Created on Thursday, 03 September 2009 16:31 Last Updated on Monday, 03 December 2012 19:19 Published on Thursday, 03 September 2009 16:31 Written by Ashley G. Woodson Hits: 7021
This event brought together everyone who attended the three North Side high schools years ago. The community day gathering, which was held at West Park, brought together everyone from kindergarten to eighth grade.
THE NORTH SIDE ALL CLASS REUNION
“This is a big deal to be here. My parents and grandparents are from the North Side and I’m glad to be at this event,” said Judge Joe Williams.
“Actually a lot of North Side residents are coming in from out of state to attend the Old Timers unity gathering tomorrow and last year. This is the North Side All Class Reunion and it was put together by me and another individual, James Younger. It’s in the number of thousands and it gives them something to do Friday before we do the community day tomorrow,” said Bulls. “Last year we had about 7,000 people, but it’s really geared for the children from kindergarten to eight. We tried to bring them together from all 19 neighborhoods while they are 7, 8 and 9 years old. They get a chance to meet each other. So when they get to be teenagers and get to that gang age, they can say that’s my buddy Jeff and he’s from Northview Heights or that’s my buddy Bob from Manchester. They will already know each other. We try to bring them together all year around.”
“We want everybody that graduated in 1965, 1975 and 1985 and beyond to come together and socialize in this type of setting. It’s all to see how we grew up and also to see how funny we look now. It is really a fellowship of celebration. The Old Timers North Side Unity Gathering will be tomorrow,” said organizer Fred Austin.
Younger was an organizer for the event and he is a 35-year-old Black businessman who wants to instill something positive in the kids. He credits his parents for the direction they steered him in.
“A lot of people need to know the history behind Allegheny High School that is now a middle school. We wanted to bring all generations together. The elders are the ones that connect all the dots. It’s important that we connect these three high schools because they are the root of the North Side.
“We are going to make this an annual event. We have the jazz legend Roger Humphries during cocktail hour and we have another crowd that will be shifting in around 11 p.m. We are catering to everyone and tomorrow we will have all our kids and grand kids at community day. This event was spread word of mouth and we hope that it will only get bigger and better,” Younger said.
People from out of town came to this event and were glad to be in attendance. Instead of it being an all class reunion, it was more like a family reunion. Some had not seen each other in 40 years or more.
“I’m from the North Side and these are my roots. When Jamie asks me to do this it reminded me of old times. This is our roots of African-American people and I’m glad to see the mixture of music and people. It’s good to share our jazz music here. Chappy’s Bar and the High Hat Club were all on Pennsylvania Avenue where I grew up at and I cut my teeth with that. I was glad to be a part of this reunion,” said jazz legend Roger Humphries.
Anthony Wiles, who graduated from Allegheny High School said a lot of members of his family couldn’t wait for this reunion.
“I’m a North Side resident and my family came in town from all over for this reunion. I have an uncle who is 93 years old who came in town from Chicago. My mom went to Oliver High School and this is just great. It’s a North Side thing,” said Wiles.
Ninety-three-year-old Allegheny High School alumni James Robinson from Chicago was also in attendance. He graduated from Allegheny High School in 1934 and was glad to be at the reunion to celebrate the occasion.
“My roots are still here and I have family that still lives here. I am going to have a great time and fellowship with as many people as I can,” Robinson said.
The nephew of James Robinson was also glad to be there to see people he has not seen years.
“I’ve been trying to get to Pittsburgh for years. Each year everybody’s talking about how great the community is, so I had to come. I live in the Bay area (San Francisco/Oakland, Calif) now and I’ve been there for almost 14 years, but as I mentioned before I had to come back home to Pittsburgh. I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Singer and entertainer Lawrence “Gangguss” Harrison sang to the crowd at the reunion and everyone enjoyed his performance.
“I’m from Global Street on the North Side. I went to Oliver High School and I knew I was going to see a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time. It was a great opportunity for me just to be asked to be here. I’m here to represent for all of my people. As far as the hidden talents that are in the ’Burgh, I had to be here. When I stayed in Buffalo, N.Y., for a minute, they talked to me about Pittsburgh making steel and I explained to them that Pittsburgh makes more than steel. We have talent, but you just know about the steel in our city. If you come here, you will be exposed to what Pittsburgh is really about. I graduated in 1969 from Oliver High School,” Harrison said.
Juice Bryant was also one of the people there. He is the son of the legendary Jean Bryant. She is responsible for Pittsburgh’s Miss Black Teenage pageants over the years and worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for many years.
“This is very important to us and we like the idea that this is an all class reunion. We’re just trying to remember the good times. They’ve come up with a wonderful community day, which is the next day for moms, dads, grandparents and children. I am a 1976 all city graduate from Perry High School.
“If they were to put Perry, Allegheny, and Oliver all together, we would have been known nationwide because of all of the talent. In the Hill District there were two schools—Schenley High School and Fifth Avenue High School. Homewood had Westinghouse High School, East Liberty had Peabody, Squirrel Hill had Allderdice High School, but the North Side held down three high schools which split up a lot of talent. I wanted to make mention that if we were as one high school, we would have been phenomenal,” said Bryant.
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