My youth was spent in Georgetown, PA playing baseball and memorizing major league baseball statistics. Today, I still recall the starting lineup and batting averages of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates. At that time, the Ohio River was a dangerous place where most of my fresh water adventures ended with physical punishment.
In 1972, I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in Math. My work years were spent making mainframe computers dance for the Dept of Defense. During those years, my humble brag was that I was the only Pittsburgh boy who successfully made seven round trips to Ft Leavenworth, KN. Others may have spent more time there, but none I know made more trips.
Since my retirement in July 2005, I do volunteer work and, as time permits, research the history of my family and Ohio River steamboat men. From the latter experiences I have developed a surprising interest, an obsession according to my wife, with tall stack inland river steamboats. I see it as a struggle to restart history. A struggle to give these Georgetown steamboat captains and pilots credit for their work during the Civil War and the expansion of the west. No captain or pilot earned much renown either during his lifetime or the years after his death. Their history is silent. In addition to this steamboat fascination, I have a bent for local histories and stories. Everything has a story, if we make the time to listen. I am also a reader, traveler, collector, and supporter of all sports Pittsburgh although my passion for the Pirates has dimmed over the past few years.
Even this ticket stub has a link to the “good old days”. It was my first major college football game. Army was ranked #1 in the polls in 1958 when they traveled to Pittsburgh. In a steady rain, Army played Pitt to an unforgettable 14 – 14 tie. The tie, as bad as a loss, dropped Army to third nationally. Pitt’s quarterback was Ivan Toncic from Midland; Mike Ditka, Pitt’s All American tight end, hailed from Aliquippa. Army’s star players that season were Pete Dawkins and Bill Carpenter. Pete Dawkins, All American halfback and team captain, was selected for the Heisman Trophy in 1958. Bill Carpenter, West Point’s famed Lonesome End, was named captain of the 1959 Army team. As the story goes, Carpenter climbed to the top of Lusk Reservoir at West Point and removed his shoes. When asked what he was doing, Carpenter said, “They want me to follow in Pete Dawkins’s footsteps so I have to learn how to walk on water.” The retired three-star general, Bill Carpenter, was decorated for bravery when he called for a napalm attack on his own position that was being overrun by Viet Cong.
GeorgetownSteamboats was developed to celebrate the southside Beaver County area, especially the steamboat men who made Ohio River history. Georgetown men were early into steamboats. Very early. Mid 1830′s early.
I am not a professional historian, only a former resident who left the area but retained a great interest in Georgetown, its history, and its people. Currently, I live in historic Carlisle, PA with my wife, Sherron Biddle, and eight fish. More often than not, I take the summer night air around West and South Streets in a big wooden chair with the fish and a glass or two of Zin or Cab .
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