Monday, March 16, 2015


On a frigid weekend in February, we motored out to New Brighton, Beaver County, Pa., about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, to visit with the Darnley clan.

Cole was set to participate in MathCounts, a fun math competition sponsored by schools around the country. Cole is only in sixth grade at a middle school, so some of the higher math still lies ahead for him. Still, he was anxious to spend time with his friends on the campus of PSU Beaver, have lunch there, and be on stage with his team. Susanne and Sarah accompanied him and enjoyed the time with him and his friends.

Meanwhile, that left me and Chloe to our own devices. Chloe spent some time making rubber band "jewelry" on some sort of loom (she watches videos on You Tube and follows instructions on how to make various pieces). She made me a nice bracelet to wear and something for Susanne, too.

Around noon she announced that it "certainly would be nice" to go down the street to the Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe to enjoy some lunch. Of course, I had to be talked into it (not), and we took off flying down the hill to Third Avenue. We could have walked, of course, but we'd (well, I'd) never make it back up that accursèd hill.

At the hot dog shop, Chloe forced me to let her have a regular-size milk shake as opposed to a kid size, as well as some cheese fries (perhaps with chili -- I can't recall). I had the requisite burger and fries, all the while hoping that I did not get wedged into the narrow booth (the only drawback to the place) and have to be rescued by the fire department.

As we were dining, a snow squall was raging outside. It was still coming down when we had finished and were ready to leave. We high-tailed it out of there to make sure we could get back up the hill.

Little did I know that Chloe had something else on her mind. She thought it would be a good idea to stop at the Merrick Art Gallery in the next block. It was founded by the celebrated New Brighton industrialist, Edward Dempster Merrick (1832-1911) and has a stunning collection of French, German, English, and American paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Chloe has been there with her school, has taken summer classes there, and one year she had her birthday party there.

It seems she just likes to look at beautiful pictures. And it's free! So we entered, signed in, and set off in search of some beauty. Many of the pictures were stacked on the walls in threes, one above the other, so we looked at every one and voted on the best one of the three. We agreed much of the time!

There is also a historical display featuring American composer Stephen Foster's piano. Elsewhere there were items from New Brighton's past, like pottery from the ES&B Company, which is highly prized these days.
Chloe poses with the Stephen Foster piano.
A pretty girl smiles out of the picture at us.

By now it was time to get on up that hill, so we walked through the snow to the car. Turning the corner to start the ascent, we happened upon the Rosalind Candy Shop. "Oh, Papi, they have the best chocolate-covered strawberries there," she said, with the twist of her head and a Cheshire cat smile. One more stop, then! Of course you could not buy one strawberry, just six, to the tune of $9.95.

But, hey, what's your grandfather for if not to spoil you? Besides, it gave us a chance to take something home for everyone -- it being Valentine's Day and all. Come to think of it, though, I never saw those strawberries again...
Chloe experiences the ecstasy of a candy store smell, er, perfume!
Finally, we arrived back at home, none the worse for wear, answered everyone's question about "where have you been?" and settled down for dinner and dessert.
Sarah made this delightful Valentine's Day trifle.
The next day we headed back to the old Harrisburg homestead with temperatures still down in single digits. The temps had been that way all weekend, going below 0 at night. I spent most of my time under an electric lap blanket, and poor Lily the Dog wore her sweater and sat on the hot air vent! Sarah even jacked up the heat to 65 degrees, I think.
Miss Lily keeping warm.
On Monday, we set out for home in single digit weather. I wonder how people stood traveling in cars before they were closed in or had heaters. Thank heaven the combustion engine creates heat!

Passing through Beaver Falls pretty much requires a stop at Oram's Donut Shop for cinnamon buns and cream-filled donuts.  It's just across the river from New Brighton and on the way to the turnpike.
The goodies are so fresh, they don't even make it into the display cabinets. We buy the two "classic" items. (We first learned of Oram's when my sister Rachel and I once stayed at a Beaver Falls bed and breakfast, and the owners described cinnamon rolls "the size of your head.")

Willpower alone kept the goodies in the bad.

With the baked goods safe in the car, we moved along, returning to find the thermostat in our house had burped and allowed the temp to fall to 40 degrees, possibly lower. The clear dishwashing detergent on the sink had become a grey gel, and as it turns out, a soldered joint in one of the shower faucets broke and allowed water to drip on the ceiling of the dining room when things began to thaw.
Frozen dishwashing detergent.
Set for 72 but registering 40 degrees.
If this looked like something religious, we could sell tickets to see it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome here.