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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Springtime for Pittsburgh

Old and new blend perfectly in an ever more interesting Steel City

Last Updated: 3:12 PM, March 31, 2011
Posted: 5:58 PM, March 28, 2011
Comments: 3 
IN about a million ways, crazy old Pittsburgh is not like other cities in this part of the world, but the first thing people usually notice about it — coming in from the Pennsylvania Turnpike and through the Squirrel Hill Tunnel, or shooting under Mount Washington on their way in from the airport — is that this is a city with a lot going on in the looks department.
The setting, along those famous three rivers — Ohio, Allegheny, Monongahela — at the foot of those dramatic hills, is unforgettable. The ruggedly handsome skyline is a constant reminder of an era when this was one of the world’s eminent industrial capitals.
Work it out, Pittsburgh style — rent a kayak on the Allegheny.Never mind that it’s half empty — of all the half-empty Rust Belt cities, none wear diminished status as comfortably as Pittsburgh. It is the master of keeping up appearances. The downtown, known as the Golden Triangle, remains one of the country’s best-planned and most walkable, with one pleasant streetscape after another. In some ways, it is like a mini-New York, streets filled with people on sunny weekdays, pouring off buses and a little subway in the mornings and back on at night. Pittsburgh feels busy, alive. Industry has given way to research, health care, education, the arts. Smart people are moving in or moving home. 

The city feels young again, promising, like a place that has a future, one brighter than just about any of its contemporaries.
In short, Pittsburgh is just a little bit of a miracle. It is springtime, now — a good time to go take a look. Here are just a few reasons why.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE The 'Burgh's crazy topography — the likes of which could make a San Francisco city planner shudder — makes for close-knit neighborhoods that often function almost as if they were their own cities. To really get to know Pittsburgh, you’ve got to hustle a bit. There's the bustling South Side, with its endless selection of bars along jammed East Carson Street; try the local East End Brewing Co. beers on tap at The Bar at 2132. Then there's sleepy Highland Park, where locals sip espresso at (the excellent) Enrico’s (1125 N. Highland Ave.), not to mention the Williamsburg-ish scene up the Allegheny in secluded Lawrenceville — stop for lunch at Dozen Bake Shop, a city favorite (3511 Butler St.). There are many Pittsburghs, all in very close proximity to each other, but each their own universe. East Liberty, for years one of the city’s trouble spots and all but abandoned by the end, is a major happening these days, with tons of shopping and other developments that include a new Google campus. Stick around when the whistle blows five and take a table at neighborhood favorite Dinette, a vivacious rustic Italian canteen and wine bar with its own rooftop vegetable garden. Snack on grilled shishito peppers with fried almonds, goat cheese and sea salt while you contemplate the pizza menu (5996 Penn Circle S.).

One of Canonsburg’s All-Time “Greats” - Don Haney

The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame: Washington-Greene County Chapter

Canonsburg High School
University of Michigan, BS Business Administration
Michigan State University, MS Education

One of Canonsburg’s All-Time “Greats”

A 1950 graduate of Canonsburg High School and a 1957 graduate of University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. At Canonsburg he compiled a record of 92 wins —2 losses for a winning percentage of .979. He never lost a dual meet in high school. A 4 time WPIAL Champion, l27# in 1947, 127# in 1948, 138# in 1949 and 154# in 1950.

In 1949 he was the PIAA 138# Champion and won his second PIAA Championship at 154# in 1950. He was a National A.M.A. Champion in 1948 and was named a High School All- American by Body Builders Magazine in 1950. At The University of Michigan he compiled a39-5 record and was a Wilkes Open and Big 10 Champion.

Haney was head wrestling coach at Wayne High School, Wayne, MI where his teams compiled a record of 115 wins — 11 loses for a winning percentage of .913. His 1975 team was the Michigan Class A champions and he was named the Michigan “Coach of the Year”. Haney was inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame, Class of 1993 and is a member of the 1947 Canonsburg High School Hall of Fame Wrestling Team.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Canonsburg Native - Hall of Fame Inductee

The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame: Washington-Greene County Chapter

2001 - BASEBALL Hall of Fame 
Edward "Babe" Butka
A Canonsburg native, Edward "Babe" Butka played his way through amateur and minor league baseball into the major leagues as a first baseman with the Washington Senators. He began his career locally playing sandlot ball for Home Furniture, the Polish Falcons, and finally, the Canonsburg Elks.

