The city in which I grew up is a suburb of Pittsburgh—in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, less than an hour’s drive from both Ohio and West Virginia. Decades ago, the region’s economy was largely based on the production of steel. Pittsburgh was a busy, thriving, industrial city, and the residents—who sometimes refer to themselves as Pittsburghers—were by and large blue-collar working families. But the numerous coal-powered steel mills and factories were not kind to the environment. The air quality made today’s Los Angeles look crystal clear by comparison, and earned Pittsburgh the unfortunate nickname “The Smoky City.” When the mills and factories began closing due to the lower prices of imported steel, Pittsburgh’s air began to clear, and the ever-industrious populace reinvented the city as a center of technology, medicine, learning, and culture. Today’s Pittsburgh is a beautiful city, made all the more colorful by cultural and linguistic remnants of an earlier era’s working class.
Modern Pittsburghers may be many things, but they are not untidy. The city has entirely shed its reputation for dirt and disorder. That’s because whenever something is dirty, someone will immediately worsh it. And if the contents of a room are not neatly arranged, you must redd it up. By the time I was six or seven years old, I had worshed my face and hands and redd up my room hundreds of times. [Article Continues…]