Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ross Brought Sense of Joy and Humor to East End Cafes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ross Brought Sense of Joy and Humor to East End Cafes

Article excerpt

Ross Schaub, who many East Enders would recognize as the tall, cap-wearing, funny inhabitant of local coffee shops -- Tazza D'Oro in Highland Park, where he reigned supreme for years, and Jitters in Shadyside, where his last years were spent among another set of friends -- was 58.

He'd attended Sacred Heart, Central Catholic, Pitt undergrad and Pitt law school. This fall, he fought a long, valiant battle in the cardiac ICU at UPMC Mercy. He finally made it out of the hospital and into a rehab.

Last time I saw him, lying in bed, he seemed to be back in form. "Oil, need oil," he said, imitating the Tin Man. He asked for "wonton soup sans wontons." But then, after a few days in the rehab, he did the unthinkable, and died.

At the viewing last week, I learned that "The Jitterati" had been in earlier. I'd not heard the term Jitterati before, but I'd bet Ross coined it. Tazza D'Orans had a mock disdain for Jitters people, jealous that they'd stolen our anchor.

He'd fallen for Marianne and moved to her place in Shadyside. The geography of convenience took hold. He still visited our North Highland Avenue cafe, but things were never the same as when he'd been a daily communicant.

Jitters was more international and great company for his brilliant mind -- not that we weren't. With Ross around, Tazza D'Oro was like a sitcom that put "Cheers" to shame. Everyone seemed to be recovering from divorces or cases of misfit-ism, and we needed Ross' humor. Postmen, Buddhists, plumbers, therapists, sidekick "Sassy P," ex-gangsters, poets, morticians, seminarians, window installers and people considered to be "disabled" came together in the Ross days.

Ross was a great historian. Ask about the Peloponnesian War, and he could give an hourlong lecture complete with dates. In Tazza D'Oro, Ross once talked so much about Oliver Cromwell, the Cromwell Ban was issued. On each table a sign was placed: "No Cromwell After Nine AM."

History was alive for Ross, but the present moment was his passion. The reason so many mourn his passing has to do with his relationship to time. You never saw Ross checking his watch. You never had the sense that he was too busy for you. …

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