This page will have personal memories of Squirrel Hill.

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September 19, 2013

Here's another anecdote, almost related to Forward Twp. & Squirrel Hill.

I have a friend, Pier Luigi Milani, who is a local historian (and attorney, and novelist, etc.) in Italy. He's been to see me 7 times as of this August. His grandfather came to America to find temporary work as a coal miner in 1913 and died in the Spanish Flu of 1918. So the grandfather was buried in Monongahela, but he had a wife and kids in Italy.

Pier first came to find his grandfather's grave in 2000, but we had found each other online first, and he came to visit me first in Squirrel Hill before going to Monongahela. During his 2010 visit (6th visit, this time to Philadelphia), I told him an impassioned story of how I wanted to write a memoir about my great grandfather, an Italian immigrant coal miner who was also an anti-war poet. He published poetry in Italian in America to warn itinerant workers in the 1910s that if they went back to Italy right now they might get drafted. Only one copy of a book of this poetry survived (which I inherited), and it survived because my great aunt's husband killed someone in Forward Township in the tension during a strike (crimes were very hard to address in Forward Township because it was so far away from the county sheriff's office and had no police force, but my uncle was arrested, and then released when some Italian miners lied at the trial). My great aunt and great uncle hid in New Jersey for 30 years as a result, and thus the poem survived. I had asked Pier to be prepared to translate my book for me into Italian.

I never got my book written (I wanted to do it to celebrate the centennial of the 1911 Italo-Turkish War, the specific pre-World War I conflict that inspired the poem), but Pier took it upon himself to write a book on this storyline under his own byline (i.e., you could say he stole my idea). He used a lot of stuff directly from my family, and I was very close to being furious with him. But he made a point of telling me it was all ..."fiction." You see, he made up some of the details. For instance, the story unfolds in a fictitious mining town that he named.... you're gonna love this.... "Squirrel Hill."

-- Terry Necciai
Preservation Architect and Architectural Historian

September 10, 2013

Hi Guys,

The Forward Township that is south of Pittsburgh is the area where my dad grew up. It is in ALLEGHENY County (not Washington).

The people there have a bit of a complex, because it's further from Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County Courthouse than any other place in the county. The joke there is that no one realizes it's in Allegheny County, so the county folds the map under at that point if it's too tall to fit in the frame.

Forward Township occupies the area between Elizabeth (Allegheny County) and Monongahela (or "Monongahela City," or "Mon City," my home town). At its southeastern corner, Forward Township also almost touches Donora (Washington County) and Monessen (Westmoreland County). The City of Monongahela ISin Washington County, and well connected to Forward Township by a river bridge that carries Rt. 136 (the modern name of western half of the Glades Road). Most of Forward Township gets its mail through the Monongahela post office, so most of it is considered part of the "Monongahela Area." However, school-district-wise, the township's original school system was combined with those of Elizabeth (Elizabeth Borough and Elizabeth Township) about 1960 to create the Elizabeth-Forward School District, all of which is in Allegheny County.

In my dad's time, there was a large Italian-American community in Forward Township of about 1,000 people (in old mining town houses, sort of a tired ethnic "ghetto" by the 1940s). Since the township had no high school of its own, students could choose to go to either Monongahela, Elizabeth, or Monessen. Most felt they were more part of Monongahela than anywhere else, so they opted that way, and many eventually ended up moving to Washington County as a result.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, what is now Forward Township was an important farming settlement made up of families who had moved there from around Princeton, New Jersey. It was one of the first areas settled by productive farmers in all of Western Pennsylvania (beginning around 1766). The Glades Road, an important early east-west route across Western Pennsylvania, led through this area, on its way from Bedford to what is now Washington, Pa. At this township, the road forked in a way that allowed people to cross the river in various places, and thus kept several river ferries in operation. When the township was formed from the larger Elizabeth Township, Allegheny County, in 1869, the residents wanted it to be called "Jersey Township" in honor of their Princeton area roots. They even had a historical society there called the "Jersey Literary Society." However, the judge who heard the case wanted to honor Walter Forward instead.

There are only a few of the old miners' houses left, though they mark what is left of about 10 villages along the river where there were once productive mines and brickyards. Today, the township is better known as the home to Triple B Farms (AKA, Beinlich's Beef and Berry Farm), a "pick your own" strawberry and pumpkin farm that also raises beef cattle.

Sharyn, the other SHHS co-founder, comes from a family that now lives within about a mile of Forward Township, Butler County.

-- Terry Necciai
Preservation Architect and Architectural Historian

September 10, 2013

Hi there –

Although I have no personal recollections of your charming community as I grew up in New Haven, CT during the same time period, I couldn’t resist sending you a note. I’ve been involved in genealogy for many years and was following a lead out of personal curiosity. Recently I purchased some vintage shelf liner and it just arrived. A 59 cent price sticker from the store where it was bought originally back in the 50’s was still on the unopened package. I was delighted. A little treasure. It was from Autenreith’s 5&10. As I’ve never heard of that chain I started investigating. I tell people I’m not trying to recapture my youth just trying to help preserve my past.

