Scribble, scribble, scribble: Today’s blog entry is a reprint from my DrForgot.com blog. I’m proud to have authored two books and be working on a third. Other writers have come from that Western Pennsylvania village on the Monongahela River. Joan Cutuly, a classmate of mine, published Home of the Wildcats, and Prisoner of the Second Grade.
Writers from Clairton: The City of Clairton, PA has spawned a myriad of people who have excelled in their fields. One such person whom we’ve written about before is Dr. William R. King. This high-falutin’ professor might have the resume of a stuffed shirt but he is as down home as anybody who was raised in Elrama, a hop, skip and jump from Clairton. The rowdy kid from the sticks became a scholar while attending Clairton High School and went on to be one of the most prolific writers and professors at the University of Pittsburgh. In fact, so good were his writings that no bigger a celebrity than Vladimir Putin plagiarized part of one of his tomes.
With all that academic writing completed, the now-retired professor has written his autobiography entitled, “SCHOOL DAYS: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century.” If you grew up during the heyday of the 1950s or attended Clairton High School or were from one of the many communities in the Mon Valley, you will love this book. Dr. Bill bares it all from his foibles to his awkward teen dating to his college and professional career. I recommend it as a great read.
You’ve gotta watch those Ruskies: Bill King, CHS ’56 mentioned above, became a full university professor at Pitt. Dr. King professed, as professors do, eloquently both verbally in the classroom and on paper. He published an amazing 300+ academic papers, received lifetime achievement awards as well as being elected to serve as president of a professional society. All that would be more than enough for Dr. King to be recognized as expert in his field, but his most noted achievement came almost by default. He authored 17 books. How good was his material? Good enough to be stolen!
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second president of the Russian Federation and is currently the head honcho of Russia as well as commissioner of numerous other areas. He is a highly educated man with a master’s degree in economics. His dissertation focused on planning in the natural resources sector. It was brilliantly written during the 1990s with cutting edge data…. So cutting edge that it had been written 20 years earlier by none other than Clairton’s own Dr. Bill King! Seems that Putin lifted part of his dissertation from Dr. King and his co-author, another Pitt professor. One more example of a life of intrigue by a hometown resident. Dr. Bill King, Clairton boy whose work was plagiarized by Vladimir Putin. Since Vlad was in charge of the Parliament, called Duma in Russian, you might consider his Masters a Dubious Duma Degree.
Met another Clairton writer: Joan Angelo, nee Joan Little, is also a Clairton grad from the 1950s. She ended up at Edinboro with her professor husband, also a writer. But I recently discovered Joan’s series of five books that are written about our community and the Mon Valley. I just completed the first one, Blackwater Hollow, 1900-1929. It is the first in her Monongahela Chronicles series and tells the story of coal miners who eked out a bare existence in the Patch and hollows around Clairton, Wilson, and Coal Valley. What Joan does so masterfully is write in dialect when the characters are speaking.
An example of her writing in dialect comes when little Charlie sees a wash tub with wringers for the first time: “What’s em big rollers for?” asked Charlie.
“Them’s to rench ma clothes. It’s called a wringer. See, all I gotta do is push ma clothes through this here wringer and the machine squeezes out all the water. Almost all the water. Better n I could do by hand.”
There are plenty of “younses” an ‘at throughout the book. It is a must read for those who love history and certainly those from the Mon Valley.
Read, write, enjoy. It makes for a happy life.