Monday, March 24, 2014


On March 22, I drove Susanne to the library of the Historical Society of Dauphin County, where a genealogy workshop for beginners was being offered. Susanne is not exactly a beginner, having researched her mother's family back quite a few generations -- no mean feat because there were many brothers and sisters (13 or 14) in one family (left). They were a family of knitters from England, and when they came to this country they eventually settled in Reading, Pa., where they established or worked in knitting mills.

The library is located in the former stable of the estate of Gen. Simon Cameron, 19th century Pennsylvania political boss, rich guy, and Lincoln's failed Secretary of War. He bought the house on South Front Street built by John Harris, Jr., one of the city's founders, and gussied it up. It still looks much the way it did when he lived there. It's belonged to the Historical Society since 1941. The Society itself was founded in 1869 in Market Square Church.

A research librarian from the State Library of Pennsylvania was there to show attendees what resources were available in her library and what kinds of things the county historical society held. I am sure that the librarian also touched on the many online research web sites.

I went with Susanne to take some pictures for the Society's Facebook page. That is one of the things I do as president of the board at the Society (among many others) as we struggle to create more interest and visitation to the Harris-Cameron Mansion and to seek the financial resources needed to maintain and advance our mission. Hint, hint. Think mega-donations!

Here's our Mansion:

Well, the workshop lasted two hours, so after I took some pictures, I had some time to kill. Around the corner is a new place called Re-store, the outlet of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. They just opened the store, which contains some home furnishings, like the cool 50s table and chairs below, as well as plenty of cabinetry (new and used), doorknobs, flooring, and so forth. These things are donated by individuals and businesses and re-sold to raise funds for the chapter's renovation of houses for low-income people.

After browsing the store, I still had time to cross the river to take a drive through New Cumberland, an older suburb of Harrisburg. It's really ideally located for access to downtown and seems like a nice place to live if you come into town often, like I do. A quick five-minute drive across the John Harris Memorial Bridge and you're right downtown. I took some pictures of some nice little houses in what they call the Manor section:

When I got back to the Society to pick up Susanne, I walked around the place and took pictures of some early signs of spring:

Simon Cameron's pear tree still bears fruit.

Susanne was well satisfied with the workshop. Afterwards, we went upstairs to the curator's office and visited our friend Erik, who went to school with our son Matt. Erik's the vice president of the board and in charge of the collections committee. He had just finished scanning historic photographs, some of the more than 1,000,000 negatives owned by the Society! He walked downstairs with us to chat with staff members.

 Next we headed off to lunch. Hmmm, where should it be? There are some nice places along the riverfront on the west side of the mighty Susquehanna, but we chose one a little further inland, the Pizza Grille on State Street in Lemoyne. They have great little pizzas and chicken cheese steak sandwiches to die for.

See? I told ya!

The Pizza Grille is located next to the West Shore Farmers Market, where this lovely pile of snow was still lingering. Wouldn't you like to slide down this pristine hill?

We decided to walk -- well, drive -- over to the market entrance. You know, in case we bought a side of beef or something.

We enjoyed a brisk walk around the market, enjoying the colorful displays of fruits, vegetables, flowers, candy, and, of course, baked goods!

How do you like these candy carrots and white chocolate deviled eggs? And chocolate-covered whoopie pies? Really? Isn't that gilding the lily? (I'll let you know sometime I can sneak back there without Susanne.)

After all this fun we headed home for a quiet afternoon and evening. You can't have too much fun in one day, can you?