After two years at Jay Neff, it was back to our side of town to Keystone Oaks High School. Just beyond Kelton,
I used the same tactics to reach its front door. High School had its own set of perils but, at least I was used to the
walk by now. The bus kids were still being shipped in though, at least now, we could scare them pretty good with
a barrage of snow balls. And, besides, I actually got a ride once in a while from my buddy. Life was starting to
look up, especially from the bottom of the hill, when my parents or somebody (story for another day) decided
that I had too much free time on my hands and I wasn't getting the strict education that a Catholic School would
provide. So, for my senior year, I was told that I would now be going to school at the St. Mary's of the Mount!
Saint Mary's in Mount Washington was Siberia. The Hinterlands at the precipice of the city, it was so far that I
actually would have to take a bus! A PAT Bus mind you! And an Incline! Then walk five miles on the frozen
tundra of Grandview Avenue, uphill in the snow! Okay, Grandview was pretty level but there was a hill at the
last part and I was walking from the Mon Incline!
It would take me almost two hours to get to school! And, I had to wear a tie! Would the mortification never end?
I suffered through the full school year and actually made it through without snowshoes. I even made the Honor Roll!
But I had learned many valuable lessons along the way, up the hill, through the snow.
I learned it was time to move to Florida!
My first few years of school weren't that bad. I went to St. Bernard's Catholic School, which I could see from
my front door, just up the hill. I only had to climb up a half a hill on Scott Road. Of course, I was the youngest
member of their marching band and had to lug a French Alto Horn to school everyday because no else would play
it. Only slightly less bulky than a tuba it was a struggle for a third grader to lug, every day, the horn up the hill, in
the snow. But I didn't know how well I had it.
When I hit fifth grade, Mom had a falling out with Father Wilt and she declared that I was now going to Kelton
Public School, light years away from my house and all uphill. After fighting everyone at my new school, I made
friends. Or, should I say Sherpas.
I began my first ascent to Kelton via the Peermont Alp to the first Base Station to pickup my first Sherpa, Russ
Connolly. Then we ascended the rest of the hill to Base Camp # 2 on Latonia Avenue. After ascending the steps
of the high-side of the street we would collect our second Sherpa, Jody Zimmerman. Then it was downhill, for
once, to meet our final Sherpa, Ricky Reich in the valley of Latonia for our final ascent up Delwood to Kelton.
Delwood was the kicker. Delwood was a short, perpendicular mountain that led to the mouth of the school.
Guarded by the crossing guard, Mrs. Kirke, she would question you on every facet of your life while you were
sucking frozen air from what felt like a straw.
Sometimes we could avoid the Delwood kicker by taking the "Army Trail"
behind Latonia but, that was only when there was less than two feet of
snow, which wasn't often. In those days, they didn't have "Snow Days"
like now. Five feet of snow, "Get to School!" Seven feet of snow,
"Get to School!" Eight feet of snow and a four inches of ice, "Get to
School!" I don't even think they invented "Snow Days" until 1978!
After two years of this torture they came up with a new level of Hell,
Jay Neff Middle School. Jay Neff seemed to be in a whole other realm.
Four hours away and on the other side of tracks, the trip there was filled
with new perils and new kids.
|Five Miles to School...Up a Hill
If you lived in Dormont, this was true.
When you lived, as I did, in the Marianna Trench
of Dormont, every where was uphill. Throw in
three feet of snow and every day was an epic
adventure that Sir Edmund Hillary would have
I lived on Piedmont Avenue. Piedmont literally
means, "At the foot of the mountains." Piedmont
was at the bottom of every hill, at the bottom of
Scott Road, at the bottom of Peermont Avenue,
at the bottom of Biltmore Avenue. No matter
where you were headed you had to conquer a 75
degree slope that tested your manhood and your
St. Bernards From My Front Porch
It was also there that I found out about school buses. Kids from Greentree & Castle Shannon actually had warm,
plush buses pick them up at their door and deliver them rested and relaxed to the school's front door! Us kids from
Dormont would trek the length of the borough, dodging streetcars, wild dogs and mind-boggling hills just to arrive
dispirited and in despair to go to school while these spoiled brats bounded off the bus to the newly shoveled steps
of the school! I imagined them riding in their bus singing camp fire songs and laughing and pointing at us poor
Dormonters while singing, "The wheels of the bus go round and round" No wonder there were so many fights at
|Photo Courtesy of Mark Krchmar
|Photo Courtesy of Dale Hutchinson