For so many Pittsburghers, the words “Squirrel Hill” have always meant breakfast at Pamela’s Diner and back-to-school shopping at Little’s Shoes. Maybe the name conjures up lazy afternoons spent idly window-shopping along Forbes Avenue, maybe stopping for a bite to eat or running into a neighbor.
But what happens when Squirrel Hill, which for so many people has always simply meant “home,” suddenly becomes shorthand for a violent, heartbreaking crime? When the rest of the country uses the name of your home to describe that horrible moment and the national crisis it represents?
“Shanksville and Newtown. Waco and Charlottesville and Aurora. Kent State and Columbine and Lockerbie and Oklahoma City. Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. And now: Pittsburgh and Squirrel Hill,” wrote Ted Anthony, a Pittsburgh native (full disclosure: also my husband), in an Associated Press story published this morning.
“When the name of the place you hold dear suddenly becomes synonymous with tragedy, the emotional impact can be searing and the aftereffects can linger for months, years, even generations.”
Read the full story here, which includes insight from linguist Alan Juffs, director of the English Language Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh native Robert Hayashi, an associate professor of American studies at Amherst College.