Most Pittsburghers I know have a Squirrel Hill story. Mine goes way back to the days when my mom did “day’s work” in Squirrel Hill; it was back in the fifties and the sixties. I remember riding through the area in our 1956 green and white Chevy Belair. We often rode by Taylor Allderdice High School and as a little girl I would say, “that is the school I want to go to.” Who knew that as a result of busing that I would end up at Allderdice?
When I was a little girl we went shopping in Squirrel Hill because Littles Shoe Store carried narrow shoes, my feet were so thin and they still are. Growing up I became familiar with Jewish cultures, my mom used to cater bar mitzvahs and she brought home things like gefilta fish, chopped liver and matzo ball soup. I loved all of the different things she exposed me to from the culture of Jewish people.
I had four good years at Taylor Allderdice and remember attending a service for a classmate at Tree of Life Synagogue. The shopping district in Squirrel Hill was always a thriving one. There were great dress stores like Linton’s and shoe stores and restaurants. There was a bakery and two movie theatres. The locals referred to the shopping district as “going up street.” My first banking job was at Equibank in Squirrel Hill right at the corner of Forbes and Murray. I also worked at the round Mellon Bank on Murray Avenue and then I worked at Rhoda’s Deli on Murray. That was one of the last good delis; their corned beef sandwiches were one of the best in the city. They were right across the street from Mineo’s Pizza. I thought their pizza was wonderful and the same guys who worked there when I was in high school are still there.
Who remembers when there was a car dealership in Squirrel Hill and what about Poli’s Restaurant? I have spent so many good days in that neighborhood. Last Saturday when I saw that there was an active shooter in Squirrel Hill I could not believe it and then when I heard that they were at the Tree of Life Synagogue I was dumbfounded. What could this be about? One of the good things about social media and modern technology, you find out things as they happen. When I found out how many lives had been lost I was in disbelief. Why is there so much hate in the world? If you don’t like a certain group of people stay away from them, why do people feel they have to harm someone? What does it prove? As the news was carried on national news I started to get phone calls from family members in other cities checking on my whereabouts. Facebook even provided a page that you could send out to Facebook friends to let people know you were fine.
My heart is broken for the 11 families that lost their loved ones. I pray for peace in our world.
(Email Debbie at Debbienorrell@aol.com.)
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