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We enjoy mail—who doesn't?—and appreciate your correspondence. Please send us letters. And photos, good golly photos. We will print anything.

Letters to The New Yinzer should be sent electronically to or physically through the USPS to: The New Yinzer, 277 Main Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201.

From: David C. Madden
Sent: Wed 15 Oct 03
Subject: my mother was once a woman who dated

Dear The New Yinzer:

In 1967 or 1968, my mother went on a date with a young man her age (19) named Lee Van Der Veen (honest) who worked at a nearby sawmill. She knew him through his mother, a co-worker of hers at some accounting office in Charleroi. Back then, according to my mother, “if you wanted to be adventurous, you had to drive down [Route] 51.” Adventure in their hearts and, maybe, the wind in their hair, Lee took my mother down that very road for their date.

About halfway into their journey they came across a hitchhiker, another young man her age. They asked where he was going. “I'm heading into Pittsburgh to see some family,” he said. “Going that way?”

“Well, we're headed to the Cue & Cushion to shoot some pool. Wanna join us?” Lee said, or maybe my mom said. I like the idea of my mom opening the date up to this guy, this stranger, possibly dangerous, risking her life out of a growing disinterest in Lee in order to save the date from boredom. This scenario gives her a kind of exotic mystery, like some wild highway girl men of the time read about in pulp novels, a mystery my mother doesn't really have otherwise, so let's go with it.

They picked him up (“Back then,” she says, “it was okay to pick up hitchhikers, you know”), and drove to the Cue & Cushion, splendidly named and deftly photographed in your last issue. There they shot pool for a bit (“Well, I didn't shoot pool,” she says, “I'd just stand back and watch”), and let's say, for the grand fun and improvement of this story, that Lee and this hitchhiker dueled through billiards for my mother's giving heart.

Lee kept it, in the end. It got late and the hitchhiker was expected, so the two of them drove him into Pittsburgh and headed back home.

Shortly after this date, Lee lost four fingers of his right hand in an accident at the sawmill. He drifted into the sort of melancholy such an event produces in a kid, not to mention a pool player, and soon broke it off with my mother. In time, he ended up moving near Indian Head, Md., or maybe he was born there and moved to Charleroi. It doesn't matter, the only reason I include this bit of the story is that Indian Head is where my dad grew up.

The world, it's a small place, and yet I remain so far from you. Hope you're thinking of me.


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