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Virtual Valley-Nanty Glo Nanty Glo Online Nantyglo, Wales, UK Vintondale
Blacklick Valley Schools Area Churches
Local demographics Local news
A virtual hike
Family tree help CAMBRIA COUNTY
Religion & ethics
Channel 6 news
Free home pages
Old front page
Saturday, July 31, 1999 entry
Taking care of business
Time and space limitations brought me to the conclusion today that we have to discontinue posting the responses to our daily entries on this page. In less than a month, this page has grown larger than the ones that used to accumulate over a quarter. That's good news in what it says about the acceptance of the Jonal, but I regret having to move the archive a step away from the home page. But the fact is there has always been an archive of all email forum correspondence on the worldwide web. You can access it by clicking the "Join List" button above, then click "View the List Archive" to see the posts, starting with the most recent, back to the beginning of the list. Anyone can read them. Although I wish all who read would join in, some no doubt have sufficient reasons for not doing so at this time, so there's no requirement that you do so. "Subscribing" to the list is free, however, and easy. If you're not on the email forum and want to read yesterday's final posts about the woods, try the archive now. Letters on today's topic are also already there; that's one reason for doing this (I couldn't keep up with it, but the "robot" does it automatically).
Randy Jansure suggested today's topic, urban legends, which I have recast slightly as "suburban legends" to apply more aptly to Nanty Glo. He wrote me offlist:
"I'm sure you may have heard of the recent movie, The Blair Witch Project. It even has a web site associated with it, http://www.blairwitch.com/. Briefly, it deals with a legend of a witch who was banished from a small Maryland town and since then strange things have happened there. (Before the story opens) three college film students disappear in the woods and, a year later, someone finds their film recordings of the events (leading up to their disappearance).
"Although this story is fiction, most people want to believe it. It's the kind of thing legends are made of.
"I remember a story I heard growing up in Nanty Glo about a White Lady. I can't remember the exact details of the story; it's been too long. But a supposed White Lady haunted one of two places, Bracken's Dip on the road to Vintindale, and old Buelah Road. I was wondering if you or anyone else has heard this story. If not, I'm sure there are some good urban legends or ghost stories associated with Nanty Glo."
When my son, Kevin, and his girlfriend came to see me (I'm in Los Angeles, they're in San Jose) a couple of weeks ago, they had just seen the movie and it was a major topic of conversation. I was interested especially as, the way they described it, it seemed to be set almost directly south of our Allegheny mountains. It reminded me of the story of the Lost Children of the Alleghenies (which isn't a myth but a historical incident). Kevin and Maya were still under the impression it was a true story, but he wrote me later that they'd gotten to the bottom of it and verified that it was fiction.
Like Randy, I also vaguely remember the story of the "Lady in White," but not well enough to retell it. Someone can no doubt relate it accurately, and perhaps we can be favored with other urban myths, legends, and historical events as well. Campfires in the woods seem to invariably gravitate to this general topic, so this does tie back to our earlier topic, doesn't it? At the very least, some can no doubt relate tales they heard in the woods....
Friday, July 30 1999
Pittsburghese - 2
First, the remaining letters about memories of the woods. From M.J.:
When you live in a town like Nanty Glo, and are growing up there you just did not know that you were making such memories. I lived on Christoff Street, and we too had the weiner roasts on the hill behind our houses and as you know, everyone had a hill for a back yard. If I were to write all my memories up there it would be a novel, from crawling under coal cars to going to the spring on the other hill to making our names in the snow on the rock dump. I guess we do have a lot of GREAT memories back in the little town of NANTY GLO.
From Bonnie (Dilling) Farabaugh:
I also came from the Rodgers St. gang and clearly remember all of our "woods" excursions! We all practically lived in the woods! "JEEP HILL" was definitely my favorite! I'm sure Kev and Lynn remember going down and just sitting on the "big rock" and b.s.ing! We all had our names painted on it! I sure miss those times! My kids still go to bear caves (what is left of them) and jeep hill but not like we used to. There are definitely too many "other" things to occupy their time. I think its about time I take a walk back in the woods. That is, if I can find the time!! Thanks Jon; what a great trip down memory Lane!
Three notes referred to the new topic of the day, "Pittsburghese." From Kevin Lindrose:
Does anyone know where the word "younse" (you all) may have originated from? Example: "Are younse guys coming for the weekend?"
To which Mary Ann replied:
Well I don't know where the word came from, but I do know that my kids tell me that they know when I am angry because I use the word...and I normally don't.
There are a few others that you only hear in Western Pa. How about "gumband"...or "wrench" (as in "wrench out the glass"). I know we have a very unique way of saying "coffee" and "water"...such as "cawfee" and "wauter"...lol...there are times when I have to spell out the word so that people know what I said.. Those are two words that, no matter how long I live in New Jersey, I will always say like I do back home.
Someone will probably come up with a few more words
From Paul Simendinger: How about the slippy roads? We all knew that it was supposed to be slippery, but it did not come out that way. Good topic. I believe I have a book of Pittsburghese. Will search for it and advise.
Obviously the local dialect doesn't earn as much enthusiasm as youth spent running the woods, but it did produce some interesting answers.
To Kevin Lindrose's question, "does anyone know where 'younse' originated," I was at first going to say, "Brooklyn," but that's "youse" (pronounced "use" as in, "hey, youse guys"). I've heard "younse" often, though when I was young we tended to say "you-uns" (two syllables) and my guess as to the origin is that it was actually with some more sophisticated speakers who were saying "you ones."
I had acquaintances in the Philadelphia area, and South Jersey, who found my pronunciation of water amusing, though I could never see what they were talking about, seeing as how they called it "wooder."
I hope Paul's able to get his hands on that book of Pittsburghese...it would be interesting to see what others can tell us about ourselves.
I heard or read once that a woman who woke up in St. Louis suffering from amnesia tried in vain to find her former life, until someone came up with the idea of bringing in speech pattern experts. One of them was sure as soon as she spoke that she was from the greater Punxsawtawny area (yes, that specific; not Western Pennsylvania or greater Pittsburgh). Sure enough, as soon as her picture appeared in Punxsawtawney media, she was identified and could return home.
Presumably, such experts can do that with any locale, but I find it strangely appropriate that the only story of that kind I've ever heard pertained to one of ours.
Thursday, July 29 1999
As I write this the worldwide web and email access seem to be down, at least here in my current baileywick, western Los Angeles. But this seems the right time to write, so better do it now and mail it whenever the systems are back online. I have connectivity; just can't do anything with it at present. And since I've tried both Microsoft Network and an independent carrier with the same results, I am assuming it's the Internet, not my connections.
I'm still basking in the wonderful response to the "woods" topic started on Tuesday. And as a longtime teacher of writing for publication courses, I'm impressed with the quality of the contributions...a testimony to Blacklick Valley's schools, at least of a certain vintage. But the responses did span at least 30 years, if I read them correctly, so that's a pretty good indicator.
I hope to come back to the woods topic occasionally, but in the interest of hitting as many interests as possible, like to keep moving about. Paul Ceria introduced another topic that I like, and Mary Ann had some very good additions to it. I never heard of "Pittsburghese" before, but it may be a good word for it.
Before Paul's mention of "dinge" (rhymes with "hinge") my brother Bob had observed that that seems to be a Western Pennsylvania colloquialism, and I've been checking on his theory now for some years and have found no contradiction. In other words, the word doesn't exist anywhere but there. This is one I cling to, as in, "if it's not a word, it should be." Here in California, they say "ding." Ding, rhymes ring, doesn't begin to get it, however. A dinge is a certain kind of dent, including a caved-in door; a ding is a chip of paint scraped off by an adjacent cardoor rubbing yours the wrong way. Dinge is a perfectly good word and should be fought for.
