“In department stores, so much kitchen equipment is bought indiscriminately by people who just come in for men’s underwear.” – Julia Child

Keystone Plumbing

The business world can be treacherous and unpredictable. In the mid 19th century, the New England whaling industry was going swimmingly, you’ll excuse the pun, when along came a guy who figured out how to refine petroleum into kerosene and began selling it door to door. Whale oil lamps became kerosene lamps, the whaling boats went into drydock and a young fellow named John D. Rockefeller named his outfit Standard Oil. He had to wait for somebody to invent the car before he could really hit it big.

The Idler remembers when his mom and all the other women went to Fashion Hosiery stores to buy “stockings.” Then one day, hosiery started to show up on grocery store shelves in little egg-shaped plastic packages and within a short time there was no more Fashion Hosiery store.

Up until about a year ago there was a Keystone Plumbing store in Homestead and it wasn’t anything like the whaling industry or the hosiery business. It wasn’t like any other store you can imagine. You could buy Brazilian toothpaste, galvanized ductwork and a spool of fishing line all in one stop. Or if you needed a theme for your shopping trip, you could buy a book, reading glasses and a toilet. It didn’t have everything but the kitchen sink because it had that too. And with the sink you could buy kitchen cabinets, a colander and a set of measuring spoons. You could buy a mouse trap, rat poison, a cat collar and a dog leash. A relief valve for your water heater and freon for your water cooler. Washer parts, dryer parts and sprinkler parts. Paint, paint thinner and paint remover.


You’ll notice, now that the holidays are at our throats, that certain stores – which shall go nameless and which the Idler is by no means suggesting should be firebombed – have already been sneaking in Christmas paraphernalia displays. Keystone Plumbing didn’t need to do this. I mean, they did it practically all year round but it was beside the point. You went there to get a copper fitting to reduce a ¾” line to a ½” and while you were there, you would get a plastic glow-in-the-dark skeleton to hang in the window for Halloween. These things were part of the perpetual junk sale and didn’t really count in your estimation of the store’s mission and purpose. Or you’d go to get twenty pounds of sidewalk salt and walk out with a couple hundred feet of Christmas lights. Once some smart-aleck arranged some nearly life-size styrofoam snowmen in such a way that they appeared to be making use of all the display toilets. Management caught on within a day or so. You had to be there.

Anyway, faced with another Halloween without Keystone Plumbing, the Idler has determined that a heartfelt poem might induce the Keystone Plumbing folks to consider re-opening in the Steel Valley:

Keystone Plumbing, where are you?

You left us all so sad and blue,

We miss your bolts, we miss your nails,

We miss your ninety-nine cent sales

We miss your funny offbrand snacks,

We miss your paints and your shellacs

Where will we go for Super Glue? ,

Keystone Plumbing, where are you?

As seen in The Valley Mirror

Comments: dickverbo@hotmail.com

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