Our first PA home was a rental farmhouse at the place below. I don’t have a photo from then, and Google maps was no help as I don’t have an exact address and the lane is a quite rural one, but this photo shows the general layout of the place we rented. It too had a covered front porch, a central hall into the house with stairs to the second floor, with the first floor in two wings. It was very picturesque and quite livable about three miles from Kutztown, PA on the linguistic border of the state. I think the house was part of a 200 acre parcel the Realtor had bought, probably with the idea of development, and meanwhile was renting the buildings to tenants and the land to farmers.
Marge took care of the PA end of the move and unfortunately they broke a large ancestral hall mirror that had been in Marge’s grandparents house. The original mirror had a very artistic bevel around the edge of the glass, which was nice but in many places the mirroring silver had deteriorated badly. The movers replaced the glass so it made a more effective mirror but did not have the antique look. Fast forwarding, last week the mirror, which until then was in my living room, fell down and broke during the night. I guess gravity got the better of it. Neither of the children were particularly attached to it so all went into the trash for disposal.
The first thing I remember doing was taking Ingrid to the local elementary school to enroll her. She was then 7 years old and I think then in 2nd grade. They told us about the bus that would pick her up and some other unforgettable facts and Ingrid and I went back to the house. I filled Marge in and recall mentioning that the principal was helpful but her speech was accented,very similar to the German dialect speaking people in the area I was stationed when in the Air Force. That was my introduction to PA Dutch. I did not shop much in Kutztown but I did when I needed something quickly, such as a hardware part, in a hurry and Allentown was too far away. On entering the hardware store, nobody was speaking English, it was like being back in the Old Country again.
This house included about two acres with a large garden area and a few fruit trees. I remember walking around the property early on with Ingrid and I told her we two were going to play a little joke on Marge. I would say to her “Ingrid you really have growed.” Her response was “Grown, Daddy.” To which I responded with a gut wrenching GROAN and the three of us got a laugh out of that.
Marge really did not like life there. Ingrid’s bus schedule must have meant that she was the first to be picked up and the last to come home. Her portal to portal time was about the same as mine going into work in Allentown. So, Marge was left by herself with only little Louise as a companion. Marge had no friends and was very unlikely to make any as all our neighbors were some variety of Amish, an entirely different culture. They were not unfriendly but we and they lived in very different worlds. On a Sunday afternoon sitting on the front porch we could easily believe we were sucked up in a time warp to a time 100 years ago. Quite a few people were on horseback and many carriages as well, and some people just strolling along. To add to illusion, most dressed in Amish period costumes.
Marge had bad memories of being alone and until we bought a house in a modern subdivision, that was not going to change. We continued to look for a house using a sales person from the Realtor who owned the house. We knew no others and could break the lease if we used him, so why not? We even looked at one stone home considerably larger than the one we lived in as it was recently listed and near-bye. Maybe we could adjust to country living. The house was quite large, much more than the one in the picture, and came with 5 acres of land. The place was obviously old, probably dating back to the early 1800s as our did. It had a very grand stairway to the second floor, maybe 5 feet wide with banisters on each side. There was electricity but only surface mounted wiring, probably fit only for lighting. It had not fallen into decay, but had definitely seen better days. I think the clincher not to buy was when Marge asked “Where is the kitchen?” The answer ” where ever you want it to be.” The owner was asking $20,000 for the house and it would take easily that for basic restorations so that was the end of picturesque stone homes.
Later in the Fall, I took Ingrid to the Whitehall Mall north of Allentown to see a children’s movie. I think it was Heidi, if not that, something similar. Our plan was to see a matinée and I must have made a mistake on the show time, as when we got there it had already been showing maybe 45 minutes. However there was another showing shortly after the finish. I explained all this to Ingrid and said that we still could still see the movie, but it would be later, what would she like to do? She wanted to see it, so we window shopped for a while and then stopped in a mall restaurant for an ice cream sundae. It made for a very pleasant father-daughter time, but what didn’t we do? We (that is I) didn’t call Marge to tell her of the delay. So, when we did get home, Marge was frantic with worry. In her mind we were both dead in a ditch victim of a horrible car wreck. Of course she didn’t get an ominous call from a hospital ER or the police. No information whatsoever. She was both relieved to know there was nothing wrong but very vexed with me for not calling ahead. With good reason.
Our sales person, Wally Furler, as I remember him was a WWII veteran and was going to give a talk in the downtown Lutheran church to which he belonged. He invited us, so why not? He had taken a lot of time in showing us houses that for some reason or other were not right for us and we could support him in this way. This was our first exposure to a Lutheran service. Our church background had been Presbyterian and Methodist and we knew nothing about liturgical worship. I think we were alone in this as we helplessly flipped back and forth in the Hymnal/Order of Worship book. We ended up standing when everyone else did and sitting likewise but were clueless about the details. Wally did give a nice talk about some of his war experiences and what his faith had meant to him. It was meaningful, sincere and we were both glad that we came to give our small bit of support.
So, like Judy Garland and Toto, we were not in Kansas any more. We were only maybe 150 miles from the greater Binghamton area, but the “feel” of Allentown was somehow different from that in the NY where we had lived. Even the food was somewhat different. A steak sandwich in Bingo usually meant a cube steak on toast points with a couple of sides. Here it meant a Philly steak sandwich which neither of us had ever heard of. And the spiedinis of Southern NY were never heard of here. We were catching on though, if only we could find the house we wanted. Seems like this is a good place to stop with that being the next chapter.
Wow, I think I would go crazy in a town like that. I am not what you calla country guy, give me a city like New York any day!
It drove Marge up the wall as well, not because it was country but being alone which was one of her fears. I had lived in a small town until I went to college and though Marge lived around the world, her teen years were in a small town as well. Even las Vegas is too big for my taste, but at least I live in a suburban neighborhood. thanks for your continuing commentary.