Hometown Views: Main Street

Today Erin (Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs) and I are writing about main streets for our Hometown Views. Obviously, our main streets are going to be very different, since I live in a very small town and she lives in a city.

In fact, if Erin wants photos of her city’s Main Street, without too much traffic, she must wake up at 4 a.m., or ask a friend to take photos for her at 4 a.m. If I want a photo of my Main Street without traffic I simply walk down on a Sunday evening or any evening and take them because this town is dead most days of the week, but even more so on a Sunday afternoon or after 5 p.m.

Let me tell you something too, when I started writing this blog post, it spun me down into a rabbit hole of information, from online sources, local resources, and from stories from my mom and dad who remembered where this and that store used to be that isn’t there any longer. This journey even had me questioning my own sanity as I couldn’t remember some of the old stores or rows of buildings that used to be here and no longer are and had to wonder why. I apparently have Swiss cheese for a brain and forgot half of my childhood. It might be better that way, of course.

According to the VisitPA tourist site, Dushore was founded in 1859 and name after Aristide Aubert du Petit-Thouars, who was given the area to farm after traveling from France to Philadelphia and to French Azilum, which I believe I mentioned on this blog before was an area about 40 minutes from me where Marie Antoinette was going to be taken to before she was captured and beheaded. I don’t see how they got Dushore from his name, but let’s just go with that.

The first permanent settler was not the French dude, however. It was General Cornwallace Jackson if Wikipedia has it correct. The French dude (I simply don’t want to type his name out again, which I didn’t even type, I copy and pasted it) has his own Wikipedia page so he must be more important than General Jackson. After reading this on the Wikipedia page, “After having lost both legs and an arm, he continued to command from a bucket filled with wheat until he died,” I think I might want to read up more about this man in the future.

Main Street looked a lot different back in those early days of Dushore of course. Two big differences are the fact that an entire row of buildings on Main Street burned down in 1984 — an event I completely do not remember, but maybe because I was only 6 or 7 at the time — and another row across the street was torn down in the early 90s.

Dushore was our main town to shop in when I was growing up (other than Towanda, 15 minutes away), so I’m sure we must have gone in and out of those buildings, but I don’t remember them at all. Like any of them. For me, my memory starts when the Guthrie Clinic was on the corner, built where the old buildings that burned used to be. It probably starts there because I was in that office so much as a child with bladder infections, strep throat, and possible mono at least once, and when I was older, thyroid and blood sugar (low) issues.

While searching for information about the town online, I found a paper by a student of Penn State from several years ago suggesting the former Pealer’s Drug Store building be remodeled and revamped, to make it a centerpiece of Main Street. That remodeling has since been done and now the building is used for various events, including the county library’s trivia night fundraiser. I don’t know if it is the centerpiece of town, but it is a lovely looking building, which I pass to drive to my house.

The Pealer is the blue building.

Back in the day (as the saying goes), drug stores were a central location in town because they provided more than pharmaceuticals to residents. They were also the place people went to converse about life, purchase the local paper, buy candy, etc.

Speaking of the local paper, the current, and literal, the centerpiece of town is our county’s newspaper, The Sullivan Review.
The Sullivan Review is currently owned by my neighbor, John Shoemaker. It was founded in 1878. It merged with several other newspapers over the years, until it was purchased from the Towanda Printing Company in 1966 by Thomas and Stefana Shoemaker, to keep it from folding with the Towanda Daily Review, which was the paper I started my reporting career in. It is actually The Daily Review in Towanda now, but most people call it the “Towanda Daily Review.”

The newspaper office is the red brick building in the center with the bell tower. It is pictured her on Memorial Day this year.

Local residents rarely called Thomas by his first name. I didn’t even know his first name was Thomas, or Tom, up until a few years ago. He was referred to as “Doc” by the locals because he was also the local veterinarian. We took all of our animals to him when I was growing up, and I have a couple of vivid memories of a couple of those visits, including the time we had to take our dog Sheba to him to have porcupine quills removed from her snout.

Another story involves our cat, Zorro, who we took there when he started to develop kidney issues. My dad warned me that Doc might seem rough when he handles the animals, but that he does care for the animals and isn’t trying to hurt them. I didn’t know what he meant until Doc grabbed my cat’s tail, yanked it up toward the sky in one quick jerk, and plopped a thermometer straight up his rear like he was putting birthday candles in a cake. Zorro yowled for a few moments but within a minute it was over and it was worth it because we discovered he had a fever and he ended up on antibiotics.

