The Flames of Autumn in Pittsburgh

by Regis Boff

Some of us grew up in a different Pittsburgh. There was an enchanting indifference to polluted air, bicycle concussions, and sugar butter white bread sandwiches. Autumn always brought leaf burning. Our fathers would outdo each other assembling their backyard bonfires. I can still hear the crackling of parachuting flames rising high on uncalculated windy days. The sounds of my fall were racing fire engines and the desperate, muffled whimpers of men trying to beat down the brush fires they had earlier deliberately dosed with gasoline. Always with light wooden rakes. Every year some idiot would burn down his neighbor’s house. We would run to watch and stay all day.