ShareThis Page

Tuesday essay: Sophie

| Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, 3:39 p.m.

To many on the “outside,” Sophie Masloff was a most improbable mayor for Pittsburgh. A woman. A grandmother. Jewish. And, oh, that voice.

But for Pittsburghers living in that proverbial enclave of a “whole world of people,” she was a natural, a never apologetic “one of us.” Compassionate and inclusive? Of course. But this “old Jewish grandmother,” as even she was wont to characterize herself, was no pushover. She became the best ambassador the city ever had. And when Sophie died on Sunday morning at 96, more than a bit of each of us died with her.

Sophie, the epitome of a public servant, also was the kind of pol who never met a buffet she didn't like. That's not to say she was gluttonous. Sophie merely appreciated a good spread. Her trips to “the tables” at Democrat convention parties were the stuff of legend.

Neither did Sophie shy away from speaking her mind. A few years ago, upset that one of her friends had been, in her view, unfairly taken to task on the Trib's editorial pages, she telephoned to protest. And she quickly followed up with a typewritten note. “Dear Mr. McNickle: As per our 'phone talk. I hope you can see the error of your way.”

It was sent on Sophie's classic “A Yiddish saying and translation” notepad. The saying that day: “ Gnadim (heaven) is a machia (pleasure), but getting there is most of the fun.”

None among us can question that Sophie had the greatest fun getting there.

— Colin McNickle

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.