When Doc wasn’t taking care of area animals, large (he also visited local farms) and small, Doc was covering events for the paper, which comes out every Wednesday, I might add. It’s actually out on many store shelves by Tuesday night. I ran into Doc during quite a few events when I first started working in newspapers. His wife was by his side most of the time, one or both of them holding a camera. Doc is a blog post all on his own and I think I will write one soon. He was a fascinating man.
His son now runs the paper with his wife, Chris. Their daughter Kate also helps out. Their son, John, is a lawyer in town.

Yes, I have digressed, so moving on to the rest of Main Street.

The Jolly Trolley is another highlight of downtown, located directly in the center of Main Street, on the corner by the only stoplight in Sullivan County. Yes, our town is known for having the only stoplight in the entire county. It is the largest town in the county and the only one where drivers could collide with more than simply a bear, deer, or raccoon.

The Jolly Trolley wasn’t always the Jolly Trolley, of course. Today it is a local restaurant and retail store selling unique gifts.
Many years ago, though, it was the local Ben Franklin, owned by a Mr. Sick. Ben Franklin stores were a chain of five and dime stores. There was also one in Towanda, the town I mentioned before that we traveled to for groceries, shoes and clothing shopping, etc.

Ben Franklin in the 70s maybe?

I don’t remember Mr. Sick much, other than he had blazing white hair and liked to hand me candy when we went in. I think he wore white shirts and a black tie or black suspenders most of the time. I also remember the store with its wooden floors, glass jars full of candy, and aisles full of a variety of crafts and other items.

Mr. Sick is also the main character in one of my dad’s favorite stories about being careful not to gossip or complain about people in a small town. According to Dad, Mr. Sick liked to talk a lot so he was talking to a woman for several moments and when he left the woman turned to the woman next to her and said, (I’m summarizing), “Oh my gosh. I thought he’d never leave. What an annoying man. He never shuts up. I don’t know how people can stand to listen to him all the time.”

The other woman responded, “I have to listen to him. He’s my husband.”

I am not exactly sure when Ben Franklin closed, but probably sometime in the 1990s since Mr. Sick passed away in 1995. The entire storefront has been completely revamped, since then and I think the red building it has become is a nice addition to downtown.

Little Miss, The Boy, and I have visited the restaurant a few times for lunch or breakfast and Little Miss loves to watch the little train along the top of the ceiling go around while we eat. The store also has a large, stuffed black bear standing by the register, which she likes to touch and look at while I pay. She also likes to run down the ramp into the toy section to search for a new toy to add to her collection. This is the same ramp if I remember right, that was there when the old Ben Franklin store was there.

Next to the Jolly Trolley is the NAPA store, which I don’t have any memories of because I am not sure I’ve ever been in it.

The only story I have from that store is one about my sister-in-law going there to purchase something when she was up to visit my brother (I don’t think she was my sister-in-law yet) and someone in the store made a disparaging remark about “flatlanders.” She is from New Jersey originally. Anyone who isn’t “from around here” and is from the southern part of the state or New Jersey is considered “a flatlander.” When you say “flatlander,” you say it much like I described how locals say Scranton when you mention you are going to visit there. Nose wrinkled, faced scrunched and the word dripping with disgust.

My sister-in-law ignored the comments, bought whatever she needed, and went next door to the Jolly Trolley where, after waiting for someone to take her owner, heard someone rudely call from behind the counter, “Did anyone wait on the flatlander yet?”

I haven’t heard of this happening to anyone recently and the person who made the crack in the restaurant could have been joking, or they should have been, considering a lot of the income of the businesses around here, especially the restaurants, relies on “flatlanders” who drive up from Philly and New Jersey to stay in cabins they rent or own in the wooded areas around us.

Beyond the NAPA is the CN Bank, or whatever they are calling it today. The name changed recently and will probably change again. Further down is Dushore Beverage, because every town, no matter how small, needs a liquor store.

Next to the liquor store is a small craft store run by some very nice people, including a woman who has a cat who jumps on her shoulder while she talks to customers. The cat then perches there like it’s a parrot.

