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Cherry: Pittsburgh is no day at the beach, Mom says

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 12:36 p.m.

My mother isn't very fond of Pittsburgh.

She's a fan of the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins; enjoys Primanti's sandwiches; likes chipped ham; says “pop”; loves nighttime rides in the front seat of Kennywood Park's Thunderbolt; and reminiscences of Downtown shopping trips to Gimbels, Horne's and Kaufmann's.

But don't get her started on the region's apparent unfortunate geographical position — as if chosen through some kind of lottery system where Pittsburgh's founding leaders lost.

You see, if my mother could take a pair of scissors, cut out the Pittsburgh area, haul it south and plop it smack up against the Atlantic Ocean near Myrtle Beach, S.C., she would.

She's had this belief for as long as I can recall, always choosing to use Pittsburgh's location on a map as some kind of (weak) argument for why the region never will live up to much smaller oceanfront cities along the coast.

Though, to be fair, she's also fond of Erie (as am I) because of its location — beautiful Presque Isle jetting out into Lake Erie, creating the bay and panoramic views.

Oh, and beaches.

Sure, we Pittsburghers hate crossing bridges to get anywhere, though it no longer fazes me as I cross the Sewickley Bridge to get to the Herald. But my mother might be the only Pittsburgher — born and raised, I might add — who hates the rivers.

All three of them. The Mon, the Al and the O.

Point State Park?

To me, it's the most beautifully placed park in the world (maybe tied with Presque Isle).

To her, Point State Park doesn't have a beach, so what's to enjoy?

The North Shore?

I enjoy it for its great sports stadiums, budding nightlife and use of the river through Venture Outdoors and the Riverwalk. For my mom?

Again, no beach, no boardwalk, no deal.

But get her to a Steelers or Pirates game and she's OK with it.

Picturesque views of the skyline from any vantage point do nothing for her.

She can't sink her feet into the tall buildings and hillside the way she can a sandy beach with rippling waves and splashing dolphins.

I enjoy calling her bluff, reminding her how much she enjoys Saturdays in the Strip District; eating pierogies, wedding cookie tables, french fries on top of salads and sandwiches; shopping at the Downtown Macy's, going to a Penguins game and being able to watch many fireworks shows in several different directions thanks to the hills and valleys.

So maybe it isn't that my mother dislikes Pittsburgh.

She seems to recognize it for what it's worth, even if Pittsburgh can't offer her a day at the beach.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-324-1408 or

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