Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

25 Ways to Raise a Good Little Yinzer

From Fred Rogers and Roberto Clemente, to Vic Cianca, parking chairs and church pierogies; PittGirl offers a syllabus every parent should follow when teaching their children about Pittsburgh.

photo via flickr creative commons

When it was announced recently that the Baltimore Orioles had claimed Pirates pitcher Vance Worley off of waivers, I casually informed my baseball-obsessed 13-year-old son of the news.

This was our conversation, word for word:

Me: “Vance Worley to Baltimore.”

Son: “We don’t like Baltimore. [pause] We don’t like anyone. [pause] We hate everyone, right?”

Me: “Right.”

Of course, the “we” in this conversation is not “you and I.” It is “we” Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh sports fans.

Pirates fans don’t like the Orioles. Steelers fans would rather have their actual eyeballs pecked out by an angry raven than be seen wearing Ravens gear. So, no, WE don’t like Baltimore.

Or Boston with their Prince of Darkness Tom Brady and his father Doom Lord Bill Belichick.

Or Philly with their stomach-churning Flyers and their jerk-faced Eagles who are an affront to the majestic national bird. And if Pittsburgh had an NBA team, we’d hate the 76ers’ gross guts and stupid stylized name.

Or Detroit with their jagoff Red Wings.

Or Dallas with their antichrist Jerry Jones and their vice-antichrist Greg Hardy.

Or Arizona with their Beelzebub-adjacent Diamondbacks.

When any non-Pittsburgh team is playing any other non-Pittsburgh team, we don’t choose who we want to win; we choose who we’d most like to see suffer a demoralizing, soul-crushing loss.

We hate everyone, amen.

And the reason my son knows that is because I am raising a good yinzer. I have brought him up to know Pittsburgh. To know Pittsburgh history. Sports history. Real history. The city. The surroundings. Because you can’t grow to love Pittsburgh if you don’t learn to know it.

In light of the fact that my son is only 70 percent sure who exactly Mario Lemieux is, and at present professes his devotion to the Toronto Maple Leafs, we have a way to go.

But I think in this day and age of technology and social media, when kids spend so much time living in the present, absorbing lightning-fast bite-sized bits of information as if they’re hooked up to the Matrix, they might not be paying attention to the city around them and the foundation of history on which it stands.

If you, too, want to raise a good little yinzer, no matter where you live, here’s what you need to teach them in addition to “we hate everyone.”

photo by jim judkis


1. Teach your children who Fred Rogers was. They’re not going to stumble across his show while flipping through 763 channels such as Disney, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Disney Lovato and Disney C-3PO. (I may have made a few of those up.) Start them young. You can watch episodes here or search on YouTube. Your little yinzers will learn not only about the world around them, but how to treat and respect that world and the people, animals and nature that inhabit it. The teachings of Fred Rogers will go a long way in helping your child to be a well-rounded, kind, self-confident person. Then take them to his statue, and they won’t be asking you, “Who is that?” They’ll just want enjoy a moment by the river with their neighbor Mister Rogers, a real Pittsburgher.

photo via flickr creative commons

2. Teach them who Roberto Clemente was. Take them to his statue and tell them the story of not only his amazing baseball arm, but how despite racial inequality he fought for the respect he deserved. Teach them where he was born and how he died. Teach them that he had exactly 3,000 hits. Don’t let them cross the bridge with his name on it without knowing exactly who he was. Then when they’re a bit older, take them to the Roberto Clemente Museum to see that bent propeller and to gaze on the artifacts of a well-lived life that ended in a selfless death.

3. Show them this video of Three Rivers Stadium being imploded and what the Civic Arena was. Never, ever call it Mellon Arena. Not even once.

4. When they’re of age, let them watch Sudden Death, the greatest movie ever filmed in Pittsburgh, shut up.

5. Teach them the procedure for riding the inclines — where and how to pay, where and when to enter and exit. Then teach them about all of the inclines that no longer dot the city’s hillsides.

6. Teach them the proper way to twirl a Terrible Towel so as not to violently whip themselves or an innocent bystander in the face, and so as not to have the towel wrap around their hand in the manner of an oven mitt. Teach them where the money spent on those towels goes. Teach them who Myron Cope was. Have them listen to his chalkboard-meets-fingernails voice. (video above)

7. Teach them what the Tomahawk Chop is. Teach them to fully hate it. And then teach them one or two good semi-swears (“GOSH-DARN FUDGING PIECES OF TOOT!”) for the first time you show them Sid Bream’s home-plate slide.

8. Teach them about Mario Lemieux’s battle with cancer and show them this video of his return from retirement. Try not to ugly-cry.

