Alumni Interview: Jack Markowitz
What was your experience at Allderdice like?
Well, all the students knew that it was a very good school then. There were a lot of excellent teachers, and the students performed well in general. I remember we had a really great principal Mr. McClymonds. He really knew all the students and personally took them down to assemblies. I always loved the assemblies because we had organizations like the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra perform at school. The acting troupe from Carnegie Tech, now CMU, performed “The Taming of the Shrew,” and it really made Shakespeare enjoyable for the students.
What do you regret the most about your time in high school?
I really did not take advantage of all the opportunities that were available at Allderdice. There were so many music classes I could have taken. There were five orchestras, five bands, and even five choruses, but I never took the chance to learn an instrument. I really regret that.
What is the most memorable aspect of your time at Allderdice?
You know, when you have good teachers, you tend to remember them. I still recall the names of the best teachers. The greatest advanced English teachers were Ms. Riddle and Ms. Hartz. There was also Wesley Wagner, Ph.D. who taught advanced algebra and trigonometry, I think. We called him Doc Wagner and he was the most popular math teacher because he was such an excellent teacher. The chemistry teacher Lon Colborn taught regular courses but also offered advanced chemistry classes, which was unusual for high schools during my time. I met him many years later—he was nearly 100 years old by then—and wrote an article in the Tribune-Review about him. He told me that over the years, he had about 400 students take his advanced chemistry class, and he was always proud that more than 100 received either M.D.s or Ph.D.s. One of the history teachers Dr. Quattrochi, Ph.D. would take his students out to local radio stations where they would prepare and deliver their own news broadcasts. The teachers were outstanding because they provided those extra opportunities for their students.
How did you become interested in journalism?
I unfortunately did not take advantage of writing for The Foreword staff at Allderdice. My interest in journalism began in college, at the University of Pittsburgh, when I was writing for The Pitt News. I actually was at Allderdice when Myron Cope wrote for the sports section of The Foreword and when he was writing for The Pitt News. I eventually became the managing editor at Pitt, but I left college before earning my degree.
Were you able to find a job in journalism easily?
Back then, it wasn’t vital to have a college degree to get a job in news. I started out in an entry level job as a copy boy for New York Daily Times for a year. I was allowed to write some articles for them, even as a copy boy. I was then able to get work as a news reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News. After 10 years there, I moved back to Pittsburgh where I was the business editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 12 years. In the beginning of 1979, I worked as the business editor at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review until I retired after 18 years there. For the past 15 years, I’ve just been writing a business column for the Tribune Review. If you live long enough, you end up having a really long career!
What advice do you have for current Allderdice students?
I certainly would advise them to be involved in the activities that are available at school. Whether they plan on going on to college or not, spending time on activities are worthwhile, whether that means sports, or debate, or music. I would say that young people should be involved in music for sure because it will be so valuable to them later in life. I really think that music is an important hobby to have, whether they are interested in classical or popular music. All five of my daughters attended Allderdice from the late 50s through the 1960s and into the 1970s. I think they all felt the same way that I did: that Allderdice was, and still is, an excellent school. It has always been such a wonderful school.