LEGENDARY is an overused word, but in the case of Porky Chedwick, Pittsburgh’s “Daddio of the Raddio,” who died at 96 last Sunday, legend is the right word. Although he was a DJ on the radio and at oldies dances into his 90s, Pittsburghers had to be pretty long in the groove themselves to remember him in his heyday — the late ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, when he dared to introduce black artists like Bo Diddley and Smokey Robinson to white audiences. Born George Chedwick in Homestead, his legend as a Pittsburgh original may never die because Pittsburgh never forgets. And, as latter-day artist Bob Seger sang, rock ’n’ roll never forgets.
THOUGHTS of mortality — dust to dust, ashes to ashes — were hard to miss in Pittsburgh on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. It wasn’t just the traditional administering of ashes in churches, such as by Bishop David Zubik, who heads the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, at St. Mary of Mercy Church, Downtown. As a Post-Gazette story reported, the Rev. Michelle Boomgaard, associate rector at St. Paul Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon, offered ashes to passersby outside the local T station during the morning rush hour. With the arrival of Lent came a reminder that winter itself is close to expiring, despite bitter rear-guard actions like last Sunday’s storm. Clocks are advanced today. Spring starts March 20.
BEFORE SPRING arrives, a cold front of green beer will hit Pittsburgh next Saturday, two days before St. Patrick’s Day. The South Side, a place of over-celebration even in normal times, stands prepared to deal with the throng of revelers who usually clog the area after the parade Downtown. The local Chamber of Commerce and bar and restaurant association last week announced a plan that includes free parking and shuttle service from a lot across the Allegheny River, stands for valet service and licensed taxis in the South Side itself and portable toilets. Perhaps St. Patrick could be invoked; since he rid Ireland of snakes, maybe he could do the same for those who are green to the gills and overly festive.