Saturday, September 29, 2007

Old Movies & the CBI Theater

Bob reviewing the clips:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Back on the Hill

Bringing back Logan Street.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

China Burma India

Here is Bob on the China Burma India Theater and more on flying over The Hump.

The soundtrack to "The War" was playing on the radio in the background, night before last.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

War Time

Bob's story wasn't included among those aired on WQED last night, but we listened to the program together and afterwards he shared several stories with me as the soundtrack from "The War" played in the background:

Old Corner Stone

Where were you 79 years ago? Bob remembers:

Making Peace on the Hill

Bob and I looked at some old photos of the Hill District's Irene Kaufmann Settlement tonight.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dead Ball Era Days

The equivalent of a capacity crowd at PNC Park (38,496) have now viewed this on YouTube:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

War & Peace

WQED continues to change lives.

In advance of airing Ken Burns "The War", on Saturday WQED will show Remembering World War II, a special 2-hour program featuring stories from local Veterans mixed with music from "The War" soundtrack. My neighbor got a call today from the producer asking about his story -- we'll see if it makes the cut.

Mentioning WQED gives me the excuse I was looking for to embed the Mr. Rogers Senate testimony from 1969:

I have a working theory about Mr. Rogers and the Burgh Diaspora. Those of us who grew up in Pittsburgh in the 1970's heard the voice of Mr. Rogers as we did our real neighbors, funny Pittsburgh accent and all. But Seventies kids all over the country heard his voice too, and I think that explains a little of the neighborly fondness that many seem to have for Pittsburgh, even those who have never visited.

"And then when the money ran out people in Boston and Pittsburgh and Chicago all came to the fore and said we've got to have more of this neighborhood expression of care."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Old Train Brakes

In 1904, filmmaker G.W. "Billy" Bitzer of the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company came to Westinghouse Works to document the innovators of the day (and be one himself with his camera). My great-grandfather worked at Westinghouse Air Brake in Wilmerding at the time. Wilmerding had a population of 5,000 back then. In the 2000 census there were just over 2,000 residents.

The resulting 27 films were an early form of Pittsburgh corporate boosterism:

The films were shown daily with great success in the Westinghouse Auditorium at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis in 1904. Although little production information is available for these films, they may have been made expressly for use at the Exposition.
On May 12, 1904, the Pittsburgh Post described a special screening for Westinghouse employees.
To satisfy the curiosity of the Westinghouse employees who were desirous of seeing the views to be sent to the Louisiana Purchase exposition, an exhibition of them was given last night by the Westinghouse officials at Carnegie music hall. The moving pictures show the interiors of the four Westinghouse plants at East Pittsburg, Swissvale, Wilmerding and Trafford City, combined with a panoramic view of the country between those places. The interior views are the first successful ones taken since the invention of the Cooper Hewitt vaporized mercury lamp, which in this instance made the clearest and brightest moving picture ever exhibited.

More on Wilmerding:

In yet another respect is Wilmerding distinguished from its sister boroughs of the county. It is a strong hold of socialism, not militant socialism, such as is sometimes linked with anarchy and violence, but the peaceful, sane variety.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Gray Matter

In Pittsburgh's favorite color should be gray, the PG's Gary Rotstein provides a summary of the 2006 American Community Survey:
The 65-and-over population makes up 17.1 percent of the region, compared to 12.4 percent of the nation. Those 85 or older represent an estimated 2.5 percent locally and 1.7 percent nationally.

Pittsburgh's biggest proportional shortfalls in young people fell in the under-5 and 25-34 age ranges, but it even showed a lower share of people in their late teens and 20s than the country as a whole, despite the large number of colleges that attract young non-Pittsburghers.
When considering proportions of age groups in a metro region, it seems especially important to unpack the percentages a bit. A one percent difference at one end of the age distribution does not equal a one percent difference in the middle.

So when we compare our 2.5 percent over 85 to the 1.7 percent nationally, it's more than a small difference. Our 2.5 percent over 85 has significant implications for our health care system and our caregiving workforce.

Knowing what we know about these age distributions and rates of change, what are the projections for our region's population in the next 30 years under various scenarios of immigration, out migration and death rates?

And now for something completely different, here's a little of what football looked like when today's 103 year olds came into the world (Michigan vs. the University of Chicago in 1904 -- the title slide incorrectly identifies it as from 1903):

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Friendship Lightning

From that storm that came through one afternoon.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Live the Questions Now

The title is drawn from a Rilke quote rotating along Elizabeth Perry's site , a Pittsburgh treasure for sure.

Tonight I watched Penn State beat Notre Dame with my neighbor Bob (he's the Class of '38 from Dear Old State, I'm '92).

Bob told me about being on the sidelines as a 12 yr. old in 1930 when Knute Rockne brought his team to town to face Jock Sutherland at Pitt. He was earning boy scout merit badges at the games by working as an usher, but for the Notre Dame game he got to be on the field. Bob helped set up the Notre Dame bench and then sat on it during the game, fetching things from the locker room as needed. He doesn't remember much from that day other than sitting there in awe of the Notre Dame players. I have this image of Bob going back into the locker room to get something just as Knute Rockne was firing up his guys with another win one for the Gipper speech

The Boy Scouts had a big effect on Bob. Joe
Katz was his scout leader (he was three or four years older than Bob). I actually think Joe Katz may have been Pittsburgh's first paid blogger:
His first big break came during the Pittsburgh Flood of 1936. Joe and his partner got an idea after seeing "all of Pittsburgh seemingly taking those unforgettable photos of desks, chairs and debris floating down the main thoroughfares in Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle." Joe decided to publish a souvenir booklet of the flood. He bought up anyone's undeveloped films, spent a whole night reproducing the photos, then took a train to Cleveland (where at least they had electricity) to have 100,000 copies printed overnight. "We sold them all in four days at 10 cents apiece,"Joe says. But he adds: "For years I could have kicked myself. For 50 cents they would have sold just as easily! Even so, that was the most money I had ever seen in my life."
By the way, the Lions didn't come alive until Bob joined the "White Out" and held up this Dear Old State shirt that I gave to him last weekend. Hmmm...

