It Still Looks Like a Baby Boom to Me
It is my suspicion that while deaths may outnumber births, this does not mean that there is any shortage of births, but merely a remarkable number of older residents dying off. And, since Pittsburgh has an enormous number of state-of-the-art hospitals, I suspect the city also draws in a lot of patients who live elsewhere but die here.
The Pittsburgh I know is so overrun with infant life that I firmly expect a flipflop in the near future, similar to that which Julia tells me has occurred in the Czech Republic: when I was in Prague, politicians lamented the lack of births but you saw babies everywhere, and now they admit there is a baby boom.
Why do I think Pittsburgh (or parts of it) is crawling with preschool-age children? Well, sit in Tazza d'Oro any day of the week, pretty much any time of day, and you'll see a constant parade of strollers, babes-in-arms, and children old enough to race back and forth shrieking with high spirits. There is a small sign at the counter stating that "Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten" but I haven't seen any children who aren't nominally attached to an adult, only those who give the impression of being unattended. I keep meaning to make a count and see whether there are usually more than ten babies and toddlers per hour, or if it just seems that way sometimes.
Since Tazza d'Oro is a magnet for so many neighborhood parents and grandparents, I should not have been surprised that the Highland Park annual neighborhood garage sale was a bit of a disappointment for the non-parents among us. Practically every participating household was getting rid of baby and young-child gear. Almost the only things I ended up buying were lemonade and baked goods sold by entrepreneurs under ten. (Baked goods = excellent, lemonade = awfully watered-down but still thirst-quenching.) Yes, there were places here and there selling furniture and miscellaneous goods, and in a few cases I did see things I might have bought if I hadn't expected to move in a year, but on the whole the non-childhood items were not that numerous and not that much to my taste.
Getting out of my own neighborhood, which after all could be an anomaly, the other day I observed no less than six prams and strollers (some of them twin-sized), plus some preschoolers, all out for air on Ellsworth as I biked to school. The day before I hadn't been counting but did notice a parade of strollers that included one triplet version. I assume that particular display was courtesy of a daycare center but the others seemed to be individual mothers and babysitters.
Let's not forget that the baby-goods store on the corner of Negley and Penn is not only thriving but getting a new and handsomer coat of paint (I am waiting for it to get rid of the dreadful signage of the baby pulling open a musical diaper, but I don't expect that to happen anytime soon).
And, of course, the bus is always full of babies and children under ten. Lately there has been a rise in pregnant women on the bus as well.
All of this infant-life had the unpleasant effect that I recently dreamt I was moving back into a college dormitory that had been redecorated with Winnie-the-Pooh carpeting in the hall and where I noticed an empty triplet stroller parked outside my door. Um, I like Winnie-the-Pooh as much as the next person, but this still struck me as nightmarish.