This Again” button below

First Name(*)
Please let us know your name.

Last Name(*)
Invalid Input

Your Email(*)
Please let us know your email address.

Please check the box for security purposes.
Invalid Input