We are all from somewhere. Some of us are proud of where we are from and others are meh about their hometown. In my experience, Pittsburghers tend to be proud of their roots. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and graduated from The University of Pittsburgh. Since leaving da ‘Burgh, I’ve traveled the world extensively. Today, I live in the Frederick, MD area.
I’ve not lived in Pittsburgh for twenty years, which gave me pause on writing this post. My stance is that I’m a Pittsburgher regardless of where I live. I’m fortunate enough to live close to the city (3 hours). I share my pride in being from the Steel city with my three boys and we visit a few times every year. We soak in the beauty of the city while watching the Pirates at PNC park. We also take winter trips into the Laurel Mountains to ski.
When you live away from the city and encounter other Pittsburghers some attributes start to stand out. Here are a few of my thoughts on being a Pittsburgher.
When you’re a Pittsburgher you speak normally the rest of the world has an accent. There are plenty of funny posters and websites that point to our funny accent and Pittsburghese. If yinz jagoffs don’t like how we talk, you can kiss my a$$ under Kaufmann’s clock. We can even make fun of ourselves and provide non-Pittsburghers a directory of understanding us.
When you are a Pittsburgher you always have a conversation starter. No matter where I have been in this great, big world (I’m well traveled) anytime I mention that I’m from Pittsburgh, a great conversation normally ensues. People seem to engage conversations around a nice visit, a Primati Brothers sandwich or one of the sports franchises.
When you are a Pittsburgher you know your sports history. It is not uncommon for a Pittsburgher to know a lot about Pittsburgh sports history as well as sports history in general. I live in an area with a lot of relocated Pittsburghers and it always amazes me the great sports reminiscing that takes place. Sure, most of the reminiscing is relative to the Steelers, Penguins or Pirates. But, the recall of the opposing team points to sports fans, not just homers.
For instance, on December 9, 1978, I was nine years old with a raging case of diarrhea and trying to watch the Steelers play the Baltimore Colts. It was snowing so hard in Pittsburgh that after every play field maintenance cleared the major field lines. I vividly remember Bert Jones and Joe Washington being frustrated and stymied in a 35-13 loss to the Steelers. Maybe I just remember this game because of the circumstances.
When you are a Pittsburgher there is always a Steelers bar near. In 1993, I lived in the small town of Ely, England, which is 60 miles north of London. Now keep in mind, in 1993 there was no internet and satellite TV barely existed. Yet, there was a Steeler bar in Ely way back in 1993. Here in Frederick, MD we have Pittsburgh Pizza joints and bars. Bottom line here is there are Steeler bars everywhere.
When you are a Pittsburgher you are used to a variety of good foods. Polish Hill, Bloomfield, and Squirrel Hill all mean good ethnic food. Pittsburgh, at one time, was one of the most important cities in the world and attracted folks looking for work from all over the world. There are not too many cities where you can find world-class pirogies, pizzas, wursts and bagels. The ethnic melting pot that history created in Pittsburgh left a culinary legacy to be enjoyed.
When you are a Pittsburgher fries on a sandwich (or salad) makes sense. I am going with the whole fries on a sandwich started with Primati sandwiches. Regardless of whether it is a sandwich or salad, fries on it works. In my house, my boys will put potato chips on sandwiches and call it a Pittsburgh sandwich. That’s right, I’m rubbing off on them.
When you are a Pittsburgher half of your wardrobe says Pittsburgh somewhere. Since my earliest memories, my casual wardrobe has been full of Pitt, Penguins, Pirates and Steelers gear. I don’t think a week of my life has gone by that I did not wear some form of ‘Burg gear. On the superstitious side, I always have something Pittsburgh on when I fly.