I was having a Bloomfield moment this morning when a little dog sporting a red cap caught my eye.
On the corner of Liberty and Cedarville, Jean Donatelli and her 8-year-old Shih Tzu, Addie, had stopped to talk to Barbara Hirst. Rather, Jean was talking. Addie was staring at something three inches off the sidewalk with the Shih Tzu's famous ‘you-want-a-piece-of-me?' expression.
Jean lives around the corner on Friendship Avenue and was out walking her dog when she ran into Barbara, who lives in Morningside but whose doctor is in Bloomfield. How they know each other is that Jean is "the sister of a friend of mine's husband," said Barbara.
In my neighborhood moments, I wander around taking photos of buildings, alley houses, storefronts, kids playing, people talking, local signs, whatever says "Pittsburgh."
A red-capped dog is unusual, but a darkened hardware store with a "closed" sign is not. I was alerted to the closing of Bloomfield Hardware last week, though it has been a few months since that business of 80-plus years went dark.
Next door, at B&J Cleaners, Maryanne Wegert said losing the hardware store is a "great loss" for Bloomfield. "It's going to be missed. This guy would take care of people's lamps, fix their screens and even made deliveries." Just the other day, she said she saw people unload screens from their car and walk over to the door of the hardware store and make faces of despair when they saw the notice that the store had closed.
"I'm certainly going to miss it," said Andrew Ellsworth, a resident of Friendship. "That kind of store is a dying breed," he said. "People who worked there understood their products and knew their customers and were really helpful. It served a big area, from Bloomfield to the Hill to Lawrenceville and Shadyside. They helped me with various odd jobs, like what kind of blade to use, how to sweat pipes."
Neighborhood hardware stores, which have closed all over the city, "had a different flavor to them," he said. He could get a pane of glass cut at the Bloomfield Hardwarde After it closed, he said he had to search around to find a place that would cut glass.
"I made a conscious effort to support them, because they were a local institution. I feel like the place needs a eulogy."
Walkabout is trying to reach the owner, whom customers knew as Dave, to find out why he closed and other details about his business.