Sunday, May 17, 2015


Well, yesterday was a very pleasant one for yours truly. In the morning, as the Box reposed under the pin oak and I was preparing for a jaunt to Lititz, Lancaster County, Susanne came and told me that there were "three young men" at the door. Being indisposed, I was unable to go down and greet them, and Susanne will not open the door to strangers. I don't know why opening  does not bother me (after looking out the kitchen window to see how unsavory the person looks), as if the screen door will stop any "baddies" who want to barge in. I do not like the term "home invasion" and am usually horrified to read of them in the newspaper. That's why we lock the doors and turn on the alarm when we're done coming and going for the day. We're not Jody Foster, you know.

As it turns out, the "three young men" got back in their car and drove off. (This reminded me of The Song of the Three Young Men in the Book of Daniel, where they are thrown into the fiery furnace as punishment but do not perish. It was often read at the dozens of Easter Vigils I have attended or played for.) At first I thought they might be Mormon missionaries or Jehovah's Witnesses callers, but a phone call from my son Matt informed me that the older "young man" was a friend of his from Baltimore, and that the others were, I believe, his sons. Someone in that trio was playing in a baseball tournament, and they were kind enough to want to stop and introduce themselves to Matt's old man. Matt said they might come around again, so this time we might let them in. LOL.

Soon after this, we were dressed and ready to leave for Lititz. I don't know if it's the best route, but I like to go out US 22, then right on Pa. 39, past HersheyPark, through the square at Hershey, and on to US 322 east. Driving the Toyota Sienna, we passed through Campbelltown, skirted Annville, crept through Fontana (where big changes are taking place along the road), then passed Cornwall and Mt. Gretna, arriving finally at Brickerville. There we turned south on Pa. 501 to just before the "square" in Lititz.

The Square in Lititz
In case you don't know, Lititz was voted "America's Coolest Small Town" in 2013. It garnered the largest number of the 100,000 votes cast for towns across the country. It has small town charm, great history and architecture, and fun places to eat and shop. It even has chocolate and pretzel factories, if the rest is not enough!

According to their website, "Although we have Amish and Mennonite neighbors, it was the Moravian people who settled in Lititz as early as the 1740s. Originally hailing from Bohemia and Moravia, what we now recognize as the Czech Republic, these peaceful, pious people, trying desperately to elude persecution as far back as the 15th century, found their way to Saxony, Germany and through missionary work, eventually to the 'colonies,' specifically the Warwick Township, Pennsylvania area, where their new settlement would be named Lititz in 1756."

We pulled into several empty lots near the restaurant where we were to meet some friends. Two banks had substantial parking lots but each was covered with sign after sign warning us against parking there. Other lots were reserved for certain businesses and shops. We drove around the block to Main Street and saw that there were a number of metered spots there that were free, but it was my goal to get back to the closest lot to the restaurant.

You see, the day before I had called the Lititz Borough Hall to ask about parking, and they were "pretty sure" you could park in these private lots after noon. So, we picked one closest to the restaurant and pulled in. Shortly after that, our friends arrived, just having survived a traffic jam on the opposite side of town. They parked right beside us, and the fun began!

History of a Friendship
I have been friends with Susan Stackpole Wendt since we were in seventh grade. I guess our names being close alphabet-wise (R-S, you know), often put us in close proximity in classrooms throughout junior and senior high. Being kids, we sometimes got in trouble for "having too much fun," as one teacher put it. We were part of a quartet of kids who palled around and spent more time "doing homework" on the phone than should have been allowed. After high school Susan got married to her longtime sweetheart and left Harrisburg.

The best looking seniors of 1964.
After looking through our yearbook one day, I checked to see if Susan had a Facebook page, which she did, and we chatted sometimes about our families, jobs, and so forth. It had been nearly fifty years since we had seen each other! The amazing thing is that we have not changed one iota!

One time Susan told me that she and her husband Fred would be in Harrisburg overnight, so we arranged to pick them up at their hotel. We drove into town to the Subway Café on Herr Street. A Harrisburg institution, it has kept its neighborhood bar atmosphere without any of the shenanigans that go on in "dives" around the city. Anyone who's anyone has been there. I first went there when in college, too young to imbibe, but firmly a fan of pizza, having had my first slice a few years earlier at Magaro's Pizzeria on North Sixth Street.

After dinner, we drove to our house for dessert and coffee and lots of good conversation. Too soon we reluctantly had to drive them back to their hotel and bid them farewell.

Through Faceboook we kept in touch and then some months later agreed to meet one Saturday in Lancaster, where Susan, Fred, Susanne, and I had some great French crêpes and then walked through some nearby shops.

