Guest Blog - My Pittsburgh Mother

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in Guest Blog

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Today's guest blog comes to us from reader Sandy Moore, who blogs at


The first time I noticed there was something a little different about my mother was when I heard her say

the word “box.”

“Hey Sand – would you mind grabbing this BAWWX? I can’t hold all this.”

I was only six, and I was well behind the curve on my potty training. You only have so many years to soil

yourself without grave repercussions, so I took a smoke-‘em-if-you-got-‘em approach . Sorry mom, you

got gamed. I knew what I was doing.

In addition, sociolinguistically, I was precocious. I quickly diagnosed that “BAWWX” was not “box.” My

father, groaning from the couch, seemed to pick up on the same thing.


“BAWWWWWWX – HELP ME WITH THIS BAWWWWWX,” he mocked, stretching the fictitious AWs as

long as his lungs would allow, as she smirked, laughed, walked past both of us and set the bawx down

without any assistance from either one of her big, strong men.


Perplexed and unhelpful as I was at the time, it couldn’t make more sense looking back on it. My

mother, a supremely friendly, unabashed Pittsburgher, was no less supremely friendly and unabashed

than any other Pittsburgher. Even though she’d moved across the state to raise her family in

Philadelphia, she’d brought her Western PA behavior in tow. The flood of cheestesteaks, irascible sports

fans and other Philadelphia clichés had cloaked her Burghness, but it hadn’t stymied it altogether. Boxes

were occasionally labeled as bawxes; Heinz was the only ketchup worth buying; the time she ran into

Lynn Swan on the street would always be her favorite one-upping story.


And it was all because she, like most other Pittsburghers, seems to have a muddled air of self-

awareness, affability and general disinterest in others’ disinterest in Pittsburgh. I realized this after I

moved out and spent four years of college in Pittsburgh, doused with roommates, friends, relatives and

strangers who’d all spent their formative years in the steel city. All of them, friendly and consciously

over-prideful as can be, made me realize what an insanely cool culture had shaped them as well as my

own mother.


Ultimately, I guess the point of all this is to reach out to other displaced Pittsburgh moms: don’t

ever lose touch with your roots. Someday, your child will grow to appreciate your passions and

idiosyncrasies. And until then, go easy on him when he can’t get the hang of the big boy toilet. Some of

us work a little slower than others.



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