While playing with the Elks in 1940, Butka was recruited by Joe Tinker to travel to Florida where Clark Griffith, owner of the Senators, gave him a tryout and signed him to a minor league contract. In the next couple of years he played minor league ball for Newport, TN; Orlando, FL; Utica, NY; Williamsport, PA; Buffalo, NY and Springfield, MA. Throughout his minor league years, Ed consistently batted over.300. Sold to the Washington Senators in the American League in 1943, Ed made his major league debut as a pinch hitter for Mickey Vernon. A newspaper account said he "slammed it on a line into deep left center for a double." He ended his career with Washington at the end of 1944 and was named manager ofthe New London, CT team in the Colonial League. His team reached the play-offs his first year, but Ed made his decision to end his career on the diamond and return home to Canonsburg. Ed and his wife, the former Helen May Meeks of Canonsburg, have resided in their hometown for the past fifty years. They are parents off five children.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Andy Brothers Sawdust Snow Tires

As a follow up to Lloyd Hampson's "Memories of growing up in Canonsburgwhere he comments about a Goodyear engineer who visited Andy Brothers to get the lowdown on their sawdust snow tire design.  Here is an excerpt from the September 1945 Popular Science magazine.
Popular Science Sep 1945

As a kid, I can recall many a day rolling tires down to Andy Tires on South Central hoping they passed their muster as a usable and recappable tire so to receive as reward a baseball bat or ball.
We proudly honor the Andy Brothers for their innovation, for looking out for the Kids and  as Canonsburg Friends.



As a multi-sport athlete at Cannon-McMillan High School in Canonsburg, PA, Doug Kotar made an impression on the local populace as a hardworking, intense youngster who would do "whatever it took" to get any job done. 

This was not unusual in the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania area in the late 1960's as athletics was a respectable way to pull oneself out of the steel mills and coal mines and have the opportunity to attain a college education. Kotar was talented enough to be called out of the stands at a track meet in order to throw the javelin so that the high school squad could score needed team points. He threw it further than anyone else in the meet and yet had never before practiced or thrown the implement. ''Doug was probably the best athlete we've ever had around here,'' said Manuel Pihakis, the athletic director for Canon-McMillan High School, and he was named All Western Pennsylvania and All State in what was then one of the most competitive football regions in the country. 

Talented enough to be drafted by the Cincinnati Reds baseball club upon high school graduation, Kotar instead chose to play football for Kentucky which unfortunately, remained what could charitably be called a mediocre program during his three varsity years. As a sophomore, Doug contributed a ninety-eight yard kickoff return on his first play as a varsity player and set the tone for a career that was marked by overachievement and intense effort.

Undrafted by the pros, he signed with the Steelers and found himself traded to the Giants three days later. His act, however, played very well in New York. The Giants fans, having suffered through a 1973 record of 2-11-1 instantly took to the undersized 5'11", 205-pounder who gave 110 percent on every kickoff return and rush out of the backfield. From 1974 through 1981, Kotar threw his body around without regard for his well-being and was rewarded with both numerous injuries and the unwavering support of Giants fans. His best season was in 1976 when he ran for 731 yards. He wound up as the fourth leading rusher in Giants history with 3,380 yards and did it with a poor supporting cast and often when every carry was critical.  ''Doug Kotar,'' Larry Csonka, the former fullback for the Giants and Kotar's roommate, said, ''would dive, claw, scratch - do anything to get the extra yard. He's a tough cookie.'' Injury cost him the entire 1980 season and he was absent from the final nine games of the '81 season after separating a shoulder. Facing the reality that he could play with pain but would not be as effective as he wanted to be or as effective as his teammates needed him to be, he announced his retirement on July 23rd, 1982, the first day of Giants pre-season training camp.   