Next in line on the street is a private residence and then a local insurance business in a former private residence. Crossing the street, you will find one of the other popular restaurants in town, Mary Beth’s Westside Deli, which is owned and operated by the town mayor. It offers cheesesteaks and other tasty items, as well as an ice cream stand that I have to take Little Miss to every time we visit the tiny playground. I have some humorous stories about visits there but to avoid offending anyone who might misunderstand if they stumble on to this post, I’m going to leave those stories out of this post. wink

Next to Mary Beth’s, going on the other side of Main Street, is one of our local grocery stores (yes, we have two!), Hurley’s Supermarket. I’m not sure what the building was before it was a supermarket, and my mom can’t remember either. I originally thought it was an Acme, but she thinks the Acme was actually in the row of buildings that has since been torn down.
There are two Hurley’s Supermarkets, with the second one being in . . . yes, Towanda.

There is a large municipal parking lot next to Hurley’s, which I believe was filled by the Green Swan Grill and another row of stores many years ago. I have no idea when those buildings were torn down, but one source online said the grill building was torn down in 1990. I do not even remember this building. Seriously, what was I on during my childhood? It’s all a blur to me.

I did find this photo of it on the historical site’s Facebook page.

Across the street and next to the stop light is the M&T bank building which was emptied a couple of weeks ago when the bank moved out. Next to the bank building is the Pealer building, which I mentioned above, then there is a bar, The Iron Horse, which I think used to be the Whistle Stop Café.

Further down is Pam’s Restaurant, a very popular restaurant, not necessarily for the food (although it is good) but for the people who run it and the hometown feel it has for those who visit. It is a local gathering place for locals to eat, chat, gossip, complain, and simply be together. It is also my dad’s go-to place when he comes into town. He meets old friends and makes new ones.

Beyond Pam’s are a couple of old buildings, including an old, abandoned hotel, that somehow have not been torn down or fallen down yet. I would guess that the hotel building has been there since the late 1800s or early 1900s, based on some old photos I found. I will have to research this when I have more time.

Besides this building, there used to be an old train trestle/bridge that ran over the road. I had no idea about that until I looked for old photos of the town online. There is a Facebook page for the county’s historical society, which features historical photos of the area, especially the town I live in.

Our other market in town, the aptly named Dushore Market, completes the businesses on Main Street.

I could have researched a lot more history about downtown, but I wasn’t really sure how much I should add and how boring that might make this post.

I did a search online about Dushore and Wikipedia wants everyone to know that the town is the hometown of NASCAR and ARCA driver L.W. Miller. Honestly, I didn’t know L.W. was an actual driver, (oops, sorry L.W.) but I do know he is married to Dale Earnhardt’s daughter, Kelly, that he is originally from here, and that his family is heavily involved in car/truck racing. His grandparents (maybe his parents too?) ran Miller’s Hardware, another landmark and staple in this town. L.W. worked there as a kid.

His grandmother was a fascinating character and my main memories of her involve a woman who reminded me of Carol Channing, with white, bobbed hair, dark-rimmed glasses, smoking a cigar, and giving me 50 cent pieces when I visited the store with my dad.

If you want to know more about L.W., you can see his own Wikipedia page, or maybe I’ll write a blog post about him one day too wink.

I thought it would be neat to share a few of the old photos I found of Main Street compared with today’s.

I hope you have enjoyed our journey down my little town’s Main Street today. Hop on over to Erin’s blog and learn more about the Main Street in Wyandotte, Michigan.

Hometown Views: Schools

Welcome to a new feature from me and Erin at Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs called Hometown Views, where we share views and stories from our respective hometowns (or the towns where we currently live anyhow).

Today, Erin and I are focusing on the schools in our areas. Because Erin lives in an urban area and I live in a rural area, our schools are obviously going to be much different. While the schools in her area are large, the schools in my area are small and many of them could probably fit twice over in the school buildings in her area.In the county I grew up in, and attended school in, there are seven school districts. The majority of those districts have two or more school buildings, one for elementary, one for middle (in a couple of cases) and one for high school. The rest of them only have a junior-senior high school building for grades 7-12. This was the case for the high school I attended, which is located about 10 miles from where I live now. When I was growing up, the school district I lived in, Wyalusing School District, consisted of an elementary school in all the little communities in the district that went from kindergarten to sixth grade. That was four elementary schools.

