"Place, with a trace of humanity" Photography/Photo of the Day/Pittsburgh

Posts tagged “vintage

Allen School Memories- 1956-57 Guest Blog



My school colleague, Robert Baltos shared his memories of Allen School

Once upon a time there was a grade school in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh. This is a picture of my third grade class in 1956.  Dwight D. Eisenhower was the president, there were 48 stars on the American flag and we were able to walk to school thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk.  It is odd that sometimes I can’t remember what I did a few days ago but my memories of this wonderful place are forever intact. This was one of those photographs that my mother saved for me.  I suppose that it is fitting that while I started writing this that I realized that today is her birthday. She has since passed on to her place in Heaven.  I have looked at this group photo many times and I am able to recall most of the names of my classmates.  We followed each other to junior and senior high school.  Since then, I have never seen or heard from the majority of these people again.  At the time this class picture was taken, air-raid drills were commonplace and we were convinced that World War III was at hand.  Little did we know that in the not-too-distant future that some of the Class of 1966 would end up in Southeast Asia for our “senior trip” or that a young senator from Massachusetts would become our next president and be murdered in public several years later.

The teachers at Allen School were special people, the likes of which we will never see again. The teacher at the center of picture is Miss Helen Laucik,  our physical education and health teacher.  Like all of the teachers there, she was full of energy, ideas and compassion.  She always reminded us to take care of our teeth and our feet, both of which she assured us that we would miss in our old age if we didn’t heed her warning.  Mrs. Demming was our history, writing and music teacher.  She predicted that there would be a currency called the “Euro”, warned us about the proliferation of socialism here and abroad and that much of what we consume would be someday be manufactured in places like China.   Miss Bash was our mathematics teacher. Contrary to what some of the “experts” with their phony PhDs believe today, rote memorization of the multiplication tables and proficiency in long division, fractions and other basic arithmetic was absolutely necessary and you weren’t leaving her class without those basic skills!

Allen School closed in 1961.  The students actually took their books and belongings from the desks, walked up the hill and placed them in their desks in the newly built Grandview School.  However, Grandview could never replace the physical building of Allen School. Today’s architects could not imagine or duplicate such a place.  On the other hand, bricks and mortar are just that.  Miss Laucik, Mr. Kelly and a few others made the move that day too and taught there for many years afterward.  Whey they left, they took the remaining spirit of Allen School with them.  Oh, I almost forgot!  Mrs. Bennett, thank you for being our librarian and teaching us how to use the Dewey Decimal System!  I have a copy of the first book that you helped me select from the 600 aisle.  “The Boy Electrician” by Alfred P. Morgan.


 (Mr. Baltos is the third one down on the left. He still has the  striped shirt!)


Allen School 1956 _1957








Outlook Drive View of the Mill on the Monongahela River

A favorite place to capture the look of yesteryear but it is tonight.  Right now. 2014 from West Mifflin across the Monongahela River.

After being with the family up on VistaView I drove down Outlook Drive. The leaves aren’t full yet and I found a good clearing between two homes.

Propped the camera up onto the passenger window ledge and tried to get a steady shot with a long shutter.

That mill is working all day and night every day and I just drive by for a glimpse a couple of times every year.


I have posted the mill at night a few times but I never get tired of seeing it. Here is it in the snow

And another April shot from a few years ago 


Steel Mill at night

Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Tons of signage in the archives but you don’t get many letters in the mailbox today.
Found an envelope of letters that our Aunt Rhea gave to us when she moved out of her home.


Even some I’d written when we lived in Germany. Photographs inside letters. Letters from my father and mother and sister. Thank you notes from my own children when they were small.


I have other letters saved, tied with ribbon. My sister wrote to me in Germany for three years.  And I wrote back. She saved my letters, too. My friend Erica transcribed all the letters and I have them typed in a desk downstairs.

20140427-003416.jpgMy Dad had a photo of their wedding in one of the letters.   A nice find.

Pittsburgh Seltzer Bottles in Bridgeport Conn Crate

The glass bottles attracted my eye as I saw them sitting on a soda fountain counter on Carson Street  in the South Side.  Only when I got home and uploaded the photo did I read Bridgeport Conn.   The bottles are from the Pittsburgh Seltzer Works but that wooden crate had Bridgeport Conn, stamped right on the side.

