Sunday, November 28, 2010


Our daughter Sarah arrived with her kids Cole, 7, and Chloe, 5, around dinner time on Wednesday of this past week for the Thanksgiving holiday. After a great meal together on Thanksgiving, we enjoyed some leisurely time together.

The next morning, we decided to hop in the Box and head into Lancaster County to visit the beautiful town of Lititz. It was founded in the 18th century by the Moravian Church, a Protestant sect from Bohemia, now in the modern Czech Republic. The church places a high premium on Christian unity, personal piety, missions, and music.

In Lititz you will find the church on Moravian Square; Linden Hall, the oldest all-girls boarding school in the United States; a number of 18th and 19th century stone and log houses; and the two places the Box was heading for: the Wilbur Chocolate Company store and museum, and the Sturgis Pretzel house, America's oldest pretzel bakery.
The chocolate store is always crowded, so we made our way carefully through the museum displays, watched some women making lollipops and dipping candy, and found the secret tub of samples of the number one product, Wilbur Buds. Sarah bought some to take home, and the kids each got a treat.

We got back in the Box and drove though the square and a few blocks down the main street, passing the church and part of Linden Hall, where we parked opposite the pretzel bakery. There we bought our tickets just in time to join the next tour. While the guide was telling the history of the place, he was cutting up pretzel dough as we stood in front of a long counter, with visitors facing each other on two sides. The dough was passed down the row, and everyone was told to roll the dough out into a snake-like piece of about 14 inches. There were wooden rods to help you measure. Then he told us how to twist the dough into a pretzel shape. It was lots of fun, although we couldn't bake our own pretzel. Maybe hundreds of tourists had handled that dough. Probably not, but maybe.

We went into the next area to see the ovens and then a final area to watch a young man twist the pretzels in a flash. These became soft pretzels for sale on the way out. Of course, we had to have one.

The kids must have been listening because they knew that the soft pretzels were baked once, and the hard ones twice. This simple secret was apparently discovered by accident when some soft pretzels were left in the back of the oven one day and were baked a second time.

Then we drove around the town a little, admiring the handsome houses, and headed back to Harrisburg by way of Quentin, a small Lebanon County town near Cornwall. Quentin's original name was Bismarck, and the population was mostly of German descent. During World War I, its unpopular name was changed to Quentin, in honor of Quentin Roosevelt, son of Theodore Roosevelt, after Quentin's plane was shot down by the Germans.

We stopped for lunch at the Quentin Haus, a friendly little family restaurant on the edge of town along Rt. 72. We had a very nice server, and the food came out of the kitchen very quickly. We all enjoyed our meals, then climbed back into the car for the ride home. We drove north through Annville to US 22, which runs just a block or two from our house.

There we found son Matthew, his wife Marylee, and their son Ian, up from Baltimore, waiting to join the Thanksgiving merriment.

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