After sixth grade everyone went to the high school, which is about 20 minutes away from where I lived (15 if you floor it).

The school as it looks today. Photo by my husband.

Several years ago, after a lot of arguing, the district closed all the elementary schools and built a joint elementary school on the same campus as the high school so now there is one junior-senior high school and one elementary school for the entire district in one place.

We visited that campus with our children a couple of years ago and they enjoyed playing on the playground that did not exist when I attended school there. In fact, when I attended high school there, the space where the elementary school is now was swamp land and woods. It was located behind the high school track and football team.

The new elementary school. Photo by my husband.
The playground that wasn’t there when I was a kid and teenager.
Behind my son is the elementary school that did not exist when I was a kid.
You can see the pretty, slopped, front yard of the school in the background of this shot.

This was hard for the communities where the schools were located because the schools were a central part of the community. Events were held there and the children who attended the schools became a close-knit group in many cases. I would not say that the children from my school became a close-knit group, necessarily, but that did happen in other schools. When I attended the elementary school, which was two to three miles from my house, our classes were very small. There was one classroom for each grade, and we had about 25 to 30 children, often less, in each classroom.

In the elementary school in the same town as our high school, Wyalusing, there were sometimes two or three classrooms for each grade with up to 30 children in each room. The other, outlying elementary schools, were similar to mine with only one classroom per grade.

My old elementary school as it looks today (despite that time stamp. I pulled this off a map site.)
This is the back of the school and behind the photographer would be the playground. That slide was one of those metal slides that set your legs on fire in hot weather.
Missing from this photo is the tether ball that used to be off to the right. This is also what the playground looked like after I left the school. Those monkeybars on the left aren’t the same monkey bars I fell off of and blacked out under when I was in second or third grade but they look very similar.

Thinking back, I can remember almost all of my elementary school teachers, except my Kindergarten one. I don’t think she was there very long, but I’m not sure why. Next up was my first-grade teacher who made you stand in front of the classroom on your birthday so she could pull your ear the number of years you were. She also had it in for one of our classmates and treated him pretty awful, despite him having a cruddy homelife.

My second-grade teacher was considered the nicest teacher in the school, and I believed this until she yelled at me one day for asking a question and tossed a workbook at my feet for answering a question wrong. Honestly, looking back, I have a feeling she was in the middle of menopause, and we had hit just one too many raw nerves that day. She was still one of the nicest teachers, but I regarded her with a healthy dose of suspicion from then on.

My third-grade teacher was said to ride a broom to school. She had a high-pitched voice that probably made the ears of dogs’ bleed. I honestly do not remember any horror stories about her but I don’t remember her being the nicest teacher.

My fourth-grade teacher was a man who owned and bred Huskies and used to bring the puppies to class on occasion where one promptly pooped the largest, slightly green pile of poop in the middle of the floor, leaving the class in stiches for the rest of the day.

I don’t have a ton of memories of my fifth-grade teacher, other than I think she was fairly nice. I also know that she passed away of a brain tumor several years ago, which is heartbreaking.

My sixth-grade teacher developed laryngitis frequently throughout the year, which the class eventually learned to use to their advantage. She would give assignments out for something, and we would pretend we couldn’t hear her. “What? I’m sorry, Mrs. Corson. I can’t hear you. Was that math you wanted us to do?”

She’d eventually scowl at us and write the assignment on the chalkboard. This was a big issue later when it was discovered that part of the reason she developed laryngitis several times throughout the year, was that she was allergic to chalk dust. Or at least that’s what I heard from a family member after I was an adult. I’m actually not sure if that story is true, but she did lose her voice often.

In sixth grade, every sixth-grade class from the district would pile on to busses and travel to Washington, D.C. for a three-day trip. The year I went, they made us wear the ugliest neon green hats with a W written on it, but there was a method to their madness. They wanted to be sure that if the groups were separated, they could find each other from a distance. It worked very well. Once, when we were separated from our group, we looked up across the Washington Mall and there were fifty-some neon green hats dotting the horizon, alerting us to the fact we were way off base from where we were supposed to be. Of course, we had chaperones. These were either a teacher or parent, and as far as I know, they did a wonderful job.

