Labor Legacy Link Added

Duquesne Below Tracks Salopek A Puskarich E
Duquesne, Pennsylvania “below the tracks” during the mid-1930’s. Pictured are Tony Salopek of Duquesne, Allegheny, Pennsylvania and Edward J. Puskaric, Sr. of Chicago, Cooke, Illinois.

In commemoration of Labor Day weekend, I want to add a couple of links to the “Duquesne Croatians” Tab on this website. Beginning in 1999 The University of Pittsburgh developed a website entitled Labor Legacy, which they completed in 2003. Those of us who are interested in the lives of our fore-bearers who worked the steel mills around Pittsburgh should take a gander and reminisce.

Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania Labor Legacy

While I was searching the internet to identify faces in my most recent post, I came across a database within the Labor Legacy website which includes names and basic information about people who worked at the National Tube Plant in McKeesport, Pennsylvania during the 1940’s.

National Tube Co., U.S. Steel National Works, McKeesport, PA

Look! New Photo Added

Unknown Croatian Wedding #5
Unknown Duquesne Croatian Wedding Photo, submitted by Eric Gerstbrein.

I have added another wedding photo to my collection of  Duquesne Croatian Marriages, Pre – 1950s.  This photo was submitted to me by Eric Gerstbrein who is trying to break down several brick walls in his Croatian genealogy.  Please help him gather a few more clues by studying the photo and commenting if you recognize any faces.  Eric is the grandson of Matthew (Mato) Draskovich and  Antoinette (Tonka) Magdic Draskovich who are in this photo.  Tonka is wearing the dark dress to the bride’s right, and Mato is behind her in the slightly lighter colored suit. According to Eric, his grandmother Tonka was born in 1907 and came back to the US possibly in 1927. He guesses the photo to be between 1930-1940. The bride and groom are unknown at this time.  Please help identify them if you can!  Thank you!


Remember Scottish Day at Kennywood and Green Gables

Clan Grant Pipe Band, Courtesy of James Stirling, 2017

Back when I was a kid, and long before I had a Scottish surname, we enjoyed the cadence of pipes and drums permeating through Kennywood Park every year on Scottish day. Inevitably we would end up at Green gables across the street for some tasty meat pies. My family was not the only one with such memories. James Stirling read my page About Green Gables and shared some memories of his own. I am delighted to share them with you via an excerpt he sent me from the Stirling/Robb Family History! Click Here and Enjoy!

Grandma’s Chicken – Comforting Generations


There’s a form of human radar that detects the connection between nippy nights, shortened days, creeping spiders, and a tremendous craving for comfort food – the way Mom used to make it.  Breaded chicken has been our family’s comfort food of choice for generations beginning well before my birth when Grandma Salopek served it to her family for Sunday dinner.  I’m sure she also served it to special guests, extended family, and to the boarders she housed for so many years below the tracks in Duquesne.    She loved to cook and would often begin the much anticipated meal with homemade chicken soup and dumplings followed by: salata with vinegar and oil, mashed potatoes smothered in butter, fresh corn, and breaded chicken baked to perfection.  Without fail, dessert was always some sort of strudel.

For some reason the strudel-making gene was not passed on, to me at least, but I have done my best to profusely spread the love of breaded chicken to future generations.  Interestingly each family adapts the recipe with their own modern twist.  Whether it’s made with lean chicken breasts, savory chicken thighs or bite-sized chicken nuggets is up to the taste buds of each family. One daughter crushes milk-free croutons in the food processor to make her own bread crumbs.  This is reminiscent of my mother making her own bread crumbs back in the 1960s and 70s.  Mom would race over to Duquesne Village Shopping Center whenever white bread was on sale for 10 cents a loaf and grab as many loaves as she could.  She cubed all those loaves of bread and laid them out to dry on a cookie sheet.   When it was time to make crumbs from the dried bread, she would use a hand meat grinder that attached to the kitchen table.  She cranked out enough bread crumbs for a year’s worth of Sunday dinners!