I didn’t stop at a spelling question in the name as Google wanted to keep asking if I spelled it wrong. I persisted. I found an obituary for Mr. J. Harold “Hal” Autenreith Jr. and read through it for clues. Sure enough there was a mention of his family’s business. He sounded like an interesting character. Again I persisted and came to your website where I’ve read through the memories. I couldn’t help but smile reading that a Mike Cook shared a memory back in March of 2005. He bought turtles & goldfish there. We did the same at Woolworth’s of W.T. Grant’s.

I know my mother would be smiling at me right now to think that I still follow up on what was important to both of us when she was still with me. The great stories. It’s the journey that we take in this lifetime that defines us as human.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

-- Judy Warner

December 13, 2009

I lived in Squirrel Hill for 3 months. It was the summer of 1977 and my mother was in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. We lived in Atlanta, and my Mom actually left us with my Dad ( to whom she was still married ) to pursue her Doctorate in Social Work.

She had a small apartment on Dalzell Place. The efficiency across the hall was available and my Mom rented it for us for the summer. The landlord was kind enough to knock out a closet wall out so that her apartment would connect to ours.

Her advisor was Martha Baum who was a resident of Pittsburgh/Squirrel Hill and she totally hooked my Mom up with resources within the community so we could have a good summer there. My oldest sister was a counselor at the local JCC. My younger sister and I went to a Jewish camp somewhere out in the suburbs. The name of my group was Camp Tel Aviv I believe. I still remember the names of some of my camp mates and my counselors, Mike, Lenny and a woman whose name I can’t remember. My counselors were so great. Mike was my favorite, he always called me a Donna Summer in the making. Mostly because I don’t think he knew any other attractive brown women with a ton of hair which is something Donna Summer and I had in common. Anyway, we had a great mutual affection for each other and he made my camping experience a good one. I would love to find Mike one day and thank him.

My fondest memories of Squirrel Hill was to walk up to Forbes and the other cross street to the commercial district and go to “ Papa Joes”?? for a great burger. And one of my counselors was Lenny Silberberg and his Dad owned a bakery that we visited on a field trip during camp and I subsequently visited on my own.

Coming from suburban Atlanta—Squirrel Hill was unlike any community I had ever known. The pedestrian culture, the public transportation gave me such a sense of freedom. It was such a different experience for me. The beautiful architecture was foreign to me, the whole sports culture, event the topography was new.

But the coolest part looking back was how the academic/Jewish community embraced my mother to support her through getting her PhD. It was a difficult time for all of us in our family. However, it was completely worth it. My mom, nor my sisters and I would not be the same people without have spent time there.

Thanks Squirrel Hill---

-- Enyce Thompson

July 12, 2008

My name is Todd Autenreith. I was born in Pittsburgh in 1960 and was raised on Richland Lane near Penn and Braddock. I went to Park Place School from Kindergarten through eighth grade. My father owned a chain of stores called Autenreith 5 & 10 in the Pittsburgh area,including Squirrel Hill. I now live in Tucson, Arizona but always consider myself a deep-rooted Pittsburghian. To this day, I wave the terrible towel and wear a Roberto Clemente shirt on a regular basis.

I just returned from Las Vegas visiting my mom and we had ham sandwiches which reminded us of the chipped ham sandwiches we got at Isaly's in Squirrel Hill. What wonderful memories.

My father also sang in a barbershop quartet which won the international competition in 1963. I spent many days at Frick Park and the surrounding area as a young man.

Thank you for this sight and bringing back so many wonderful memories.

Sincerely, Todd Autenreith, Tucson, Az.

January 25, 2008

Hi -- I now live in Cleveland, Ohio but was born in Pittsburgh and moved to Monitor Street at 1 year old after my birth in the same house on Ward Street in Oakland, near Isaly's. I attended John Minadeo Elementary School and loved to go to Frick Park and play there. A visit to Kennywood or White Swan Park was always an excitement. I still have a large family who live in Pittsburgh, so I get to pass my home and the neighborhood where I grew up.

My father's best friend was Herb Silverberg who owned Silverberg's bakery so a Sunday trip there was always topped off with some icing squirted in my mouth or cookies. My mother worked at Herman's bakery during her high school years before she graduated from University of Pittsburgh and worked as a microbiologist at Children's Hospital. My mouth still waters for Mineo's pizza on Murray Avenue.

Seeing a movie at Manor's theatre on a Saturday was always a treat.

Many good memories of Squirrel Hill -- memories that are always to keep!

