Every time I go home for the holidays, I get really nostalgic, I get the itch to move back and lately, I've been getting really inspired. I grew up in a small suburb of Pittsburgh called North Braddock - first ward to be exact (back then, calling out your ward meant something - maybe it still does.) It is the town that my father grew up in and his father and his father's father and his father's father's father...you get the picture. We've been occupying this land since the early 1800's. North Braddock represents just a few streets on the hills of Braddock - the "birth place of steel." And back in it's heyday, Braddock Avenue was compared to NYC's Fifth Avenue because the shopping scene was top notch.
But when I grew up there, it was a depressed steel town, there were few businesses and we had a bad reputation. As soon as I graduated high school, I got out of there as fast as I could. Over the years, things have changed and for the better. What I predicted in a fifth grade writing assignment about the future of Braddock (which hangs on a plaque in the mill) is starting to come true. The town is undergoing a revitalization and artists, craftsman and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the rich history and cheap real estate. The same can be said for Pittsburgh as a whole too.
I decided to take my husband back to Braddock to show him a glimpse of my childhood. We went to Mass to hear my father sing in the choir, we visited the neighboring Catholic school where I spent nine years of my life and we stopped by my father's old job - the post office - a place I used to frequent often. The streets still look tough, but it's slowly turning and that's exciting. It's make me smile and it's inspiring and maybe one day I'll come home.