Although Pittsburgh is a well-heeled city with a metropolitan population of close to two and a half million, a good many traveling men these days equate the town with a week spent in church. Setting off from their hotels with a will to live it up, they fall victim within the hour to Duggan's Disease, a pall that began to enshroud the downtown Golden Triangle two years ago when Robert W. Duggan, a reform D.A., took office and banished ladies of the evening from the bistros. Deprived of this staple, clubs withered. The Golden Triangle's modern skyscrapers spill hordes into the narrow streets at 5 p.m., but they become eerie canyons of chrome and glass by nightfall. The Dixieland jazz in the Penn-Sheraton's Riverboat Room and the tall yarns spun over the bar at Benny's New Diamond Cafe are enticing, but downtown is largely Dullsville.
When in Pittsburgh, the trick is to get off the dime. With a competent native guide one discovers surprise upon surprise.
Actually, Pittsburghers seem to have laid out their city with a mischievous eye to hiding choice pleasures from those who will not get out and forage. Visitors routinely gravitate to the Oakland section, which is swamped with culture. One inspects Carnegie Museum and tours the campuses of Carnegie Tech and Pitt and then takes in a Pittsburgh Symphony concert at the Syria Mosque or does the supper-and-theater bit at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. As it happens, all this culture makes a perfect hiding place for some of America's best Irish saloon life.
Along the banks of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, which converge at the apex of the Golden Triangle to spill into the Ohio, black mills waft ugly smoke into the Steel City's sky, creating a scene of industrial scar. Surprise again. A trip into the hills that roll away from the riverbanks reveals a golfer's paradise. The Western Pennsylvania Golf Association includes 64 country clubs, and the region is dotted by seven municipal courses and 64 "public" courses operated by private entrepreneurs who charge $2 and up for 18 holes of challenging, hill-studded links. But true to form, Pittsburgh does not advertise its golf.
When golf was solely a rich man's game, there was no shortage of Pittsburghers to play it. The steel and coal barons and their descendants, able to buy most Texas oilionaires without strain, have lived quietly, lunching in tight security at the exclusive Duquesne Club.
Except for H. J. Heinz II, whose surname plasters jars of pickles and catsup, Pittsburgh's multimillionaires are as unknown as they are formidable. Their names ring no bells in American households. The city's richest man, Richard King Mellon (Gulf Oil, Koppers Co., Mellon National Bank), has his picture in the newspapers only slightly more often than the Steelers have won an NFL championship, and that happens to have been never.
Pittsburgh's rich have been golfing since 1893, when an iron-and-steel mogul named John Moorhead Jr. inserted six pea cans into the center of a race course. But today's construction of new golf courses is attributable to the demand posed by millworkers. The mills run in three shifts—midnight to 8, 8 to 4, and 4 to midnight—and all lend themselves to a round of golf before or after.
Two middle classes exist in Pittsburgh. One consists of corporation transients—management men who have been fetched to the headquarters of Alcoa, Gulf, the steel companies and other assorted firms, and who do not know when their next transfer will fall. Their knowledge of the city usually is limited to a trip to the elegant Colony Restaurant or to the LeMont Restaurant atop Mt. Washington, where the bird's-eye view of the glittering (but silent) Golden Triangle rivals anything this side of San Francisco. Sometimes they find Will Shiner's jazz-stomping Encore in Shadyside, a hip neighborhood for single swingers and people who shun a shave and a haircut.
The other middle class is native bedrock—an ethnic chowder of a dozen or so strains that have melted into a warm and unpretentious citizenry. For example, the East Europeans (identifiable when they say, "Where yunz goin'?") refer to themselves goodhumoredly as Hunkies and are never happier than when they are stuffing a neighbor—even one of the frosty transients from the eastern seaboard-with huge kolbassi sausage and beer.
A favorite restaurant of the big eaters is Dante's in Brentwood. If it is Thursday night, Dante's inner circle, known as The Aggregation, is sitting down to its weekly Next-to-the-Last-Supper. The chairman, Funny Sam Billanti, has brought loaves of hot Russian rye on his way from work. Hilda and Mary and Dorothy are serving heaping platters of antipasto, lasagna, fried chicken and cabbage-wrapped golambkis (sometimes known as Polish hand grenades). The wine flows. Lourie is at her piano. The joint, as Dante's patrons affectionately call their home away from house, is filling up. "Only high-class broads admitted," says Dante Sartorio, proprietor. Also, no "yonkos" admitted—no one who stares at celebrities or travels with a partner in order to split a beer. It is going to be a good night here and at many another out-of-the-way spot, while the traveling men downtown check the timetables to see how soon they can get out of puritanical Pittsburgh.