Bridgeport – where I spent four years of my life. Granted, a long time ago. It’s where I got my Art Education degree.

Oh and it’s home to the P.T. Barnum Museum, where Elias Howe invented the first sewing machine, where Sikorsky(now gone global)  manufactured helicopters, where Dr Fones founded Dental Hygiene profession  in 1906 and a ton of other well known names born there including Walt Kelly and Al Capp.

I think Paul Newman  when he was filming The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, once called it the “armpit of New England” which wasn’t very kind.  There was lots of industry and manufacturing, and then decline, departure and attempts to revitalize. The P.T. Barnum Museum is worth a trip, though.  Seriously.  And if you are into deterioration and dilapidation reports click here to read about Remington Arms.


Pittsburgh Seltzer Bottles





Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

No, not-  “I  object.

But an item.    A thing.  You know I have so many objects in my files.  I thought I’d focus on one, like the challenge said to do.

Weekly Challenge Creator Cheri Lucas Rowlands said-  “Or you can get creative and find other ways to feature your object — the only requirement is it must be somewhere in your frame.”

Here’s a dusty antique stereoscope from my childhood and the dates on the photos?    1903!  Wish I knew where it came from originally.

A bit before my time. I remember viewing the images with my brother David.  HAve to find the piece that slides on the bar. It’s around here somewhere.


One of the cards had Meadville, PA printed on the edge.  The scene on top is Goats in Norway.  The cowboy on the horse is in Kansas.

Here is the principle behind the stereoscopic images according to Wikipedia

“Two separate images are printed side-by-side. When viewed without a stereoscopic viewer the user is required to force his eyes either to cross, or to diverge, so that the two images appear to be three. Then as each eye sees a different image, the effect of depth is achieved in the central image of the three.”

You Could Dress Me Up…..1959- Newark NJ

Note to self:    Remember how I mugged for the camera in 1959 when I’m attempting to photograph the grandchildren in 2014!

Pittsburgh Public Schools was closed today.  I did some sorting and found some old family photos.  My family didn’t own a camera that I know of but I think my sister took this photo somehow and I will ask her tomorrow and add any details. My cousins may have been involved.  Paul? John B?

An iPhone photo of a photo isn’t the best quality but you get the idea.

Ruth Hendricks 1959

And thanks to Kathryn of Vastly Curious blog  I went and found the front page from New York Times August 23, 1959  Steven Rockefeller‘s Wedding to a Norwegian (Anne Marie Rasmussen )in the photo

August 23, 1959 New York Times

My Grandmother Made This Too






Back home from Thanksgiving holiday break and thinking about being out of the traffic and home, safe, keeping warm.

Getting ready to start a new school week and wondering how it got to be December already.

If you have a doily or a piece of fine crochet, openwork, mounting it on a pillow is a good way to display it.

I thought this was a good  follow-on to my post of my grandmother’s afghan and quilt yesterday.

Downstairs, I have some samplers she made which I’ll post another time.

I sewed this antimacassar onto the pillow top with tiny stitches all around. Click on the word to read about the origin.

Photographed at my sister’s place in NYC.  I don’t  remember but it looks like we used extra upholstery fabric to make the pillow itself.

If you want to read a new crochet blog, my blogging friend Stef just started it (you read her comments on this blog perhaps) Click the link

This may be an example of tapestry crochet but I am sure a reader will set me straight.
home sweet home

Chestnut Street Trolley Tracks

Driving on the North Side to home, headed down Chestnut Street towards Phineas Street. Going to cross the Allegheny on the 16th Street Bridge but before I got to the intersection, a car stopped in front of me to chat or ask directions of the pedestrians.

I noticed the trolley tracks and the bricks. Caught a quick picture on the phone.

So when did the streetcars stop?  here is the answer

“The trolley lines could have been extended, perhaps. But as Touring Pittsburgh author Harold Smith observes with a minimum of rancor (for a trolley fan), “PAT was bus-minded to a fault. Between 1964 and 1967, it ended trolley service on all North Side and East End lines. By the early 1970s, only the present South [Hills] and the 53-Carrick line remained.”

Click here to learn about the 30+ trolley car collection at the Trolley Museum south of Pittsburgh in Washington PA off I 79.

trolley tracks

Thank a Teacher

On this  night before a new school year is about to start and the summer vacation and family visits are memories,  I was thinking about why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place.

