Canonsburg, Pa., all clad in Perry Como

Before the crooner 'invented casual,' he cut hair in his hometown not far from Pittsburgh.
A record player
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Como’s statue in front of the borough building.

A weekend trip to Cleveland was the perfect excuse to hit an All-Clad cookware factory sale in Washington, Pa., which was the perfect excuse to visit Canonsburg, Pa.

Canonsburg is where All-Clad has its headquarters, but that wasn’t why we stopped.

We went to Canonsburg for Como.

Spotted in a car in NYC

That’s Perry Como, the barber-turned-crooner who never forgot Canonsburg, and whom Canonsburg has remembered long after his death in 2001.


Even a paper cube bears Como’s likeness at the Canonsburg borough office.

I have known about Como for so long that I don’t remember not knowing about him. Because in 1957, my mother — on a trip with a friend to New York City — saw Como sitting in a car.

That was the extent of it. There was no wave, no autograph signing.

My mother’s encounter was an understated moment befitting the often cardigan-clad Como, whom Bing Crosby once called “the man who invented casual.”

Como also was a pretty big deal in music, radio and television, including numerous Christmas specials. From his obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“Mr. Como left his job as a Canonsburg barber to sing with big bands in the 1930s and his songs were a mainstay of radio and jukeboxes in the late 1940s. He helped pioneer variety shows on the new medium of television in the 1950s and performed on television specials over the last four decades. His music remained popular in recent years on easy-listening radio.

“In 1945, Mr. Como had his first million-selling hit, ‘Till the End of Time.’ It was among many songs including ‘Prisoner of Love’ that topped the charts. He competed with Frank Sinatra and Crosby to be the era’s top crooner.”

So when the opportunity presented itself to stop in Canonsburg — and to connect the dots to my mother’s moment nearly 60 years ago — I had to seize it.

My mother saw Como in a car. I went to see him carved in stone.

Playing upon request

He stands life sized — wearing a sweater, holding a microphone — in front of the Canonsburg borough office at 68 E. Pike St. He has been there since 1999, although Como was too ill to attend the dedication.

In late 2002, the borough began playing Como’s music on a loud speaker for 12 hours per day, to give voice to and generate tourist interest in the statue. It was silenced for a time in 2013 because of renovations to the borough building.

I assumed the music would be playing when we pulled up on the first Friday in December. We found stone silence.

I ventured inside the borough building and up a flight of stairs to find a woman sitting at a counter behind glass where sewer bill payments are accepted.

My inquiry about Como prompted her to get a younger woman, who appeared with a two-foot wooden step ladder. She apparently needed it to reach a button that turned on the loud speaker. And like that, the pride of Canonsburg (which also claims Bobby Vinton as a native son) was singing “And Roses and Roses.”

The women explained to me that the loud speaker was the idea of borough manager Terry Hazlett, now retired, who apparently didn’t pass on instructions for playing Como on a fixed schedule.

So for now, the women in the borough office graciously play Como when asked.

My wife joined me outside to listen to the music and take photos. Here’s a video; please pardon the sound quality as it was windy.

It was cold, too, making it a perfect day for a sweater.

About the Author

Neal Goulet

Neal Goulet, Owner
Having been a journalist, Neal knows writing, grammar and style, as well as the language and movements of a newsroom.
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