I used to argue that there was no Western Pennsylvania accent, but Mary Ann has experienced something I've also found on recent visits. "To this day," Mary Ann says, "whenever I visit my parents, I find that I do pick up an 'accent' from the Valley. Even my children comment on it. I find it takes me only a day or two to get it back, but at least two or more weeks to lose it again." So true in my case, too. The most telling examples of it that I find are dropping letters, like "d" from "and," and "th" from "that." 'At, for some reason, is the local way of saying "that." I think of it as lazy speech, and I'm not saying it's general, but it has a way of overtaking me, at least, when I've been there are day or two.
Finally, I have a highly developed theory about "crick" (Paul spells it "krick"). In that part of the country, what we call creeks, most people in the world call rivers, which explains why the word is so much more used there than elsewhere. But the pronunciation "crick" is just the Irish or Scots-Irish accented way of saying creek. If you want to put on an Irish accent all you have to do is come up with a pronunciation for each vowel. Creek has two, e and e, so you pronounce the first one long e, the second short e, or i as in "it." Creek becomes cre-ick. But say it fast, and the long e gets squelched, so you hear the short e but not the long one. (You are aware, of course, that Pittsburgh is the major center of Scots-Irish settlement in America?) I also have theories that Johnstown was named for either of several Johnstowns in Ireland (the Irish, laughing up their sleeves, just let the Germans have their version of the story), and Connemaugh is a play on the Irish region of Connemara, but I'll save those for later). On the other hand, most people in the area call it "Jauncetown," not "Jawnstown," so maybe the German version is correct.
Any other strange speech patterns observed?
Wednesday, July 28 1999
The woods, part 2
In terms of response generated, those couple hundred words I wrote as an afterthought last night (after not being able to come up with a topic) may be the most successful I've ever published! After posting the entry, it occurred to me that it might strike a chord, as the most frequently cited shared memory the home page has received over the two years it's been around has been washing cars at the spring on Buelah Road (aka "the back road to Ebensburg"). That's a woods experience (and just in passing, Buelah Road has some of the prettiest woods I've ever driven through).
Here are the responses received to it.
From Kevin Lindrose:
Yes, I remember the woods. We played in a section of woods just off of White St. A friend had built a log cabin with two rooms which had a cable slide that ran over top of it. You would climb a tall tree approximately 50 yards from the cabin and hold onto a "T" shaped handle which was on a pulley that would zip you on a downgrade at a speed of what seemed a million miles an hour but was probably about 15 or 20 mph, and land on top of the cabin. I can't remember anyone falling off but I'm sure someone did.
And then there were the woods just off of the big hill near the top of Rodgers St where some friends and I spent a lot of time doing what we called "Woods Running." We would put on metal baseball spikes and just run through the woods, not on any trails, just blazing our own paths. We believed the baseball spikes kind of made us invincible and would provide better traction.
These are my stories on the woods and I'm sticking to it.
From Mary Ann:
Oh my goodness... Woods Stories?
I think that was the place where almost everyone spent their summers in the Valley.
I can remember playing in the woods behind my parents' home all the time. Exploring trails, going for walks, my friends and I using our imaginations and "pretending" to be the characters on the TV shows popular at the time.
How many wonderful memories I still have (and even now share with my kids) of playing in the creek behind the Big Bend school in Twin Rocks. We would go about 150 yds. up stream and build a small dam in the stream; not really holding back the water a whole lot, but enough to give us a small "pond" to wade in to cool off. THe creek is mostly gone now, I think partially from the lack of rain, but more so from the "clear cutting" of the trees which doesn't allow that much water to be held in the hillside.
A few years ago, I took my own kids, as well as my brother's, for a walk up the stream bed. It was more overgrown than I remember (or I am just a bit taller and can't fit where I did back then). I showed them all how to turn over the rocks in the creek bed and we found all kinds of small salamanders. We would hold them for a few minutes and then let them go back into the creek.
I've been trying to show my own all the wonderful times I had growing up. Back then, we didn't have video games or cable TV. The movie theater in Nanty Glo was gone by the time I was in High School, so if we wanted to see a movie, we had to go to Ebensburg or Johnstown. There were no such things as movie rentals, vcrs, or even computers (not the desktop kind for the home anywayroom size at colleges was more the thing). We made our own fun, and I think, since we had to use our imagination more, we have become better thinkers, at least a little..
From Cindy Divido:
And do I remember the cabin in the woods. That was our generation. Connah's cabin....is it the same? Can't imagine more than one zip cord like that on our side of town. Brett installed a zip cord from a large magnolia tree in our yard. The kids (and adult men) enjoy it regularly. As far as the rest of the woods.......the memories are fond. Sharon (Divido) Schilling was certainly our "lead explorer" when it came to the woods. Woodses as she recalls it. She knew every nook and cranny of the woods behind Lloyd Street through and behind the sewing factory. We swang from grape vines. Lisa (Silko) Byich broke her arm on one of our excursions. Some of the guys even dammed up the creek and made a small swimming hole. Looking back....it sure was pitiful but back then....it was great!
Did you ever play on "the rocks" at the top of Rodgers St.? Or play "kick the can" under the street light until the curfew blew? Or go through the woods to "Jeep Hill"? (the creek was at the bottom). I lived at the corner of Robert St. and Rodgers St.
From Paul Ceria:
Ah, the woods! A dreamland of trees, friends, and pristine fun. It was the magical place where one fought as a soldier, or a cowboy, and where trees could serve for anything from a castle to an airplane. The place where you often even fought a person who today is still one of the greatest friends of your youth.
For those who lived at the side of town opposite Pergim Hill, namely "The Hilltoppers," the woods always started with "The Hill." This was the wonderful open area, pockmarked by cave-in holes from old mining activity and devoid of many trees.
I wonder how many now know that the area now occupied by the Blacklick Valley High School was once a wonderful set of paths that served as a baseball field in summer or the place where all pre-high school stars caught their first pass? Or how many know that the power line path that crossed from the Lincoln area over toward Twin Rocks was the path to the small creek called the "Crab Pond"? And if one were willing, a strip mine existed only a bit beyond where the green algae-filled water could offer a dip on a hot day. Blackberry bushes! The sweet caviar of my youth! I never had the discipline of Jon to pick and sell such a delicious fruit of summer.
The woods! I would not trade one memory of the woods for all of the shopping malls that teens now seem to spend so much money in for so little return. The woods and the hill were where all the excitement began and ended during those wonderful days when I was a child. They were truly a gift from God in the memories of those privileged to go there.
From Lisa Johns:
Yes, the memories of the woods of the Blacklick Valley will always hold a special place in my heart, too. I lived near the woods on Cedar Street for a year, and I lived in Belsano for about three years.
My favorite place those years would have to have been B-A-B on the White Mill Road. I also remember the cabin very well. For all those who had their favorite spot to stop on the Jackson Hill (the top of Rogers street towards Vintondale Road)...my stepfather's family grew up on Jackson Hill and I can remember taking walks where the old house used to be. Even the small piece of woods in Belsano near Shilling's will have a lasting vision that I will carry with me always.
If we could combine all of our youth stories into a movie, we could have another Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Someone should really write all these stories down just to keep our YOUTH memories alive for many years to come.
From Lynn (Hakanen) Schirato:
Being a transplant from Holiday Park to Nanty Glo at age 12, I am thankful for all the neighborhood children that introduced me to places like:
"Devil's Den"a little rock formation as close as our back yards. We would find old medicine bottles on the bank just beyond the "den."
"The Salamander Pond"Just above the sewing factory. We would turn rocks over to catch salamanders just to release and catch them again. "Bear Rocks"a larger rock formation behind the ball field. We would climb, sit and play for what seemed like hours.
