Ted Zellers, not a Pittsburgh native, lives here now as a computer programmer and has an odd hobby.  He is creating a coffee table book on Pittsburgh Potties.  Supposedly, they were invented in the early industrial era so workers leaving the dirty mills or mines didn’t have to enter through the normal living spaces.  They could enter through the basement take care of hygiene before entering the normal living spaces.  Most Pittsburgh Potties had a utility sink right next to them and possibly a shower.  As places of employment offered places to get cleaned up before leaving, the use of these basement fixtures became less and less used.  They were also used by the hired help.  Mike S on Lincoln Ave, just finished re-habbing a Victorian townhouse that has one in his basement. There used to be a Pittsburgh Pottie on Beech on block on the other side of me that was a swan that had it’s wings outstretched (a bit strange, I’d say).  If you have a Pittsburgh Pottie in your basement and would like to add it to Ted’s book, you can email him at pittsburghtoilets@gmail.com.

Heinz Field Rib Fest will be back this summer starting Thursday August 31 through Labor Day September 4.  Lots of good BBQ, sides and crowds.  Starts at noon and runs until 11 pm (Monday they always close early.  It’s outside Heinz Field and entry is free.

Another event coming 66-Open Door, will have guess what 66 places with open doors to neb into what the inside looks like.  🙂  October 7 & 8.  There’s locations Downtown, the Strip and of course the Northside  Northside locations include AGH, the Elks on Cedar Ave, Alphabet City (City of Asylum) on North Ave, The Inn Mexican War Streets also North Ave, Byer’s Hall part of CCAC on Ridge Ave right behind me, Calvary Methodist Church on Beech one block in front of me with the amazing Tiffany Windows, one of the first  Carnegie Libraries next to the Children’s Museum and now part of it, Heinz Lofts, Jones Hall on Brighton, the Mattress Factory, The New Hazlett Theater, Nova Place (the old Allegheny Center Mall. NRG Energy Center (across from Nova Place that generates steam for many of the larger places her like AGH), Teutonia Mannechor the German Club over off Chestnut Street, William Penn/Snyder House now Babb Insurance (with a very interesting ballroom in their basement) and Wigle Whiskey over in Spring HIll.  One day passes are $8 and for both days it’s $12.  You can get tickets at their website.

I’ve know this guy John for several years, he lives here on the Northside and sometimes when I’m sitting on the front porch reading and he passes, he always stops to say hi to da kidz.  The kidz have a lot of “regulars” that stop to greet them.  I noticed when the weather started to change and I started hanging on the porch, he was looking kind of rugged.  He finally admitted to me that he was homeless and struggling.  One day in late April, he was real excited, he thought his son in Beaver county had found him job as a union painter and I wouldn’t be seeing much of him.  I kept seeing him and he admitted that the job had fallen through.  I then saw him in late May, again he was super excited, he had just gotten hired as a union painter on the West End Bridge rehab.  I’ve seen him off and on throughout the summer and he’s been kind of rough, getting off from work and dirty from the work.  He’s been so happy, it was nice to see.  When I saw him a couple of weeks ago, he was all depressed.  Some government agency came through (I assume OSHA) and did random blood test to the crew they saw.  John was one of them.  When he got the results they told him he had a problem.  He said they told him high lead levels were between 30 40 (something, I don’t know what the metrics were) and his was 65.  Which is basically lethal.  The company was not doing anything for him or offering him anything.  His job was scraping the old paint off the bridge (grunt work newbies always get that first).  The company provided him with protective clothing (as this point I question how effective the clothing was, did they give him an old used suit that had leaks in it?).  The company is required to have showers there for the workers  to use to wash the lead dust off the protective clothing before removing it, so they don’t breath the lead in while changing.  The company does have a showering station, but it doesn’t work and hasn’t since John started.  The company has been taking $40 out of each paycheck for union dues.  A union rep shows up and was pretty curt to John telling him since he hadn’t paid his initiation dues of $300+ he wasn’t a union member although they accepted his dues each paycheck.  An OSHA representative came by a week later and randomly selected various workers to interview and he pointed to John, in front of the OSHA rep, the company foreman said to to be sure to tell the rep the truth.  When the rep asked John about the showers, he said they didn’t work and that he had a lead level of 65 in his blood.  The rep said something needs to be done.  Dah, obvious.  When the rep left, the foreman repeatedly called John a Mf for disclosing that the showers didn’t work.  The foreman told John he was fired (this happened to happen in front of a union rep).  The union rep didn’t stand up for John, was just kind of mute (collusion between the company and the union, how do you say payola?  My opinion).  Last week I told John he needed to find a good attorney, he said he wasn’t a suing kind of guy.   I said neither was I, but some things have to go that route.  So when I saw John the next Tuesday, he said he had looked into it and those he spoke with didn’t seem interested.  To me this is an open and closed case, there’s documents of his elevated lead levels, showers not working, wrongfully fired for telling the truth to an OSHA rep among so many other things.  John spends a lot of his off time at the library on a computer.  I suggested he look into a lawyer that specializes in OSHA problems, particularly lead contamination.  He thanked me and said he would.  There is a treatment for this, very painful and expensive.  They take your blood and bone marrow out, filter it and replace it.  This is the same company that lost their ability to bid on federal contracts because of nefarious practices the former owner got arrested for.  Now the company is owned by the previous owners son-in-law, tell me about shell companies.  The company is trying to make money by using this homeless man as a disposable as the uniforms they provided, humans aren’t disposable.  I hope John finds a lawyer good enough to sue the pants off them, or should I say the company out from under them?

I wrote the narrative about John several weeks ago.  The AC on my first floor broke and needed replaced.   I was consumed with that and buying massive window units to try and keep the  Inn at a comfortable temperature and buying fans, assembling them and spacing them around.  Anyone want to buy a $600 25,0000 BTU 220 AC for $300?  Used once.  “Then the AC for the upper floors died.  Both finally seem to be functioning and I’m back working on the blog.  I saw John the other day and the lawyers he’s contacted him told him it would be a waste of time because “who would believe a homeless man”.  What does that have to do with anything?  There are official documents to start your case and then you go from there.  Does anyone know an attorney I could refer to John?  This is so wrong on so many levels.  It seems John is resigned to facing a slow and painful death.

On a slightly nice note, Tuesday when I came back from taking da kidz or their 5:30 am walk, there was two packages of dog treat marrow bones sitting on my brochure box on the front porch.  Here’s this man struggling with these hardships and he takes his hard earned money to make my dogs happy.  That they were marrow bones, I think was lost on John.  🙂

Pittsburgh will host the 2018 National Cheese Conference next summer at the DL Lawrence Convention Center July 25 – 28.  Something cool about this is if you get on as a volunteer your get a free ticket to the event.  The American Cheese Association has 1,400 members many of which will be attending plus the rest of us.  It should be a good event to attend.

That’s it for this post, enjoy whats left of our summer,


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