It was not easy to say goodbye to Upper St. Clair. My wife, Kathie, and I moved this past June to Waterdam Farms in North Strabane, a planned Washington County community.
We lived in Upper St. Clair for 37 years, twice as long as some of its most communicative critics, or as long as Jim Render has coached mostly championship-caliber football teams at the high school.
Yes, we are St. Clair.
I grew up in what I considered a working-class or middle-class community in Hazelwood and never considered Upper St. Clair a middle-class community. You need some significant dollars to live there. When someone tells me they don’t know if they can afford to live there anymore, I suggest they might want to move elsewhere. We sold our house in one day. People are eager to buy a home there.
You get what you pay for. If there’s a hole or divot in your street and you report it to the public works department, it will be repaired in a few days. If you stand on your front porch for 15 minutes, a police car is sure to go by. The police officer will wave to you. Refuse and recycled materials are collected on time. Snow was always removed from our street before it was time to drive off to work, before I started writing at home.
Our daughters, Sarah and Rebecca, received a first-rate education from a school district that ranks among the best in the state in standard test scores. They qualified for first-rate universities and now have successful careers, and I credit the great start and the great teachers they had for what they have accomplished. Yes, you get what you pay for. We loved the parks, the recreation centers and the well-maintained green areas, the nearby churches and chapels.
I managed to write 21 of my 24 books in our home in the Trotwood Hills section of Upper St. Clair. I loved the views from my office on the second floor. It was inspiring.
When we decided to move, we almost bought a new home about a half-mile from our home in Upper St. Clair. We liked the logistics, so close to the city, shopping and restaurants. But we found something we liked better about 10 miles south on Route 19.
I still use the post office and the Upper St. Clair PNC branch and the library, though we have an equally great one now in Peters Township. I miss having “Pittsburgh” on my mailing address because I consider myself a “Pittsburgh guy.”
We love our new home – yes, the tax rates are lower – but we still root for Render’s Panthers and those of Danny Holzer’s basketball team, as well. We were lucky to live in Upper St. Clair for 37 years. I plan to continue to contribute articles to the community magazine.
We enjoyed the neighbors and friends we made there, and was proud to call it home. Of course, I felt the same about my hometown of Hazelwood. We can only hope that North Strabane is as super a place for us.
We still get The Almanac, a paper I wrote a column in for 18 years, an asset not to be taken for granted, so we feel we’re still home in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.
Sports author and historian