Thursday, July 21, 2011


Fern M. Long, matriarch
A family gathering was the order of the day on Saturday, July 16, when Susanne's twin sister and brother came to see Susanne's mother at the rehab center of Messiah Village. Finally, the weather was pleasant enough to sit on the porch and enjoy conversation and dinner. We were guests of Grandma Long and got to order anything we wanted from a nearby restaurant.

After dinner, we had coffee provided by Susanne, and a birthday pie, complete with candles, brought from Maryland by her sister Joanne for their brother Randy, who turned 50 that day. The food was delicious and everyone enjoyed being together.

Fast forward to this week, which has been so hot that we have spent most of the time in the house, leaving poor Mr. Box to roast in the terrible heat. Then today we abandoned him again to venture out to Red Lion, Pa., to see the workshop and show house of Family Heirloom Weavers. They are located at June Pond Farm, a property outside Red Lion, which is near York, Pa.

We moved easily down I-81 to I-83 and then exited below York at Queen Street, Route 74 south. In a few miles we came to a small town called Spry (which we were not feeling at the moment) and then passed through a larger town called Dallastown. Soon thereafter, we turned onto a country road. We encountered some lovely farmland and waved to the horses and cattle languishing in the sun.

Soon we arrived at the road back to June Pond Farm and pulled up onto the gravel parking lot, seeking some shady park to spot. Unfortunately, not a single spot of shade was to be found.

Pieces in the brown palette.
A low building directed across the street housed the workshop, and a 100-year old house beside it was the "show house," a former log house that had been expanded into an American four-square early in the 20th century. Americans must have been shorter then, or perhaps there was a lot of bending down to get through doorways then, just as there was today.

Susanne oohed and ahhed her way around the house, loving the most primitive-looking pieces, as well as the more intricately-patterned ones. The back room had a new line of items for use in the Arts and Crafts house.

Arts and Crafts designs.
This weaver has produced rugs and other fabrics for the most famous historical restorations like Colonial Willamsburg, churches, museums, and homes of nine American presidents. The cool thing is that everyone can have unique designs of their own or copies of other designs with their name and date included.

Susanne made a deal for the weavers to make a queen-size coverlet with blue and white yarn in a herringbone pattern. This would be something new, so the weaver said he would do a few inches and call to have us come see if he should proceed! That should be interesting to see. Watch Ebay to see that coverlet once Susanne and I are gone, as Matt and Sarah will no doubt list it as a historical reproduction of the highest caliber.

How good does that  look?
By this time it was nearly 1:00 p.m., and we were famished. (It is very taxing to look at reproductions of historic fabrics, you know.) We read all the signs at every exit, and finally found a classic burger joint near the interchange of I-83 and US 30. Zooming past a state historical marker for York, we soon arrived at Hardee's, the fourth largest fast food chain in the country. There is only one Hardee's in the Harrisburg area, and the food is always a notch higher than other fast food restaurants. You can see from the pictures that everything looked fresh and tasty. The restaurant, including the rest room, was spotless, and the people behind the counter were very helpful. And, believe it or not, the food was fast!

Susanne had the turkey burger, and I had the hamburger, along with classic fries and a soda (pop for those readers in Pittsburgh). We almost never go to Hardee's, so this was a treat, and a reward for venturing out in the extreme heat. Heh, heh.

Mike Deno, Nice Guy
When we arrived home, Susanne, tuckered out by walking two feet from the car to the house in 102 degrees, went to take a nap.

At 3:00 p.m., I met with Mike Deno of Copper Sun Designs, our favorite contractors, who are going to make some much-needed improvements to our tired old master bath. Mike is fun and personable, and we all find it hard to stick to the subject at hand, preferring to go off on wild tangents.

After Mike leaves, we usually discuss adopting him.

 Mother and son share a laugh on his birthday.

 The showhouse at Family Heirloom Weavers.

 The same house 100 years ago.

 Susanne enjoys the displays. Note the 
heating grate in the floor.

 The blue palette section.

 A favorite pattern.

