When We Were Tomboys: An Allegheny Memoir

Author ORCID Identifier


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Janet Eldred


My parents were high school sweethearts in 1950s small-town America who became first generation college students. Passionately in love, they prospered as newlyweds in Pittsburgh thanks to my father’s position at Univac, which he earned through his math degree and football stardom at Pitt. But fate was unkind to them in their early years of marriage, which included the births of two disabled children, two deaths, and bankruptcy.

As my father’s new career in real estate flourished back in their hometown of Indiana, Pa., and my mother cared for my severely disabled sister, I evolved from a tomboy in our suburban neighborhood to a teenage golfer and basketball player who eventually gave up sports in search of bohemian friends and experiences.

In my thirties I found myself with two young sons in a place as unified around its sports teams as I had experienced in my Allegheny childhood. In Lexington, Kentucky, overseeing my son’s athletic endeavors and bonding with him as fans of Big Blue Nation felt like a family inheritance of sports as a language of love.

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