Historical Society Collecting ‘Dormont Memories’

Dormont Historical Society is collecting memories of Dormont for an anthology the groups hopes to publish next year.

Do you remember watching movies at Dormont’s Hollywood Theater … in the 1950s? Where did you hang out after the bell rang at Dormont High School? What do you love about the borough now?

Dormont Historical Society wants to hear your story.

The historical society is collecting “memories from Dormont” for an anthology the organization hopes to publish professionally next year.

“This is consistent with our mission to collect and preserve,” said Marianne Harbaugh Davis, a historical society member who serves on the editorial board for the anthology. “As you can see, our space here is full of beautiful things, but we like to collect memories, too.”

In 2008, the historical society worked with Arcadia Publishing to publish Images of America: Dormont, which is available for sale at the Dormont Historical Society office in Dormont Municipal Center.

But the historical society actually had very little influence over that publication, board member John Cunningham said.

Cunningham said the Arcadia publication is mainly a collection of photos, that there’s little text, and no local voices are represented.

“We want to do something to make it more personal,” he said. “People are getting older, and a lot of these older people have wonderful stories about growing up here. When we lose people, we lose their stories.”

The historical society encourages writers age 18 and older with memories of growing up or living in Dormont—no matter how recent or classic the memory—to contribute a written piece and photos to the anthology.

“There are people from all over now who grew up here, or lived here for a time,” Davis said. “My own relatives would come from the East End to the Fourth of July festival every year, so I know this could be important to people from all over the city.”

Davis provided an example of one entry, submitted by Tim McGrogan about the first time he sneaked into Nick’s Poolroom:

“Three different times before, this reluctant explorer had stood on West Liberty Avenue’s sidewalk, grabbed two brass handles and opened big green double doors leading to the poolroom. But each time, instead of walking down that hall toward the sound of cracking billiard balls, my feet turned left and raced upstairs to Alvin’s Duck Pin Bowling Lanes … But not this day! … Armed with determination, this first-timer swung open both doors and reluctantly started down that long passageway. My fingers flipped up my jacket collar ‘Elvis style’ in a desperate attempt to look cool.”

Board member Harry Snider said it’s memories like this that people often recall out loud when they visit the historical society, and it’s those memories he hopes people will write down and submit.

“This is another aspect of our history,” Snider said. “This is the kind of thing that eventually gets lost. If people don’t tell these stories now, we’ll never know.”

Entries from writers age 18 or older will be collected until Sept. 1, although that date is subject to change. Essays should be 1,200 words or less in length, and may be edited for length and clarity. By submitting an essay or photo, the writer gives permission for Dormont Historical Society to publish the piece.

Entries should be submitted to Marianne Harbaugh Davis either by email at marianneharbaugh@gmail.com, or by mail at P.O. Box 24524, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15234.

The Dormont Historical Society is open Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information can be found on the Dormont Historical Society Facebook page, or Dormont Historical Society website.

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Carrie Samarin January 30, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Get busy writing, Dormonters! It's a fun walk down memory lane once you start writing.


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