I haven’t spent a winter in Pittsburgh since my days in college and there’s a perfectly good explanation for that. When I’m home, it always snows. And when it snows, I always shovel.
The driveway, the steps, the walkway. Wherever there’s concrete, there’s me — tired, cold, shoveling and disgruntled.
My family says that I’m the best at it, and while that may hold some truth, I suspect it was all part of some clever ruse to trick me into undertaking the daunting task.
I’ll never know for sure, but I have to admit, as much as I hated shoveling, there was nothing more satisfying than the sight of clean concrete amidst large piles of snow. And whether it was the strong scent of salt in the air or my incredibly emotional sense of accomplishment, my eyes would always tear up when the job was complete.
In a way, I was proud of myself and nothing beats the pride of feeling like a man on a cold winter day.
Except maybe perfect climate.
My new home of Los Angeles has just that.
But is it ethical to make my loving parents do all the shoveling?
I’ll leave that one to the rabbis, and in the meantime, I’ll gladly exchange my winter masculinity for a short sleeve shirt and a watch tan.
Expatriate Pittsburgher Estelle Weissburg understands my logic.
“It rains and snows a lot and roads are icy. It’s too cold,” says Estelle.
But don’t mess with this former Pittsburgher; for the past 10 years, she’s been an official resident of the great state of Texas.
Growing up in the East End, Estelle, 77, graduated from Peabody High School before moving to Whitehall, Pa., with her husband, Jim, in 1954.
She and Jim helped establish Beth Israel Center where she was first president of the Sisterhood, in addition to being an active part of the western Pennsylvania branch of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.
Between 1982 and 1992, Estelle served as the executive director of Cancer Guidance Institute and the Cancer Hotline. Through this association, she helped to establish the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.
Since moving to Texas in 1999, Estelle spends her time “reading novels, biographies and history” and is also a member of three book clubs, she said.
And while she misses her life in Pittsburgh, Estelle says she still gets her Pittsburgh fix by reading this paper and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online.
Unfortunately, her move wasn’t unprovoked. In 1992, Estelle suffered a stroke that left her blind and deaf in the left eye and ear, though she says that she’s now “very confident and happy,” at this stage in her life.
While her move to Texas was in part due to the warmer climate, Estelle says she also wanted to be closer to her daughter, though her husband is still a permanent resident of Pittsburgh.
However, Estelle proudly admits that the two actively engage in a long-term relationship that would put any college or high school youth group relationship to shame (I’m guilty of both).
“I see him every year,” says Estelle. “I am happy here and he is happy there, and we talk every week.”
But with family scattered all over the United States (she also has two sons who live in the Boston area), Estelle also makes time to enjoy the pleasures of her environment.
“I have a gorgeous apartment with a good view of the swimming pool and great bathroom.”
And of course, she said, “there’s no snow.”
My thoughts exactly.
(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.)