Articles by Salena Zito

Coronavirus Claims New Victims: Places and Pasts

ROTHERSVALLEY TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania—Anyone who drives along the narrow, winding township road just off of U.S. Route 219 immediately finds themselves whisked back in time, if only for a moment, as their car enters the Burkholder Bridge. The 150-year-old structure has cherry-red shingles; a charming sign bearing its name across the arc of the roof; and […]

Portrait of an American City at the Dawn of a Pandemic

ITTSBURGH—On Friday, James Coen is folding and unfolding, arranging and rearranging the piles of colorful St. Patrick’s Day T-shirts he has displayed on folding tables outside one of the three sports retail stores he owns. The stores are all large historic buildings with big, shiny, planked hardwood floors, all snuggled in a three-block radius between […]

What We Lose By the Closing of Community Department Stores

ITTSBURGH—Five years ago, the sad goodbye to an icon began when Macy’s decided to close its flagship location in downtown Pittsburgh. The void, alas, still remains. For most of that building’s storied 110-plus-year-old life, until Macy’s took it 15 years ago, it was Kaufmann’s department store: a place where parents, whether they were working-class or […]

The ‘Great Revolt’
Enters a New Phase

WESTBY, WISCONSIN—In a country increasingly engaged in national politics and divided, the next 12 months may feel like 12 years. Voters in both trenches are eager to vote, convinced not only of victory but also of vindication. The shocking result in 2016 wasn’t a black swan, an irregular election deviating from normalcy, but instead the […]

The Town That
Wouldn’t Be Passed

EVERETT, Pennsylvania—For the past two years, items on layaway for over 200 families at the Walmart here have been paid for by some generous soul who won’t reveal his or her identity. Last year, this modern St. Nicholas paid off $46,000 in items placed on layaway by local residents. This year’s total was $40,000. Nestled […]

A Different Kind of Celebrity on Twitter

RUSSELLTON, Pennsylvania—Despite his natural shyness, Trevor Donovan has shined in an occupation that demands extroversion both on the job and off. The Hollywood actor, who is currently best known for his roles in the highly popular Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, overcame his social awkwardness by deciding to use his high profile for a greater purpose. […]

He Makes a Village

SAVANNAH, Georgia—Tyler Merritt has taken the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” and turned it a bit sideways. He’s building a village, literally, to allow adults to raise themselves up. His village is a stabilizing rail, or a stepping stone to a better life. Merritt, a former Army captain and special operations […]

In the ‘Nicest Place in America,’ Community Thrives

COLUMBIANA, Ohio—The thing about a city earning a title such as the “nicest place in America” is that outsiders often assume the people who live there don’t have to work at being nice. Well, anyone in this lovely city that straddles both the Mahoning and Columbiana Counties would say you do have to work at […]

Dr. Laura’s Lasting Truths

When Dr. Laura Schlessinger got her foot entangled with shards of broken glass a few months ago, she cleaned the wound, cringed at the amount of blood and went about her business despite a lingering, stinging pain that nagged at her to do something. Apropos of what she does in her professional life as the […]