--Betty Ruth Shear

September 28, 2006

Thanks to Joe Saber who sent us the following personal recollections:

I came to Pgh. when I was 9 yrs. old. My uncle adopted me and my sister after my mother died from child birth of my sister. My home was on Morrowfield Ave. I delivered newspapers on adjacent streets. Went to school at Philomenas Catholic school. Graduated from Taylor-Allderdice High School in 1949. Enlisted in the Air Force and spent 4yrs.1 mo. 5days -- 3 yrs. in Germany. Became an aircraft mechanic and worked for United Airlines in Midway Airport Chicago. To make a long story I will return back to my home one day before I die. Please send me the film and I will send money to whomever (refers to Vintage Film of Murray Ave being shown thru Pgh. Filmmakers).

Thank you!

Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery today a GIFT so enjoy and never forget.


April 4, 2005

Thanks to Mike Cook, who sent us the following personal recollections:

My parents and sister still live in Squirrel Hill, and it's always nice to see the old neighborhood when I go to Pittsburgh to visit them.

I have a few more memories of UpStreet that I would like to share. I remember the Isaly's store on Forbes where they had the best chipped ham, potato salad, baked beans, pickles, and ham barbeque! The skyscraper ice cream cones were huge! I like to weigh myself on the old-fashioned scale that they had by the door, next to two big floor fans that tried to cool the un-air-conditioned store in the summer time.

Next door was the News Stand where we bought Allderdice notebooks and gym bags. Freedmans Men's Wear shop on Murray Avenue provided many Bar Mitzvah gifts, and back to school clothes. We bought produce at Kubitz and Goss on Murray Avenue, and Kablin's Market delivered groceries right to my grandmother's door after she phoned in her order every week.

Rattner's hardware store had everything under the sun, and they always knew exactly where everything was! Mineo's pizza shop originally was located at Phillips and Murray in Herman's Bakery building after Herman's closed.

The big name beauty shops were Dottie's on Murray near Beacon, and Jason's on Forbes near Shady. I remember when the Forum Theater opened on the old Kamin Chevrolet site at Forbes and Shady, and they had a knight in shining armor riding up and down Forbes Street on a poor horse (who was terrified of the streetcars) to promote their big opening. I think their first movie was The Mouse That Roared.

And, I will never forget the Saturday that Footer's Cleaners on Forbes Street caught on fire and was completely destroyed. We lived near Forbes and Dallas, and I was on a streetcar, on my way home from the library in Oakland. The police had Forbes Street blocked off at Murray Avenue, and my friend and I had to get off and walk the rest of the way home. Naturally, we stood across the street from Footer's and watched the action. Many of my family members and neighbors lost clothing in that fire, and it was the talk of the community for weeks to come.

I hope that some of my fond memories will bring back good feelings and memories for others. I look forward to hearing other peoples recollections, and I am anxiously awaiting your history book.

--Mike Cook

March 31, 2005

I currently live in Philadelphia, which I love. However, I grew up in Squirrel Hill in the 1950s and '60s, and I have great memories which I would love share, especially of "Up-Street," if anyone is interested...

I remember Tabor's Barber Shop and Dora's Market on Shady Avenue, Rosen's and The Sun Drug Store along with The Manor Pharmacy and Beacon Pharmacy. We ate at Cappie's, Bubble's and Sherman's, and Weinstein's restaurant with all of the great celebrity pictures in the window. I bought goldfish and turtles at Autenreith's 5&10 cent store. Ortoleva's shoe repair shop was next door, and The National Record Mart was also there, with its listening booth, where my friends and I spent hours listening to records.

The cookies, cakes and pies, breads, and candy were fantastic at the Waldorf Bakery. Rosenbloom's, Silberberg's and Herman's were also great bakeries. We bought candy at Loft's candy shop, and shopped at the old Giant Eagle which was where the Eat 'N Park is now. Deli items were purchased at Adler's, The Hebrew National or Polonsky's. I bought anniversary presents for my parents at The Hostess House and Berman's Gift Shop. My mother shopped at The Tweed Shop, Adelle's, and Block's. Florsheim shoes were also very popular. I went bowling at the Murray-Beacon lanes and enjoyed movies at The Guild and The Forum.

We rode the 64, 67, 68, or 69 streetcars to Oakland, and took the 60 streetcar to East Liberty. When we went to Kennywood Park for school picnics, we took the 68 streetcar.

The Hot Puppie Shop on Forward near Murray had great hot dogs, and the Morrowfield Apartments had a huge orange neon sign on top of it that could be seen for miles.

Before the JCC, we went to "The IK's" at Forbes and Murray, next door to the Gulf Station, where my dad had hs car washed every Saturday.

I have many more fond memories that I would love to share!


--Mike Cook