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?”
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.”