Rachel's Café and Crêperie
Susanne and Susan shop in the trendy part of Lancaster near Rachel's.

Our next visit came about when friend Roger Morgenthal of the Class of 1964 arranged for anyone interested to enter into our now-shuttered and forlorn high school for about an hour of looking and remembering.

Susan and Fred came up from southeast Pennsylvania, and after the tour, we stepped out into the 96 degree weather and drove to Second and Maclay for lunch at the restaurant opposite the Governor's Residence. My lovely sister Rachel joined us.

Here's Susan taking a picture in the library.
The next visit was at our fiftieth class reunion. I joined Susan and Fred on the Pride of the Susquehanna riverboat for a cruise (Susanne would never set foot on a moving water vessel) and a chance to reconnect with other classmates. Fred was so generous, putting up with all those old strangers catching up! The next night was the actual reunion, for which I was late since I had to attend a fundraiser at the historical society. We had another good chat then.

So yesterday it was a lot of fun to be together again in America's Coolest Small Town. We met at the Tomato Pie Café, housed in a Victorian home near the famous Lititz Springs Park and the Wilbur Chocolate Factory. We were seated and ordered from the extensive menu. The ladies had quiche, and Fred had the signature tomato pie. I had French toast with maple-cinnamon spread and maple syrup. Everyone was pleased with their choices, as you can see below.

After lunch, we took the car up to the main drag to park closer to the action. Fred fed the meter as we traipsed from shop to shop,beginning with Moravian House, looking at some old furniture and "things," mostly for ladies. Susanne especially wanted to visit a shop set up by an acquaintance from one of her rug hooking groups.

Moravian House was our first stop today.
We all wondered who had a wall large enough for this wonderful cabinet.
This imposing stone house was built in 1762, according to a plaque on the wall.
Everyone liked the pansies, or "pensées" as we francophones call them.
Who knew this 18th century log house was hiding behind old wooden siding?
Brick buildings from a later era line the street.

Another stone house and an old brick inn, now condos, were just across the street.

Before they left, we wanted to take the Wendts to one of our favorites stores, The Shaker Shoppe, up on Owl Hill Road. But by the time we set out for it, we discovered via its website that it had closed for the day. Drat. I'm hoping that Susan and Fred will want to return when they set out on their next furniture-buying spree. The Shaker Shoppe has beautiful furnishings, handcrafted in Lititz! We'd love to introduce them to the owner.

By this time everyone was hot since the temperature had risen to about 85 degrees. So we said our farewells and got in our cars, air-conditioning blasting forth its chilled air, and set our sights for home.

We re-traced our steps, taking a moment to get a cold soda and driving a half-mile or so off the main road to find a restaurant that had been recommended to Susanne. Called Zig's Bakery and Café, it was in an attractive renovated/new barn along the road. Unfortunately, it was closed, so no peek inside.

Later we stopped in front of the famous Hopewell Forge Mansion, built by Peter Grubb, founder of Cornwall Iron Furnace, around 1740. It's for sale, along with a meeting/conference center in the barn, and a number of motel-like rooms or small apartments. All for just $1,250,000. The taxes are only $16,312 a year. I am thinking of getting it for Susanne for her birthday later this month. It has soooo many bathrooms -- and you know how she likes to clean bathrooms!

Mansion, left, barn, and apartments. Make an offer!
Pennsylvania State Historical Marker
As usual, we commented especially on the wooded hill we climb to get to up to Cornwall and Mt. Gretna. You know that if there were no highway there that it would look as it did 250 years ago when these forests served as fuel for the many iron furnaces and forges in the region.

US 322 through Cornwall Borough in Lebanon County

By the time we got to Hershey, it had begun to rain. The street fair that was set up in a part of the "square" at Hershey was quickly winding down.

It looks like trouble at Hoolihan's across Chocolate Avenue. Heimlich maneuver, anyone?
Soon the Sienna pulled past The Box and into our driveway, where, tired but happy, we entered the house and took off our shoes. Susanne heated up some delicious pizza, and we enjoyed that before settling in for a long spring evening.

Monday, April 27, 2015


The Box and I have had several pleasant outings since our last entry. In March, my sister and I went antiquing at the Lemoyne Antique Marketplace, a co-op where there are many dealers and more to come. As with all antiques "malls," there are some really great things to interest you and some you can easily pass by.

I like to go to a booth called "Architecturally Speaking," which has remnants of old buildings that have since been demolished. There is always something you think would be great to add character to your house. I liked the big letters they had that day. For some reason I like things that are outsized or miniaturized. I liked the "M" for Matt and Marylee. The vending machine behind it caught my eye, too, as it told potential customers, "Don't go around hungry." The products were displayed in a circular formation.

