Last fall when we visited our friends Bill and Jessi in Michigan, Jessi mentioned that there was a strong possibility they’d be in Pittsburgh at the end of July for a Rocky Horror Picture Show convention and that weekend had been emblazoned in my mind ever since. I refused any publicity events, interviews, or party invites that I received for that weekend (LOL). Seriously though, we had all been looking forward to this so hard but I kept my expectations super low because I knew they would be busy with convention stuff.
They had time Saturday afternoon for a museum break so Henry, Chooch and I met them in front of the Omni William Penn where they were staying (it’s haunted, so that was a bonus for them!) and made the 10 minute walk to the Heinz History Center because they were interested in seeing the Mister Rogers set artifacts.
First we had to walk past a sidewalk filming of this one really aggressive religious group that has a show on the public access channel and that was scary. But then I got to show them the famous Two Andys mural and of course point out the Army Navy Store with the infamous machete purchased. Meanwhile, they were both saying very nice things about the city and it always helps chip some of the jade off my soul when I’m seeing PIttsburgh through someone else’s eyes. So I was kind of like, “Yeah, it’s not too b ad here.” Then a few days later I got caught in a rainstorm and almost passed out at the rising fumes of urine BUT I GUESS THAT’S MOST CITIES IN THE SUMMER.
Jessi took this picture of Chooch and Bill in front of what used to be the Toonseum, one of only three museums in the US dedicated to cartoon art, but apparently it recently closed and I have no idea how I didn’t notice this because I walk past there nearly every day!? I guess it closed in March and is now going to be a “roaming-museum” where they do events and stuff and honestly that does make more sense to me because my recollection of the Toonseum is that it was very small and not much was in there. So now I’m not too sad about it anymore.
We made it to the History Center safe and sound because I was a fearless troop leader and if there is one place I know my way around, it’s downtown Pittsburgh. Just don’t ask me for street names like some lady did the other day.
“If that’s 6th down there at that corner, is that 7th down this way?” she asked, pointing a certain way and I fucking FROZE and kept saying “um, uh” but then I remembered that she pointing the direction where there is a restaurant called Nine on Nine because it’s on 9th Ave and 900 Penn so that is how I was able to deduce that yes, the numbers went up in that direction. She didn’t seem very confident in my answer and was just like, “mmmmmmkay” but hey, she walked in that direction!
One time someone asked me where to get birth certificates and I was like, “Uh, have your mom re-birth you and the hospital will bring you one?” No really I just screamed I DUNNO and the person acted like it was a personal affront. Sorry, I only know alleys and cafes.
Anyway, it’s a shame that I have only been to the Heinz History Center once, and that was nearly 10 years ago at this point, when Vatican Splendors was touring the country and made a stop here in Pittsburgh so I made Kara go with me and watch me cry because religious artifacts really do it for me.
I know what you’re thinking, wow how much history could a dump like Pittsburgh have that it needs its own museum and here is where I will tell you to fuck off because only I can shit-talk my town, lol. I get really defensive when outsiders say disparaging things about it! But seriously, like most cities, Pittsburgh is rife with history and it’s not all steel mills and football, yay. I think it’s pretty common that Heinz was a huge deal for Pittsburgh and we are morally offended when we go to a restaurant elsewhere that has anything other than classic Heinz 57 on the tables. Piss off with that Hunts catsup junk.
After Bill nearly bought two memberships by accident, we headed straight to the Mr. Rogers exhibit which opened in March to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show. I actually saw a lot of this stuff back when I was at Pitt when my creative non-fiction class took a field trip (lol) to the WQED building specifically to tour the Mr. Rogers set and write about it. Little did I know we were going to have to read it out loud the next week in class and here I was making asshole-y observations as I am known to do, so that was cool, reading that out loud. My writing teacher was the only person who liked me in that class. She had high hopes for me and I bet she would be so proud to know that I am still doing the same shit I was doing then – writing on a shitty blog.
Anyway! My favorite part of this day was actually seeing how happy it made Jessi to be there.
My second favorite part was when Chooch found out that there a stair-walking challenge where you take a slip of paper and get it stamped next to each stairwell to prove that you took the steps on every floor and then you can turn it into the gift shop and collect a prize! You better believe Chooch and I ran back up to the top of the last two floors to start this process, and yes, it would be super easy to just collect a stamp and not even take the steps but I hope that people wouldn’t do that. YOU’RE ONLY CHEATING YOURSELF!
Chooch was excited to point out the hearse to me. The funerary collections were definitely my favorites out of the whole museum.
This kneeler is so much better than ours! I’m jealous! (Yes, we have a kneeler in our house. Henry brought it home as a surprise one day because sometimes he’s actually in tune with my interests.)
If Jessi’s favorite part was the Mister Roger’s stuff, then Bill’s was this weird tooth-head doll. He was obsessed.
Henry didn’t have a favorite part because he’s seen all this shit before in his daily life. Because he’s old and museum artifacts ain’t got nuthin’ on him.
When we were looking at all the Heinz shit, I had this vivid flashback to when I worked at the Bad Place with Henry and our bosses had just come back from cruise. They were excitedly telling us that they were eating dinner with some other couples on the cruise and one of them was struggling to get the ketchup to pour out of the bottle. You’ve been there before, unless you’ve never had the pleasure of throttling a glass bottle of ketchup. Anyway, our boss Joe excitedly said to us, “And then I told them to strike the 57 with the heel of their hand and they thought I was joking but then they did it and it worked!” It’s a super common trick here in the ‘Burgh but people always think we’re nuts UNTIL THEY TRY IT AND THAT SANGUINE SAUCE COMES SHOOTING OUT. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, there is a small “57” on the actual glass of the bottle, not on the label, and striking it does the trick. I didn’t see if the museum mentioned that anywhere but I’m also super well-known for peacing out when it comes to reading signs in museums.
I get bored easily.
Jessi was obsessed with the fact that pickle salesmen had leather cases for their pickles back in the day. I wish men still wore hates like hat but I can’t imagine Henry looking good in one.
I am suspicious of people who don’t like ketchup, just like I am of people who don’t have pets.
My third favorite part was when were in the interactive kids zone and I waited until some dumb kid finished making a picture on a lightboard and then I went over and messed it up. Henry frowned so hard but it would not be his biggest frown of the day.
Then I got lost for what seemed like days because that joint is big with lots of different ways to go!
I only went into the sports area to see the Penguins stuff but really it was because I was still lost and ran there in a panic. I almost considered joining another group and no, not once did it occur to me that I could have texted Henry, Jessi, or Bill using that newfangled contraption that it always glued to my hand.
You know, a cell phone.
God, you guys make me spell everything out!
I wish the Racer still looked like this! I’ll post pictures of when it looks like now soon, since I still have to vomit all my Kennywood birthday memories up on here.
Chooch wore this Isaly’s hat for the rest of the afternoon. IF YOU LIKE KLONDIKE BARS, THEN YOU’RE WELCOME.
The museum has an old trolley car that you can walk through and if the trolleys still looked like this perhaps I wouldn’t bitch so much every morning!
Anyway, Chooch and I collected all of the stamps needed and the nice lady at the museum gift shop register gave us each a small plastic Heinz ketchup pin and we were both like WORTH IT.
“Those probably cost like fifty cents,” Henry said, always trying to poop on our joy.
STILL WORTH IT.
Stay tuned for the grand finale of their visit!