Truth be told, Bob rooted for the offense of both teams the whole game. He said he just wanted to see good football. What, good defensive football doesn't count?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Searching for Wisdom...

Searching is really what this blog is all about, searching and discovering new things in the world of elderhood and helping to bring them to Pittsburgh. That and championing the good things that are already here, all as a volunteer along with my elderly neighbors.

So imagine my surprise while searching tonight when I came across this feature piece by Barry Barkan in the current issue of Tikkun. Barry had told me it was coming out when I saw him in August, but I had completely forgotten about it.

For those who didn't read my
opening post last Friday, Barry is an Ashoka Fellow and originator of the Elders Guild idea. If you get a chance watch this special interview with Barry created as part of the Ashoka-Berkeley Social Entrepreneurship Digital Library Project.

From the Tikkun article:

The Elders Guild—and whatever other organization we can create that provides community, nurtures wisdom, and commits to healing the future—can rebalance the world. I have learned from my work as a community organizer with thousands of old people that the mixed blessing of older years is the great social equalizer. It creates the universal ground that transcends economics, race, religion, ideology, and health status.

Old people have taught us that long years frequently smooth our jagged places, humble us, deepen our compassion, and enable us to respect common wisdom. Given a modicum of integrity, it is likely that, as we ripen, we will care more deeply about the important things: about life itself, about relationships, about the preciousness of the mother planet, about peace, about harmonizing with the sacred, about being loving, about forgiveness, and about taking responsibility for the world we will leave behind to the grandchildren.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

"We are Less Independent Now..."

Here's a discussion from a few months ago about life in a NORC. I think Bob sheds some light on the distinction between aging in place and aging in community.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Won't You Be My Neighbor(hood) NORC?

Which area of Pittsburgh is best suited for a "Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community"?

Here how NY State is defining a NNORC, as part of a state-funded effort to help elders age in community:
The term Neighborhood NORC shall mean and refer to a residential dwelling or group of residential dwellings in a geographically defined neighborhood of a municipality which:

1. contains not more than two thousand persons who are elderly (i.e., 60 years of age or older);
2. contains elderly in at least forty percent of the units;
3. is made up of low-rise buildings six stories or less in height and/or single and multi-family homes;
4. area was not originally developed for elderly persons; and,
5. does not restrict admission strictly to the elderly.
The NNORC they're starting in Albany is in the southwest section of town, where 27% of the residents are over the age of 60 and 47% of the households have at least one resident 65 years of age or older. Here's the NY State request for proposals (.pdf) to help fund it.

I'm looking at Pittsburgh's 2000 census data and so far Swisshelm Park looks like a pretty good candidate for a NNORC - though probably on the small side for really making it work (only 1,378 residents). In 1999, 27.8% of residents there were over age 62, and 40.5% of the households had someone over age 65.

The New York Times article back in June described several examples of the growing "grassroots effort to grow-old at home."

I seem to recall reading somewhere about a group in Mt. Lebanon meeting to discuss this approach, but can't find a link anywhere.

Here is a
program in St. Louis. that seeks to link community volunteers with good old fashioned Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (where the elders are co-located in an actual building).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Where the Grandparents Cohabitate...

According to the census data I extracted from the neighborhood reports on the City Planning site, in 1999 there were 6,038 households in Pittsburgh in which a grandparent was living with one or more grandchildren under age 18.

In 2,727 of the households (45%), the grandparent was the primary caregiver for the grandchild.

Below are the top 20 neighborhoods in terms of absolute number raising grandchildren. Obviously many of the grandparents are under age 65 (many are probably in their forties), but I included the % of households with someone over 65 in the neighborhood anyway:

% of households
with someone
65 and over

number of households with grandparent and own grandchild under age 18

number of grandparents raising grandchildren
Homewood North32.5253110
Perry South28.118397
East Hills30.516478
Carrick 32.915962
Stanton Heights13.214577
Brighton Heights33.214451
Mount Washington2614147
East Liberty20.913743
South Side Slopes30.410918

Useful information about "kinship programs" -- grandparents raising grandkids -- here, here and here.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Where the Elders Live

I created a Google Maps mashup of all the "freestanding" nursing homes (not part of a hospital) in Allegheny County. I plan to add personal care homes/assisted living soon. There are 30 for-profit homes with 3772 beds (green), 24 non-profit homes with 2692 beds (magenta), and 4 county-owned homes ("the Kanes") with 1214 beds (purple).

View Larger Map

All data from the CMS Nursing Home Compare site.

Obviously not all "elders" live in nursing homes -- the vast majority live on their own in the community.

I'm still working on summarizing the personal care/assisted living data for Allegheny County, but according to the PA Dept. of Public Welfare there are 6,453 residents living in 171 personal care homes/assisted living communities spread throughout the county (there is capacity for 8,835).
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