"Jeep Hill"a slope that led to the Sulfur Creek...you could just imagine! I actually took my son down the hill to reminisce, forgetting just how steep it was on the way back up.
Thru my teenage years the "woods" grew into trails and coal dumps perfect for motorcycles, three wheelers, and dune buggies. You could go forever on trails that seemed endless. The woods were a little louder in those days.
I miss both the quiet days in the woods as a child, and the freedom found in blazing the trails, getting muddy from head to toe. My son now has a quad that he loves. He rides in cow pastures mostly and doesn't know the excitement of getting lost in the woods and not knowing what is around the next corner. He also gets "something else" from head to toe when he comes back!
I am thankful for the Woods!
My response comments:
Mary Ann mentioned "my friends and I using our imaginations and 'pretending' to be the characters on the TV shows popular at the time." Those of us on the Red Mill Road did that a lot, too, but I think we played those "script-on-the-fly" pretends more in the barn than in the woods (I see another topic down the line). And we played out our own versions of movies, and especially superheroes (Captain Marvel was always my favorite) more than TV shows. In the barn you could "fly" with the aid of pulleys and piles of hay to land in. I wonder if kids pretend-play that way at all these days?
Paul Ceria recalls "the Hilltoppers." Lucky Bracken, who lived in the big house at the Vintondale Road cutoff in Twin Rocks, was a good friend and classmate in school, and first introduced me to "the Hilltoppers" shortly after the start of school one September. She had spent some weekends in Nanty Glo and got to know that "gang." Her descriptions of "Ty Ogie" were one of the reasons I later became close friends with John Golias who, unlike Paul, doesn't remember ever being a Hilltopper...but Lucky described him by that nickname. ...And Paul's comparison of the woods of our day to the malls of today brings a lump to my throat (what a comparison, what a loss).
Lisa's remembrance of "B-A-B" (the wood-shrouded swimming hole above the main one at White Mill) also brought back memories, as it was a favorite place in my teens. But I don't think any girls dared go there then...one of the changes wrought by the '60's.
This is a topic I know we'll have more to say about in the future.
Tuesday, July 27 1999
The thing I miss most about growing up in Blacklick Valley and most regret my own children not getting to experience, is the woods. Our family farm had 18 acres of woods stretching to just behind Belsano, and I spent as much time there during my waking hours, May to October, as anywhere from age five to 15 or so. I miss the Mayapples (aka "umbrella plants") that flourished there in spring and early summer (and haven't seen them in any other part of the world) and of course the brilliant colors of October.
We fancied our woods to be a park and blazed trails through it and the neighbor boys and I slept out in it, just rolled up in blankets (ordinary people didn't own sleeping bags in those days). We had weenie roasts, marshmallow roasts, even just plain old potato roasts as an excuse to spend evenings in the woods. My brother Gary, when he was in the 10-12 age range, built a teepee of poles covered with leafy branches, covered with mounds of dead leaves, which was tall enough for him to stand up in (he was 6'4'). It withstood many winters, at least 10 years, I believe.
We also explored many other woods in the area, too, and from the time I started roller skating at Cicero's on Saturday nights, I picked princess pine in them on Saturdays, winter and summer. A day's picking could earn the dollar it cost to go to Cicero's on the bus sponsored by the BTHS Senior Class, including admission, skate rental, and enough left over for a bottle of Sun Drop. It was one of the few ways to augment the seven cents per column inch I was earning in those years as Blacklick Valley correspondent for the Mountaineer-Herald.
One summer day Joe Thompson and I walked to Ebensburg, through the woods all the way from Red Mill Road to the Revloc area and on in along the highway. I can't remember if we got a ride back home but strongly suspect we did. We often hitchhiked to movies in Nanty Glo, but hitchhiking to Ebensburg just never worked for some reason.
I picked blackberries by the bucketful every summer, and the summer before our senior year, Louis Scansaroli and I picked large buckets full and drove them in my '39 Ford to Indiana, where we had no trouble selling them to food market produce departments (don't remember if we got turned down by the B-Y supermarket near Louie's home first, or maybe they bought a couple quarts and we had many left to sell).
This is why I believe the Ghost Town Trail is the Valley's greatest asset now. What a pleasure to experience hiking or biking along it, and to look forward to it every time I get back home.
Any other "woods stories" out there?
Monday, July 26 1999
Test results in; about missing mailings
My thanks, again, to everyone who responded to the test mailings on Sunday. Everything seems to be working again, though I have no comprehension of what the original problem was. Computer foul-ups...whoever heard of such a thing?
Today I received a great snail mail from frequent Forum contributor Frank Charney. He sent me the reminiscences of Nanty Glo native and longtime resident Francis Stefanak, published in the Journal in 1990. I hope I can get Mr. Stefanak's permission to republish his article. If not, I'll at least report on his memories in a Forum feature soon.
Frank also sent articles about Herman Sedloff, who founded the Journal in 1921 and was my boss there while I was news editor and editor, and was my editor's boss when I was the teen columnist. He is a largely unsung hero of Nanty Glo history, and I hope to do a feature on him very soon.
Also received today was an excellent letter from Caroline Swalligan of Twin Rocks, giving details on Blacklick Township's planned sesquicentennial celebration next summer. I intend to publish her letter on the Forum letters page immediately, and will turn the information into a Sesquicentennial Page which should be used to promote the event until it happens.
If you missed these mailings for Thursday through Saturday, they're available below. The one thing I hope you will check out among them is my "review" of the movie Simon Birch.
Sunday, July 25 1999
Tonight's entry will be short, as I have neither solved the mystery of why I haven't been getting these mailings since Tuesday, not did I receive yesterday's. Nor were the entries sent since Tuesday in the archive at the listbot.com page as they should be. Nor have I been receiving any feedback from readers. So, if you receive this by email, please let me know, just as a test of the system. Send replies to email@example.com.
Other than that, it's hard enough being motivated to write when I know it's being read, virtually impossible when I suspect no one's getting it.
One way or another, will keep you posted.
Saturday, July 24, 1999
A movie/video recommendation
Though I haven't missed a day of sending out the Jonal this week, I personally haven't received one since Tuesday, and I'm definitely on the list. So I wonder if I'm also not receiving answers sent to the list? If you've sent me an answer using the mail generator at the end of an eforum letter and I seem to be ignoring it, please drop me a line at my permanent email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know. (So far as I know, I haven't failed to mention any mail received, if marked personal, and haven't failed to publish any marked public.) Meanwhile, over the weekend I'll do a little investigating to see what's up.
I've been very dissatisfied for months with my internet service provider (Earthlink) as it never connects on the first try and dumps me offline in the middle of operations...constantly...so what am I paying for? Enough of anti-commercial. But because of that dissatisfaction I'm now shopping for a new carrier, and have signed up on Compuserve (which I already don't like) and Microsoft Network, which connects better than Earthlink but also has a way of dumping me offline without letting me know until I try to take the next step in emailing something or surfing to another page.
Now for tonight's topic.
In observance of the Golden Rule (do to others as you wish they'd do to you), I want to share a movie/video recommendation tonight. This is an outgrowth of our earlier discussion of literature with Christian themes. I mentioned some Catholic authors with secular followings last week; now for some Protestant ones. John Irving, whom I wouldn't have guessed was a Christian from his most famous work, The World According to Garp (though I did enjoy the book and the movie), has a much more confessional novel in A Prayer for Owen Meany. The movie based on it was released some months ago to little notice under the title Simon Birch, and after watching it on video tonight, I definitely recommend it. The narrator (Jim Careyin a definitely noncomedic role) begins by saying that Simon Birch is the reason he believes in God, and he's standing in front of a tombstone showing that Simon Birch died at age 12, so you know this is probably a tear-jerker. By all means have lots of tissues nearby. Movies about youngsters (Stand By Me, Radio Flyer, The Boy Who Could Fly) are always favorites of mine, and this one is one of the best of that genre I've seen in years.
