He had his party at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association in Oakland. He and his friends had fun but the whole experience was a little weird. The PAA is this very old school institution, established back at the beginning of the 20th century when Pittsburgh was lousy with titans of industry. My grandparents have been members for many years and I spent many special occasions there. It was always very exciting, since most of the time if we were going there, we had to be dressed up. I remember being enamored with the grand lobby and its huge fireplace. Above that fireplace was a huge painting of a Roman bath scene. I can imagine how slick I must have looked trying to sneak peeks of the naked guys. I was also impressed with the ladies room because it had a separate lounge area with some couches and vanity. “Wow! You can pee and then hang out for awhile! So fancy!” Also, I met Mister Rogers there one time when I was maybe four years old and it remains one of my most vivid memories. The building deserves its landmark status for that reason alone, in my opinion. If the club was at all run down back then, I never noticed it.
Since then, membership has declined and the facilities are looking really shabby in places. There are plans for the club to enter into a partnership with a new hotel coming to Oakland across the street, which will help them with repairs and a new revenue stream. One really sad effect of this agreement is that the bowling alley, which is a perfect mid-century time capsule will be demolished to make room for a parking garage.
While the kids were bowling, I remembered that he had his sixth birthday party there back in 2007, when he looked like this:
Because I always like to draw parallels and blah blah blah symbolism, I thought about how I would have (and did) meticulously documented his 2007 birthday, but haven’t been doing much meticulous documentation the last few years. Part of that is because his life is increasingly becoming his own and I want to respect that. But the bigger part is that I’ve let this part of myself (and several other parts) go and it bums me out. I feel comfortable telling you that he’s as challenging and wonderful as ever. He does some things that I’m really proud of and others that I’m not so proud of. But he’s a thoughtful individual and still very much my buddy. I’m pretty pleased with us so far.