I don’t know if it is “politically correct” or “Christian” to mention this, but there was an Asian woman selling Bart Simpson T-shirts on the streets in Washington near Ford’s Theater during our trip and you could hear her up and down the street yelling, “Who da’ hell are you? Ten dolla!” over and over again. The shirts, of course, featured one of Bart’s famous sayings. His famous sayings are some of the main reasons I was not allowed to watch the show as a child, by the way. And yes, since you asked, several children came home with Bart Simpson T-shirts with Washington, D.C. emblazoned under an image of Bart and “Who the hell are you?!” emblazoned on the top of the image.

We also enjoyed listening to people try to pronounce the name Wyalusing. I’m sure I’ll mention this in future editions of Hometown Views, but Wyalusing is actually shortened from the Native American name M’chwihilusing. There is another Wyalusing in Wisconsin and I know the two towns are connected, but I can’t remember how. I believe settlers from this Wyalusing traveled to Wisconsin and weren’t very original, so they reused the name of the town they came from. I’ll have to touch on that in a future blog post.

Anyhow, I have digressed greatly from providing information about the school district I was educated in.  The Wyalusing School District educates approximately 1,350 students from K-12. Graduating classes are around 80-130 children, but usually closer to that lower number. My class of 130 was said to be among the largest when we graduated mumble, mumble years ago.

The school mascot is a ram. The school colors are green and gold and, yes, I can still sing the alma mater.

In the Wyalusing Valley, on the Susquehanna shore, stands our noble alma mater . . . okay, I won’t bore you with the whole thing.

The high school offers a variety of sports and extracurricular activities, including football, wrestling, golf, baseball, softball, cross country, track and field, volleyball, and basketball. I did not play any of these sports. I did participate in Orchestra, where I played the bells (xylophone) and chimes (oh, I could tell you some stories from that experience, but I won’t. Not today anyhow.). I also wrote the high school information column for the local weekly newspaper, where I later worked (after college) and where my husband is now the editor.

The high school was very well known for an extremely strong drama department when I was a student. I don’t know if this is the case now, but when I attended high school there, the popular kids were on the sports teams, yes (the most popular being on the wrestling and football teams. Quite a few state champions came out of the wrestling program over the years), but almost as popular, if not sometimes more popular, were the singers and actors who performed in the annual musicals. Many of those students thought their poop didn’t stink, as the saying goes, and I think a couple of them might still feel that way, even though only one of the students I knew from the program at the time, went on to have a nationally recognized career.

If you weren’t an athlete or a member of the drama department, you were pretty much a ghost at my high school and, for me, that wasn’t a bad thing. I liked being left alone to read a book, sketch, and write in my journal. I never had any interest in being popular. Let a friend of mine sing her heart out on the stage and date the star, then receive a bunch of attention for her beautiful voice (much deserved, I might add) because all I wanted to do was hide in my room and be left alone to the characters in my mind and in my books.

I’m sure the school district can boast many successful students who have graduated from its ranks, but one student who stands out to me and other alumni is Lucas Steele, who was nominated for a Tony in 2017 for his role as Anatole in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. Other students (even the ones I joked about above) did well for themselves in their own right, however, and I truly hope they have all had happy lives, no matter where their career paths have led.

In the county where I live now, there is one school district – the Sullivan County School District – and one high school and elementary building for the entire county.

You read that right.

The schools are the only schools for the entire county. Well, two if you count that the elementary school building is right next to the junior-senior high school but not connected. I did not drive the 12 minutes from my house to photograph the school buildings because I had too much going on this week and last. I searched for photographs online and there were zero. I mean zero photographs of the school buildings, other than a few I found on Facebook of the building after firefighters had to respond to a fire there in 2019. The building was damaged, but luckily renovated and repaired. I also found another one of the building on the first day of school, though most of it is blocked by the busses. The photograph does, however, show part of the lovely campus the school is located on.

The district educates approximately 600 children.

Yep. That’s it. Six hundred children from K-12. People who live in larger cities are reading this right now and saying, “Six hundred children?! In two schools? For the entire county?! One class in our school had 600 students!”

It should be noted, however, that there are only about 6,000 full-time residents in this county. A large part of the county is made up of state gameland and there are also a large amount of cabins that are used throughout the year, but mainly during the summer, by people who live out of the area (usually in Philadelphia and New Jersey).

