Without bragging too much, I must say that the street I grew up on in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in my opinion was about as great a neighborhood any kid could want to spend his pre-teen years.
It’s been 35 years since I left Ambleside Drive for good having joined the Coast Guard following college graduation but I can still recall who my neighbors were from the earliest memory to the last time I called my house there home. There were just 14 houses on the Cul-de-sac that was Ambleside Drive. It began at the bottom of the street with the Monteverde’s who owned one of the largest produce companies in Pittsburgh.
The Monteverde clan consisted of seven kids and they had put up a basketball hoop in the Cul-de-sac that became a daily ritual for the kids in the neighborhood to play pick up basketball on. Before the Huffman family from Texas moved in next door to the right, that land was just an empty lot that one time caught fire and the local fire department had to come put out the flames. But a house was built and the Huffman’s moved in before heading back to Texas so in came the Elliott’s and finally the Geis family moved in but they would move after I had left town in 1984.
To the left of the Monteverde’s was a family that was very quiet, but I believe they were the Vernon’s. The Reed family was next heading up the street on the left followed by my family, the Aronson’s. Next were the Pontings, Rubino’s, Brewer’s, and then a corner house at the beginning of the street for the life of me I can’t recall their names.
Coming back down the street from the top were the Monroe’s originally who moved out and the Lehecka-Giles family moved in. One house down was the Pelczarski family, three boys, Tony, Dan, and Marty. Dan aspired to be a professional golfer and actually made it onto the Canadian Golf Tour and nearly made the PGA. I remember Tony to be an outstanding golfer and I understand Marty got into race car driving.
A funny story about Tony Pelczarski is that he had an old yellow charger in his garage that for years he was trying to turn into a souped up fast car. I just remember how loud that was and do recall driving with a friend of mine one day in his very fast mustang as we did a little race on the highway with Tony.
One house down from the three boys was an elderly couple named the Wallace’s. Next came the Avalon’s first, then another family the Zelnick's followed by the Becker’s. Directly across the street from me was originally the Jones’ family, Mormons who moved out in 1977 to go to Utah. Mrs. Jones, the mother of four boys was remembered for being the sweetest, kindest lady on the street. She and her husband Max raised for outstanding boys all close in age.
Tragically, I learned later that Mike Jones who had developed his own software company contracted Leukemia and passed away in 1990 around the age of 40. An odd story about the next family that moved in. When I was in 10th grade I became friends with a guy in my math class. But out of nowhere, he never showed up again for class. Two years later, that same old friend moved into the Jones’ house!
The Alcantara family was from the Philippines and the oldest son Romelito and I would become very close friends. The great thing about Ambleside Drive was that 18-20 kids that grew up on the street during my childhood and pre-teen years were all very close in age. Therefore, we all played games together making for an extremely enjoyable and fulfilling childhood.
Growing up in the 1970s was night and day different from how children and pre-teens spend their free time these days. Gone are the neighborhood pick up sports and outside games. I’ll be you won’t find games of “kick the can” anywhere anymore, something we played all the time. We had our version of “Indian Ball” and games of kickball. Street hockey was very popular on our cul de sac. George Reed was the feared player for his wicked slap shot and no one wanted to be in front of that. From what I found out later, George would go into coaching ice hockey.
Then there were the typical outdoor games we played on Ambleside. You have to wonder if anyone is any American neighborhood still plays these games today that we once played circa 1968-1972?
Another popular outdoor activity on Ambleside was making our own go-carts and skateboarding. All done from the top of our street to the bottom. This was special because Ambleside Drive has a pretty good downhill slope and I was the only one I can recall that dared ride a skateboard from top to bottom. By the time I hit the Monteverde’s residence my speed was so much on the skateboard I had to use their driveway to get to their grass so I could jump off without getting hurt!
Finally there was winter time and sled riding. Pittsburgh used to get so much good snow those days we used to build snow forts but it was my side of the street and the backyards there that had the best downhill sledding in the area. It was so great that kids from other neighborhoods used to come over just to use our hills.
The hills were so steep and fun that if you began at the top behind the Rubinos/Pontings’ house which had a flat surface, you began a downhill ridge that flattened out for just a few feet behind my house then a new hill began that led to another few fleet of flat area before sloping again down through the Reed’s yard. If you continued into the wooded area there, you could actually sled all the way down to the next street below ours. The hills by my house however were so treacherous that if you had enough speed you would actually fly off the first flat landing and I can recall broken arms and broken toboggan’s on this hill.
I’m sure most of the original families are now long gone from Ambleside Drive but my father was one of the originals and having passed away in 2009, his wife remains in the house I grew up in. He bought the house in 1959-60. But the memories at least for me will always remain. Ambleside gave me a youth experience that was just a fantastic and enjoyable upbringing.
From 1970 to 1979, I was growing up in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and was 11 in 1970 finishing the decade at the age of 20.
The 1970s in my opinion was an awesome period to grow up given all the nostalgic events and icons, the sports, and so much more. Especially in Pittsburgh where it was such a great place to raise kids and do so many things you can't do today.
This page is dedicated to the things I remember from the age of 11-20 and growing up in the 'Burgh!
This page was inspired by the Twitter page "Super 70s Sports" which you can find at: