Tube City Almanac

January 25, 2008

Mon Valley Woolgathering

Category: Mon Valley Miscellany, Pointless Digressions || By

Sometimes it seems like people around the Mon-Yough area eat dumb flakes for breakfast, and go back for second helpings.

Well, maybe we're not dumb. But we have become as docile as sheep.

. . .

Case in point: Robert Winston, former director of Newman-Winston Memorial Chapel on Jenny Lind Street, whose case is in the news again this week. He's accused of keeping the remains of 300 fetuses in his garage on Evans Avenue.

Winston was supposed to cremate the bodies after collecting them from Magee-Womens Hospital in Oakland. Instead, prosecutors claim he pocketed the money and didn't perform the work.

His defense attorneys say that Winston has health problems and got into financial trouble, and that the situation spiraled out of control.

. . .

Health problems and financial trouble I can understand. Been there, done that. I made $285 a week gross (and I do mean "gross") at my first job. I've sat there at the end of the month with the light bill in one hand and the gas bill in the other, wondering which one to pay.

But I'd like to think that if I had a stack of infant corpses in my garage that I couldn't afford to cremate, I'd say, "Hey, maybe I better not accept any more dead babies."

I might even call Magee-Womens Hospital and tell them, "You know, I don't think I can handle this contract. Can I get out of this deal?"

Or if I didn't want to create trouble for myself, I might even quietly call one of the other funeral directors around McKeesport and say, "Um, can you help me out?"

I don't know that I'd wait until I had 300 corpses stacked in a garage on Evans Avenue, grieving families filing lawsuits, and the coroner's office out in the alley with a biohazard team. Sorry, but that's what I call dumb.

. . .

Or, let's take the Tanya Kach case, which is grinding its way through federal court. I'm not inclined to blame the girl for being kidnapped; I'm never inclined to blame the victim. And the fact that the man accused of holding her hostage and abusing her, former school security guard Thomas Hose, has pleaded guilty leads me to believe that he's guilty.

No, I can understand a 14-year-old girl being intimidated into silence. But for 10 years?

At least part of the time, Kach was confined or locked up. At some point, however, prosecutors say Hose allowed her more freedom.

I think I would have been eying the windows in that house. You could kick out the glass or the screen, jump into the yard and make a run for it. Or maybe I would have picked up the telephone, dialed "0," and said, "Hey, could you send a squad car up here?"

We're talking about McKeesport, not the Gobi Desert or even West By-God Virginia. The houses are about five feet apart. It couldn't have been that hard to dash for freedom.

. . .

We seem willing to sit around and let events unfold around us, with our mouths shut, suffering in silence until some crisis happens.

At what point did people in the Mon Valley become so passive? Was it the collapse of the steel industry? Are we permanently psychologically damaged?

There was a time when we walked tall, talked loud, and fought for ourselves. McKeesport's mascot is a tiger. South Allegheny's is a gladiator. West Mifflin's is a "titan."

You have to go all the way down to New Eagle and Finleyville before you find anyone using a wool-bearing ungulate as their mascot --- and even then it's a "ram."

National Works closed in 1987. Duquesne Works closed in 1985. It's way past time we got past the pain.

Let's start acting like tigers or gladiators, not sheep. Maybe then we'll stop getting herded around by companies, crooks and politicians --- and we'll be less likely to get sheared.

. . .

In Other News: The marketing manager of Century III Mall writes a letter to the editor of the Post-Gazette to protest reports that the shopping center in West Mifflin is in trouble:

"Century III Mall is lively and well. While we do not directly comment on such speculation, what we can tell you is that it is very much business as usual there. The mall has more than 130 specialty stores and services."

True, that. But it used to have 180 stores. (Simon Property Group, which owns the mall, claims on its website that Century III has "160 stores.")

And a disturbingly large number of the 130 locations still occupied are rented by second-tier tenants --- discounters, off-price retailers and dollar-stores --- or by non-profit services.

I was at Century III twice over the holidays, and I could have taken a nap in some of the aisles without bothering anyone.

Who you gonna believe? Century III's owners, or your lying eyes? Baaaaa. Pass the grass clippings.

. . .

To Do This Weekend: Knit a sweater. Or, head over to Jeannette, where Keynote Cafe, 416 Clay Ave., will host an art show tomorrow for elementary, high school and college students from across Westmoreland County. More than 80 pieces will be on display, and there will be live music. Tickets cost $5 and doors open at 7 p.m. Call (412) 638-5263.

Also out Route 30 (remember, there's "more" in Westmoreland): The Westmoreland County Courthouse marks its centennial celebration from 2 to 4 p.m. tomorrow. Weather permitting, you'll be allowed to tour the courthouse dome. There will also be an art exhibition, strolling musicians and free refreshments. Call (724) 834-6730. It's easy to get to. Drive to Greensburg and look for the big golden dome. You can't miss it.

And hey, we have a lack of listings from McKeesport this week, so remember to send your events to Tube City Almanac. The address is j togyer at g mail dot com. OK? See yinz crazy kids on Monday.

Your Comments are Welcome!

I have been saying for the last few months that Century III should be bought by one of the people trying to build a casino in Pittsburgh. That mall would convert easily. It comes with plenty of free parking and arguably more accessible than anywhere in the Golden Triangle. Definitely would not be fighting with Steeler or Pirate patrons. It may even offset the tax defecit from Kennywood. ;)
The Dude from West Mifflin - January 25, 2008

Jason, If you go to Jeannette, be sure to give props to Terrelle Pryor while you’re there. I live in Detroit, and if I hear one more thing about him going to U of M instead of a more closer school (PSU or Pitt or something) I’m going to heave. The sports freaks in the D are jumping up and down about him coming here more so than when Chad Henne (another Keystone State HS Gridder) came to Michigan. I think he should stay out of the entire mess Rich Rodriguez is in the middle of with WVU and U of M and I think it will hinder his possibilities to get into the pros. Besides, Rodriguez is about 40 years too young to coach. He’d do PSU a world of good and you know Joe Paterno will still be there at the end of his collegiate career. So if you see him, get his autograph and encourage him to stay out of Coach Rod’s sticky mess.
Frank Kurta - January 25, 2008

I suspect that Rodriquez’s problems with West Virginia will be resolved soon enough, even if it is only because some deep-pocketed Michigan booster decides to buy the coach’s way out of it. I don’t defend how he conducted himself, but he is a good coach and not too young. (Joe Paterno hasn’t been 80 forever, you know.) I also can’t see how it will hurt Pryor’s pro prospects. All that will matter is how he performs.
Jonathan Potts (URL) - January 26, 2008

Century III mall is not a happening place by a long stretch…
Scott Beveridge (URL) - January 28, 2008

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