9. Teach them who Vic Cianca was. 

10. Teach them how to navigate anywhere in the Golden Triangle by using Grant Street as their frame of reference. 

11. Teach them that neither tunnel nor precipitation are cause for concern or a slamming of the brakes. Teach them that bridges aren’t barriers. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TEACH THEM HOW TO MERGE PROPERLY. Pittsburgh’s inability to zipper-merge at the merge point can die with our generation.

12. Teach them what a parking chair is. Teach them to never, ever touch one that doesn’t belong to them.

13. Teach them to put down their game and look out the car window to really study the colors of the trees in the fall. Drive up to Seven Springs at peak leaf change time. Every year.

14. Teach them to appreciate museums. Start easy at the Children’s Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Then as they get a bit older — as I said previously — the Clemente. Then the Warhol. The Mattress Factory. The museum of art, where you should teach them how to look at the art boobies without giggling or becoming uncomfortable.

15. Teach them what church fish and church pierogies taste like.

16. Take them to Braddock, and stand before Edgar Thomson Works. Teach them what steel is. How it’s made. What it built in all of the world.

Austrian Nationality Room/photo provided by university of pittsburgh

17. Take them into the Nationality Rooms at Pitt.


18. Teach them what the Pittsburgh Left is and how you incorporate it into your safe driving.

19. Teach them why anything can be celebrated with fireworks. Take them to at least one First Night and one Light Up Night.

20. Teach them who the Rooneys are and what Renegade is.

21. Teach them about Frick versus Carnegie. Drive past the Frick and point it out. Explain what happened at Homestead and how many people died.

22. Teach them about The Immaculate Reception by Franco Harris, The Shush by Max Talbot and The Call by Jerry Meals.

23. Teach them who August Wilson and Teenie Harris were. Show them a few of the artists' works.

24. Teach them where all the Dinomite Days dinosaurs from 2003 are. Hunt the dinos down and learn their names. They’ve since moved around, but here’s a start. Don’t forget to visit Dippy and Creation Rex, too.

25. Teach them what “scratch-my-back-with-a-hacksaw” is. Show them a video of Sophie saying it at 15:00 into this video. 

This list isn’t and could never be exhaustive, so please comment with what you will add to your list on how to raise a good little yinzer. Let me know if anyone else is adding “Teach them to punt pigeons every chance they get.”

Just me?


Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Pittsburgh's Can't Miss Concerts in April

This month's lineup includes Rick Astley, Billy Price, Christopher Cross and Ronnie Milsap.

Pittsburgh Flicks and Nightlife in April

Tour local social clubs with the Roaming Social Club; expect changes at AMC Waterfront

April: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Undercover: What We're Reading in April

A look back at "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" as it turns 30, plus two literary events coming up in April.

Perspectives: ‘This Is Us’ Is a Story of Us

A former Pittsburgher finds more than a few similarities between his own life and that of the siblings on "This Is Us."

Spare Change: A New Way of Giving

A local group is using music and some spare change to help charities — and filming every step of the way.

Look How Mighty This Bellevue Garden Has Grown

Last season, the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden produced 4,862 pounds of food; the harvest was donated to three food pantries.

When and Where to Dump Your Junk (including old TVs)

A state environmental agency wants to help you recycle your hard-to-dispose-of household clutter.

Watch: Trailer of “Won't You Be My Neighbor”

The documentary about Mister Rogers' iconic show takes viewers beyond the cardigan collection and into “the heart of a creative genius.”

On a Lark: Pittsburgh Mom Creates Activewear for Babes

Unable to find cute, environmentally friendly gear for her newborn son, Lark Adventurewear founder Pallavi Golla launched her own line of moisture-wicking clothing for kids.

Pittsburgh MultiStories: The Beacon's Perch – The Grant Building

When it opened in 1929 as the city’s tallest structure, crowds of sightseers paid a quarter to visit the rooftop observation deck of the Grant Building — named for the street, which was named for the hill, which was named for the somewhat hapless general.

Rick Sebak Digs Up Distant Carnegie-Trump Connection

Research into Andrew Carnegie’s marriage reveals an unlikely, albeit tenuous, connection between the Pittsburgh icon and the 45th President.

JuJu Smith-Schuster Teams Up with Drake, Travis Scott and Ninja to Play Fortnite

Drake and Ninja broke Twitch viewing records, and Smith-Schuster and Scott joined in later.

Growing Up: mossArchitects Moving to Garfield

Principal Andrew Moss says his architecture firm will move to the heart of the Penn Avenue Arts District after outgrowing its current space in Lawrenceville.

Teaching Cyber Safety - The Things You Might Not Know

iQ:smartparent’s Cyber Safety segment offers advice on topics such as what to do with “sexted” images you find on your kids’ phones and more.