I said I'd mention Protestant authors who are confessional in their work, so I need at least one or two more names. Staying with American writers tonight, the best known contemporary confessionally Protestant author, I think, is John Updike, though I've never been able to get through any of his novels (sorry). Also worth a read is Ann Lamott, whose book on the writing life is hilariously funny and insightful, and the only one of her books that I've read. She is definitely on the liberal side of the theological spectrum, and often quite irreverent, but does forthrightly inject her faith into her work, so I consider her worth studying.
If you know of others (books, movies, Christians or other) you'd like to recommend to the list and on this page, that's what we're here for. Use us!
Friday, July 23 1999
Another reader's thoughts on JFK, Jr., tragedy
A reader who wants to remain anonymous wrote, under the heading, "America's Greatest Sin, Idolatry":
It seems that the Unites States has forgotten God and has tried to make gods of the rich and famous. That's the greatest American tragedy. John Kennedy, Jr., didn't WANT the attention or worship of the masses. And I don't think Princes Diana did, either. I believe that the spiritual vacuum in America has made the general public focus their innate desire and need to worship SOMEONE on these two GOOD (not sinless) individuals.
Others whose lives were far from noteworthy maybe notorious would be better for describing THEM Elvis and Marily Monroe have been remembered year after year for their moment of fame.
The contrast of these two pairs is worth noting: at least today's "gods" are more wholesome, but still they do not deserve this place in anyone's life. God ALONE deserves this place; the Lord Jesus Christ's life and death and resurrection needs to be looked at once again as being the most powerful; He is the only omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Person worthy of our worship.
Those who worship these rich and famous some with no redeeming qualities really are to be pitied. They don't have a LIFE. They don't realize that God gave them abilities and potential for them to do something He has a plan for them that will result in HIS "Well Done" maybe not applause of the multitudes or their name on the marquee or a six-figure bank account. But if only they knew the peace and the joy that obeying GOD brings! (Example: Mother Teresa serving in remote India; TOUCHING LIVES resulting in CHANGED LIVES.) Beig faithful where GOD put us is what He requires, a lesson so many never have grasped.
And the public school equation success equals money is a myth. NO. . .happiness and peace equal success. Also, they seem to advocate that those with the most money have the inherent right to rule maybe their reason for demanding more money than the parents in their districts earn. Neither does money equal wisdom, knowledge, or understanding; the wealthy need to be challenged on some of their decisions.
Which leads me to conclude: If only someone would have challenged John Kennedy, Jr., on some of his poor decisions that led up to that fatal trip, things would be different. (God KNEW his decisions, but HE didn't MAKE him use poor judgment.) If we saw a burning home of a wealthy person, would we NOT warn them simply because our social status is not equal to theirs? If so, we are really deceived.
Jon, do you know where this pagan custom of building memorials at places of death got started? I have a feeling it's from one of the pagan religions, but I'll have to admit I'm not certain is it Janism or Buddhism? Hinduism? Seems to be from India, seems to me. (Surprised the EPA doesn't get after them, like they do everyone else.)
And this fascination with death moment by moment for hours and days with EVERY tragedy, of which we've had so many over the past two years. But the media's narration gives NO HOPE. Note, too, how the dead are always deified or promoted to such a holy status, even if they die in a gang fight! The message appears to be it's best for everyone to die young and not have to endure suffering of life.
Some worthwhile food for thought there. It should be stated. though, I think, that at this writing it's not yet proven that pilot mistakes were the cause of the Kennedys' plane crashing. As one commentator said, it could have been anything from mechanical failure or weather conditions to sabotage.
Thursday's entry produced two responses, not for publication. One said his class reunion is coming up soon and he hopes someone brings a laptop computer to display the Home Page onsite, so people can register for the Eforum there. Excellent idea! However, a desktop computer might be better, as it's less likely to "walk off." Or is that just my California retooling coming out?
And what's on your mind? How about letting us in on it?
Thursday, July 22 1999
(I've decided that since I write these late at night, I'll put the real date on them rather than the day-before datethe day I'm writing ON, not the day I'm writing ABOUT. So although the online archive will look like we skipped a day, we didn't; we are just moving the dating ahead one day.)
All was nearly quiet on the feedback front today. I received two pertinent posts, both marked "personal," but I may find a way to work them in anyway.
"...I don't want to address this to the list;" the first letter says. "I don't like to monopolize the email list. I'd like to give others a chance...."
I'll make sure everyone is "heard," but I'd encourage you (all) to address the list whenever you have something to contribute. Even if you seem to be writing often, your doing so will, I think, encourage others to get in on the discussion. Get the ball rolling. And don't be afraid to take issue with anything I say; sometimes I say things in the hopes of getting a rise out of someone (anyone), and I promise never to try to "cut down" any respondents.
Taking up the topic of the Cafe '50's I wrote about Monday night, the writer goes on: "We have a Nifty Fifties restaurant not a diner per se not too far from here, but it is unable to cope with the crowds; its inadequate seating means people are crowded around the door. I've found it to be quite expensive compared to the '50s' prices and not the best quality. It, too, had the jukeboxes at the tables that need to be "fed," last time I was there."
Your example sounds like one we've had in San Jose, opening under several names over several years, but closing again each time after a few months. At first it was called "Cherish Diner" (which sounds more '60's, come to think of it) and it was the place to go so you could hardly squeeze in. But it was overpriced and, after a visit or two, seemed gimmicky. The little cafe near my present Los Angeles location is much more like the real '50's restaurants were, unassuming, simple, and I think therefore more enduring. I'm not sure how long it's been in business, but it has the look of having been around a while.
One difference from the '50's that I like, however, is that there's no smoking. Only outdoor sections of restaurants are allowed, under California law, to permit smoking now. (Last time I visited Pennsylvania, I believe this was one California innovation not yet being imitated; smoking was still part of the restaurant experience.)
This is probably enough thoughts for today; I'll save the other email (as it was "anonymous") in case I need it to prime the pump tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 20 1999
Origins of the Nanty Glo Home Page
I've written elsewhere, on the Forum, that the Home Page was launched as a result of my web surfing one day almost two years ago, looking up every reference I could find to Nanty Glo on the worldwide web. There were one or two dozen references to Nanty Glo online at the time, but Nanty Glo was peripheral to the subject of every one. In other words, nothing online was about Nanty Glo itself. And though I didn't have the slightest inkling of doing so when I entered "Nanty Glo" in the Alta Vista search engine that day, by the time I'd read through all the listings, I knew a Nanty Glo page was going to be my next big project in life.
Tonight I want to back up a step and tell how I got into the Internet arm of publishing in the first place. Five or six years ago when I was editing a group of seven community newspapers in San Jose, the publisher dumped the Internet version of the papers in my lap. I had very little knowledge of the Internet at the time; had been on Prodigy and Compuserve in their early days, but using them almost solely for email. Though as editor of the papers my Internet job, in theory, was just to turn the computer files over to the Internet service company and they would do the rest, it turned out that their employee in charge of accounts like ours was not very communicative. She didn't do what was needed, so I ended up having to do it. In a few months she was gone altogether, and I had to learn web page creation from scratch. I really resented my publisher for doing this; I was already editing all seven newspapers word for word, composing all the headlines and laying them out on the computer for camera-ready printing; all more than a fulltime job. But now I was doing all that for the Internet as well.