Because of its small size, the Sullivan County High School does not offer football. It does offer basketball, baseball, volleyball, wrestling, track and field, cross country, and soccer It also has a band, but not usually a marching band since there are no halftime shows in soccer or the other sports. The only time the district’s band performs a halftime show is at the two-county band exposition held each year in the neighboring county.  Like the school I attended, they offer chorus and various music programs.

The school mascot is a griffin.

I had to research was a griffin is because I always forget. According to Wikipedia, it is “a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and sometimes an eagle’s talons as its front feet.”

You may be wondering, if you are new to this blog, if either of my children have ever attended any of the schools I have mentioned. The answer is no. My son attended a small, private Christian school until sixth grade and my daughter has been homeschooled for her entire school career so far. My son is now also homeschooled.

When I was mentioning the schools in our area, I did forget to mention the three private, Christian/ Catholic schools. The protestant school educates up to twelfth grade and the two Catholic schools educate up to eighth grade, after which students can either attend the high schools in the district they live in or they can go the Catholic high school in New York state, which is about a half an hour drive from the one private school and an hour from the other.

Now that my rambling about local schools is over, you can hop over to Erin’s blog and read about the “big city schools” outside of Detroit.

Hometown Views: Libraries

Today Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I are debuting a feature we are calling Hometown Views. Every other week we will focus on a different aspects, locations, or landmarks of our differing towns (or city in Erin’s case).

This week we are sharing photos and thoughts about our local libraries. Erin lives in a more urban area, and I live in a smaller, more rural area. We both have a few different libraries we can choose from that we have visited, but we both have one library that means more to us than others.

The library building in the town we lived in prior to moving to our current home, was a beautiful facility and like most of the seven libraries in the county I grew up in, was built in the late 1800s, specifically to be a library.

Spalding Memorial Library, Athens, Pa.

It has three stories filled with books and a fourth story which houses the local museum. The museum features artifacts from Native Americans who originally settled the area, various historical objects from the area, uniforms and weapons from a variety of wars, and old photographs. It’s a small space but packed full of fascinating items.

I didn’t take a lot of books out there over the years, but we did attend various events there and I was at the library a lot covering events when I worked at the newspaper. I also let my children jump in mud puddles outside of that library one rainy day while patrons gawked at me like I had three heads. Good times.

Another library in a beautiful building sits next to the newspaper building (now abandoned, sadly) where I used to work. The library features two or three levels of bookshelves, accessible by metal stairs and ladders. There used to be a children’s section in the back. A few years ago, the library purchased an old carriage house behind the library building, and converted it into children’s wing, opening up the rest of the library for computers and more rows of adult or reference books.

While there is a good selection of libraries in our little rural area, for me, the library that means the most to me is in the town I now live in.

This library is actually in the county next to the county where I grew up, however, I lived only about five miles outside of this town up until I was about 25. I then married and moved 45 minutes north, where I lived for 18 years.

I remember coming home from the library with plastic library bags full of books. Mom would have one or two bags and I had one. We’d walk into the house and Dad would say, “More books? How will you even have time to read all of those?”

Well, Dad, not having a ton of friends helps with that. My friends were inside the books. Okay, not totally. I did have friends, but my friends liked to read too so there were times we didn’t hang out and during those times we read.

The library was and is small. There are three or four aisles with books on either side and then a small children’s room.

A recent program in the children’s room of the Sullivan County Library, Dushore, Pa.

All on one floor. Yes, that’s it, but when I was a kid, it was enough for me. I actually don’t remember ever picking books out of the children’s room. I read books that were probably too old for me, in some ways, but not inappropriate in any way, so I chose from the main shelves.

The rows of books are off to the right and back.

I was in love with The Cat Who books, which I, of course, still talk about on here (I finished reading one just this past weekend and have a blog post in the works about my love for the series). I also signed out quite a few Beverly Cleary books. Christian Fiction was another genre that caught my attention there.

I loved walking the aisles, running my fingertips over the spines of the books, picking them up and opening them, breathing in deep the smell of ink and paper, knowing that soon I’d be transported away from my sometimes boring life and into a world fresh and new to me.

