Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

I'm in Johnstown, having arrived before noon on Thursday. Brother Bob (who's staying at the Cottage at Ebensburg again this year) and I flew in on a two-hop flight, San Jose to Atlanta (yes, we were flying Delta) and after a nearly three-hour layover, Atlanta to Pittsburgh, arriving there at about 11:30 p.m. The layover in Atlanta seemed excessive, but that was nothing compared with the hour and a half or more it took us to find our motel, prebooked about five or 10 miles from Pittsburgh International. It's one of those "don't ask" situations, but I'll confess before you do that it was all my doing. I had stayed at the same motel twice before, but never approached it from the airport (staying there the night before previous flights out, rather than going to it on arriving late from California). That and the fact that the motel has—I swear—moved. It's still the only motel of its chain in greater Pittsburgh. But whereas it used to be about a half a mile from Route 60, the downtown-Pittsburgh-to-airport expressway, it is now off Business 60, even closer to that route than the old location was to the expressway, but a few miles farther from the airport. I was looking for something that no longer exists, apparently, and that took us through hill and dale around the west end of greater Pittsburgh, getting acquainted by cell phone with the night clerk at the motel who did her best to guide us in. We all did succeed, eventually, but I think both Bob and I were both so beat by then that we hardly slept that night.

I'm staying, again as I have a number of times, at the Towne Manor Motel just across from the Inclined Plane. I guess I'm a creature of habit, because I could probably have done better. This motel (from which I'm writing but cannot publish this post because it has no wifi), was new when I was at Johnstown College, a showcase for the new tourist-enlivened downtown Johnstown. I've stayed here in the past because it was a bargain, but coming right at the Folk Fest this year, it isn't. I'll be using Starbucks at Richland Town Center and the main Cambria Library to publish these posts, the day after writing them. At least that's the plan.

After not having rain for months, we arrived to a wet airport in Pittsburgh and the rain continued intermittently all through Thursday. Our waitress at Dean's Diner said at breakfast (late breakfast) that the precip is supposed to be over by Saturday, as she's planning to spend the weekend at "camp," so I can only hope she's right.

On both flights we met interesting women fellow travellers, a function of the fact that when I booked the flights, I put my gegarious brother in the middle seat. If I'd been in that position, we'd have never met the ladies (unless he was being really gregarious and chose to speak to them across me!). I like meeting people that way and it's one of the things I enjoy about traveling with Bob; he makes up for my inherent shyness. The second lady, who lives in Pittsburgh and is the mother of a family of school teachers, was acquainted with one of our favorite authors, Frank McCourt, mentioned repeatedly here in the past. Her son, who wants to be a writer, has only been able to find offers to write in the area of high technology when his interests lean much more to the side of creative writing. I could (and did) relate to that, of course, but also was able to encourage her to encourage him with the news of my own late-in-life breakthrough into creative book writing after some years in technical writing. And this is where Frank McCourt comes in, as he was not published as a book author until age 66, when his Angela's Ashes became an international best-seller.

The other lady, who flew with us on the longer flight, from San Jose to Atlanta, was a fellow member of the Kennedy clan, albeit a side of it we had never heard of, nor had she heard of ours. More interesting was the fact that in recent years, since retiring from a former career in engineering, she (Kathleen Kennedy Stratton) had begun creating a "gratitude journal," in which she lists everything she should be thankful for on the day she's writing and, if she feels so led, comments on what she's learned or why she's become grateful. What a great idea; nothing is more egregious to God, Scriptures repeatedly say, than ingratitude. The whole basis of our relationship with God, our worship, is praise or, in other words, in expressions of gratitude. And that, in turn, rests on examining the things in our lives that we should be grateful for and, as we grow in grace, rests on our learning to thank Him for everything, even if we haven't learned the lessons of some of the things that come our way. Kathleen said it's one thing to express gratitude in praise, but those usually turn out to be generalizations when merely spoken, as it were, in God's ear only. Writing them down gives them added impact. It sounds like an authentic insight to me.

So, I'm grateful for getting across the continent safe one more time. For a big brother who breaks the ice for me now and then. A room at a motel in downtown Johnstown that at one time I could only dream of having. A vacation. Retirement. More work to do, beginning with this new school year at Stanford. Interesting new acquaintances made on the trip thus far. The rain that was good for our souls. A great idea about gratitute journaling. And....

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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Workplace (mis)communications: "No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We've been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to tell them."

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— C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)

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Jon Kennedy's latest book is The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia, now in stores, from Adams Media, F&W Publications. From May 9, 2007 through July 2, 2008 his blog entries or "Jonals" were articles inspired by readings in Lewis's work that didn't fit into the book. Click here for a list of all articles in the C.S. Lewis Overflow series. The book is available for purchase in support of the Liberty Museum in Nanty Glo and is also available on Amazon.

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