But I noticed that the Internet version of the papers was getting far more attention and feedback than the print version, even though we supposedly put out between 100,000 and 150,000 newspapers every month. This was strange and surprising, and I quickly saw that here at last was real mass communication taking place, not just a one-sided monologue, which is what the print press really is. By the end of the first year of doing the papers online, I was hooked. I was enjoying the online part of the job more than the print portion. When the publisher later announced that he would have to cut back for financial reasons and publish the papers without an editor, I decided I didn't want a newspaper job any longer, in the traditional sense; I wanted to concentrate on online publishing. So I looked for work in this field, rather than traditional journalism. And to bolster my resume, I launched a DAILY online newspaper, Silicon Valley Today. It was successful in doing what I wanted; my next paying job was directly attributable to what I accomplished through it. But less than a year after starting it, I started the Nanty Glo Home Page, which has had far greater acceptance from the online community and has really enabled me to find my way around the 'net and establish my knowledge of the field. In fact, this is one of the most gratifying things I've ever done. I haven't even tried to make any money from it, but it has certainly served all its other purposes well, and it has paid off in educational value.
We'll take up this topic again one of these days.
Meanwhile, what's on your mind?
Monday, July 19 1999
Today was the quietest in terms of feedback since beginning the Jonal on July 6. Wanda sent a hearty "Amen" in response to Saturday's entry, the only mail received. Maybe the fact that my Internet service provider was not responding last night and yesterday's entry got mailed extra late today is to blame.
To me, memories of Nanty Glo are also memories of the 1950's and early '60's, so I had a trip down memory lane at lunchtime today. About two or three miles from my apartment in Marina del Rey, Calif., is a Cafe '50's that does a very good job of evoking those times. Nostalgia diners have been big, especially in California, and in the wake of American Grafitti, the movie that brought the era back as no other (but itself seeming like ancient history now), and was the partner of TV's Happy Days situation comedy. Mel's Diners, pattered after the American Grafitti diner, can be found in farflung California urban centers now and don't seem to be fading along with memories of either that movie or the '50's. The Cafe '50's on Pacific Coast Highway (aka Lincoln Blvd.) in Santa Monica, however, is nowhere nearly as pretentious as Mel's Diners. It's small, simple, and inexpensive. Best of all, it has music like "Sincerely," "Twilight Time," "Tweedley Dee," "The Magic Touch," and "Heartbreak Hotel" playing nonstop on a jukebox you don't have to feed coins to. It's very much like having lunch at the old K&B, except that in the '50's you could get a chicken platter for 75 cents that will now cost around $6.
This was the second time I've eaten at Cafe '50's, but I think it won't be the last.
Sunday, July 18 1999
My youngest son, Kevin, blew in from San Jose with his girlfriend, Maya, to visit me in Los Angeles yesterday, the first visit I've had in the 10 months I've been here. After services this morning we did the Los Angeles tourist bit, and needless to say it was a long, tiring day. Highlights included the La Brea Tar Pits, downtown with the Angel's Flight inclined plane and the Grand Central market, Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Boulevard, and a tour of stars' homes (and late stars homes), from the outside only, in Beverly Hills. Of the latter, after all these years I was most impressed with George Burns' home (not that it was grander than hundreds of others in the neighborhood, but that it was his), and Robert Young's and Peter Falk's.
Anyway, my mind is too muddled for new thoughts tonight, so I'll leave you with today's correspondence; two letters well worth thinking about.
This from Rich Fye, mostly in reply to yesterday's from Wanda Barrett:
First of all, I'd like to say hooray and go get 'em, Wanda. The kind of junk our children are exposed to is disgusting. I work with youth a lot and you can see the influence TV and movies have on them. As for us Christians uniting together, I pray that this will someday happen. If it would happen, we would be a force to be reckoned with, because we have the best Commander any army could ever have, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks, Wanda.
To Jon: I totally agree with you about the media. All they are out for is the almighty buck, no matter the cost to their innocent victims.
A child of God, Rich Fye
And this from Kevin Lindrose:
The Kennedy Saga
I have been glued to CNN at the top, the bottom, at the quarters and even the twenties and the fifties of the hour as appropriate to devour the latest news that would offer some light on the fate of the missing John F. Kennedy, Jr., and his lovely wife and sister-in-law. The same brave John Kennedy, Jr., who TIME/LIFE captured saluting his father's casket during the burial ceremony after he (JFK, Sr.) was assassinated in Dallas on Nov, 22 1963 when JFK, Jr., was only a young boy. "John John," I think the nation called him. ( I pray we can still call him that). Now he is missing?
Being a Washingtonian, we are used to dealing with the "Jet-Set" and the "Political Wannabees" who are in this year and most are gone the next year (or even as early as tomorrow), who would jam up rush-hour traffic with their motorcades because their business is more important than mine (I have to get diapers and they have to make it to a $2,000-a-plate luncheon). The Kennedys, as conveyed to me by a member of the "Camelot" clan, would have none of that.
A brief encounter:
More than 15 years ago I decided that the lawn care business was my calling (though that has now passed). I moved to the D.C. area with a decent offer from a nationally acclaimed lawn care company. I landed a regular route in McLean, Va. (where most Senators and Congress-persons make their homes during the busy season). Properties on my route were impressive, but none like I would soon encounter at the Kennedy property.
The Washington Garden Club was to have its annual spring tour of select homes in the D.C./Tri-State area. The Kennedy landscape had made it every year, and this year was to be no different. The grass, because of a temporary drought, was severly stressed and lacked color. I was asked by a female Kennedy (late 60's, early 70'sI'm a poor judge of age) ) if there was anything I could do (the tour would be in five days) to make it look green.
I responded that I could "paint the lawn" as it was known then (using almost straight liquid Iron(Fe) which produces a very green effect in a short time48 hrs), but I would have to do it from busy route MD #123. I would have to block off one of the two lanes of traffic during morning rush hour because this was the safest and most efficient way to do it and it was the coolest time of the day. When asked (by the customer) about the impact of the delays on the commuter traffic of blocking off the lane, I stated that I couldn't predict that but there would be an impact. I was then told to (and I'm paraphrasing), "do what I could without causing a ruckus and don't cause the commuters to be late for work."
It turned out that I would never get to color that lawn green, as I didn't hear back from the address to come out to do the work. One thing did stand out in my mind when I read the Washington Post Garden Section two weeks later. The property hadn't made the tour pictorial, but was said to have the most impressive lawn of those toured. Others, it seemed, had tried what I was stopped from doing and it had backed-fired on them.
I haven't one. I am still hoping for the best for the Kennedys as I hope we all are. I was a mere one year and three months old when John F. Kennedy, our 35th president, was assassinated on Nov.22, 1963. The family has had enough bad luck. Let us all pray things change for them. They are last link to "American Royalty."
Questions or Comments: email@example.com
Saturday, July 17 1999
No truck with smut; the media's agendas
Wanda Barrett wrote in response to yesterday's entry =======================================
Personally, I find nothing positive in smut obscenity or profanity or "skin flicks," such as the Evening News (and MSNBC's afternoon news shows) are trying to force on us in the form of a "preview" of "Eyes Wide Shut." Sure, I like honesty, but just because "sex and obscentiy happen" as well as bathroom relief and vomiting do we have to have it as part of entertainment?
To me, entertainment should be a PLEASANT experience. It should be something that feeds the soul and mind; MR HOLLAND'S OPUS and BRAVE HEART are my two favorites. They both inspire and entertain with showing LIFE as it WAS or IS. There should be opportunity to show all types of emotion to empathize with the actors. (Oh, and may I add another favorite IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.)
Perhaps the reason we're in a cultural condition much like that which Russia sank into in 1918 only ours was like "the frog in the kettle" over 30 years is that Christians did not unite to take a BOLD STAND OPENLY. Each local church continued with its own little agenda, not focusing on GOD's power, but rather on "how we can get more members" not "how we (like the early Christians in the Book of Acts) can change the world."
