Sunday, September 11, 2011


William Penn Senior High School
After services this morning at Market Square Presbyterian Church, my favorite sister Rachel and I drove (she in her Subaru, I in the Box) up Second Street, where we encountered some signs of basement flooding from the Susquehanna River, thanks to Tropical Storm Lee last week. The street was covered in spots with dried mud, and curbs were covered with ruined stuff from peoples' basements. It was nothing like one saw in 1972 when Agnes wreaked its havoc. Then, you saw whole households dumped into the street.

We were on our way to the gourmet restaurant the French kids call McDo's. After lunch, a simple sandwich au steak hâché, pommes frites, and le Coca-Cola, Rachel headed off to pick up a friend for this afternoon's symphony concert at the Forum in the Capitol Complex.

I went south on Front Street, back into the city, turning left onto Edward Street to check on a friend's house at Edward and Green, a low spot where the river reaches in with its wet finger to leave its mark. Continuing up the hill, I turned right onto Third Street and stopped in front of the former William Penn Senior High School, once home to fabulous, sophisticated, and witty students (well, me, actually) and now mothballed, boarded up, abandoned, and falling into disrepair (see above, left).

Italian Lake, south gardens
Third Street descends to Division Street, where I caught a glimpse of the mess left by flood waters in the south end of Italian Lake park. The ducks didn't seem to mind, though. I proceeded down Parkside Lane back to Green Street, where I noted no damage, not even muddy grass.

Back out to Division, then two blocks to Front Street. There I raced the awesome river south -- destination, the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion, home of the Historical Society of Dauphin County, where I serve on the board of directors. On the way I saw the mud-covered pedestrian overlook at Maclay Street, opposite the Governor's Residence.

When the earliest settler, John Harris, Sr., established his ferry across the river in the 18th century, he built a log house by the river's edge. It flooded annually, and so when Harris died and his son, "Junior," took over the business, he chose a home site slightly upriver and on a small hill above flood level. His stone house was not flooded this time, either!

It seems that all that was needed to clean up at the Mansion was a pass by a street sweeper. I could not find any signs of water on the property.

The ramps onto I-83 were finally open, so I headed toward home. One odd sight was the painted cow that generally stands on the lawn along Race Street was standing instead in the lane on the opposite side of the sound wall. Unfortunately, traffic prevented me from taking a picture. Surely the water was not high enough to float it over the sound wall. Wait...could it...have...walked? I will never look at that cow again the same way.

I stopped at Costco to pick up my new glasses (finally -- I can see again!). After cataract surgery and more recent surgery for a torn retina, I am hoping that these new glasses will provided the 20/20 eyesight they should. After checking out the HDTVs, I went home to write this blog.

On the way, I made it a point to look for American flags flying in commemoration of the anniversary of September 11, 2001.

Surprisingly, there were not many in sight.

 My friend's house is still lovely.

 I used to sneak in this entrance to William Penn
when I was late for school.

 The flooded gardens at Italian Lake.

The sidewalk looks more like a bridge between 
the lake and the giant puddle.

These lovely ladies, whom I have admired
since childhood, seem to have some sort of rash.
This is a crime!

 I was happy to see that this charming home on 
Green Street suffered no damage.

This pedestrian overlook at Front and Maclay,
another low spot, was covered with more than
an inch of dried mud and muck.

 At the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion,
a street sweeper cleans the gutter. 
The house itself is out of the flood plain.

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