Mailman walked the Hill like Teenie

March 8, 2012 12:01 am

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"1806 Wylie Avenue,'' he says, standing before a photo of Harry Bobo, the heavyweight boxer. "He eventually became a bartender on Liberty Avenue.''

Charley Burley, the great middleweight who won 83 fights, 50 by knockouts, was another photo subject and another drinking buddy of Joe Horne's. In his day, Burley "was so good nobody wanted to fight him,'' Joe said, but by the time Joe knew him he was a sanitation worker. "A very nice man."

Joe didn't know Teenie Harris well, but he saw him often on the streets, always with a camera. The man was a bit aloof, at least to Joe, but maybe one has to be to record the particular and unique beauties of a sprawling neighborhood, one photo at a time.

"2178 Centre Avenue,'' Joe says when we get to a shot of Walter Hamm, owner of Hamm's Barbershop, wearing a long shearling coat and standing in front of his Cadillac, circa 1973.

"He had all kinds of business. All kinds of business.''

Joe's old route isn't what it once was. Some of the streets we walked in 1990 are now part of Crawford Square, the hugely successful, tree-lined housing development poised to stretch toward Downtown once the Civic Arena disappears.

Joe, who lives in Dormont, is a widower. His wife Dorothy died in the summer of 2006, but his son Joe and his old postal buddies -- Keith Medved, Jeff Snyder and Dom Fratangelo -- "make sure that I get out of the house.''

Nina Simone, Eartha Kitt, Roberto Clemente, Josh Gibson -- they and so many of the other lesser-known people Teenie Harris shot are gone now. But, Joe says, "One nice thing about getting old is that you can reminisce.''

Not that memories are everything. Elsewhere in the museum, we pass a color shot of a bikini model in the fountain at Katz Plaza, and I think I hear some disappointment when he chuckles, "She wasn't on my route.''

First Published 2012-03-07 23:33:38

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