Tag: lincoln highway

Tales of a Second Grade Nothing

Tales of a Second Grade Nothing

In September while heading east on the Lincoln Highway in the Chambersburg area, I stopped to snap photos of two gas pumps that were part of the Pump Parade. The first was at Shatzer Fruit Market in Chambersburg. It features a Chambersburg peach motif.

A little way down the road was the “Nellie Fox” pump in St. Thomas, PA outside of the Oak Forest Restaurant. I just caught this pump out of the corner of my eye, slammed on the brakes and made a U-ey to take its picture.

The parking lot where I turned around at the Oak Forest had a row of buildings lining the edge of the property. They were small, bungalow-type houses. As soon as I saw them a flood of emotion came over me. This little cluster of buildings was similar to the place where I spent the earliest part of my childhood amongst the creeps, the drunks, the dregs and those of us with families who were just a little down on their luck at the time. And this, right or wrong, consistently fills me with a burning shame.

Why? Why should I care about something that was beyond my control as a child? I mean, I have come a long way from where I started. And yet, those meager beginnings still mark me with a stain that no one but me can see.

Growing up, our little bungalow community was bussed to an elementary school that intermingled us with kids who were comfortably situated in the middle class. We shabby kids rubbed elbows with the children of doctors and lawyers. But in school, kids were kids. We were all the same… until we weren’t.

In second grade, I got to invite a few friends over to celebrate my birthday. It was the first time someone from school who didn’t live in my neighborhood came to my house. My school friend walked into our two-room bungalow and said, “this is it?!” and incredulously noted that her living room was bigger than my whole house, which was true. I am 44 years old now and the sentiment still smarts. I didn’t know there was anything “wrong” with my life until someone else told me so.

I’ve been sitting on talking about my feelings after seeing those stupid little houses for months. And I’ve wavered on the idea that maybe there would be some kind of catharsis, or that I might absolve myself of the guilt of feeling bad about growing up poor. So far? Not so much. Now, I feel like I should be ashamed of being ashamed because as crappy as it might have been, there are people who are or were worse off.

It would be nice if I could adopt the wistful-sounding attitude of my mother. She talks of drying out teabags on the radiator and reusing them and being “as poor as church mice,” as an affliction that was triumphantly overcome. And I confess, in truth it was. But clearly, for me, there is a scar.

Get off the cross, we need the wood.

Road Tripping: Recent Road-Related Reads

Road Tripping: Recent Road-Related Reads

Over the last month, I’ve read a few books that inspire my riding in different ways. Some directly, some less so.

What do any of these have to do with motorcycles? Well, that depends on who you are, I suppose. For me, the what and why of things is a great motivator. When I ride past an old building that screams, “I used to be an old filling station!” knowing what type it was or having a clue to help me look for information, is an interesting pursuit for me.

My eyes are drawn the vestiges of early to mid-20th century Americana. Books like Fill ‘er Up, Hopper’s Places and The Lincoln Highway Companion help me to know, dream, seek, and understand more. They turn my rides into satisfying personal missions that don’t end when the wheels stop turning. Seek, see, question, understand, feel, know, share – those are ways that these types of books help my riding.

With Lois Pryce‘s Revolutionary Ride, the reasoning is more direct. It is a travelogue of her time spent riding as a solo Western woman in Iran in 2013/14. It is a fascinating human story that picks at the scab of long-held perceptions about people. This book is an excellent companion to her other two titles: Red Tape and White Knuckles and Lois on the Loose.

Been Thinkin’ ’bout the Lincoln

Been Thinkin’ ’bout the Lincoln

Over the weekend I plucked a book off the shelf that I’ve had for a few years now: Lincoln Highway Companion: A Guide to America’s First Coast-to-Coast Road by Brian Butko. Flipping through its pages, makes me want to hit the road. I wish I could pinpoint what it was that initially sparked my interest in Americana.

Whenever I’ve traveled along the western half of Pennsylvania’s section of the Lincoln Highway, I’ve had a great time. The riding itself can be dull in some places with lots of traffic lights and congestion. But, those population centers lighten up as you go west and the sights overshadow the annoyance.

Some of the things I’ve seen along the way in PA:

Haines Shoe House – Hellam, PA

Mmmm… donuts… – Maple Donuts in York, PA

Pied Piper – Schellsburg, PA

Dutch Haven – Where I had my first taste of Shoo Fly Pie – Ronks, PA

Mural at the Bison Corral – Schellsburg, PA

Mural at the Bison Corral – Schellsburg, PA

Totem Pole Playhouse / Mail Pouch Barn – Ortanna, PA

Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum – Ortanna, PA

Ms. Penny Candy at Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum – Ortanna, PA

Vincent Van Gas a Lincoln Highway Pump Parade gas pump – Schellsburg, PA

Bull Durham ghost ad – Bedford, PA

Dunkle’s Gulf – Bedford, PA

The Coffee Pot – Bedford, PA

Near Jennertown / Stoyestown, PA

Wayne Fettro mural and a Lincoln Highway Pump Parade gas pump – Stoyestown, PA

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