Monday, March 14, 2011
When I was growing up, I read a book called The Spencers of Amberson Avenue, a memoir written by Ethel Spencer, who grew up in Shadyside at the turn of the 20th century. It's a fairly popular book around here--not a bestseller by any means, but it's available all over Pittsburgh in the local history section of bookstores and in gift shops. When I first read it I wasn't very familiar with the East End, and so although the book was interesting I didn't relate it much to my own life. Now that I live not too far from where the book takes place, rereading it again earlier this year gave it new relevance. It's interesting to read about a family living essentially where I live and, in a lot of ways, doing the things we do, but set 100 years ago, and seeing what's different and what's the same.
This week, we'll be exploring different locations described in the book, and discussing how they've changed. This is the Spencers' house, still clearly recognizable from the photos that Ethel Spencer's father took. The Spencer parents had the home built for them, and their migration (and that of their extended family) into Shadyside came at a time when the area was changing from farming to a residential community--Ethel Spencer mentions in her book that in her childhood cows were driven from the Point Breeze stockyards to the rail line at the bottom of Amberson (now the East Busway).
Tomorrow: the Spencer family church.
Posted by JS at 8:19 AM