Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I'm writing tonight from the Starbucks at Union Square West and 17th Street in New York City. But, this post has nothing to do with all the slick urbanites chatting around me, the salsa beat playing in the background or anything else relative to the metropolis in which I sit.

No, my thoughts are on McDonald -- the little town of about 2,000 souls that's nestled in a quiet valley on a county line in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Specifically, I'm recalling McDonald about the time I grew up there in the 1980s.

For four or five years when I was a kid, my mother, brother, sister and I lived in the second floor apartment of the little yellow metal-siding house at 113 Grant Ave. in McDonald.

It wasn't a bad spot. It was close enough for us to walk to school. We attended McDonald Elementary in those last years before the consolidation of the school district's elementary schools. Back then, that block had lots of kids who were often outside playing or going to the library that was just down the street in the old borough building.

I loved the library. In the summer, I was there nearly every day attempting to be the No. 1 reader in the Summer Book Club (which I never did achieve, always coming in second).

Sometimes the librarians showed movies in the council chambers at the borough building. I don't remember what the movies were but I do distinctly remember the little bags of popcorn we were given. Some of the kids even got to sit in the big old chairs used by the council members.

Of the little apartment we lived in, I especially remember the view from the window in the bathroom at the back of the house. From that window, you could see the spires of the old European-style buildings at McDonald's one red-light intersection. It was such a cool view, especially on cold winter mornings when the snow covered all the rooftops. For a week each July, through that open window, you also could hear the sounds of the volunteer fire department's street fair just a few blocks away.

All these memories came back on Monday evening as I walked through that same intersection. I was walking from my apartment on West Lincoln Avenue to the borough council meeting in the (relatively) new council chambers in the (relatively) new borough offices on School Street. I wondered what that boy back in the late '80s would think of the 31-year-old today.

At Monday evening's meeting, I submitted a letter to my fellow council members resigning my seat about a year and a half prior to the end of my four-year term. It was not something I did lightly. Almost five months since beginning my new job in New York, I have stayed on council, flying home for each of the monthly meetings. But, as I'm closing up my McDonald apartment at the end of the month, I soon will no longer meet the residency criteria to serve.

I was a member of McDonald Council for some five years (cumulative in two different terms). I was grateful to have had the opportunity -- it was a source of personal growth and I think my colleagues and I were able to accomplish goals over those years that strengthened the town and made it a better place to live. I am certain that growth is going to continue, too.

As most readers of this blog will know, I made three attempts to represent McDonald and several other local communities as a state representative. (You can call me "Mr. 46 Percent.") In fact, on that walk to the council meeting, I also strolled past the location of my 2006 campaign headquarters in the old G.C. Murphy's 5 & 10. Had some 1,700 Canton Township or Chartiers Township residents thought differently, it might have been the district office of a state rep.

With the help of prayer, time and (yes) distance, I have begun to accept the reality that this goal is not likely a part of my future -- especially as come September 1, I will be a resident of New York State.

But, I don't think I will ever lose my interest in Pennsylvania politics.

And, I know I will never stop loving McDonald.

That little town -- complete with St. Alphonsus Church, the library, the parks, the Fort Cherry Schools and so many good family members and friends -- nurtured me and helped to develop the man I am today.

On my travels through life's quiet valleys and urban canyons, I pray that I will do you proud.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I bid you a fond farewell my friend! Best of luck in the Big Apple. We will miss you.