Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Button Ladies of Liberty Avenue(Pgh, PA)

I found myself in a fix today and it caused me to remember the little long, skinny shop on the north side of Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield. It was either between what is now the tobacco store and Howlers or just past Howlers or ,maybe, up past Pearl St. in that block near the sweeper and hardware stores.
It was 2 older women with their shop full of spools of thread in every color and texture/source material imaginable. And BUTTONS! Jars, drawers, boxes and walls full of buttons of all types. Lost a button? They had the replacement or could order it.
What companies does one order buttons from?
I used to work on Liberty Avenue at a place called HH Sales. It is the little stand alone structure off Pearl St.. There is maybe a drive in parking space to the left(west) and a little fence to the right that leads to the back of the building. Anyway, when I worked there it was HH Sales, a fairly empty place with a few items here and there. All variety of items. Clothes, cassette decks, calenders, knick-knacks, kitch shit. The place was a front. For what, I never asked and never was told, I only worked there. There was a police sting operation one day with the attending newspaper reporters and television news crews- the next day, back to normal.
HH had another store, a little grocery, down near Baum Blvd on the corner of x and x streets(I'll remember and place the street names).
He was also into real estate. He had properties in Bloomfield. Commercial and habitable.
One time he invited us workers at his various "businesses" and other friends to a "House Burning" party and cook-out in the North Hills. He indeed burnt a furnitured property of the old late 40s to early 50s suburban style. A sturdy brown bricked, angular place with 2 chimneys. The local volunteer Fire Dept. was on hand to make sure the fire didn't spread to the neighbors' homes, telephone and electric wires or the suburban flora. Beer, soda, grilled hot dogs, bbq, macaroni and potato salads flowed Every now and then the firemen would handle the occasional troubling hot spot with a dousing. Far be it from me to say whether he got insurance money or not but HH built a nice new home there and perhaps is still suffering privation there in his dotage.
At that time I was seeing a woman that lived in Garnet Way. We used to call it Garnet Mimms' way after the soul singer. I was playing in blues bands. On good afternoons I used to sit on the steps of the church at Pearl and Liberty drinking a quart(there were no 40s yet) of Iron and smoking weed; sometimes playing my guitar. I didn't smoke cigarettes yet.
Stevie Ray Vaughan spent a night in that little place in "Garnet Mimms'" Way. That was when I 1st met him.

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