When I moved into my first apartment after college, the most important task at hand was buying a massive, big-screen TV. Proud, confident and with an earnest sense of rewarding years of squinting, I knew I deserved the biggest monitor money could buy. So, I went to Best Buy and picked out the largest 20-incher they had.
But as NFL season approached, the TV and its bountiful channels were worthless without the trusty old East Coast network affiliates and their broadcasts of Steelers football.
That was one of the hardest things about leaving home. But it brought me to that one place that virtually every city has: the local Steelers bar. There’s really nothing like seeing a blow-dried mullet and handlebar mustache perfectly outfitted on a man-beast clutching a cold one, as he prematurely chants the Roger Wood classic “Here We Go.”
For one day out of the week, a regular pub is turned into a black and gold haven, where raw emotion is a regular on the menu and steamed aggression is a daily special. But mostly, it’s a place where Pittsburgh fans unite each week to show their support for their favorite team and city.
Florida settler and expatriate Pittsburgher Marjorie Moidel couldn’t agree more.
Marjorie, a Squirrel Hill native and Taylor Allderdice High School graduate, retired to Coconut Creek, Fla., about four years ago with her now- late husband, Melvin.
“I see the games here. There are many Steelers bars in Florida. We have lunch and watch games with a bunch of other crazies. Steelers fans are really loyal no matter where you go,” she says.
Marjorie, who has continued to be a loyal fan, has never actually been to a game, but says her “husband and three sons, we’re all huge fans of Pittsburgh sports.”
Though she typically spends her Sundays watching Big Ben throw interceptions, Marjorie’s main priorities lie with the international women’s Zionist organization, NA’AMAT. When she was a full-time western Pennsylvania resident, Marjorie was extremely active in her NA’AMAT chapter, even serving as president. She’s now the Southeast area national coordinator for the organization and helps organize activities, acts as an umbrella over all councils, oversees fundraising and keeps members informed. She admits that it’s a way to stay in touch with her friends all over the country, especially in Pittsburgh.
“NA’AMAT helps me keep in touch with my old chapter in Monroeville,” says Marjorie.
And if a weekly sports craze isn’t enough to jolt the Floridian’s inner Pittsburgh, Marjorie assured me that there’s also a Primanti Brothers restaurant in Oakland Park, Fla., where you can get a nice everything sandwich, with a side of everything, piled right on top of everything.
In addition to weekly sports outings and NA’AMAT connections, Marjorie gets her Pittsburgh fix every three years when she attends a Pittsburgh reunion in Delray Beach. The triennial gathering has become a place where other expatriate Pittsburghers and some seasonal “snow birds” meet up for a night of entertainment mixed with “stories, dancing, and reconnecting with old friends,” says Marjorie.
Though Florida weather was a huge reason for making the move down south, Marjorie says she still misses the friendly attitude of her hometown.
“Everybody knows each other [in Pittsburgh]. Here everybody comes from all over the country and they’re not that friendly. But Pittsburgh’s different. They greet you. They welcome you. That’s what I miss about the city.”
And as a Los Angeles resident, I completely understood. With the hours of traffic I sit in daily, it’s easy to comprehend how one could miss the personal connection of walking down Forbes or Murray avenues and running into a familiar face.
But, at least we’ll always have those mullets at the Steelers bars.
(Jay Firestone, a Pittsburgh native and staff writer for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, writes about Pittsburghers who now live somewhere else. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)