Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 46: Pieces of Pittsburgh

Not Quite Rosie the Riveter!

1942’s “We Can Do It!” by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller was meant to be a motivational poster for Westinghouse employees, but in later years came to be associated with the same year’s popular song “Rosie the Riveter”.

We had traveled to the Heinz History Center to view artifacts from the life of Mister Rogers. We amused ourselves with the international catalog of Heinz food products. Elsewhere around the other seven floors, a variety of exhibits told more stories about Steel City’s lives, history, and pop culture.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating.

We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America. Our 2018 road trip would effectively have the format and feel of a video game side quest — collecting nine American Presidents across ten presidencies, four states, seven days, and 2000 miles…

george westinghouse bust!

Pittsburgh electrical pioneer George Westinghouse had a giant company and licensed patents from Nikola Tesla. This 1942 bust was by Daniel Chester French, who also sculpted the Lincoln Memorial.

Frank E. Bolden Jr.!

Frank E. Bolden Jr., one of only two African-American accredited war journalists during WWII.

Andrew Carnegie!

Millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who started the company that later became U.S. Steel. You may also have heard of his Carnegie Hall in NYC, among other entities still around.

David McCullough!

Anne has read nearly every book by acclaimed historian and two-time Pulitzer winner David McCullough, whose John Adams was turned into an HBO miniseries.

Rachel Carson!

The writings of environmentalist Rachel Carson, which exposed the dangers of pesticides to an uninformed public and inspired the movement that led to the creation of the E.P.A. Someone even made trading cards of her.

Romero Chair!

Director George Romero wasn’t from Pittsburgh, but he filmed Dawn of the Dead at a mall not far from our hotel in Monroeville.

dark half clapboard!

Also filmed in the vicinity: Romero’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Half starring Timothy Hutton. It wasn’t a great movie, but still: George Romero!

smashed penny machine!

Anne was happy to find a smashed penny machine. She was less happy when it ate her money.

giant manacle!

The general history area leads off with the mandatory coverage of slavery. First one must pass through the foreboding manacle.

45th Regiment US Colored Troops!

The 45th Regiment US Colored Troops formed in 1864. Though for some reason credited to West Virginia, its soldiers came from various contiguous states including Pennsylvania.

manger puppet show!

A section honoring local immigrant communities included works such as this Polish-American traveling Christmas Story manger puppet show.

korent costume!

The Korant, Korent, or Kurant (sources vary) looks like a scary monster, but he was a good monster with a pivotal role in Slovenian folklore.

Elektro the Moto-Man and Sparko!

Elektro the Moto-Man and Sparko were creations of Westinghouse’s company who appeared at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The primitive robot Elektro had a record player for a voice and could smoke because that used to be an important life skill.

gilded eagle!

Gilded eagle that used to perch atop the Heinz building. His gilding had increasingly fewer carats after subsequent renovations.

Vanadium Building!

This 1912 stained glass once adorned the Vanadium Building, former headquarters of the nuclear industrialists at Standard Chemical Company.

howdy doody racer!

The first-floor selection of locally relevant cars includes Howdy Doody and this roller coaster car from a local amusement park.

1936 ford deluxe sedan!

The ostensibly rustproof 1936 Ford Deluxe Sedan, made with stainless steel from Allegheny Ludlum.

A Streetcar Named Pittsburgh!

A Streetcar Named Pittsburgh.

lost pittsburgh stegosaurus!

The best local-celeb collage covered the skin of the 2003 sculpture “Lost Pittsburgh” by Shirley Yee and the Art Institute. You;ll note faces on the stegosaurus’ plates include, of course, Mister Rogers.

…and then we left Pittsburgh and trudged onward. We had two more states standing between us and home, and two more dead Presidents to cross off our checklist. No, we hadn’t forgetten about that part.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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