Category: Sights from the Road

Scenes from a Pennsylvania Rideabout

Scenes from a Pennsylvania Rideabout

In the beginning of June, we spent a long weekend based out of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. My hubs Kenny was doing the Durty Dabbers Dual Sport. I wasn’t into it so I opted out this year. Instead, I spent my time bumming around and taking in scenes of America. These were some of the things that I saw:

Taking in a view of the bridge from Lock Haven on 664.

Spotted this delightful little place in Jersey Shore, Pa. Phil-It Up Drive In. Sadly for me, there’s not too much ice cream being sold at 8 am.

The town of Jersey Shore’s Veterans Park.

The bridge along 44 in Jersey Shore that crosses the West Branch of the Susquehanna.

Just ’round the corner from the Phil-It Up Drive In is a lovely war memorial. It stands across from the VFW hall. It’s sad that they are needed but memorials such as these feel like an important anchor in a community.

The well-worn patina of this old flour mill was outstanding – Milton, Pa.

Sunday morning and nothin’ doin’ in Mill Hall, Pa. I’d stopped here to snap a picture of a Mail Pouch ad.

This is said Mail Pouch ad – Mill Hall, Pa.

One for the tiny post office files – East Smethport, Pa. along Route 6.

Seeing this nice caboose (not a euphemism), I decided to pull over and have a drink. As I stood around munching on my Barnana snacks, a car with two young girls pulled up across the way. I watched as the two of them went through curious contortions in the front seat. They adjusted out of place hairs and tilted their heads just so, to snap the perfect selfies. They clearly knew their best angles. It is an art form that I still cannot buy into with any gusto. It is an interesting phenomenon to see unfold.

I bet the “Welcome to Weedville” sign gets stolen a lot.

You know there were actual events that prompted the shirt AND pants sign to be put up on the post office. Sounds like a fun town 🙂

Nirvana.

You can bet this sign has seen some things. Including better days.

 

Mail Pouch Tobacco: Looking For Ghosts

Mail Pouch Tobacco: Looking For Ghosts

This morning I was trying to recall when and where I was first exposed to a Mail Pouch Tobacco barn or ad. I’ve come up with nothing concrete. My first blog post related to Mail Pouch was from 2009. I’d stopped to take a picture of a barn while we were riding in Kentucky. Could that have really been the spark that lit the fire?

A Mail Pouch Tabacco ghost in Mill Hall, Pa.

Prior to 2009, I’d done some riding in West Virginia, the home of Bloch Brothers and Mail Pouch Tobacco. I’d traveled up and down roads that I’ve subsequently come to know have Mail Pouch barns on them. Maybe it is all just one big recognition puzzle. You start gathering pieces and shapes and then one day everything begins to interlock and you start to see an image.

Many layers to the Mail Pouch onion in Mill Hall, Pa.

Honestly, I’m not even sure what it is about the signs that interest me so. I find smoking and chew/pinch tobacco disgusting. So you can rule out nostalgia for the product itself. Maybe I connect the locations where you’d see barns and ads – places like lonely backroads and old rail towns – with good times? And the aesthetic can’t be discounted either, I suppose. Maybe I see them as art. Or time capsules to a less modernized life which I tend to romanticize.

Re-painted Mail Pouch barn on the Corner of 6 & 146 in Mt. Jewett, Pa.

For me, ghost ads or barn ads have no slickness. And I say that as a compliment. Instead, they carry a humanity to them. They weren’t made with mechanized sprayers or stretched vinyl. They were made by the hands of a person. A person standing, sweating, wiping their brow, stretching, correcting, pulling paint along a surface. I appreciate the humanity of the process.

A Sunday Morning Trip to the Post Office – Rebersburg, Pennsylvania

A Sunday Morning Trip to the Post Office – Rebersburg, Pennsylvania

While I was standing in front of the charming Rebersburg, Pennsylvania post office taking photos, the clip-clop sounds of an Amish buggy crept up behind me. As the buggy rolled by, a little girl of maybe 7 or 8 hung halfway out of the back window. She wore a bonnet and had rosy cheeks. Her chin rested on her arm along the window’s edge. Her eyes were fixed on me, the spacewoman in the orange helmet. I raised my hand and waved to her. She smiled and waved back. The horse clip-clopped and pulled her further and further away.

So long, little one. I will think of you again. I wonder, will you think of me too?

Rebersburg was a sleepy place on a Sunday morning. There was nothing doing save for me taking photos and a buggy passing through once in a while. That gave me a chance to look around the little town without feeling self-conscious about gawking at people’s lives.

I found the little store, Hettinger’s Grocery, to be especially endearing. With its wavy glass windows and homemade sign, it had all the right fixins to be the type of place I like. The type that tugs at my nostalgia-loving’ heart.

Just look at the carrots on that sign. The milk, the eggs. And can we talk about those bananas? Perfection.

Riding around in farm country, you get to see all manner of handmade signs. They often have a particularly jaunty penmanship and a scrappy make-do feel. They are wonderful because of their lack of polish and pretense. They almost make me want to buy turnips, horseradish, and baby ducks. Thankfully my tankbag doesn’t usually have enough room.

 

The Man With a Plan for a Can, The Legend – Chef Boyardee

The Man With a Plan for a Can, The Legend – Chef Boyardee

Every American kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s probably had more than their fair share of curious meatlumps and squishy sketties from a can courtesy of this dude. The man with the can – Chef Boyardee.

Most people probably think Chef Boyardee was just a marketing character. But no, Hector Boiardi was a real man with a plan and not just a can. A statue of his likeness stands outside of Con Agra Foods in Milton, Pennsylvania.

Chef Boyardee stands at:
30 Marr St.,
Milton, PA

Fading Away – Renovo, Pennsylvania Ghost Ads

Fading Away – Renovo, Pennsylvania Ghost Ads

I’ve passed through Renovo a few times over the last couple years. Each time I’ve stopped to snap a photo of the Mail Pouch Tobacco ad on the corner of Huron and 11th. The fade progression is clear in the pictures.

Considering the weather and the blazing sun that batters these buildings year in year out, the paint hangs on for a long time. It seems like it must reach a critical turning point where the colors and sharpness start to go very quickly.

On my first pass through town in February 2009, I snapped the Mail Pouch ad on the corner of 11th & Huron:

In June of 2014, I drove through Renovo and stopped for a quick picture of the Mail Pouch ad. There was definitely some fade compared to 2009.

Passing through town in June 2017, I stopped for the ad once again. Fading away…

The corner of Erie & 5th has a Mail Pouch and a Coca-Cola ghost two-fer. The first time I saw both, they were already quite faded. The change in their condition is less obvious to me. The photos are from June 2014 and June 2017 respectively for these two.

Coca-Cola is hangin’ on by a thread.

This Mail Pouch on the upper part of the building at 5th and Erie already had significant fade in 2014. Below it to the left also hung a nifty plastic RC Cola sign. Another throwback.

By the time I stopped again in June 2017, not much has changed in the fading but the plastic RC Cola sign is now gone. I like to think it is happily hanging in a room where someone loves it versus laying broken in a dump.

The wishful part of me wants these nostalgic gems to last forever. But I know that won’t happen. I guess I’ll just have to keep riding around, taking photos and making memories.

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