Tube City Almanac

April 12, 2005

Clink! Clink! Another Drink

Category: default || By jt3y

Do you know where all of the bad guys go? Why, Jefferson Hills, of course. Don't you know about the criminals who are at Large? Haw. Haw. Haw. Then, of course, there was the midget psychic who gave palm readings in a shack along Route 51. Her business cards read, "Small Medium at Large." Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!

Seriously, folks, the Mon-Yough area community of Large takes its name from the John Large family, which came to Western Pennsylvania shortly before the turn of the 19th century. John Large erected a distillery along Peters Creek which made Monongahela Rye Whiskey.

His son, Jonathan, and grandson, Henry, eventually turned Large Whiskey into a nationally known brand. There's a story about former University of Pittsburgh Chancellor William Holland arriving at the office one day in the 1900s with a terrible chest cold. He asked his secretary to telephone the Schenley Hotel and have them send over a bottle of Large Whiskey.

The secretary called and told the bartender (I'm paraphrasing slightly), "The Chancellor needs a large bottle of whiskey."

"No, I want a bottle of Large Whiskey!" the Chancellor yelled from his office.

"He says a very large bottle of whiskey," the secretary repeated.

The Large Distillery was eventually sold to another company, and finally was closed. The property passed through the hands of contractor, bus operator and financier Noble J. Dick before being sold to Westinghouse Electric Corp., which constructed its Astro-Nuclear Laboratory around the old distillery buildings. (Their motto should have been, but wasn't, "One way or another, you'll get high in Large!")

Anyway, I stumbled over John and Linda Lipman's web site, which gives the history of Western Pennsylvania distillers, including Large Distillery and Thomas Moore Distillery (makers of "Possum Hollow" Whiskey and originally based in Our Fair City). You can also read about Westmoreland County's famous Old Overholt brand whiskey (or as old-timers called it, "Old Overalls"), which contributed to the fortune that Henry Clay Frick would later invest in coal and steel.


Speaking of which: I finally saw a copy of the new free newspaper being distributed in the South Hills called the 51Corridor. There's a story on the front page of the most recent issue about the Large Hotel. (Which isn't that large, natch.) I'd link to the paper or the story, but its website doesn't appear to be working.

One wonders what the market for yet another free weekly newspaper could be in an area that already has the Gateway papers, The Valley Mirror, The Almanac (the one printed by the Observer-Reporter, not the TCA), three dailies, and who-knows-what else. But good luck to the proprietors. If nothing else, I enjoyed the Large Hotel story.


Why is this man smiling? He doesn't have much to smile about.

He's Harry James Collins, 57, of Connellsville, and he's accused of setting a fire that damaged the Wesley United Methodist Church in that Fayette County city.

There have been 27 arsons in Connellsville over the last year and a half, and while police aren't linking Collins to other fires at this time, it's obvious that they're looking closely at him. Bob Stiles had a thorough story in this morning's Tribune-Review, and I'd expect more in tonight's Connellsville Daily Courier.

The neighbors, naturally, are "shocked":

"He's a good neighbor. I find it hard to believe," said one woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

"When I heard about it, I was shocked," another neighbor said. "The old guy's so nice. He doesn't even have a car to get around and do this stuff."

Writes an Occasional But Alert Reader of the Almanac: "I can't wait for the time when a serial killer's or arsonist's or garden variety murderer's neighbors and family aren't stunned. I want someone to say, yeah, I know that guy and he is exactly the guy I thought who would burn down a church."


Like "CSI"? Well, I got your "CSI" right here, buddy. A man from Pottstown, Pa., disappeared in California in 1983. Last month, an intern in the coroner's office in Marin County, Calif., working with a investigator there, identified his body with the help of a keychain from a closed AMC dealership in Erie.

Sound bizarre? Read all about in the Marin (Calif.) Independent Journal.

Your Comments are Welcome!

Large, of course, has been largely destroyed by the Mon-Fayette Expressway. Ah, progress.
Jonathan Potts (URL) - April 12, 2005

I wonder if “Old Overholt” is what Steinbeck referred to as “Old Overcoat” in (I think) Cannery Row. I’ll bet it was.

I’ll also bet that I’m too lazy to do a Google search to find out.
Bob (URL) - April 12, 2005

51Corridor: Levitske Land
Derrick - April 12, 2005

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