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Rust Belt Boy: Stories of an American Childhood

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  74 ratings  ·  14 reviews
These stories are specific to one legendary riverfront plateau and one boy s journey, but are emblematic of immigrant life and blue-collar aspirations during the heyday of American industry and its crash, foreshadowing one of the largest internal migrations in U.S. history.
Approximately six million baby boomers, like the narrator, fled the Rust Belt. Another six million r
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Bauhan Pub
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Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a winner! Paul has written a memoir that explains this region in Pennsylvania as much as filling in the intriguing personal details of his life. I was there with the family at McDonald's on payday, fighting for a spot in the crowded (5 children!) station wagon to eat the coveted cheeseburger and shake. Paul's family were Catholics, and the Church was woven well into the fabric of this story. I really liked the positive effect that Paul's dad had on the family. A great read and would spark s ...more
Jeffrey Reynolds
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Hertneky has written a story that is uniquely his own, but that will resonate with anyone who lived in the industrial regions of the country. Although my own experience growing up in another small town in the surrounds of Pittsburgh - which was built around steel, coal and glass - varies in many ways from Paul's, the core of life he describes in the shadow of heavy industry is a shared memory. This is a bittersweet trip through the halcyon days of a once powerful manufacturing empire, until its ...more
Peter Biello
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The sense of place Hertneky creates here is strong and the history as he tells it is rich. Here's my conversation with Hertneky on NHPR: ...more
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
good read, especially if you're from the 'Burgh (and particularly if you spent any of your youth in Ambridge & Beaver County). sometimes the sentences were a bit long and cumbersome, and I surely could have done without all the waxing poetic about college sex (pardon me, 'lovemaking' ::barf::), but I enjoyed the book. hertneky really captured the experiences of growing up in a mill town, with working class parents. all the mentions of butter & onions warmed this Ukrainian yinzer's heart. ...more
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very good memoir on life in Ambridge, PA. I specially liked all the history on the steel mills. My favorite was chapter 8: The Nation's First Economy. Well worth reading if one wants to understand immigrant life and perseverance.

"Pennsylvania adverted itself as a haven for religious expression, and separatists of vetting stripes came in droves - Quakers, Shakers, Mennonites, Harmonists, and others. Within ten years of arriving in Philadelphia and forging their way to the frontier, they had bui
Howard Mansfield
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Paul Hertneky’s hometown, Ambridge, Pa., contained multitudes: big steel works with Bessemer furnaces firing right on a main street, immigrant workers, labor strife, and a forgotten past that includes George Washington and a wildly successful utopia. In this affectionate memoir, Hertneky delivers Ambridge’s heart and soul, and proves that the discovery of America is never ending.
Joyce Derenas
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had the pleasure of hearing you read at the Seven Bridge Writers Collaborative in Lancaster, MA and bought your new book. Oh how I loved it.

Shall I tell you what I loved:

the way it smelled, sometimes pungent enough to make my filling hurt. (page 25)
Rust meant abandonment (page 26)
how sweat pushed through the petroleum jelly on my arms and hands on July afternoons (page 28)
Every day I battled oxidation - ravages of the past (page 29)I h ave come to see rust as a weathered narrative (page 31)
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The author's American childhood was spent in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, where I more or less lived for three years. I arrived there after the collapse of the steel industry, so I really enjoyed reading about times when the mills were in operation. Hertneky writes about immigration from Eastern Europe (his family and others), growing up in a mill town, and the power of owners, union leaders, bosses, public office holders, and lawyers. Ambridge is a pretty interesting place, all right.

I wasn't always
Kathy Nealen
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I decided to read this memoir, I knew it would be about growing up in a small town near Pittsburgh but I had no idea it would be Ambridge! Located in Beaver County just like my hometown. As a male with experience in the steel mills, the author had exposure to elements of the local culture that I could only observe. I have to admit to being a bit envious that he got his own individual fries at McDonalds. In my family we bought a large fries order and had to share it when we had the luxury of ...more
Shayna Ross
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you relate to growing up in western PA, then you will understand the deeper meaning behind Hertneky's words and why the history of steel mills is so crucial to the Pittsburgh landscape. An improved review to come.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Paul Hertneky's memoir is by an experienced, witty writer who covers his life from childhood growing up in a steel mill town close to Pittsburgh, until adulthood. I enjoyed reading his story.
Julie Barrett
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rust Belt Boy Stories of an American Childhood by Hertnecky_ Paul
Industrial north who grew up near mills and steel mines in PA among so many immigrants from many different countries.
Some of the same memories growing up, catholic schools, JFK, being outside.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you grew up in Ambridge or the Pittsburgh area, this is a fun read. Author grew up near Ridge Rd School. Learned some new things about the Ambridge and Economy area.
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