Monday, July 14, 2014

Rick Sebak's "Things That Aren't Here Anymore"

One of the small treasures of being a Pittsburgher are the various Pittsburgh history documentaries that Rick Sebak produces for WQED and Public Broadcasting.  Lucky for us, these programs run almost constantly on one of WQED's digital sub-channels. Officially, it is the "WQED Neighborhood Channel", but in our house, Verizon FiOS channel 473 is known as the "Rick Sebak Channel".

Anyway, last night what should be playing but his show from 1990, "Things That Aren't Here Anymore".  Of all of the many shows Sebak has done, this ranks among my favorites, and I have probably watched it literally dozens of times over the years.  However, it was in viewing it last night that I discovered why these shows are so special and, essentially, timeless.

The climactic clip in this particular show was a segment about Forbes Field, which, as we all know, hasn't been here since 1970.  In setting up the segment, Sebak interviews several people who were connected to Forbes Field and the Oakland neighborhood that surrounded it.  One of these people was Ruth LeVallee of Kunst's Bakery in Oakland.

Now, as I said, I have seen this episode and segment dozens of times over the years, but last night it struck a new note for me.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth Le Vallee this past winter when I helped make a campaign video for her grandson, Dan Le Vallee, who is currently running for United States Congress in Pennsylvania's 3rd Congressional District.  I got to know Ruth's son, and Dan's father,  Charlie Le Vallee when I worked at Blue Cross.  Charlie founded the what is now the Highmark Caring Foundation back in the mid-1980's, and it is the Caring Foundation that started the Highmark Caring Place for Grieving Children, where Marilyn and I volunteer.  In fact, I met and worked with Dan Le Vallee when he became a fellow Caring Place Volunteer.

So, it was quite exciting to see Mrs. Le Vallee in watching "Things That Aren't Here Any More" once again.  These "old" shows of Rick's have an amazing capacity to become "new" again with each viewing.

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