A lot of things happen in my life today that take me back to my fond days of growing up on the 1000 block of Emerson Avenue in Farrell.
It can be the simplest of things – which is only appropriate because in retrospect, things were uncomplicated in the 1950s and 1960s.
The latest rendezvous with my childhood stemmed from a quest to find a seamstress to alter three pair of my favorite Chinos (as in the waist, I say with a sense of accomplishment).
I posed that question in the newsroom recently, and was told by Business Editor Michael Roknick that Edi Zentis of Hermitage would be an excellent choice.
A few days later, I called Edi and got her husband Joe on the phone, and in a few moments, I was talking to Edi.
I explained what I needed, and we set up an appointment in the evening at their house on Longview Road in Hermitage.
She said to go around the back and use the rear door that led to the area of the basement in which she does her work. It wasn’t long after I entered that I was modeling the pants as she carefully used straight pins to measure them.
I was finished in about 10 minutes – simple. As I looked around at the myriad of colors created by the rows of spools of thread and other tools of the seamstress trade, and took in the atmosphere of the cozy quarters in which a seamstress works, I could have sworn I was standing inside the house at 1019 Emerson Ave., the home of our seamstress for the neighborhood, Millie Gagliardi.
She lived two houses away toward Idaho Street next door to my great- grandma, Angeline Martin, and since I was old enough to walk, I recall the countless times I rapped on Millie’s door, pants and other clothes in hand, that needed her magic touch.
Everyone in the neighborhood at one time or another ended up at her doorstep in need of her great skills, and she always obliged. “They’ll be ready tomorrow” she’d normally say as they were leaving.
Usually after playing a game of street ball or waking up after sleeping out, I’d randomly stop by Millie’s to pick up the clothes, and mingle with her pet cats. In addition, I might have something to eat and usually left with a bag of tomatoes and peppers or other bounty from the backyard garden for my mom and dad.
“Just bring the money over later,” she’d say, knowing full well that no one in the neighborhood would think about welching. You could trust our Emerson neighborhood without blinking an eye. Everyone did their part to keep it honest, safe and friendly – full of respect and caring for one another. And if you didn’t, someone was there to straighten you out.
How I long for those days. Unfortunately, to really understand how great they were, you have to have lived them. I may sound like a broken record, but the world today would be a lot better off.
Give outdoor workers a break
As most readers of my column realize, I see snow as one of the banes of our existence. So you can imagine my disdain for the winter we’ve been experiencing, seemingly since Labor Day.
With that in mind, give a tip of the cap or smile to employees in jobs that have required them to brave the elements on a daily basis.
Whether it be your mail carrier or paper carrier, trash removal employee, or street department worker, cut them a little slack if they’ve been late or not performed up to their normal standards.
A guy was carping recently about his mail carrier, and I sarcastically asked him, “Have you looked outside lately?” and ended by telling him just as sarcastically, “I’d like to see you out there doing it.”
Jim Raykie is executive editor of The Herald and writes this column on Mondays.