Wednesday, September 21, 2011


My friend Carl submitted three good photos.
This past Sunday was a busy day for me and the Box. We drove to church on the square in Harrisburg, then to Lemoyne for lunch with my sister Rachel, then back across the Susquehanna River to the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion on South Front Street.

At the mansion I was part of a small team of docents welcoming visitors to the exhibit "Dauphin County on the Eve of the Civil War," an exhibit of contemporary and historical photos of places in the county that were extant in 1861. This was the day of the Art Association of Harrisburg's "Gallery Walk," which encouraged people to follow a route through the downtown area to visit many and varied art galleries and exhibit spaces.

The date had been changed from the previous Sunday, when the city was still recovering from the unfortunate collision of the river and the city's low-lying areas. I was able to stay for a little more than an hour and then left the place in the capable hands of my team-mates and jumped in the vehicle of my church friend Richard for a trip to Reading in Berks County.

First Church (UCC), Reading
We were headed for the old First Reformed (UCC) Church, where we were to hear an organ concert by our church's organist, Eric, who had just recently played the same program to great acclaim in two Italian towns.

We arrived early enough to look around and talk to church members about the history of the congregation and the building.

The concert began promptly at 4:00 p.m. and continued for an hour. Eric was playing the largest pipe organ in Berks County to one of the smallest audiences. Those not attending missed a real treat! I was especially taken by the French pieces at the end of the concert. For the last number, the Finale from one of Widor's symphonies, he pulled out all the stops and filled the church with a roar.

Eric talks about the music.
Afterwards, there was a reception to honor the artist, featuring about a half pound of sugar per person, in the punch, brownies, and sugar cookies being served.

After poking around the building and hearing more from the pastor, we took our leave and headed back to the turnpike. We never found it. Somehow we missed the exit (perhaps they moved it while we were at the church) and ended up in Lancaster. It was easy to get on the highway to Harrisburg, and we continued without missing a beat.

Richard deposited me back at the mansion and headed home. I swear the Box gave a little toot when I stuck my key in the door, and he purred the whole way home.

 My son Matt's college friend Erik is on 
the Board of Directors at the Mansion
and was a volunteer host. Here he checks
out the secret liquor closet. Anyone surprised?

 Carl's wife Joan, a friend and former 
colleague of mine at PHMC, joined Carl
in reviewing another of his entries.

 Ft. Hunter Mansion, at the far end of
Front Street, is represented by a photo,
top, and oil painting.
 The contemporary works were in the parlor.

 More than 20 historic photos came
from the collections of several
historical societies in the county.

 At Reading, we found Eric preparing 
mentally while walking around the church.

 Upon entering, I enjoyed seeing this old 
metal box for collecting weekly offerings.

The ceilings and walls were covered
with hand-painted images.

 Richard and I sat forward in the nave
in order to enjoy the full acoustics in the room.

 The nave had a bit of a French decorative flair.
Many of the early members were Huguenots,
or French Protestants.

 In the rear gallery stood an impressive pipe display.

 The reflection of these flagpoles in an
office complex near the church
caught my eye.

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