Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fire Companies and Social Halls.

My grandparents were old school working class. Their educations didn't go much past 5th grade.

They needed a nightlife though. Yes, even to run game.

Pittsburgh in the 1920's and 30's was an industrial powerhouse of country and dare I say world. (Now it's all universities and hospitals which is good too, but doesn't produce much wealth for the whole population).

Grandma joined the Polish Falcons which was and is a social club. I believe they spent much of their time at the fire hall too. I've seen pictures. They looked pretty handsome back then. I didn't get their genes.

My dad and mom moved to a place called Shadyside, a more trendy side of town which is now completely gentrified. Growing up in Shadyside and having a few rich kid friends gave me, and I think others, a really negative view of the fire halls and social drinking clubs. We, or I, saw these as places where the uneducated "hunkies" (slang for eastern european trash/labourer) and "pollocks" hung out speaking in their horrible Pittsburgh-ese (i,e "yins"). The scene was primitive and backward to us. Not unlike how some would view a redneck bar. (This was in the 1980's - when I had these thoughts)

Moving ahead, let's say 25 years, I find myself in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, regularly frequenting the Fire Company. Yes, even looking forward to it. It looks similar to a picture I've seen of my grandparents. The horrible Pittsburgh way of speaking (which I now appreciate) has now been replaced by the Pennsylvania Dutch accent.

There is a peculiar warmth I get when I enter the Fire Company. It's by far not the most flashy place. The lighting could be better. But I feel quite at home here.

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