Aug 30, 2017
photo by Joyce Dyer
Last time I mentioned this statue of the South-facing Union soldier in the center of Chambersburg, PA, which the Confederates burned in 1864. I stole a photo from Google to illustrate the moment, but Joyce reminded me that she'd taken an iPhone photo as we were driving by (I, circumspect driver that I always am, was focused on the road!). Good shot.
Anyway, I mentioned in that post a couple of days ago that the Confederates actually attacked from the west (ha, ha), but more than one friend commented that Art Is Not Always a Xerox of Life and that the South-facing is surely more for aesthetic, symbolic value than for historical accuracy.
Okay. I am chastened ...
As I wrote the other day, we toured the John Brown House in Chambersburg, found (after some doing) the historical marker near the spot where, in 1859, John Brown met with Frederick Douglass and tried (and failed) to convince Douglass to join him in the Harpers Ferry raid.
After all of this, we drove a bit north of town on I-81 and spent the night in a motel before heading out early the next morning to Lee, Mass., near my brothers and mom, some 400 miles to the northeast.
I-81 is a lovely, sometimes mountainous Interstate route, and we've been on it many times (usually a bit farther north), but when I was in my John O'Hara Mania a few years ago, I was on it several times because his hometown of Pottsville, PA, lies just east of I-81 about 100 miles northeast of Chambersburg. And I confess I felt a little palpitation when we drove by an exit that mentioned Pottsville. (But not enough to exit and visit ...)
Once we got to the place where I-81 crosses I-80, we were on Familiar Ground. Since my brothers and parents moved to Mass. decades ago, we have invariably driven to see them on the same way from our home in Hudson, OH: I-80 to I-81 to I-84 to Taconic Parkway to I-90 to Lee, MA, the exit we must take. In later years (in bladder-challenging years) we have opted at times for I-87 over the Taconic (more rest areas), but we always like to go the Taconic on the way home--for several reasons. It's beautiful. There are no trucks. And it has one exit, Bulls Head Road, that has some enormous significance for Joyce, who had relatives who lived in Standfordville, NY (to which Bulls Head leads). She often spent summers there as a little girl, and when we became engaged in the summer of 1969, she said one trip we just had to make was to Stanfordville so I could meet Kathy and Gene.
Gene was a country lawyer; Kathy was a wedding whiz who'd once flourished in business in NYC (and was a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt). Both of them read like manics and smoked like Maniacs. I loved them both immediately. (And they must have offered some sort of approval for me because the wedding plans continued!)
Both Kathy and Gene are gone now, but we have sometimes stopped at the exit, driven into Stanfordville, stared at their old house, visited the cemetery ... remembered ...
We decided to do so this time on our way up to Lee. We just aren't sure how many times--if ever--we'll be doing this drive (health, health, health), so ... another look.
We couldn't find the house for the longest time. The current owners have changed the entrance, have surrounded it with a cedar fence. Nothing much looks the same.
But we found it. Drove a bit up into the driveway so Joyce could hop out and take a quick picture.
Then we stopped in "downtown" Stanfordville (which makes Hiram, Ohio, look downright metropolitan), and Joyce went into the little general store, a place she's known since girlhood. (It's now called Elvin's Market.) The owners are new--but they knew the previous owners (who'd run the place for a half-century) and had stories to tell Joyce. Who absorbed them thoroughly. (As is her wont.)
In the car, she told me that the folks who now own Kathy and Gene's old home are converting it to a B &B. Guess where we'll be staying if we get back up this way?