 Bed clothes and hangings.

 Looking through the grate at Susanne in the basement.

 There she is, rooting through the "seconds" bin.

 Some coverlets in the brown palette.

 A poster and news clipping about the weavers'
work on the movie 'Cold Mountain.'

 Punch cards that create the pattern on the loom.

 An antique loom and a list of Presidential homes
with Heirloom Weavers' fabrics.

 A worn and torn fabric sample, right, was reproduced.

 Bobbins, I guess!

 Pat Kline, weaver. holds a pattern.

 A bolt of green fabric comes out of the 
workroom for inspection.

 A clean and modern counter and kitchen at Hardee's.

 My cheeseburger. Watchit, yer droolin'.

 Susanne's turkey burger. She loved it.

 ...and hotter.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


We've been on the move again, celebrating the birthday of our nation, interviewing potential host families for the French kids, and checking out some historic places in Derry Township, also known as Hershey.

On the Fourth of July, the Box pulled up at the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion at 219 South Front Street, Harrisburg, to hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence by a reenactor portraying John Harris, Jr. Harris had read the Declaration from his front porch in 1776. A number of other reenactors portrayed frontier folks and Ben Franklin. The event was planned and executed by Friends of the Harris-Cameron Mansion, whose mission is to make the mansion accessible to the public and to provide hospitality, programming, and tours.

The local newspaper sent a reporter, published two photos, and uploaded a video to their Web site. Every television station in town, four in total, recorded part of the event for broadcast and Web site use. More than 100 people heard the readings and toured the mansion afterwards. It was a really successful event, and all involved are to be commended.

Home in Florin Hill at Mt. Joy.
On July 9, I drove to the small northern Lancaster County town of Mt. Joy, where I met a delightful mother and her three daughters who will host a French girl for three weeks in August. They live on the remnant of the family farm. Mt.Joy is a pleasant town, and having three girls to show her around pretty much assures a fun visit for the French student.

On the north end of the town is a development called Florin Hill. It's being built by Charter Homes, which I admire for their land use and "neighbohood" concepts. I stopped by to see the progress being made since visiting there a couple of years ago. They had a snazzy new model and were starting to rent retail space near the entrance to boutiques and small businesses. There will be residences "over the store," as well. I am thinking about what I could sell there. Let's see, looking at our garage and basement, I think perhaps a Junque Shoppe.

When I got home, I found son Matt, his wife Marylee, and our grandson, Ian. They had come to attend the birthday of a friend in the evening but spent the afternoon with us. Ian was active (to say the least), and M&M showed us online photos and floor plans of a house they would like to buy. Ian made me laugh by asking me, "Play with me!" so I went into the yard with him where we used little shovels to dig in the dirt and then tried out the garden hose. He is way into trucks and spent part of the time playing with a basket full of toys we keep for him. We hated to see them go and look forward to another visit soon.

Father William.
On Sunday, July 10, I drove over near Mechanicsburg to meet an old friend who was visiting his parents. Bill is a doctoral candidate at an Episcopal seminary in Virginia and had just completed his course work. He is an Episcopal priest in Florida. Bill was a Lutheran pastor when he lived here in Harrisburg. I was the organist at his church, and we have kept in touch over the years. Whenever he visits, I drive over, pick him up, and head for Rakestraw's ice cream shop in Mechanicsburg for a double-dip cone (I had only one dip!) and some conversation while sitting on the retaining wall in the parking lot; it's très chic, I know.

Rakestraw's is a stone's throw from an Episcopal church, so of course we had to stroll around to check out the building. The house between the shop and the church is a Victorian, and we had a pleasant conversation with the owner, who was watering her extensive garden.

On the Eleventh of July, the Box and I drove to Hershey to meet yet another potential host family. On the way out of town I stopped at a couple of the area's historic buildings to add to my collection of photos of Dauphin County historic sites.

