Pitt Magazine Homepage Table of
Contents

THE TUCK SHOP

39TH FLOOR REDUX

In a recent issue of Pitt Magazine (March '94), we wrote of the Cathedral's missing 39th Floor. For some strange reason, the 38th Floor is one story below the 40th Floor. We are happy to report that the floor has been found, thanks to Faculty of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Merle Moskowitz (Arts and Sciences '50):

I just wanted you to know that I found the 39th floor of the Cathedral many years ago. It is used now almost entirely for storage, and, like all old storage rooms, it's a grand place for browsing.

In one corner is the Alldred Room from the sixth floor with its high-backed leather armchairs and footstools, and its tall bookcases filled with recent novels, plays, mysteries, collections of short fiction and popular nonfiction, all sensibly arranged for casual exploration and sampling. In another corner is the original Tuck Shop with fresh-made egg, ham, and tuna salad sandwiches, milkshakes, and pies that taste like they were baked this morning by the motherly women working behind the counter. In one of the booths sit a couple of men taking a break from running the manual elevators in the Cathedral. There's old Bill who knows by name all the faculty and half of the students he ferries up and down the elevators every day.

It's winter, so there's the fireplace from the Commons Room with its blazing log fire. Nearby is the long table with samovars of hot tea, silver sugar bowls and creamers, glass cups and saucers, a plate of cookies, and thin slices of lemon. Tea is being poured by young ladies trained in the hostess arts by the Dean of Women who stands nearby, smiling approval. Not far from her is her 12th-floor office, formally arranged despite its abundance of chintz.

There's the 39th floor, cozily tucked away in memory, and always available for a stroll on dreary days. For many of us, it is easily accessible, but for most, it is sadly lost forever.

SECRET LIFE: THE DIRT ON THE CATHEDRAL

People have different reactions to the Cathedral of Learning. Some are awed; some would like to spit off the top; and some would like to clean the very dirty exterior stone.

But wait -- don't clean it yet. Under a grant from the National Park Service, scientists from Pitt and CMU are conducting experiments into the dirtification of the Cathedral -- how and where and why the dirt occurred. Using Teflon-coated aluminum plates and pollution sensors (hidden from sight so as not to disturb the aesthetic view), the researchers hope to track how the climate and pollution sources combine to do their dirty work -- in other words, re-enacting the scene of the grime. To aid in their study, the researchers are also asking the public for old, close-up photographs of the Cathedral so they can see what parts of the building became sooty first.

So just what in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks does the dirt on the Cathedral have to do with the National Park Service?

The study is an extension of one first performed at the battlefield at Gettysburg. Why, the Park Service wanted to know, were the limestone monuments turning black? Experiments showed the answer: sulfur dioxide, a common pollutant, lands on the monument's calcium carbonate surface, forming calcium sulfate. This chemical reaction leaves tiny grooves and holes in the exterior. Carbon from coal combustion and diesel exhaust then find a home in these little pockets, and soon a monument to the Blue & Gray is all black. The stone can be cleaned, but the process costs money, and repeated cleanings damage the surface. By studying the Cathedral (which has never been cleaned), the Park Service hopes to confirm this carbon-process theory and begin looking for ways of delaying the formation of the dirty surface.

If only we could get the Park Service to study how junk piles up in the back of the car. - Mark Collins

GIMME A BURGER AND A COKE

Number of hamburgers served in residence halls and Schenley Cafe during the 1993-94 school year: 128,700

Gallons of Coca-Cola: 64,000

DO YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT?

Pounds of french fries served in residence halls and Schenley Cafe during the 1993-94 school year: 78,000

"YOU COULDN'T BE MORE NEEDED"

Excerpts from Pulitzer Prize-winning author (and Pittsburgh native) David McCullough's commencement speech to the Class of '94:

The time is mid-afternoon in the month of May, in the year 1994, so near the close of this tumultuous twentieth century, and over the horizon, a new and unknown century, the name of which will take some getting used to. The place is Pittsburgh, where the Monongahela meets the Allegheny to form the mighty Ohio....Your own Cathedral of Learning towers over Oakland still as it has since it was built. It rose out of the 1930s, out of the depths of the Great Depression, let us not forget, a symbol of affirmation to a city especially hard-hit by hard times.

The University that once, in the 1890s heyday of the steel barons, enrolled 95 upperclassmen, today, in the 1990s, graduates 5,000 men and women. And as my parents' generation would have found unimaginable, the University has replaced the steel empire as the largest employer in the city, while its economic impact on the community overall is greater than even the statistics suggest....

Bold innovation is a Pitt tradition. As the Cathedral of Learning, a university concept like no other, became a symbol of affirmation in the dark times of the 1930s, let it be so again now, when so much that we hold dear about American life is at stake. Let's do something about it.

In that spirit, I say to you of the Class of 1994, you who are going on to graduate school in order to pursue careers in the professions, you who will enter directly in the work force, you couldn't be more welcome, you couldn't be more needed.

Be generous. Give of yourself. Have the courage of your convictions. And whatever path you take, whatever your work, enjoy it -- because, for one thing, if you're happy, you'll think better. On you go!


Pitt Magazine Homepage Table of
Contents