Andrew, my husband is from Aliquippa, born and raised. Prior to dating him, I never been to Aliquippa (past Pittsburgh International airport). The only other time I haver had to venture out that far down Interstate 376 is when I had to go to the airport, or to the Beaver Valley Mall.
When we started dating, he told me he was from Aliquippa. I instantly said, oh that is not too far! I was living with my parents in Crafton, when he and I were dating. As our relationship progressed, and after I met his family. He took me on a tour of Aliquippa. Downtown Aliquippa is almost like a dead zone. Several houses and businesses boarded up all along Franklin Avenue. I think the Post Office is the only thing open. Andrew told me what Aliquippa used to be like back when the steel mills were open. When the steel mills shut down, so did the town. Looking out the passenger side window, I felt sad for the town and what it is now. I can’t imagine that it was booming, but it was at one point.
Andrew explained to me that Aliquippa was divided up into several plans. All different nationalities came over and lived in the plans dedicated to their nationality. Plan 6 is where the owners of the steel mills lived. If you drive by today, you wouldn’t dare go at night, and you wouldn’t stay long. Plan 10 was where the managers of the mills lived. I wished that one of the mansions could be preserved and made into a Bed and Breakfast, so one could get a glimpse of what it was like to live as the elite of the steel mill times, but safety would be an issue.
There are three gems of Aliquippa. The first would have to be Mac’s Donuts. They make their donuts fresh everyday. I would say they are so much better, than Dunkin Donuts. The second would be the New Sheffield Cafe. They just recently underwent new management. The place is clean and bright now. The food is still the same as it was before. I like their grilled cheese the best. Their menu has expanded. It’s still the same hole in the wall, like Cheers and everyone knows your name. the last is the Aliquippa football team.
Andrew, his mother, his dad, his parent’s neighbor, Chris, and Andrew’s dad’s friend Lou, and myself all went to Aliquippa’s football game. They were playing New Castle, PA, so we had to drive all the way out there. Andrew said it’s not safe to go to a home game. I can’t remember the last time I was at a high school football game. Before you could enter the field, you had to walk through metal detectors first. I can’t remember ever having to do that before for a football game.
As the game got under way, we were in the Visitors section, which was Aliquippa’s section. I have never heard a group of fans at a high school football game. They cheered so loudly and so encouragingly for their team. One of the Cheerleaders would spell out “Q-U-I-P T-O-W-N, Quip Town! I felt like I was a part of something spiritual. That may sound weird, but this town was booming, then it shut down, the wrong people took over the neighborhoods, and crime happened. They are known for being a “bad area.” However, football is the one thing that keeps this town happy. They look forward to football season, games, and cheering on their home team.
Some of the players are going to go so far, especially Lou’s nephew Solvaughn. The young man is 15 years old and is 240lbs. He plays on offense and defense. He is going places in his career. He told Andrew’s parents that he wants to get out of Aliquippa, and go to Princeton. The young man has such big dreams, and it is going to be fun to watch him throughout the years and see how far he goes in sports. So many big names came out of Aliquippa, and have gone to play in the pros.
Whatever it takes to give these kids something to believe in, and dream for to keep them off the streets, and out of harms way. It is so easy for teens to get involved in crime, and same with the adults. When you stop giving up on the dreams of your youth, and telling someone that they won’t ever make it because they come from “bad areas” that is when crime and destructive decisions happen.
Aliquippa won against New Castle that Saturday night. The score was 44-28.