"Midcentury Modern" design is now the Big Thing in our area. According to the State Museum of Pennsylvania, "The Midcentury Modern era, which stretched from 1930 to 1980, took its early design influences from industry and machinery. After World War II the movement was shaped by the promise of the atomic age and futurism. Many buildings from that period featured streamlined architectural elements and modern materials such as smooth concrete, glass window walls and aluminum details." 

Furnishings reflected the same ideas, and this set of dishes from that era caught my eye in the antiques mall. I swear that cream pitcher resembles Three Mile Island's cooling towers.

Passing by the West Shore Farmers Market in Lemoyne, we spotted some Amish women loading a car and then heading back into the market. Either they were helping out the "English" customer, or she was waiting to give them a ride, something the Amish sometimes call upon their non-Amish friends and neighbors to do.

Finally, I headed upriver to I-81 and home. I could see that there were many birds on the river, so I stopped at West Fairview and found a ton of people with cameras filming the antics of sea gulls and other birds having what appeared to be a great time on the Susquehanna. The zoom on my lens was giving me trouble and so some of my pictures that day were splotchy.

When I got home, I parked the Box out front under the pin oak and headed inside to start work on a Shutterfly book of pictures of Susanne's rug hooking projects. The online photo site Shutterfly often has sales on books, and I usually choose the 8x8 book with 20 pages to fill. It takes a little time to arrange everything, but the end product is great. Susanne showed her book to all her hooking friends, and they thought it was cool. 
These are some of the tools used in rug hooking.
Late in March, Susanne and I met my sister Rachel and old friends David and Jim at Mt. Hill Tavern, a 1798 inn along Linglestown Road in Lower Paxton Township. The Historical Society of Dauphin County (of which, you know, I am president of the board) presented a fundraiser with John Harris, Jr. re-enactor David Biser and his daughter, who portrayed the innkeeper's wife. We had a good time, and the surroundings are beautiful. This was the second year the Society presented this program of food, drink, storytelling, and music. The number of participants doubled from the year before.

The exterior of Mt. Hill Tavern.
Susanne, Rachel, Jim, and David are seated at the table on the right.

A couple of days later I was driving up Second Street from the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion, when I spotted a kelly green electronic billboard just two blocks from Market Square Church, where I am a member. Last year I had suggested to the outreach committee that they take advantage of the great location of this billboard -- close to the church and on a major entryway into the city. They asked me to call the Lamar company, and we worked out a deal for a week of messages just before Christmas and just before Easter. The green sign was the second of the two and was seen for 10 seconds hundreds of times a day and thousands of times during the week.

When I saw the billboard I was coming out of Mary Street (see red arrow below), a narrow street that has become heavily traveled of late. Hospital employees park in a garage there, and people going to the Harris-Cameron Mansion use it, too. There are multiple entries on to this little street, one of the oldest in the city, and so you have to exercise caution.

I was at the Mansion because the collections committee and other volunteers were in the attic of the house, where some artifacts are stored. The committee and curator are trying to determine if there are any objects that do not really pertain to Dauphin County, while hoping to find others that will be of interest if displayed. Most historical societies and museums have to do this occasionally. 

Some of the items had been accepted as donations many years ago but not properly catalogued. My  job was to photograph objects that had been assigned collection numbers and place them in a group. I handled a lot of iron tools and a stack of old 78 rpm disks.

Down the way, in another room (there are several rooms in the attic where servants may have lived, or students when the house was the Pennsylvania Female Academy prior to the Civil War) other volunteers were having fun making discoveries, including this little guy, trapped in -- of all things -- a historic mouse trap! I thought he should be left there. He had become an artifact!

Volunteers and staff
More volunteers
The only other guy there

When no one was looking, I enjoyed glancing out the attic dormer window to watch the wide Susquehanna River pass by, right about at the spot where John Harris, Sr. started his ferry in the eighteenth century, On the other side of the building, I could look down onto the metal roofs over additions made by owners in the nineteenth century.

All of these adventures took place in March 2015. There is one more trip the Box and I took. We did one of our favorite things -- besides hunting down and devouring whoopie pies -- and that was looking at some cool new houses when we come across them. These are not too far from where we live now near Linglestown.

I liked the mix of materials in his house but it is soooo big!.

This is the left side of the previous picture so you can see it does not have just a single-car garage.

And finally, this one, which looks to me like an updated farmhouse, due to its stone and vertical siding. I think the Box would fit in well with this lovely house. I like its more modest scale.