Cathy Gamble, Pittsburgh Schools crossing guard, is a memorable fixture in Lawrenceville.
Cathy Gamble, Pittsburgh Schools crossing guard, is a memorable fixture in Lawrenceville.

The Pittsburgh region is rich in memorable characters. With so many folks returning home for the Thanksgiving holiday and remembering all over again why they love this place, I thought I’d give video props (see below) to one of my favorites: Cathy Gamble, crossing guard at the corner of 44th and Butler Streets in Lawrenceville.

A few years ago, I happened to be sitting behind the wheel of my car at the interminably long traffic light there, growing increasingly cranky as the seconds hung in the air. I was late (as always) for some appointment (early morning — worse and worse) in Oakland. The chirpy “good mornings” brought my attention from the drizzly horizon to the figure of a woman clad in an ankle-length bright yellow raincoat, flitting from corner to corner, white-gloved hands locomoting to some joyous, transportation-driven rhythm that was lost on me.

“What’s she got to be so damned happy about?” I thought. The red light beamed on, and my irritation gave way to wonderment: this lady is over the top. An unknown name is no barrier to a cheery greeting: “Hi, Honey-on-the-Bike!” ” ‘Morning, Honey-with-the-Dog!”  Kisses blown to the grizzled occupants of a racketing Department of Public Works pickup truck.

Cathy’s good cheer breaks down defenses and is contagious. In falling under her spell, I’m hardly alone; parents go out of their way to bring their kids to Cathy’s corner. We caught up with her a few weeks ago to find out why she’s so chipper, heedless of wind and weather.


Cathy also tends bar a few nights a week at Nied’s Hotel in Upper Lawrenceville. That place is a whole ‘nother story that we’ll share with you at a later date.