Growing up in Pittsburgh

This piece gives kids what is was like growing up in Pittsburgh before they were born


Bob Perkoski

Pittsburgh in the early 70s

Many of us don’t know what Pittsburgh used to be like in the 20th century.  NAEye talked to 2 teachers from NAI who grew up in the Pittsburgh area and explained to us their experience to give us a closer look on what it was like living in the ‘burgh.

Miss Lynch, a P.E. and Health teacher here at NAI,  said when growing up in Pittsburgh, everything revolved around a football team. “I remember in math class, we would have a math test and there was extra credit. So for example, if the answer was 20, and you knew that the number belonged to Rocky Bleier, you got that extra point.” As we all know, in the 70’s, there was no social media. Lynch explained how people were connected with more positive comments and everyone talked about the sports team.

When she moved to State College where she became a Health Education teacher at State College High School, there was the same atmosphere in State College as there was in Pittsburgh.

One thing Lynch didn’t enjoy about growing up in the southern area of Pittsburgh was being so far away from the city. “All the Pittsburgh pride was shown on the TV screen, and you couldn’t just go downtown because I was 50 minutes away.” That’s why, after coming home for State College, she moved to Bellevue, just outside the city to observe the true Pittsburgh experience.

Diversity is another thing many citizens, such as Ms. Lynch, enjoy about Pittsburgh. For example, in Squirrel Hill, there are many synagogues surrounding the East Pittsburgh area.

Another Pittsburgh citizen at NAI is Mrs. Jones, a Math teacher. She remembers visiting cousins in the South Hills. “My cousins lived in the city and we had good experiences of running through the city streets.”

Jones said the best part of being kid in Pittsburgh was that everyone played outside and kids learned how to solve problems on their own. “We just played outside all day and our parents didn’t keep a close eye on us and we worked things out on our own”.

She misses the safety factor which continues to decrease in our city. “When I see a kid walking alone in the streets by themselves, I worry about them because back in the day we would ride our bikes along streets by ourselves and you just felt safe” And of course, she misses penny candy when it sold across the city.

Like most of us, Jones doesn’t enjoy the conflict between different cultures especially with the recent Tree of Life Synagogue shooting that occurred over 2 months ago, right here in our own city. “I just wish everyone felt comfortable walking into every area in our city”

The hardest question of all for Mrs. Jones, which is probably the hardest for most sports fans, was her favorite Pittsburgh sport team. She just couldn’t pick one. “Usually it’s whatever season we’re in”. She explained how proud she was when the Steelers defeated the New England Patriots on Sunday, December 16th although they were unable to make it to playoffs to win the 2019 Super Bowl. It was the first time the Steelers defeated the Patriots since 2011. She also remembers her father being a season ticket holder when the price of the Pittsburgh Penguin tickets were only $8.25. Today, tickets to see one hockey game is usually over one hundred dollars per ticket. As most sport-lovers feel, it’s hard to support our baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, due to their recent losing streak in the past couple of years. 

As time has past, things have changed not only in our city but worldwide. But Mrs. Jones and Ms. Lynch can both agree that there is something special about growing up in Pittsburgh no matter what generation you belong to.