This section is reserved for ordinary stories about life in the South Hills of Pitsburgh. Residents, current and former, are encouraged to add to our history.
From Joe Kuehn who lived on the South Side, Overbrook and Brookline. Joe now lives in Salem,Oregon:
Regarding childhood in Brookline:
"I was a resident of Brookline until the late 40s when our family moved from 1560 Reamer St. to Hollidaysburg, PA. My dad contributed $300 to the fund drive to buy the land for the community center and park. I played in the woods off the east end of Brookline Blvd. to Jacob St. In the 30s and 40s we walked, biked or took the trolley most places. I was about 11 when I walked from Forbes field back to Brookline via the Liberty Tubes and Rt. 51/Saw Mill Run to Reamer St. The vents in the tunnel didn't work very well at the time. Guess that got me started hiking and I ended up in Oregon trekking from Canada to California and eastward to Colorado. I retired in 1996 at the age of 62 and eventually made my way around the world walking six continents. It all started in Brookline, with special memories of my childhood. Thanks for all you and others before you have done to fill the memory bank."
"Brownsville Road, without looking at a map is several miles at least, from Pius St. I wish I knew Pius St. better but don't. I played there with my cousins at address 143 Pius St., the location of the drug store that was owned by my Grandpa Joe. I never lived there or even stayed overnight. However, in Brookline, where the community center area is there also were mine entrances. We played cowboys and Indians and commandos in those woods (still undeveloped today) in the early 40s. We knew enough not to venture into those dark holes not knowing where they led. Rumors had it one guy did enter and showed up on the other side of the hill near his house. I took that with a grain of salt.
Our favorite weapons were the grapefruit size green balls which grew on small trees in those woods. The outer surface of the balls was similar to a pineapple and the gooey stuff inside would splatter if the thing were ripe enough."
Regarding life in the South Side of Pittsburgh:
"That deed information I looked at about the 143 Pius St drug store property and the 1890 construction date was fascinating. My dad used to walk to Duquesne University Preparatory High School. The Google map directions gave me his route via Carson St and 10th St Bridge - a 1.7 mile walk in that steel mill air. I think there must have been a time when he rode the trolley or bus some of the way to school.
At Prep he had four years of Latin and Greek, plus all the advanced math at that time. He also worked in the drug store and because his parent's did fulltime, he took pride being in charge of his younger brother Ted. His sister Rita was born in 1916, Ted '13 and dad '09. He told me once he didn’t go out for sports cause he had to hang close to the store/home. That was pretty common in those days of family run businesses. Dad was qualified to go to med school but there was no money in the Depression years (he got his Pharmacy Degree in June 1929 and studied six months before taking the State of PA board test in order to get his certification/license to practice July 17,1930.
He worked as a pharmacist in the Pittsburgh Hospital "drug room" at the time I was born in September 1934. Ironically, or by fate his last pharmacy registration expired in September of 1970. His 61st birthday was in April 1970 and he died that June at age 61 because of high blood pressure/stroke. I was assigned in the USAF to manage "exchange" retail store operations for bases in Spain. The Red Cross notified me of my dad's imminent death and I got priority space available and a direct flight to McGuire AFG in NJ. near Philadelphia. Somehow, I got to Altoona before my dad died. He was completely paralyzed on one side but was as alert as if he was behind his desk at Altoona Blair Pharmacal - the drug/surgical supply company he started 15-20 years earlier."
From Gary Weslager
The original German version of my name was Wollschlaeger which was misspelled many times until the last misspelling by the Pittsburgh Public Schools…. And the current spelling stuck. That’s why all Weslager’s are related!
One branch of the family pronounces it Wes-logger (which is what I use) and the others use Wes-legger.
My Great Grandfather August came here in 1882, first lived in the South Side and ultimately Knoxville. He belonged to the German Lutheran Church which bought the cemetery property which is now Birmingham Cemetery. He is buried there under the old name – but no headstone.
My Uncle graduated from Union High, my Aunt, Father, Mother and her sister graduated from CHS as well as Gretchen’s mother, two sisters and a brother. Then me, my first wife (’61) and second wife (’60). That’s why I have so much stuff!
My parents didn’t have the resources to buy a car until about 1952 when they bought a used 1948 Nash…. So we used to walk to Brookline to go shopping or when visiting, take street cars and transfer. I know the Knoxville, Carrick, Brookline, Shannon, and the flying fraction 77/54 which used the Carrick Loop.
There used to be a beautiful house at, or near, the corner of Brownsville and Hornaday. The Cherry Family lived there in the 50’s and 60’s. Diane Cherry was a classmate and good friend of Gretchen’s. They had sold the house before it burned. Diane Cherry Cenko lives in California and she may have some pictures… I have her email address, I think.
There was another beautiful big mansion at the corner of Carrick Avenue or the next street – Lauch or Clifton. It also burned down. There was a classmate that lived there and I was in the house for some reason…. They had a grand piano in the front room – it was impressive!
Another property I told you about was Kroll’s Radio/TV. I looked the address up (through hit and miss) and found it to be 2514 Brownsville Road. Martin ‘Marty’ Kroll was a childhood friend of my dad’s and a fellow amateur radio operator. He was a master at fixing the original TV’s and tube-type radios. My parents bought their first TV from him at a discount. It was a 7-1/2 inch Motorola TV and was bought in 1949 for like $139… a fortune in 1949 dollars.
Then there was Erny’s Funeral Home. It was in the apartment building at the corner of Becks Run and Brownsville Rd. James L. Erny just died – January 10, 2012. I know that he was somehow involved with the funeral business because a high-school girlfriend’s (much older) sister was married to him. They lived upstairs and I was there a couple of times.