Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tough Dutch Gave Family Many Ideas, like Backing Bucs

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tough Dutch Gave Family Many Ideas, like Backing Bucs

Article excerpt

Coming of age and raising a family during the Depression era in rural Pennsylvania wasn't easy.

Rising at dawn to milk the cows, clean the chicken coop and "freshen up" the outhouse seems unthinkable today, but it was simply a fact of life back then -- and those were often just the chores to be completed before a hard day's work on the railroad or at the mill.

During this time baseball as our national pastime provided welcome relief from the daily struggles. A love for baseball and the hometown Pirates grew in many families in the region, to be passed down from generation to generation.

Three generations later, I'm a living example of that, and that's why I was compelled to think often of my great-grandfather during 2013's magical Pirates season and playoff run.

It's often said that tough times reveal character, not build it, and one example was my great-grandfather Dutch, who lived northeast of Pittsburgh in Clearfield County. He labored on the railroad, mined coal and worked construction, sometimes all in the same day.

He was fearless and fought hard for everything he got. My grandmother and her siblings never had much growing up, but they were happy and learned important life lessons from their father -- known officially as Maurice Charles Haney -- that they would pass down to all of us, mostly by example.

Great-granddad was a comparison in contrasts. It was well known around Clearfield that you didn't want to cross him, or you might end up with his sledgehammer-sized fist upside your head. He also was a very generous man who would give you the shirt off his back, even though that might be all he had to give.

He was a simple man who loved nothing more than a boilermaker after a long hard day at the worksite (sometimes before and during, too). That was life back then.

Among my vivid memories of him are of hot summer nights in the late 1980s spent sitting on the front porch listening to the Pirates on the radio. Retired by then, he would sit in his rocker with a cold Iron City in his gigantic fist. By the fifth inning, he would usually be sawing logs and drowning out the radio, but he earned that right and none of us were dumb enough to bother him. …

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