Sunday, December 9, 2012

Playing volleyball at the West Penn Rec Center Really Takes Me Back

After a year of only half paying attention to the Pittsburgh Dad phenomenon, I recently started to watch more of his videos, and I have to say, they really take me back to a simpler time. Curt Wootton, the co-creator and actor who portrays Dad, really has the speech pattern, mannerisms and accent of the typical "Pittsburgh Dad" down perfectly.

If I close my eyes, I can picture every adult authority figure of my youth (male and female) as they raised holy hell over everything I did.

Speaking of my youth, one of the neighborhoods that I grew up in was Polish Hill.

For the past seven years, I've been playing recreational volleyball in the West Penn Recreational Center, located in Polish Hill. It's always a fun time, but whenever I'm over that way, I can't help but feel a sense of home. I often forget that the playground located adjacent to the rec. center was the playground of my toddler years, and it's where my mom taught me how to swing.

I never went into the rec. center as a kid, but I did swim in the pool, and looking back on it, I probably shouldn't have, because it was an absolute disaster. The pool was so badly in need of restoration, pieces of cement would crumble into your hands as you got in and out, and if you had goggles on under water, you could see huge chunks of cement just sitting at the bottom.

If stuff like that went on at a local pool today, people would lose their minds.

Back to volleyball. Following one of my Thursday night matches, it's fairly common for my teammates and I to frequent Gooski's, a bar located on Brereton Avenue, about a block away from the rec. center.

In the late 70's, when I was about six years old, I lived in an apartment right next to that bar. It wasn't called Gooski's then, but it looked pretty much the same as it does now. There's a little walkway beside the bar that connects Brereton to Dopson St. and it's adjacent to the yard I used to play in. All day long, drunk grown ups would walk by and comment on whatever it is that I was doing, and it would scare the living crap out of me.

Back when Jimmy Carter was President of the United States, he, along with Vice President Walter Mondale, visited Pittsburgh, and one of their stops was Polish Hill. During their visit, one, or both, came over to pat me on the head. I couldn't have been any more than four or five at the time, and I would have none of it.

I don't know why I'm blogging about this stuff. I guess the Pittsburgh Dad has got me feeling a little nostalgic.

Too bad he's also got me ramblin' and writin' bad!


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