Pat Shingleton: "Mast Arms and Wiffle-Ball Memories"
During my younger years, the backyard was the playground as our house was situated on almost an acre of land. Adjacent yards were just as spacious, providing additional length to a football field or baseball diamond. There were no fences, only an occasional grape arbor on the edge of the property along with pear, peach, apple, walnut and butternut trees. Back then, it was a real treat to play fast-pitch "wiffle ball" underneath the outdoor spotlights in Tom Minett's backyard. The clear, western Pennsylvania summer evenings also provided another advantage - star shows. Using the lawn chair, chase lounge, a blanket or even on top of the picnic table, we would view the stars and constellations and miles away from the illuminating lights of Pittsburgh. The conversation on those August evenings would revolve around the Pittsburgh Pirates, the make and model of car heading down Brighton Road and the unfortunate start of school. The Mast Arm is a system of steel posts and arms that are anchored in concrete, 12-feet deep and are built to withstand Category 5 hurricanes. Miami began installing the Mast Arm in the 1980s and when
eight hurricanes hit Florida in 2004 and 2005, more were installed. Since 2012, installations of the Mast Arm in Baton Rouge began and are now complete. In years past you may have witnessed hurricane video showing stoplights swinging, blowing, dangling and falling from the hurricane’s force. The Mast Arm encloses wiring and the stoplights into one unit, eliminating the traditional span-wire traffic signal.