25th Anniversary Issue: Recollections from Larry Evans

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Larry Evans with son, Duck, and wife, Karen (Photo courtesy Larry Evans).

My adventure in journalism actually began in my hometown Baltimore where I “worked” as a cub reporter briefly under PJ O’Rourke, then the esteemed editor of the underground newspaper Harry. So I was dispatched far and wide to duly cover endangered early ‘70s rock festivals in the jungles of Louisiana and — bingo! — the outskirts of Pittsburgh, where I met so many people just as weird as me. 

I was out in the far flung fringe getting so radicalized that I went and got a job with US Steel and started the magical Mill Hunk Herald Quarterly Magazine in my basement office at 916 Middle Street in 1979. This was a prime time opportunity for shiftless radicals, such as I, during Pittsburgh’s mill shutdown era.

After getting laid off from doing anything truly useful on this planet (making steel is actually a very good feeling), my Steel Valley High School teaching wife Leslie and I steered our productivity inwards and made us a son, “Duck,” named after Ducky Joe Medwick, the last National League triple crown winner.

So to keep our darling deep in Pampers and Crispix, I began working two or three part-time jobs just to come somewhere close to my steelworker wages. I drove a morning delivery truck, counseled disturbed kids at night, and on sunny afternoons edited the Bloomfield-Garfield Bulletin.

Upon reading my wife’s battered copy of The Martian Chronicles and noting the similarities with our Northside life, I began publishing The Northside Chronicle just as the Mill Hunk was running out of steam.

The Northside Chronicle experience got me much more familiar with East Allegheny all-stars like Barbara Burns, Sheila Weirth and Mark Schneider. And never to forget yodelin’ alkie A-Ooo Elmer, War Street crazies like Randy Zotter, Nancy Shaeffer and John Lyon and Manchesterites Will and Susan Thompkins, Stan Lowe and, of course, Perry North Avenuers Tom Cox and Sir Tom Murphy (who somehow never got around to hiring me as his publicist).

The Chronicle instantly inspired neighborhood poets, scribes and go-getters like Don Walko, Nick Kyriazi, Bill Conway, Sue Stein, Wilana Carter, Jesse Cavileer, Carol Montgomery, John Freed and would have never gotten off the ground except for timely seed funding from the Community Technical Assistance Center!

Our early editorial meetings attracted much of the same riff-raff that the Mill Hunk managed to wash ashore, but the issues debated were a bit more grounded, sometimes even subterranean. They all had a lot to do with community survival and self-determination in the Grand Old Allegheny and preserving its unique heritage.

It was a good thing a steady guy like John Lyon stepped up to take over The Chronicle because, being a defrocked crock of a steelworker, I was to be soon high stepping it over to Rutgers on a graduate fellowship that would take me headlong into my life’s traveling stage.

So there you have it. Today, Ducky, 27, bounces between Manhattan and L.A. making really bad reality TV, my new wife Karen and I, 62, live in Mount Lebanon with our daughter Sunny Jen, 13. My ex-wife Leslie is a tri-athlete who took up mountain climbing with her new husband Greg in order to get as far away from me as possible.

 
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