Local Dispatch: Peculiar Pittsburgh is worth searching for the right home
She was 30 years old, had a toddler and was pregnant again. Her husband kept complaining about a headache. His doctor said it was sympathy pains.
"Let your wife have the baby," he advised.
The doctor was wrong. My mother's first husband died of a brain tumor in Pittsburgh. It was New Year's Eve 1947 when she rode the train with a 3-year-old son, a 6-week-old son and the casket of their 32-year-old father to Portsmouth, Va., where he would be buried.
Many years later, my mother remarried and had four more children. She rarely spoke about the time she lived in Ruthfred Acres in Bethel Park. Her neighbors took down all her Christmas decorations and packed up her home. She never returned to Pittsburgh. She spent the rest of her life across the state in Scranton.
Now two of her children live in Pittsburgh. My sister has lived here for 18 years. I moved here two months ago from suburban Philadelphia to start a new life in retirement with my fiance.
It's been a tough relocation. I can't find a house. I'll bet I have looked at 60.
I don't like all these hills. I want a flat yard. I don't want a million stairs. I want an attached garage so I don't have to carry groceries up the steps to the kitchen.
I can't get a straight answer about the damn taxes in Allegheny County.
Half the people tell me to stay away from the South Hills, and the rest tell me no way should I go near the North Hills.
In my opinion, after seeing many of them in the company of real estate agents, the Pittsburgh toilet has no charm (as much as I respect the memory of those steelworkers who had to clean off in the basement before they came upstairs to the family).
I want central air. I want a two-car garage. I don't want to climb to a third-floor family room to watch TV. I want a private yard where I can go out early in the morning and garden in my sweats. Am I the only person in Pittsburgh who has advanced degrees and still desires a clothes line?
The people who live here don't seem to mind that it takes 60 minutes to drive 20 miles. How does that not bother you?! There is no predicting travel time because construction sites pop up and roads get shut down (with no advance warning) all over the place. Sometimes I follow directions and, out of the blue, I swear I am headed the wrong way on a one-way street. Even when I'm not, the mind plays tricks on you when you're lost.
I am eager to get settled. I want to wear my team colors and ride the T to a game. You guys have awesome fireworks here! I'm ready to cheer for the Penguins and Steelers and Pirates. (I won't ever admit how long it took me to connect the dots between the Pirates and the "Go Bucs" signs.)
I want to get a rally going at PNC Park. Let's make some noise. Let's get some fan interaction. Can't you at least go to a game and boo like the Phillies' fans? Oh, and what's the deal with the Steelers' prohibition on cheerleaders?
I'm here. I'm committed. I'm already eating fries on my sandwiches and ordering Virginia spots. I even bring visitors to ride the inclines. I am able to navigate the bridges and tunnels, and I know which one is the tube. Unless there is more than one tube.
I don't know the genesis of this Hatfields-and-McCoys rivalry between the residents of the North Hills and South Hills. It doesn't matter to me.
My mother left here under sad circumstances. I came here in celebration of a new life. It was her neighbors who took care of things when she was dealt a devastating blow. I want some neighbors.
I want a house here in Pittsburgh!
First Published February 20, 2013 12:25 am