I’m writing and posting these photos to pay tribute to wonderful teachers in my life.

In the 3rd grade I had an excellent teacher Grace Wagner from Dravosburg PA  who taught at Winchester- Thurston.   I found an alumni listing online Indiana PA Teachers College class of 1920.  Unfortunately I  can’t find the photo I have of her but plan to unearth it and post someday soon.  Who wouldn’t love a teacher who wrote this about their student.  I found it tonight in an envelope addressed to my parents, inside a deteriorating leather scrapbook.  Isn’t her handwriting beautiful? I am so grateful I discovered this report tonight before  school starts.  “she is able to put her gifts to good use” she wrote.  I feel encouraged once again as I hear her voice as I read the words she wrote in 1960-1961

Miss Wagner marked a 1 ( outstanding) for Play Spirit on the report card.   They don’t have that category on report cards anymore.


School Report




And here is Winona Stewart from Morris Plains Borough School in New Jersey.

Winona Stewart

In the sixth grade and also in the 7th and 8th grade I had a most wonderful teacher- Winona Stewart.  We had a Roman Banquet and she read The Human Comedy by William Saroyan aloud after lunch, and also The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford.  Every week we memorized a poem and recited it- The Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth is one I remember well.   I took this photo of Mrs. Steward in 1966, the year I graduated from 8th grade.  When I lived in Germany and my own kids were young in the early 80’s, I found an address and wrote her a thank you note and told her how I remembered her reading aloud to our class and how she influenced my choice to get a Masters in Reading.  She wrote a beautiful note back to me and one of these days I bet I unearth it, too.  She collaborated with the next teacher I am going to mention.  We did a show called The Curse of Ra  as we learned about Egypt making a gold sarcophagus of papier mache and I was a dancing girl.  It all seemed so exciting and wonderful and fun!

Mr G.  is why I wanted to be an art teacher.  I had him in grade school AND High School.  I didn’t try to contact him soon enough as he was deceased when I though of it.

Arthur W Guenther.  He produced a movie with our 4th grade class called Around the World in 90 Minutes. I was from the Netherlands and we used real wooden shoes in the tulips.   I got a bit part in the French segment too, standing by a Kiosk, chatting away.  I remember Starr Kenyon went down the slide as if skiing.  Titi Moglia wore a kimono and had a fan and there were pink tissue paper cherry blossoms.  I wish I could see the movie again.

When I think of all his creativity,  I am in awe.

Mr. Guenther danced on Broadway in the show South Pacific with Mary Martin and showed us his scrapbook,

Arthur Guenther


Around the World in 90 Minutes

Mr. Guenther helped finish the monochrome portrait of me in 4th period oil painting class.  It hangs in my bathroom.

My granddaughter Anna asked this past week, “Why are you all green?:  and I started thinking about Mr Guenther and how he inspired me.

And here I am tonight, wondering if I can inspire someone as I start my new classes.


Ruth HEndricks Portrait



My father, Roy J. Hendricks (b. 1912-d.2002) was a teacher in a one room school in Illinois

Roy Hendricks Teacher




My mother Marian VanSickle (b. 1912- d. 2000)  was a teacher in a one room school in Illinois  That is my mom in the back row on the left.

Marian VanSickle


What teacher inspired you?



Anna Learns How to Polish Silver

The family came to Grandma’s house today.

The highlight of my summer!

And Anna likes to check things out around the place. We found a tarnished, dented silver rattle of her father’s from 1976.  It was badly tarnished.

I asked her if she’d like to learn how to remove the tarnish, talked about oxidation, and how to polish silver.  We found a few old baby cups that were up high on a kitchen shelf and seemed a bit fuzzy.  We got a ramekin and she poured the baking soda in and then the littlest bit of water to make a nice paste.  I found an old washcloth to rub the metal.  We added an apron for her and she polished away.

I have lots more tarnished silver if she wants to dig in.

And here is what she said to me as she polished away…..

   “Your dad would like that I am doing this.”

and I got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes and thought, she is exactly right.

Silver Rattle After polishing


Anna at the sink with her father’s old rattle after she polished it!  WIsh we had taken the BEFORE shot with the old iPhone first!

baby cups on a hammered aluminum tray

Baby cups on my mom’s old hammered aluminum tray, awaiting polishing.




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