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Pastin: Final edition on tap for editor

By Bob Pastin
Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

Retiring is hard work.

There are the medical and social security benefit bureaucrats, online snafus and holding on the phone for extended periods of time — finally getting an automated voice telling you how to get a real person by hanging on longer.

I am tired of hanging on and hanging up, and waiting and waiting at the Social Security office. I do not need the Social Security security guard telling me to be quiet and to take a ringing phone outside — as he listens to a FANS sports show at full volume.

Tick, tick, tick.

It's time to say goodbye to the work-a-day world and find new problems. My last day is Friday.

Forty-one years in the business — 24 in sports and 17 in news.

Daily papers. Weekly papers. Big ones. Small ones,

Fifteen years as editor of The Signal Item - a stint in the 90s and another over the past 11.

The Bridgeville Area News for about 10 years. And the South Hills Record for the past year or so.

Certain moments and people are frozen in time:

• The Flood. It is difficult to freeze 37 years into a lasting snapshot, but now-retired police chief Jeff Harbin reached his zenith on the night of Sept. 17, 2004, when Hurricane Ivan blew into town and caused unprecedented flooding in low-lying Carnegie and Bridgeville and surrounding municipalities.

More than 20 people were stranded on the Mansfield Boulevard bridge, fearing for their lives. Harbin kept them calm as he mapped out a strategy to secure several rescue boats to get the trapped people out of harm's way.

• The Inferno. On Oct. 15, 2005 around 2 a.m., fire units were dispatched to the Red Onion Grille on West Main Street. A kitchen fire turned into an inferno. By the time firefighters got it under control, half a city block and a lot of Carnegie's history were gone.

Marcella McGrogan's Historical Society of Carnegie in the Husler Building was severely damaged and never fully recovered.

• The fortress on the hill has been spared from disasters.

But if it hadn't been for Maggie Forbes, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library — Carnegie Carnegie — might today be something other than a wonderfully restored library and music hall. She led the charge of the Chartiers Valley Partnership to raise more than $7.5 million.

She retired but took a mulligan and returned to the same job this past year.

Quick hits

• Honus Wagner starred for the Pirates in the early 1900s but his legacy survives locally. The vintage T-206 Wagner card, circa 1909, fetched $2.1 million in 2013.

A mural on the American Legion building on Jane Street pays homage to Carnegie's favorite son.

• John Oyler, college professor, newspaper columnist and Bridgeville's preeminent historian. A gentleman and a damn fine storyteller.

• The late Mary Woods, who wrote the Cubbage Hill column in this newspaper for more than 50 years. Struggling with the use of modern technology but still devoted, she once began a column longhand on notebook paper and finished it on the back of an electric bill.

• Bob Fryer. The Bridgeville Connection. Cares about progress. Has a book of ideas that he is willing to share with any reporter who'll listen.

• The late, great Edith Hughes. My first boss in this company. Later a dear friend and confidante. Serious journalist. Fought for her people. Loved Oakmont Bakery.

• Leading the shift from blue-collar mill town to a more refined community were Phil and Jean Salvato and their 3rd Street Gallery. Now a source of tremendous pride and a fixture in town, people wondered how long it would last in this environment.

B.C. —Before Carnegie.

Name the only sports editor in America to suffer the loss of two NFL franchises? Why, me — the Baltimore Colts and St. Louis Cardinals.

Grown men wept as the Colts were whisked to Indianapolis in Mayflower vans under the cover of darkness.

St. Louisans were indifferent toward their Big Red football team, feeling they would be rewarded with a new franchise after the team fled to Arizona. They were. They got the Rams.

There was San Berdoo — The San Bernardino Sun-Telegram, and covering the Los Angeles Dodgers and pro golf and being close to my journalistic idol, LA Times columnist Jim Murray.

Being insulted by manager Tommy Lasorda for no reason.

Watching baseball in wondrous Chavez Ravine.

Playing tennis at spring training with Toni Tennille of Captain and Tennille fame and singing with her to “Love Will Keep Us Together.”

Witnessing the St. Louis Cardinals painfully blow World Series chances against the Kansas City Royals in 1985 and the Minnesota Twins in 1987.

Don Denkinger dart boards are still selling in St. Loo. He's the ump whose blown call cost them the ‘85 Series.

The best of times and the worst of times.

Onward and upward.

 

 
 


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