Giants Head Coach Ray Perkins was fond of Kotar, a player he felt was the ultimate, hard driving team player. ''I remember when I needed to line him up at fullback and he was too light for the position, but he never complained,'' said Perkins. ''I could have lined him up at center and he wouldn't have complained.'' Unfortunately, a life after football was not to be. Within a year of his retirement from pro football, he was complaining of constant headaches. Kotar was checked by the Giants team physicians, referred for a series of neurological tests, and it was discovered that he had an inoperable brain tumor. He passed away on December 16, 1983, eulogized as a wonderful and dedicated family man who flew to his hometown of Canonsburg, PA after games as he wanted his wife and family to live normally and without interruption during each of his football seasons. He was and remains remembered by Giants fans as the ultimate in the hard-working, blue collar, understated player who maximized his talents and gave all he had to his team and teammates.

Shown is Doug Kotar's 1975 helmet. The unique Giants logo (see ASK DR. DEL RYE Column, July 9, 2007) was introduced by former Giants great Andy Robustelli who had taken over as Director Of Operations. Wanting to separate the team and fans from the bitter aftertaste of consecutive 2-11-1 and 2-12 seasons, "new" was the operative word and one of the new presentations was the unique one-season "NY" logo placed on each side of the Giants helmet. This replacement for the more traditional "NY" used in the past wasn't well accepted by fans or the media and it was removed for the 1976 season as the team moved its home site to the New Jersey Meadowlands where all uniform displays of their New York past and tradition was conspicuously absent.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jefferson College Times - Now Online

Thanks to Jim Herron's consent and cooperation, we will now have available past issues of the highly acclaimed Jefferson College Times  for online viewing.

As we know, the Jefferson College Times publication goes back to Canonsburg's earliest days when the Jefferson College was the prominent mainstay of the Town.

As the official publication of the Jefferson College Historical Society each issue is replete with pictures, stories and commentary of Canonsburg's full and rich history.

Canonsburg Friends  is pleased and proud to be apart of providing such a treasure for its viewers to enjoy.

As each issue is readied for viewing it will be added to the  Jefferson College Times online archive. A description of the issue announcing its online availability will be posted  on the Canonsburg Friends Blog and Facebook Group.

Click here to view The JCT -December 2010 On Line Issue

Caveat emptor:
As mentioned, each issue is chock-full of pictures and stories resulting in large files. The viewing experience will depend on internet access speed(bandwidth) as well as the performance of the viewing device, i.e. pc, smartphone, tablet, etc.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Canonsburg High School

1959 - Joint Area Track and Field Matches

Canonsburg High School Stadium - 1959

Seen above is CHS alumni Augie Fetcko, who is returning to coaching with his recent appointment as Head Track Coach at  Mercyhurst Prep in Erie,
 He is shown here back in 1959, demonstrating the Jim Banner taught "runners kick" as he strides the last hurdle in his attempt to chase down the Donora track star.

1959 CHS Relay Queens

Standing are Judy Weber and Judy Gilbert "CHS Relay Queens" as they observe in support of a classmate  trying to win one for the Brown & Gold.

In the stands that day, we  proudly recognize another pretty good Canonsburg athlete.  
Gaines "Buddy" Patmon

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Canonsburg's Log Cabin

Adapted from an article in Jefferson College Times, December 2004, by James T. Herron Jr.
John McMillan’s Log School is possibly the oldest school building west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The  log school is shown below in its deteriorating condition as it sat on its original site on the McMillan Farm in N.Strabane Township around 1894.

When John McMillan's descendants offered the old building to the trustees of the Jefferson Academy,  they readily accepted. 

The logs were marked, the cabin dismantled, and several wagon-loads of logs were hauled to Canonsburg.

The following year the building was reassembled behind the large brick college buildings known as the Jefferson Academy.

This photograph shows the small log cabin two years after being moved and re-assembled behind the Jefferson Academy buildings which later became Canonsburg High School

Over the years the log cabin had been moved several times and in the early 1900s it was put on a stone foundation.

In 1931 the school district needed the site for an auditorium and the log cabin was once again moved, this time from the back of the property to its current prominent site in front of the academy building that was later known as Canonsburg High School's Chapel Gym.

Shown here in its present location, in the front of the Chapel Gym.
The historic 1833 Jefferson Academy building (Chapel Gym) seen in the background was demolished in 1965...

for more information please check out the Canonsburg's Log Cabin Preservation Project