Week XVIII Part 2: Shrines, Temples, and Basements

January 12th, 2005

Week XVIII Part 2: Shrines, Temples, and Basements

Besides reflecting, I also took many pictures during the playoff bye. My side project lead me to personal shrines, temples and basements devoted to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The pictures in this gallery were actually taken at three different locations during the course of a few weeks, but they reside in Week 18 because there is space.

When Cathy DiRocco was a young girl, her father took her to her first Steelers game at Pitt Stadium. The program she saved from that game against the NY Giants now hangs in her Steeler Shrine. Unlinke other shrines I’ve seen, Cathy’s game room in North Huntington, PA is unique. With very few exceptions, she collects items only from the Dynasty era. Every item has a respectful place in her home. They are framed and placed appropriately. Cathy has met many of the players at charity events over the years, and she has a higher level of respect for the players because she knows they are also great men off the field. Recently she has added a new jersey to her collection. She believes that Ben Roethlisberger will become a player of the same caliber as Bradshaw, and adding his jersey to her shine is the greatest compliment he could get.

Randy Gajewski has turned his home in Johnstown, PA into a temple. A few years ago he decided to gut the house and turn it into a place devoted to the Black and Gold. He turned his living room into a bar and devoted his bathroom to football. He lives upstairs, but on game days he invites his friends over (BYOB) to watch the Steelers play. This temple is not a solemn place for reflection, but a place for revelry, and countless photographs of Randy’s friends line the walls as proof. Along with live music from the Desperadoes, he also offers the spectacle of a burning opponent’s jersey before every game. You won’t miss the house if you drive around Johnstown, but you will need an invitation to join the party.

Rich and Debbi Kenney are the curators of the Black and Gold Basement. I was invited to attend their 5th B&G Basement Championship Tailgate Party, but due to heavy snow, the party was postponed. Luckily I visited Rich and Debbi at their home in Valencia, PA before the party was cancelled, and got to spent some time in their gold hued basement. The Kenney’s basement is a very personal space. It contains the B+G Office, the B+G Bedroom, the B+G Bathroom, and the B+G Piano. Black and Gold are woven into their lives and their home. The memorabilia that lines the walls is very intimate because it chronicles the moments that Rich and Debbi have spent together supporting the Steelers. They recently renovated the basement, and now live down there. But besides being a private space, the basement was created to bring people together. Next time they have a party, I hope I get invited back. Hopefully I will be able to join the Inner Sanctum and finally taste some Steelers Chili.

Many thanks to Cathy, Randy, Rich and Debbi for welcoming me into their lives and homes.

Final Outcome: Steelers Playoff Bye

Week XVIII Part 2: Shrines, Temples, and Basements

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