When I left Wilkinsburg High School 59 years ago I was probably the last person that anyone would have thought would be suggesting a reading list over 59 years later.  Well, times change so here are some books with a direct tie to Wilkinsburg and the Class of ’64.           J.P.L.

The first two books can be ordered from the:
Wilkinsburg Historical Society
c/o Wilkinsburg Public Library
605 Ross Avenue
Wilkinsburg, PA 15221

The price is around $15 + shipping

Wilkinsburg High School 100 book cover0001 jpgMy copy was a gift from Ilka Minter Peck. Class of ’63



Wilkinsburg History Book0001 So, you thought you knew everything about the old home town?   Buy this book!!!
It is available from the Wilkinsburg Historical Society and



KENNYWOOD0001Remember the school picnics?

It’s available from



Out of This Furnace by Thomas Bell is a serious study about three generations of one family and the steel industry for which they labored.  Though written as a work of fiction most scholars feel it is mostly autobiographical.  Warning:  This book is NOT light reading.  (If you wish to know about Pittsburgh, it is a must read!)

University of Pittsburgh Press

Meet you in Hell0001For everyone who has ever walked in Frick Park or taken advantage of the Carnegie Library – Museum, here is a book that gives an interesting account of the personal relationship between two Pittsburgh giants of industry.  It is not terribly kind to either man.

Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House

The Good Provider0001jpgH.J. Heinz was an food industry innovator.  The work goes into a lot of detail but never becomes tedious or boring.  The back story is as interesting as any rags to riches tale you could ever find.

A side note:  McDonalds no longer serves Heinz Ketchup.  It’s something to think about when ordering your next double cheeseburger!

Houghton Mifflin Company


To be honest, I have not read this book though I have started it several times.  Along with Carnegie, Frick and Heinz, Mellon is that fourth cornerstone in understanding the community that shaped 20th century Pittsburgh.

Published by Alfred A. Knopf  –  New York


The only connection with Wilkinsburg in The BIG ROADS is in the first chapter when Mr. Swift, the author, drives straight down Penn Avenue on a quest to follow the entire Lincoln Highway from east to west.  If you are interested in Engineering, Politics, Economics, History or just a well told, non-fiction story about Super Highways, this is a great read.


Mr. Swift is a good friend, a great writer and a residential  fellow of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at the University of Virginia.

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Boston – New York

This title was suggested to me by George Hunter at our 50th reunion.  After seeing George recently I was able to track down a copy at the Heinz History Museum,  The book is not well written and the author tends to go off on tangents from the basic subject matter.  With that said, I will publicly state that I owe Mr. Hunter a beer at our next meeting.  This is a fascinating account of an Air Force B-25 plane crash in the Monongahela River, January 31,1956.  We were between 9 & 10 years of age when this incident happened.  I should also say that the book is based on good detective work and a lot of conjecture.  It is a very interesting read.

Closson Press    Apollo, Pennsylvania


This title came as a recent suggestion from Gayle Lentz Bina.  I have yet to read the book but on-line reviews are excellent.  The author is a Pittsburgh attorney with a New England education. Historical fiction can be a double edged sword.  It can lead to a better understanding of history but, on the other edge, an author can resort to fiction rather than research.  I promise to find a copy and give a more in depth review.

Published by Sourcebooks Landmark
Naperville, IL


This book, by journalist – author Paul King, is an interesting look at the city of Pittsburgh. Some of the chapters are things that have happened after our graduation in 64′, but all of the book either takes you back in time or contains revelations about Pittsburgh. It is well researched and well worth your time.

Published by The History Press
Charleston, SC