By Chet Dudzinski
The students from the Upper St. Clair High School Class of 2013 are well on their way to establishing careers and families and making their mark. In 1994, as the publishers of UPPER ST. CLAIR TODAY birthed their own baby, this class had yet to enter the world. What was happening around us as they became our future? Let’s take a look.
For mothers of the Class of 2013, January births were a chilling experience. The Polar Vortex of 2019 was the little baby brother to the historical weather in January 1994. A cold wave impacted theentire midwestern and eastern U.S. and southern Canada, with two notable cold air events occurring from January 18 to 22. While in January 2019 the lowest recorded temperature was minus five degrees Fahrenheit over a two-day span, the high temperature in Pittsburgh in 1994 was negative three degrees, with a record-setting negative 22 degrees, which remains a record low in the region.
Tragedy struck the Pittsburgh area. On September 8, 1994, USAir Flight 427 from Chicago to Pittsburgh crashed, when attempting to maneuver a landing after experiencing a wake from another craft. All 132 people aboard perished, including, sadly, ten Upper St. Clair residents—Robert Connelly, Bernard Koch, Paul McSherry, Davick Musick, Lee Weaver, and the entire Earl and Kathleen Weaver family, including their children Bryan (16), Lindsey (11), and Scott (7). Strangely, the Weavers were returning home from a family funeral.
How do you keep a Millennial away from an iPhone? In 1994, it was easy; it was not yet invented! The iPhone would not be introduced until 2008, when the Class of 2013 was entering their budding teenage years. In fact, in 1994, there were only 24 million cell phone subscribers in the U.S., compared to today’s estimated 265 million subscribers that represent approximately 75% of the entire country’s population. The gadget itself, with its extended antenna and weighing about a pound, featured little to no functionality, other than to make a phone call. And you’d better talk fast; aone-minute call cost about a dollar! Emailing was an emerging thing in 1994, while texting, or short messaging service (SMS), was still on the drawing board and invented a year later. Also in 1994, the World Wide Web was born, known today as the Internet.
Pop culture presented compelling stories in 1994 and included the names Tanya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan, and OJ Simpson. At the U.S. figure skating championships, Harding’s ex-husband and others attacked Kerrigan, preventing her from skating, effectively giving the title (later rescinded) to Harding. Perhaps nothing tops the Simpson 60-mile “slow-speed chase” down Los Angeles highways and the following murder charges lodged against the Heisman Trophy-winning football running back. In 1994, the marriage of Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson occurred, which lasted two years. Hollywood offered some memorable movie classics, including The Shawshank Redemption, Forest Gump, The Lion King, and for those with different tastes, Dumb and Dumber.
Certain political events captured our attention. President Bill Clinton began his first full year in office in 1994 and was welcomed by the Republicans’ “Contract with America.” In other notable elections, Rudy Giuliani became mayor of New York, andin the first multi-racial election in the history of South Africa, Nelson Mandela pledged full racial integration as the first non-white president of that country.
While the Pittsburgh sports scene offered promise, no championships resulted as TODAY became the “official publication of the Township and School District of Upper St. Clair.” The Penguins had a successful regular season, finishing with the second best record in the Eastern Conference. Mario Lemieux was limited to playing only 22 games that year due to recovery from injury, surgery, and cancer. The Penguins were eliminated by the Washington Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Pirates hosted the All-Star Game at old Three Rivers Stadium, but that was the highlight of their season. As the Pirates achieved a 53-61 record, a players’ strike cancelled the rest of the season, which remains the longest work stoppage in baseball history. The Steelers rode high in the regular season and had the best record in the American Football Conference at 12–4. San Diego denied the Steelers a trip to the Super Bowl that year, as the Chargers won 37–34 at Three Rivers Stadium.
In the 25 years since the inception of TODAY, thousands of students have graduated from USC, and residents have been informed and entertained by the publication. And while the magazine’s main focus is on our own community, these local, national, and international experiences have impacted all of us and are reminders of where we have been. In another 25 years, perhaps, stories of today will continue to impact the Upper St. Clair High School Class of 2037.
First appeared on pages 18 and 94 of the Summer 2019 issue.