Meanwhile, Hollywood and the "fringes" (such as homosexuals) as well as those who wanted to CHANGE THE WORLD (not improve it) banded together and gave their dollars to Congressmen to "play their tune." We Christians continued to have our little civil wars instead of joining together on points we AGREE on, we looked at our differences and said, "NO, we won't join with you; we might be contaminated."
Just as the War Between the States was won by STRATEGY, we must fight the battle TOGETHER on the LOCAL level; we must say NO to the products of the companies that support SMUT on TV and stay away from the movies that reduce the human race to barbarians or who feel that women who are tortured, mutilated, terrorized, stalked, or any other form of male dominance over them. We must let the TV stations and movie theater owners know what we DON'T want and thank them for the movies they have that we LIKE.
I recall a few years back when Clorox was found to be the largest promotor of violence on TV; when a "Culture Watcher" released this and called for a boycott, sales of Clorox plummeted. After about 6 months, Clorox "cleaned up their image"; they promised not to sponsor such fare. Sales began to climb.
Today's news of the loss of John F. Kennedy Jr's., plane off Martha's Vineyard and the presumed deaths of himself, his wife and sister-in law, created a feeding frenzy for the mass media, engulfing us all in their topic of the day. This was an inevitable consequence not only of who JFK, Jr., is or was, but of our national obsession with the Kennedys of Massachusetts, their mystique, and their "curse."
I had intended to write something about how the news media set our agendas and by doing so, shape our values, and this event created a perfect setup for it. I usually don't read newspapers and I watch only occasional local news on television. I stay away somewhat religiously from shows like 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline, and 48 Hours. As a journalist who taught journalism theory for many years and have one of the few books published on the subject, I once saw the news and its purveyors as far more significant than I now see them. But unless you're a journalist or a politician, there's absolutely nothing useful you can do about the vast majority of what is passed off on us as news. So why exercise yourself with it?
In reality, the news organizations exist to sell products for their sponsors, number one, and to sell us their agenda, or in reality something even more significant and sinistertheir value systemnumber two.
Do we need it? No.
I'll have more to say on this in future entries. Meanwhile, if you'd like to respond with comments, questions, arguments, I'd love to hear from you.
Thursday, July 15, and Friday, July 16 1999
The irony of "R-rated" literary language
An error in mailing the following entry on Thursday caused most subscribers to miss receiving it, so it was sent out again on Friday as the entry for that date, also.
By rights I'm too tired to make a journal entry tonight. I didn't sleep at all last night. Had to rise extra early for a morning appointment today, and it often happens that way with me, basically a "night person." The thought of getting up early keeps me up all night. So I wasn't going to attempt an entry this evening.
But while reading the next to last short story in my Flannery O'Connor collection over dinner, an observation struck that's worth putting down. In fact, this could even lead to a "series" of several nightly entries. There's nothing more energizing than an inspiration.
For a writer in the '40s and '50s, and especially a woman in that prefeminist era, there's a lot of hard language in O'Connor's stories. In fact, it is probably as much profanity and blasphemy as literary magazines of the period would allow. Her language doesn't quite reach the limits of today's R-rated movies, but it's beyond what's still on network television, even TV like NYPD Blue. Knowing her from her writing, I'm guessing she did it not for sensation, certainly, nor even for "realism," which is usually a cover for sensation, but for honesty.
I see an irony in this, and in some of the hard edges on some of the R-rated movies. The honesty about ugliness in human life seems to make room, to an extent, for franker treatment of spiritual issues or "religious themes." O'Connor's fiction is not "religious" in a stretch, and yet it raises spiritual and moral issues constantly, like the one I wrote about two nights ago. It's very difficult to publish in this area of life (O'Connor has a wonderful line in which she says "talk of religion was as embarrassing to [her character], as talk of sex had been to her mother." I think I got so little feedback to Tuesday's entry because a lot of people were borderline embarrassed. It's a difficult topic.
But if R-rated language is allowed, how can mention of faith and its objects be disallowed? I think a lot of publishers and TV and film producers think that way. CBS, I think, gives us an hour about angels every week to make up for some of the smut on other shows...that's one way of looking at it. We should be thankful for small favors.
My favorite movie of recent years is Sling Blade. But if hard language in movies is unacceptable to you, don't go out and rent it; you won't like it (and of course I don't recommend it for family viewing in the presence of children). Sling Blade has some brutally ugly language and even discussion topics. But it's also one of the most "Christian" movies I've ever seen...truly a story of redemption, and at that, not "self-redemption" or pulling onself up by ones's bootstraps, but redemption through seeking Heavenly help.
Would I rather have movies like Jimmy Stewart used to star in? Yes. But we're not likely to go back to that standard, not in my lifetime at least...so we should be thankful for small favors and movies like Sling Blade and the redemptive truths that break through in writing like Ms O'Connor's. And I also prefer the franker treatment of religion in life on shows like Promised Land to the embarrassed silent treatment that sphere of life got in the days of Father Knows Best. In that show everyone was good, but it must have been without God, because, as in most wholesome shows of the '50's, He was never mentioned, even indirectly.
Wednesday, July 14 1999
Another "Dilling" heard from; Camelot
Bonnie (Dilling) Farabaugh writes:
My family just got our first computer system two months ago and I have to tell you that the Nanty Glo home page was the first website that we visited! I really enjoy reading all of the email from all over the country. I''ve lived my whole life in "Glotown," as we used to call it, and am now raising my family here. It sure is nice to read about how other people remember this town, even tho most of it is before my time! I've even read a lot from my great-uncle, George Dilling, whom I haven't seen in a L-O-N-G time. Hi, Uncle George and Aunt Nora!
I also would like to thank Sandy Getz for the update on Al's Pizza shop opening in town. Eleanor and Allen Farabaugh are my inlaws. We all were very much impressed when a customer came into the shop and said that he found out about Al's Pizza over the Internet! He even went back home and printed out the letter from Sandy. By the way, they actually have a menu now! Next time you're in town we hope you stop by for some really good PIZZA!
Keep up the great work!
Bonnie (Dilling) Farabaugh
and from Barbara Hakanen
"MORE" of your summer reading! You've got me hooked already!
Thank you both. I definitely have some of Al's Pizza on my to-do list for my next visit "home." And Barb, your's is a vote of confidence of one! But I'll try for similar pieces whenever possible. The preacher may be out of the pulpit but the pulpit's still in the preacher! But like Flannery O'Connor's stories, my "sermonettes" will definitely remain nondenominational.
A thought for today is inspired by a letter on the Forum page comparing Nanty Glo and nearby points with Oz. When I brought my then-future (and now former) wife to visit my parents in Blacklick Valley for the first time, I was so effusive in my praise for the area that she referred to Nanty Glo as Camelot! It seemed to me a perfect fit. It was just a few years after the Presidency of John F. Kennedy had come to be known as America's Camelot. But not only that, the film version of Camelot was released during our courtship, and our major date had been a trip to New York to see it. (And yes, I did have her back at her home in suburban Philadelphia the same evening.) And, well...maybe the snow has been known to slush upon Nanty Glo's hillsides a time or two!
Tuesday, July 13 1999
Update on Commons Hardware history; my summer reading
George Dilling writes:
I was just a young lad when Arthur Commons moved to Nanty Glo from Hastings. I can't recall what building was formerly where Commons hardware is now.
The earliest recollection I have of the building is that Commons Hardware occupied the lower half of the building next to Shoemaker St. Arthur Commons was the owner. The upper side was occupied by a combination grocery and novelty store. The owner was Russell Commons. I believe he was a cousin of Arthur.
