Tag: Pennsylvania

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

Unfinished Business: The Williamsport, Pa. Whispering Giant – Woapalanee

Unfinished Business: The Williamsport, Pa. Whispering Giant – Woapalanee

In 2015, I took part in the Team Strange Whispering Giants Grand Tour. The tour brought riders around the country to visit Peter Wolf Toth‘s beautifully carved statues depicting local Native Americans.

Wacinton in Paducah, Kentucky – October 2015

When I reached Williamsport, Pennsylvania in July 2015 to visit the Giant Woapalanee that was installed in the park, I was disappointed to find that he was missing. All that was left was a pedestal and a plaque. As it turned out, I’d missed him by just a few weeks.

But, what happened to him? Would he be back?

Looking around the web, it became clear that the Giant had suffered extensive interior damage. Ultimately, it was dangerous to leave him in place because he might collapse. Though the carving was a well-loved town fixture, it ended up in a mulch pile with no immediate plans for repair. That is until this guy stepped in to save him.

Encouraging!

Based on that post, I took a look at the Thomas Taber Museum website. I thought for sure that such a grand piece of artwork would be prominently displayed. My giddy hopefulness quickly fizzled. Though there were 3 nicely carved small Woapolanee pieces, there was no Whispering Giant anywhere on the museum’s site.

So, I dropped a quick tweet:

*ding*ding*ding*

You’ll probably think I’m ridiculous, but I actually woohoo-ed when I read the reply.

Firstly, I’m happy to know that there were people in Williamsport who cared enough to keep Woapalanee from being termite-chow and returning to the Earth. Perhaps that is ultimately the wooden carving’s rightful, natural place, but selfishly, I want the work to live, to inspire and to be enjoyed.

Secondly, and I hadn’t considered this before, but I deeply appreciate the people out there in the world who take the time to write down their experiences. Without this man writing about everyday goings-on in Williamsport, I would’ve had no idea where to look for information about the missing Giant.

Some people may write off personal blogging as useless time-filler about what you ate for lunch but, the people who do it, whether they know it or not, contribute to documenting contemporary life. I’m going to try to remember that when I feel like people on the other side of my blog are rolling their eyes at the stuff I stop and take photographs of. If just one person finds it useful – be it for a laugh, inspiration or something else, then I will have done something good.

Now… I’ve got to go see about a Giant!

Serenity Glass Park – Port Allegany, Pennsylvania

Serenity Glass Park – Port Allegany, Pennsylvania

While I was riding along Route 6 in Pennsylvania, I passed through Port Allegany. Right in the middle of town sits a small but eye-catching park featuring colorful glass block structures. I couldn’t resist stopping to get a look at what the story was. It was called Serenity Glass Park.

Though the park is small and appears to still be under construction, you could tell it was big on meaning. Port Allegany’s economy has apparently been largely dependant on glass manufacturing. In 2016, Pittsburgh Corning, a manufacturer of glass blocks and long-time local employer, shuttered its doors.

When I pass through small towns like Port Allegheny, there is a sense of community and a unique flavor that I don’t experience on my island of nearly 8 million people. Here, we seem to go out of our way to avoid contact with each other rather than find ways to come together and celebrate what binds us. We are faceless, nameless, anonymous ants scurrying about. Everything is a franchise. Perhaps that’s why I love passing through small town America. It’s like an expedition to find normalcy.

Sometimes I just want to hug these little towns and keep them close so that they live forever.

 

 

 

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.

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