Hocker House in Derry Township
The first stop was the Hocker House on the corner of US 322 and Fishburn Road. I was most interested in the stone work, noticing how the early 19th century builders used local brownstone on the front and sides of the house but filled in with cheaper limestone in the rear, making for an unusual mix. The owner of the building, mistaking me for a Scots-Irish terrorist, came out and asked what I was doing. We ended up having a nice conversation, and she told me to "click away."

Next stop was the Old Session House, a log structure where the leaders of Derry Presbyterian Church met in the 18th century. The structure was enclosed in glass by Milton Hershey. You may have read about this elsewhere in this blog. It was hard to photograph this because the glass reflected everything around, including me. It's allegedly Pennsylvania's oldest log building in its original location.

Milton Hershey's one-room schoolhouse.
Final stop was at the stone one room school house that Milton Hershey attended as a youth. Apparently, his family moved around a lot as his father tried out a series of unsuccessful businesses, and when Hershey built his High Point mansion, he had this school moved near to his home. It's in beautiful condition and perfectly landscaped, like everything to which the name Hershey is attached.  I was right in front of a trolley giving visitors a tour and had to keep moving to stay out of its way.

Well, I lied, because that was not our actual last stop. That was at Cocoa Diner near Hummelstown, where I enjoyed a lunchtime meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and cole slaw. Susanne was over at Messiah Village visiting her mother, and sometimes she stays for dinner there, so I wasn't sure what dinner plans would be.

Opera fudge.
The diner was spotless, and the food was, well, diner food! I noticed the servers all sneaking into the over-the-counter cooler to reach into some small white cardboard boxes. I asked the server what was in there, and she told me "opera fudge." I had tried that confection just the previous week in Brickerville. It's like a butter cream but richer and creamier.

Apparently, some guy brings them by every couple of months for the staff. The server offered me one, but I told her I had had enough carbs, so she'd have to eat it. I thought she would bite off her own fingers, because that is how fast she popped that thing into her mouth!

 Frontier man at the Harris mansion.

 Reenactor David Biser reads the Declaration.

 TV station abc27 sent a videographer.

 The troupe of professional reenactors.

 Florin Hill house--classic simplicity.

 Streetscape at Florin Hill.

 Ian keeps busy.

 Marylee shows Susanne her favorite floor plan.

 Ian flashes his famous smile.

 The Session House at Derry Church.
 Milton Hershey had the enclosure built.

 The grounds at High Point Mansion.

 The Box, having outrun the trolley, rests at the Cocoa Diner.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


On Sunday, I drove north beyond Newport in order to visit a prospective host family for a young French boy who will be coming to visit later this week. It was a pleasant drive along the Susquehanna and then crossing the Juniata River, through the tidy square in Newport and then out into the countryside.

After a nice visit with the family, I headed back to Harrisburg. On the way, I stopped into the Newport Cemetery, because, as you learned in the last blog entry, I am a sucker for a good cemetery.

In this particular graveyard, the oldest stones were in the center section, with the newer ones of the perimeter. The most recent expansion took place to the rear of the property, where the markers were all the flat bronze type. There were even some that were a little avant-garde for such a quiet, rural place. Here's one of them. I wonder if the stone came from someone's yard or had some personal meaning.

I had seen the "handshake" motif before, but the carving on the two stones shown at the top of the page had particularly "manly" hands as opposed to some more delicate ones I have seen.

This stone caught my eye, although I am not sure why.

As I drove past the stones and read the names, I was struck in one particular "neighborhood" with a cluster of names mirroring peoples' professions. You know, like Shoemaker or Cartwright. Take a look at what I mean:

 A home decorator.

 A pharmacist.

 The weatherman.

Equine shoemaker.

 With or without cuffs?

Wheat and corn grinder.

 Plate and vessel maker.


 (Look it up!)

Kitchen worker.


 Lawyer or judge.

 Merchandise purchasers.

 Strep throat technician.

 Hotel greeter.

 Pastor or organist.

 Basketball player.

 Cruise line social director.

Well, I saved the best for last. It's the one that got me started on this whole train of thought. How'd you like to have this for a last name?


Now do you see why I like visiting cemeteries?