Week VII: Good Bye to Chiodo’s Tavern

October 24th, 2004

Week VII: Good Bye to Chiodo’s Tavern

Football binds the hearts of countless men. For anyone who ever played football, it is hard to pass a Sunday without feeling a sense of nostalgia. The emotions that rise when men watch or talk about football run deeper than just “the good old days.” If you grew up in a house devoted to football, like I did, then your childhood television changed from Saturday morning cartoons to college football and the pigskin ran until Sunday night. My Sunday afternoons were punctuated by my father’s excited cheers or table-pounding disappointment. Perhaps you spent the day on your grandfather’s left knee, while he kept an Iron City beer on his right knee. For some men, both young and old, football is the only thing that can bring them together. Football is a shared experience, and every week I meet a young boy who is coming to his first Steelers game with his father. This is the part of football that most women overlook. Our nostalgia includes those quiet, memorable moments of life spent with the men we looked up to. At some level, the amazing touchdown catch brings the chill of nostalgia rushing back, and all at once we are living both in the roar of the moment and the quiet of the past.

The bye week offered some time for rest and reflection. So I have been searching for the past, trying to give nostalgia a face. During the bye week I paid a visit to Joe Chiodo at his Homestead landmark Chiodo’s Tavern (107 West 8th Avenue). Inside you find the past frozen and dusty. At the base of the Homestead Hi-level Bridge you can find a ghost of Homestead’s glory when it was the Steel Capital of the World. Chiodo’s opened in 1947 and will soon close to make way for a Walgreens. Until recently Joe Chiodo, 86 years old, had 36 season tickets for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He took friends and patrons to all the games. He took boys who had never left Homestead to see the Steelers play in other cities like Chicago and Cleveland. His face was pictured on a 1992 season ticket. But that was then.

He recently transferred away all his tickets to patrons. He says he hasn’t seen a Steelers game in three years and no longer opens the bar on Sundays. You have to ask yourself, what could possibly make a man get rid of 36 season tickets for the Pittsburgh Steelers? When Heinz Field was built all the season ticket holders got moved around. Some people made out okay, others didn’t. As Joe tells it he got moved to “peanut heaven” which is no place for an eight-six year old. He asked the Steelers to try to resolve the problem but after a few seasons without a resolution, he just gave up. He holds no grudge against the players but he obviously feels betrayed enough that he won’t watch anymore.

Now nostalgia brings with it the feeling that the past was better than the present, but it should be asked, how far can fans, specially the diehard fans, be pushed before they lose their loyalty? It may be “just a game” but it is about money at some level. I have noticed a general feeling among many true fans that their loyalty is being exploited so that someone else can make more money. I’m not qualified to really report on how deep or wide this resentment is but I do think it is worth noting that the fans feel they deserve a little more respect. The Steelers fans may be an income generating machine, but if abused their loyalty would be gone forever.

For the time being, the walls of Joe Chiodo’s bar still reflect many happy memories. Stop by and have beer, before the past is gone forever.

Bye Week


Additional reading:

Auctioneer makes last call at th legendary Chiodo’s Tavern

Obituary: Joe Chiodo

Week VII: Good Bye to Chiodo’s Tavern

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