Grandma, of course, didn’t use a recipe, but here are the basic steps to cook up a little comfort for your family. Amounts of ingredients are approximate, but there should be enough of each ingredient to make a cookie sheet sized baking pan with one layer of chicken pieces.  You may need to adjust the amounts to accommodate your taste and the size of chicken pieces used.

Flour Mixture:  

2-cup flour

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

2 tsp. sugar

Egg Mixture: 

4 beaten eggs

1/2 cup milk

Bread Crumbs:

2 cups

Rinse chicken pieces. Put a thin layer of oil across the bottom of a baking pan.

Prepare chicken, one piece at a time in the following order:

  1. Completely cover chicken piece with the flour mixture.
  2. Completely cover floured piece of chicken with the egg mixture.
  3. Completely cover floured/egged piece of chicken with breadcrumbs.

Place each breaded chicken part onto the oiled pan as it is prepared.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, turning once.  If making smaller chicken nuggets, decrease the time to approximately 40 minutes, turning once half way through baking.

Reminder: Always use food safety guidelines when handling and cooking chicken —


Thinking about My Dad’s Old Haunt

Yours Truly sipping soda at Green Gables with owners Pete and Mary Loncaric. Circa 1965
Yours Truly sipping soda at Green Gables with owners Pete and Mary Loncaric. Circa 1965

Feeling nostalgic today.  Maybe it is a combination of Kennywood’s annual Croatian Day and thinking about Duquesne, my Dad’s birthplace and childhood home.  He passed away last year over the Labor Day weekend which probably stirs all three memories into one big whirlwind. Whatever the motivation, I realize a blog about Duquesne Croatians would not be complete without recognizing Green Gables and the Loncaric family as major contributors to Duquesne past.  Read about it here….

Franjo Salopek’s Face Identified

Franjo and Bara Salopek of Duquesne, PA are seated next to the bride and groom in this photo.
Franjo and Bara Salopek of Duquesne, PA are seated next to the bride and groom in this photo.

I am always excited when someone identifies a face in one of the Croatian Marriage photos posted on this site!  Recently Mary Ann was able to identify her grandfather, Franjo Salopek, as the man with a mustache seated next to the bride in the photo above.  I am quite certain that his wife Bara is the woman seated on the right, next to the groom.  This is especially exciting to me, because the bride and groom happen to be my grandparents!

Franjo was born 15 June 1878 in Ogulin, Croatia.  He was previously married to a woman named Anna until her death in 1917.  The couple had five children: Tomo, Mijo, Anton, Josip, and Mate.  A photo of their son Tom’s marriage to Cecelia Machek is also included on the Croatian Marriages page.

Franjo and his second wife Bara had four children: Mary, Manda, Agnes and John.  According to the 1930 and 1940 United States Census records, the couple resided below the tracks at 28 Superior Street, Duquesne.  After the steel mill expansion in 1941 they resided at 218 North 1st Street, Duquesne – next door to my grandparents! Thank you, Mary Ann!

Bekavac Faces Identified

Salopek Wedding -- Bekavac crop for pja websiteA family living an ocean away from Duquesne found an old photo that helped identify two faces in the wedding party of my grandparents, Anthony Joseph Salopek and Catherine Ann Kučinić. The faces belong to my great-aunt Frances Salopek Bekavac and her husband Mate Bekavac.  Can you identify anyone in the Duquesne Croatians Wedding Photos posted on this site?  Please contact me if you can!  Thanks Marina for your investigative work — and for the photo!

Eureka! — I found it!

RTdLokLT9It is always exciting when I find something interesting about Duquesne in old newspapers.  But, when I encounter a piece of information that I actually have been searching for, it is even more exhilarating! Recently I discovered the location of Duquesne’s “original” Croatian Hall, so I must share my discovery with all of you.  Can you guess where it was?  Read the article as see for yourself!  Lost Croatian Hall — Found!

Fireworks and Croatian Sluggers Post

MIke Spanitz for articlePicnics, fireworks, and baseball season in full swing — I just couldn’t resist researching an article about the Duquesne Croatians baseball team! Did they really exist?  For how many seasons? Were they any good? I don’t consider myself a sports writer, so please excuse any stylistic faux pas.  Just enjoy my latest article Fireworks and Croatian Sluggers for what it is, and Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July!