My kid at the library in the town we currently live in. Excuse the cellphone quality.

I was so excited to move to this town and be able to go to the library again. But then I remembered my recent phobia of signing out library books and worrying about damaging them, which makes me take them back before I’ve even finished them. The phobia started in our previous hometown, because if I forgot to return a book that library would call, then text, then call, then text and so on until I returned it. I felt like a criminal. It was just easier to order books on Kindle or buy them at library sales.

The last straw was when I ran into a member of the library staff and mentioned to her I was bringing a replacement for a book I’d lost to the library. She told me not to worry but then let me know that if people don’t return books, the library has been known to send a report to the local district magistrate’s office. Gulp. That return book was in their hands the very next day after that and I never signed out another book from them. (But, no, I do not really believe she was threatening me. She was just sharing the libary’s new policies.)

You Know What didn’t help with my excitement about the little library here last year since I couldn’t peruse the shelves for almost a year. Then I became annoyed at our local library a few weeks ago because they continued to advertise their summer reading program, as if new people could join, but it was full. I had missed the deadline by a few days, but I called the library and asked if I could slide my daughter in. They never returned my call, so I called again. Still no call. When I finally was able to catch up to someone, they told me the program was full and my daughter could not attend.

It was fine that they had capped the program because they don’t have a lot of space but what was annoying was that they would advertise the program in the local newspaper as if children could attend, even though they couldn’t. So, I was a bit snitty with the lovely ladies who volunteer there and even though I apologized profusely for being jerky, I still feel super shy about going back in again. That’s why some of the photos I will share here are from my cellphone a couple years ago and from their website. That’s right, I’m a big scaredy cat to go there right now, even though they forgave me and said it was totally understandable that I had been annoyed. When I do go in, I will take them a big box of baked goods from the local bakery. A bakery called — I love this — The Mad Bakers.

I do love the library and I do love what they do for the community so I feel super, super guilty about being a jerk. I make sure to donate them or promote them whenever I can.

For a tiny library, they really do have a lot of variety of books. They have a great deal of Christian Fiction, which is popular in our area, but they also have a great deal of mysteries, popular books, and this month they added 65 new titles of tons of genres to their shelves. They hold a variety of programs throughout the year for all ages, but especially children and families.

We loved this magic show we attended there at the beginning of June.

In many ways, they are the center of the tiny community here (of 600 people in the entire town).

Another library I want to mention is one I visited once or twice as a child and teenager. That library, located in the little town of New Albany, Pa. was completely destroyed in 2018 when it was knocked of it’s foundation by rising flood waters. Quite a few people in our state have heard about the library because it was washed off it’s foundation and came to rest in the middle of a major highway. Or at least part of it came to rest there.

The New Albany Library before a flash flood knocked it off it’s foundation and into the middle of a highway. It was a surreal scene!

It was hit by flooding the week before it was knocked off it’s foundation, but I don’t think anyone thought that whole building, with a concrete foundation, would go down.

There was an apartment upstairs and the people who lived there were rescued by a member of the fire department who lived next door and whose home also was damaged. His home was again damaged last week in flooding.

Some of the damage from the library’s Facebook page in August 2018.
The library after it was pushed back off the highway so traffic could go through town. The highway is a major highway for truck traffic, etc.

The rest of the library, including books and documents, were scattered across the street, down the street, and downstream.

The library is still gone. The funding the governor (who came to inspect the site) and the state promised would come to replace it was never provided. The funding the county mentioned they might be able to obtain to rebuild it, also never came. Land has been donated to build a new library building, but so far there are no funds to complete the project. The state will also not allow the borough to go into the creek behind the space to clean it out and keep flooding from happening again so the residents of the borough again suffered damage last week when they, again, had flash flooding.

Following the Pennsylvania governor when he toured the site. I took photographs for the paper my husband was working for at the time.

There is a small little library-like set up in town, in front of the church, far away from where it normally floods. Books are placed in a structure that resembles an old British phone booth and patrons can take a book and replace it with another book.

Growing up I only visited the library a few times, but it was cozy and housed a great deal of local history. Its loss was a huge hit to a small town that has already taken many hits over the years.

Thanks for joining me for a tour of the libraries in my area. Now I hope you will hop over to Erin’s blog and check out her post about the libraries she attends and enjoys.