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October 04, 2008


Dear Danny,

The world is so much smaller than we imagine.

On Friday, Sept 26th, I received an email at work from Dee Dee G, a friend whose Grandmother Mimi's father was:

Capitain Edward Lee Baker, Jr.

We would have come up to visit and tour but we simply couldn't afford the $30 per person tour fee. Thus, we stayed in the cultural desert of Orange County.

I, too, am a genealogy fan and, as the eldest in my family, have lots of wonderful documents and photos.

Your post and your photos of your neighborhood event are wonderful and it have me a frisson to image having come so close to crossing your path in real life without even knowing it. Amazing... I am going to send Dee Dee a link to your blog post!


Hi Danny:

Wonderful post and what a coincidence. I just returned home tonight from leading the annual living history tour of Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville District, expanded this year to a two-day event because of the city's 250th anniversary, dating from the time of the French and Indian War. I wrote the scripts for several of our reenactors this year and led a huge, tiring tour this afternoon over a two-mile stretch of Victorian homes bordering Allegheny Cemetery, one of the oldest in the eastern U.S. (And I have sunburn to prove it, too.) Like your neighborhood, this one has seen better days and now a growing number of young artists are trying to revitalize things. Still, I had to take great care with my group of elderly suburbanites this afternoon, not to lead them into some still "challenging" somewhat crime-ridden blocks.

Speaking of "dead" people, my mother has roots in this neighborhood going back 120 years, although she never lived here herself. We've had fun in the months leading up to this weekend's parties in finding places where her family used to live. We even found her mother's library card application from 1914 for display at the community hall cocktail party last night. It was in the basement of the library here for over 90 years and was found by a rather strange coincidence in a pile of books someone handed me at the beginning of August.

One of our reenactors portrayed the boxer Fritzie Zivic, a contemporary of Jack La Motta's, who once employed my grandfather to do some carpentry work. In character, Zivic said to me this afternoon, "No one knows me any longer. No one remembers my heroics any more." Another fella portrayed former 19th century Pittsburgh mayor and state senator Max Leslie and when he told my group that he died back in 1944 "right upstairs" in the property we were touring, I could see some in my group "shudder."

There was also a large tribute to the young Irish children killed in the explosion of the munitions factory here during the Civil War.

Meanwhile, as I gave tours of my own home Harrison Street house, we had two strange things happen: yesterday some stuffed animals on a dresser in a guest room were found turned facing the door (looking outward toward the tour group in the hall) instead of in their usual positions toward the bed and an hour ago as I cleaned up after the final wine and cheese party a glass flew off the kitchen counter and slammed into the sink--not once, but twice--when no one was around but it didn't break either. Now, I'm no believer in that but it seems we stirred up something. Should I say hello to my grandma I never knew?

I would love to tour this cemetery with you. I've done all the others in LA but this one. So expect an email the next time I'll be in LA.

Thanks for sharing!

Another great post. I love that stuff too. I love cemeteries and I wish we had a living history tour in ours here.

if obsessed with la history, this might strike a nerve....if not, sorry for the intrusion...

and, as always, love your posts.....

Thanks for sharing this. Definitely something to add to my itinerary the next time I decide to head south.

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