Tag Archives: Gettysburg

Bike trails make “getting out” safer, more fun

Cyclists on a rural Adams County roadWhen I was a lad, my bicycle was my best friend. On it, I traveled all over the county, and probably into parts of a couple others. There were, indeed, some hills to climb on the old one-speed Western Flyer bicycle, but coasting down them – especially the mile-long 400-foot drop into town – was absolutely exhilarating.

“(Today’s) children probably won’t live as long as our generation.” – Tom Jolin

A Saturday ride might be a 50-mile loop to Kingfield and Eustis, along the Carrabassett River and other places that, in retrospect, sound almost exotic. In my ’tween-hood, they were simply along the way, sure to include a stop at Mr. Richards’ Shell station for a Mars bar, or Proberts’ store for a tube of Necco candy wafers and a Nehi soda, respectively, the latter pulled from the depths of a red Coke cooler filled with water and melting ice.

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Feline wizardry makes some enjoyable joe

Plastic-lined burlap bags of in-house roasted coffee beans wait to be brewed(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 1/17/2014)

The Tuesday Noon Coffee and a Movie Philosophical Society meets here, as does a Wednesday night knitting club. During the day, shoppers stop by for conversation and a cup of joe.

“Here” is Merlin’s Coffee, at the far end of a short alley at the Outlet Shoppes, on the outskirts of Gettysburg. Sometimes called by customers “the cat house;” owners Donna and Eric Burns, of Hanover, are deeply invested in rescuing cats, have named the business for one of the animals, and have decorated the interior with cat art and knick-knacks. All their employees agree to allow Eric and Donna to donate the tips to animal rescue efforts.

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How to end the war in Afghanistan

 A cannon accents rubble from the demolished cyclorama, grim reminder of the demolished lives.(First published in the Gettysburg Times, 5/10/2013)

“Thirty-five million deaths leave an empty place at only one family table.” – News commentator Eric Sevareid, (1912-1992) in a radio essay on the 25th anniversary of the start of World War Two.

With less than one percent of our warrior-age offspring actually in the military force, the odds greatly favor that a picture on the evening news is all most of us will know about someone who has died or been wounded in battle.

It is easy to think the war in Afghanistan, virtual static beneath whatever car crash or blustery foreign leader takes top billing each night, has been going on a very long time. An editor for ABC World News declared the war in Afghanistan “the longest war in our nation’s history, surpassing the conflict in Vietnam.” That was June 2010. Let’s do the math. Continue reading

Spring and the Rebs are coming

I’m pretty sure Spring is not far. I base that prognostication not upon annotations on a calendar or the profundity of a rodent in conversation with a group of men in stovepipe hats – but upon a flock of at least 100 Robins in my back yard as I write these thoughts. First ones I’ve seen this year.

Grady and I have cabin fever. Grady is a Golden Retriever who’s been living here a few days more than 6 years, and who loves being in the woods at least as much as he loves stealing from a bag of Hershey Kisses left on the couch by an inattentive human.

My favorite canoeing pond was covered with ice the last time I was up there. Most of that ice should be gone now; Continue reading

Save gas, clear the air, promote retail traffic and get a little exercise; downtown pedestrian-only should be an attractive idea

Kloggers perform in a pedestrian-only stage area in Burlington, Vt.A recent thread about sidewalk cafés in Philadelphia reminded me of a thread I’ve followed many years in the town where I live – making a portion of downtown pedestrian-only. The idea benefits everyone who shops, works and even breathes in the burg that tries it.

It’s a hard sell, though. We Americans have a long independent streak.

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Community shows a way to reduce water use

Hillside development features rooftop solar panels and natural wastewater treatment

(This column was first published on Rock The Capital, Oct. 21, 2011.)

It is said that that much of the county in which I live is only 30-45 days away from drought. The land beneath the houses and pavement is nearly solid – compacted dried clay virtually incapable of storing water.

We turn on our tap and water issues forth, which we use to drink, wash ourselves and our dishes, and flush away our waste. Most of us remain unconcerned about how long that sequence will continue.

In 1998, one group of South Central Pennsylvania residents had a different idea. They created a community designed from the start to minimize demands on natural resources, including water. It seems to be working.

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Bullying: We rail against it, but do little to actually stop it

I graduated Eighth Grade in ceremonies held at the local Grange hall, next to the town fire station, at the other end of Church Street, where the town’s only church stood.

It was in the two-room school house, and on the way home from it, I learned about bullying, … Continue reading…

So many colors in a rainbow

First Born's kids play on a Civil War battlefieldGoogle has started a new, free, travel opportunity. It’s called the Google Art Project, and offers young people of all ages opportunity to visit places many will never have opportunity to see – for instance, Freer Gallery of Art (Smithsonian), Denver (Colorado) Art Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art. Point your browser to www.googleartproject.com and start admiring.

Art, one of my college professors said, is the history of the tribe. To which I add, that and fiction. In both, the creators get to show life as they see it, without their stories being approved by Texas and California school districts.

“But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one”

(From “Flowers are Red,” by Harry Chapin, 1978)

When my son started school, … Continue reading …

Pa. lawmakers aim to curtail public school superintendent severance; how about the secrecy which surrounds it

A high school parking lot awaits its daily inflow of students and facultyState legislators have begun work on long overdue legislation to limit the damage to local taxpayers when a school board and its superintendent part ways.

In Fall 2010, after renewing his contract only a few months earlier, the Gettysburg Area School Board decided it no longer found Supt. Bill Hall acceptable. So, with three and-a-half years left on his contract, they fired him.

Well, not fired – exactly.

“Bill Hall is on administrative leave for personal reasons,” board President Patt Symmes said the day after the Sept. 20, 2010 school board meeting, “and that’s all I can say.”

Placing Hall on “administrative leave” was done in secret, during an executive session … Continue reading …

Songs you’ll wish you knew, and a few you do

The Willys perform at The Underside: Dan Chase on keyboard, Todd Mudd on bass, Neil Ecker on drums, Bill Serfass on lead guitar and Bill Mitchell on rhythm guitar.If you haven’t heard The Willys, you’ve missed a treat. We caught them one recent evening at The Underside, a restaurant and pub under the Altland House, on Abbottstown Square.

Their music is difficult to define. It’s been called “classic rock and beyond,” which leader Bill Serfass said sums it up about as well as any other description.

To my ear – I only know what I like but I’m not good with labels – it’s a mixture of gentle Rock-and-Roll and ballads. As my wife and I sat enjoying an appetizer of potato chips and sauce (both of which are made in the Underside kitchen) the group started one song I thought could have played in a Jimmy Buffett concert, though it wasn’t a Buffett song. In another number, Continue reading

Adams County farm markets season open

A prospective customer questions a farm market vendor about herb seedlings

Wednesday was opening day for the Adams County Farmers Market Association. Nearly a dozen vendors, representing growers from around the county, set up their tents at the Gettysburg Rec Park.

There is nothing tastier than fresh stuff on the dinner table. Place two dishes of lettuce on the table, one from the grocery store plastic bag produce section and one from the farm market, then chomp into a sample from each. Continue reading

Recycling can be a bother, but …

Two people's reusable recycleable plastic and glass trash in Gettysburg Adams County South Central Pennsylvania
We had a compost pile when I was young. Newspapers had a variety of uses, from wrapping other waste to starting fires to rolling tightly and burning as logs.

We had a town dump where I was raised. It was a great place for weekly social gathering. It’s amazing how much business is decided — personal, commercial and governmental — at such meet-ups. Continue reading