After Russell, the Prevites opened a grocery store in this part of the [building]. I do not know whether it was while Commons or Prevites had the grocery that the Yobbogys had a meat market up the stairs at the rear of the store.
After the Prevites moved to Shoemaker St. and became the Gold Crown, Commons Hardware took over the whole building.
Ray Hunter wrote about the poor basketball team Vintondale had in the late '40s and early '50s. I went to high school in the early 'thirties and Vintondale had both good girls' and boys' teams. The boys' team was good enough to play in the St. Francis tournament. Merle Nevy was an outstanding player for them. I was at St. Francis when he took a shot from the jump ring in the center of the floor and it went through the net without touching the rim. Unfortunately, he lifted one foot and then the other while shooting and was called for steps (called traveling in today's games).
George E. Dilling
Bob Sybert writes:
Hi there. Good show and the music is not bad. Bob Sybert.
Thanks, George and Bob.
Summer reading: My thoughts today are about my summer reading. I'm nearly through a 550-page collection of stories by Flannery O'Connor, who's become a favorite author in recent years. She wrote in the '40's and '50's (mostly for magazines like Harper's Bazaar, Esquire, and literary reviews) and died at an early age, of Lupus. She has come to occupy a unique place in contemporary American fiction as one of a few "Christian" authors who have been widely read in the "secular" world (the only other one I can think of, in fact, is Walker Percy). Both O'Connor and Percy were Catholics, and both from the south and writing about life in the south. There are more British authors, like Graham Greene, C.K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh and Malcolm Muggeridge who share their observant Catholicism and their acceptance with general audiences.
O'Connor's stories are dark and often have a bit of a twist, reminiscent of the old TV dramas produced by Alfred Hitchcock (likewise reputedly an observant Catholic). [By "observant," of course, I mean they were not just "born" Catholic, but actually attempted to keep their religion.] O'Connor's characters are usually unhappy people, and if she has a theme it seems to be that the most human of sins is ingratitude. If ingratitude is a symptom of pride, as I suspect, then she shares this observation with many who've gone before, all the way back to writers of Scripture and shapers of the Christian Tradition. Ingratitude is the attitude that I deserve more and better, or that I've been sold short in life. And of course ultimately that attitude is that I've been sold short by God.
Think of it this way, every time you cuss, aren't you in essense saying, "I'm better than the treatment I'm getting," from this driver, this coworker, this computer? When you're mean to someone, selfish, angry...when you break a commandment, aren't you saying you're above anyone's law but your own? I've come to recognize these traits in myself through Flannery O'Connor's grim characters, and it's been a revelation. Which, by the way, is the title of my favorite of her short stories, which pushes this point home.
Thoughts? Questions? Slings?
Monday, July 12 1999
A Vintondale record; Nanty Glo's woes
Ray Hunter writes:
I grew up close to Vintondale in Indiana County (Rexis) and attended grade school and high school in Wehrum and Armagh, but really call Vintondale home. I seem to recall in the late '40s and early '50s when Vintondale had its own high school that the men's basketball team set some sort of school record for consecutive losses. I do remember that the team was really terrible, due in large part to the small class size and small number of students from which to pick a team. I'm sure that the article would be in the Nanty Glo Journal, should anyone want to do some archival research.
Cheers, Ray Hunter
And this from Kevin Lindrose:
I think the idea of an open air museum in Nanty Glo is a good one, and I also agree that the head of the Ghost Town Trail is a great location. Jon, here is an observation. I visited Nanty Glo last weekend ( I live in Laurel, MD) and I was a little concerned at the shape that the town was in. The roads have not been paved in years it seems, sidewalks at places are cracked or no longer exist. I had heard that a younger Mayor had taken office [succeeding] Mayor Art Price, but had resigned after only a few months because of the financial problems. Just how bad is Nanty Glo doing? Is this public information that I can get my hands on? Should we start a forum for residents to voice their personal opinions on just what is going wrong, or right with Nanty Glo? Maybe that's not a good idea. I just don't want to see this town disolve. Anyway, I'm just a little concerned about the town. Any thoughts on this?
I don't have any information about how bad Nanty Glo's financial woes may be, or whether it's a matter of the general economy and the population being down, and therefore the taxes supporting town services being seriously curtailed, or if the causes might be more malevolent.
I do believe that the two points of Kevin's note go together well. In other places where the industrial revolution has died out, tourism has proven to be the next major economic boon. Ireland, for example, is a country where tourism is the number one contributor to the economy, and it is booming now (as the western world's economy is in general). The area around Nantyglo, Wales, is getting on the tourism bandwagon at this instant. San Francisco, in which metro area I reside permanently, has an economy based first on tourism, second on computer applications. People might think that because Pennsylvania has so many better tourist areas to exploit, from Lancaster and Philadelphia to Hershey and Pittsburgh, Cambria County, much less Nanty Glo, doesn't stand a chance. But there's an endless market for places to visit, places to stay, places to eat. The Ghost Town Trail single-handedly could be as big a boon to the Valley as any coal mine was...even though there may be other trails just as good in many other places.
The fact that the home page has had over 10,000 visits in less than a year is evidence that Nanty Glo and the Valley are worth visiting; there's a basis for a tourist industry, and the better organized, and the sooner, the better.
Sunday, July 11 1999
The passing parade of humanity
Rich Fye writes:
I think that this is a wonderful idea . I enjoy history, especially local history. When my grandpap was alive, I would sit for hours and listen to his stories about working in the coal mines in this area. He worked at Big Bend [Mine], which is in Twin Rocks. It's too bad men like him aren't around anymore. Those old stories were better than TV.
And Betty Hopkins writes:
I just visited your Nanty Glo home page and it is very nice. I took your tour. I was interested as my Uncle Grant and Aunt Mary Jenkins used to live there, so I have been there but it was many many years ago. Thanks for the memories. Betty J. Hopkins of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Southern California. I'm living three blocks from the famous Venice Beach, one of the most recognized tourist sites in Los Angeles. Immediately south of Santa Monica and about 10 miles north of Los Angeles Airport, it has been featured in movies like White Men Can't Jump, many commercials including a recent one for Gateway Computers, and every travelogue of Los Angeles produced in recent memory. I remember first hearing of it, I believe, when I was still living on Red Mill Road, Belsano, because it's the home of Muscle Beach, an overpublicized outdoor body building gym where the musclebound work out and the curious watch. But Muscle Beach is just the most famous aspect of Venice Beach; there are 20-foot boa constrictors available for helping you overcome your nightmares by fondling, open-air massage services for getting your aching back worked on, tattoo parlors of both the permanent and temporary variety, and countless eateries and shops like you'd find on most boardwalks. There are also rock and roll acts performing al fresco, booths advocating various political causes like legalized dope, vegetarianism, and anti-circumcision, religious cults and sects doing their thing, and much more.
Maybe it was the first carnivals Dad took me to in Nanty Glo, usually against Mom's wishes, or even a primeval carnival going all the way back to my first four years of life in Vintondale, that set me on this path, but I love it. I love the human parade, even though I condone hardly anything that goes on here (but then no one asked me to condone or not condone, so what does that matter?).
This is the real Los Angeles. It's the real human race. A walk down the promenade on an afternoon like this is akin to cruising past Mitchells' in the 1950's, though now it's definitely more about seeing than being seen.
Come visit if you get a chance. Meanwhile, I think I'll take a walk!
P.S. I hear that because of its fiscal woes, Nanty Glo has had to leave its municipal pool unopened this summer. Does this mean a return to Adams Crossing and White Mill, the swimming holes on the Blacklick Creek north of the sulfur spills? Would appreciate any thoughts on this topic, ranging from the nostalgic, the economic and political, to the practical consequences for the valley's youth now.
