Regardless of where you live, when all the elements of the Pittsburgh universe align, maximizing any Pittsburgh-related experience, devoted souls around the globe partake in an astronomical, mystical phenomenon of dynamic proportions: a Yinzer Eclipse.
My first sighting was three years ago when I somehow convinced my parents to fly me home from college for Super Bowl XL weekend. After the ensuing victory, as I witnessed the parades of drunken, riotous Steelers fans gathered around a monument of overturned vehicles on Forbes Avenue. I remember thinking, “This is something special.”
The flight home. The overturned cars. The special feeling of victory. Such is the case of a Yinzer Eclipse.
This year I wasn’t able to make it to another playoff mecca, however I prayed for the stars to align and something magical to take place.
And it did.
It began last Friday afternoon when four semifrozen Mineo’s pizzas had arrived at my door, right on schedule. It continued on Saturday night when I made a 25-mile drive and sat in hours of L.A. traffic to pick up the essential six-pack of Iron City beer. And it culminated on Sunday, at the Steelers bar, as I watched one of the greatest games I’ll ever see with some of the drunkest people I’ll ever meet.
The pizza. The beer. The drunken fans. The sixth championship. Such is the case of another Yinzer Eclipse.
Now, maybe these events aren’t as dramatic for all Steelers fans, but Mimi Block, Pittsburgh native and California transplant, definitely understood the true beauty in Sunday’s win.
“I felt a closeness during the game,” said Block, who watched the Steelers from the comfort of her own home. “All my friends called me afterward to congratulate me — I had been looking forward to it all month!”
Mimi, 86, retired to Mission Viejo, Calif., in 1981 with her now late husband, Dr. Robert Block.
Raised in Squirrel Hill, Mimi grew up on Forward Avenue, next to the famous Benkovitz family. A graduate of Colfax Elementary School and Taylor Allderdice High School, Mimi later divided her married years between Mount Lebanon, the Cricklewood Hill Apartments (now Duquesne University dorms) and the East End. She worked as an executive secretary for Wheelabrator Clean Air Company in both their Downtown and Mount Lebanon offices.
Longtime Hadassah and B’nai B’rith Women (now Jewish Women International) member, Mimi was also the recording secretary of Temple Emanuel sisterhood in the South Hills, where her son and daughter were both confirmed.
While her children and retirement years brought her to California, Mimi has still been able to appreciate parts of Pittsburgh, even though she hasn’t been back in several years.
Unfortunately, watching this Super Bowl alone in Mission Viejo proved much lonelier than watching in Pittsburgh. “The first four were when I lived [in Pittsburgh],” said Mimi, who hopes the Steelers “keep winning and I live to see number seven.”
Of course, anything’s possible. Maybe Mimi will return to Pittsburgh next time. Maybe she’ll bare witness to a seventh ring. Maybe the stars will align and provide that path.
Such events would be the circumstances for yet another Yinzer Eclipse.
(Jay Firestone, a Pittsburgh native and staff writer for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, writes about Pittsburghers who now live somewhere else. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)