Saturday, July 10 1999
Reading my email
i would like to see history of commons hardware and the building it's in. it would be interesting to know why the building was built, and what it was before or along with the hardware and where yall think it will be heading in the future with so many large convenience hardware stores like Lowes.
I discovered this morning an email received in February (and, sad to say, overlooked all these months) from Denise Dusza Weber, which included some valuable information about Vintondale, and pointed out that I had placed a postcard view of early Twin Rocks among Vintondale photos on a "slide show." It has since been moved to the Blacklick Township page. My apologies to all, especially Ms Weber.
Another reader wrote in a "personal" reply...
"I forwarded your e-mail "Children as PetsThe Cat Years" to my daughter in Florida and she said that both she and my Grandson who will be 14 next month, enjoyed it immensely. She said that my grandson kept going around in the house meowing.
"Someone in a letter asked if Woodland Park (off Route 22) was the same one that had been there years ago. It is. ...The street car did stop at the park.
"I think your idea about the Historical Marker is an excellent one. I believe the location you mentioned would be ideal."
Friday, July 9 1999
Creating an accurate 'Nanty Glo myth'
Today's thoughts are inspired by yesterday's reference to an eventual historical museum for Nanty Glo.
I created the attached graphic several months ago but hadn't been able to decide where to put it. Any suggestions? General impressions?
I'd like to see the state produce a real version, or a variation, of this "historical marker" and have it put up at the entrance to the Ghost Town Trail. Also, the Nantyglo, Wales, historical project suggests to me that the trail would be a good place for, perhaps, an "open air museum." Old photos and other displays could be put under plexiglas along the trail, scattered from the entrance to where it passes into Blacklick Township. This suggests lots of feedback to me, but rather than dialog with myself, I'll wait for your responses.
Thursday, July 8 1999
A 'new' postcard from Nanty Glo's past
There is an update on the Home Page todaya new postcard of Nanty Glo's Robert's Street in the early '60's (please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that's a 1963 or '64 Ford in front of the bank in the photo). I'm indebted to Pauline Mutchko for sending it for the home page, and I plan to forward her original to Bill Martin for safekeeping. Bill, who has long been the Journal's bureau chief, has been collecting memorabilia most of his life which he hopes some day to see put in a local historical museum. I love that idea and wish we could help get the ball rolling on it sooner, rather than later.
If you have any old, or even just recent scenic, Blacklick Valley photos that you'd like placed on the home page, please send them to me, or if you're afraid of losing them (I can't guarantee their return for obvious reasons; i.e., as soon as I did so I would lose them) ...wait until I come to town again for another "scanning session." (I'm hoping that may be in October, at the peak of fall foliage season.)
The juxtaposition of this "new" postcard, which I've placed at the head of our "Postcards from the Past" slide show, is interesting. It shows Roberts Street at a time of peak commercial activity. Then the following postcard, from very early in the century, shows Roberts Street looking in the opposite direction. Except that the street wasn't paved then, it's probably closer to today's street than the '60's photo. Lots of open space.
Wanda Barrett asked if I'd be reporting on the Blacklick Township Sesquicentennial plans for next summer. I'd love to, but all I have thus far is hearsay. I do know my own graduating class, 1960, is planning a reunion the weekend of July 29-30, 2000 (I'm on the planning committee along with Helen Sleboda, who also lives in San Jose and so far has done the lion's share of work on it). So if you know anything about the Sesquicentennial plans, please let me know. What I've "heard" is that the big celebration will be that weekend, 7/29-30/2000, at the Blue Goose Sportsmen's Club north of Belsano. What have you heard?
I've added a new "letter generator" atop this page as of today, to make it easy for you to reply. Depending on your email reader software, you may be able to just click one of the addresses shown to get an email blank letter addressed accordingly (or you may have to cut and paste the address of your choosing into an email blank address line). If well begun is half done, you're halfway there! Of course we prefer "public" replies, but we understand if you'd rather say something privately, too.
Wednesday, July 7 1999
TODAY'S 'JONAL': New light on 'cat gangs'
Well, here's the first day of the Nanty Glo Jonal, and all I've come up with is a reprint. This was sent to me by an email correspondent. Before I started writing the teen column for the Nanty Glo Journal in 1957, there had been a lot of press given to "cat gangs." I thought the following put that whole phenomenon into new perspective. I hope you think so, too.
By the way, the response to yesterday's inquiry was all positive. One writer asked about feedback...of course that's what keeps us going. Responses to what's here, or your own ideas and topics are always welcome.
CHILDREN AS PETSTHE CAT YEARS
I just realized that while children are dogsloyal and affectionateteenagers are cats. It's so easy to be a dog owner. You feed it, train it, boss it around. It puts its head on your knee and gazes at you as if you were a Rembrandt painting. It bounds indoors with enthusiasm when you call it.
Then around age 13, your adoring little puppy turns into a big old cat. When you tell it to come inside, it looks amazed, as if wondering who died and made you emperor. Instead of dogging your doorsteps, it disappears. You won't see it again until it gets hungrythen it pauses on its sprint through the kitchen long enough to turn its nose up at whatever you're serving. When you reach out to ruffle its head, in that old affectionate gesture, it twists away from you, then gives you a blank stare, as if trying to remember where it has seen you before.
You, not realizing that the dog is now a cat, think something must be desperately wrong with it. It seems so antisocial, so distant, sort of depressed. It won't go on family outings.
Since you're the one who raised it, taught it to fetch and stay and sit on command, you assume that you did something wrong. Flooded with guilt and fear, you redouble your efforts to make your pet behave.
Only now you're dealing with a cat, so everything that worked before now produces the opposite of the desired result. Call it, and it runs away. Tell it to sit, and it jumps on the counter. The more you go toward it, wringing your hands, the more it moves away.
Instead of continuing to act like a dog owner, you can learn to behave like a cat owner. Put a dish of food near the door, and let it come to you. But remember that a cat needs your help and your affection too. Sit still, and it will come, seeking that warm, comforting lap it has not entirely forgotten. Be there to open the door for it.
One day your grown-up child will walk into the kitchen, give you a big kiss and say, "You've been on your feet all day. Let me get those dishes for you."
Then you'll realize your cat is a dog again.
Tuesday, July 6 1999
INTRODUCING 'THE NANTY GLO JONAL'
Hello, Nanty Glo Home pagers!
Our Nanty Glo email forum now numbers 94 members, and in case you haven't noticed, the Home Page has had more than 10,500 "hits" or visits since we started keeping count just under a year ago! Very gratifying.
I want to run an idea by you. For some time I've been considering keeping an "online journal" which would be a daily, highly personal letter from myself to the list and to the home page. On the home page it would supplant the "Updates" page that used to be the first place to look for new material, but has fallen into disuse now that our scrolling marquee has direct hotlink capability.
The content of this journal would be as Nanty Glo/Blacklick Valley-oriented as I could make it, but probably lots of times there would be no direct valley tie in, it would just be my "thought of the day" or a little screed about something that had occurred to me. Those of you who remember my Editor's Notes column in the Journal (as I'm sure most of you do, :-)) will have an idea what it would be like. Anything from a profile of a valley personality who made good to my thoughts about the War in Serbia (no seriously, I'll probably never get to that topic, but you get the idea). Anything from an essay to an Andy Rooney-type reflection on not much of anything.
I'd call it the "Jonal," because it's my "journal," but that name's taken, and it's highly personal so why not coin a word based on my own name?
In fact, let's consider this the first installment! Let me know what you think; if you don't want this clutter in your email, just let me know and I'll scratch you off my list! :-) And for those who aren't getting it as email but would like to, click on the "Join our Nanty Glo Email Forum" line above and follow the steps to get your free subscription.
Have a great day,
Send me your comments and feedback.
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