Friday, July 31, 2009

Today The Bare Wall was posted by the city for not paying its water bill. Service was to be terminated in the next day or so. But earlier in the week we got a termination letter giving us until August 17 to cough up the cash. Which to believe? Yes, we are running a delinquent account; income hasn't been stellar lately, but . . . the check to the city was mailed prior to all this ado. Of the five checks mailed at that time, four had already cleared our account; the city's hadn't. This also happened to me several years ago. At that time I asked "just how far behind is the city in crediting users' accounts?" About three weeks, I was told. One would think they would clear all checks before mailing out notices and sending someone on a fool's errand. Hopefully no one at city hall reads this blog or we could be thirsty and smelling ripe in a few days! . . . (Happy to report the termination was canceled once my check was located.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Couple mugged at North and Commonwealth at 1:30 a.m. No other details at this time. Otherwise, a nothing kind of day. Placed a major order for our "Harrisburg" pottery and bought a few pieces marked "Camp Hill." That order takes about a month to ship. Haven't made our annual trek to the Marysville Carnival yet; might not make it this year. Great French fries and according to Bob the best pork barbecue in the area.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A muggy, overcast uncomfortable day . . . a surprise visit from Mark Crider who has been in California for almost ten years now; is threatening to return . . . happy birthday to Nick Whitmore. . . does anyone recall a short-lived bar at Third Street and Oliver Alley called Silhouettes? We are trying to construct a time-line. Was it after The Chateau (great hamburgers there) and before the current Strawberry, or was there something in-between. Tell us what you know. Thanks. E-mail address to your left.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shop talk . . . Thanks to the Euro and current economic conditions, the cost of our imported English teas has gone through the roof; a $5 box of 20 teabags is now $7 or $7.50. We have decided to discontinue this line, so all remaining packages are on sale for $4.50. . . A new shipment of Root Candles is en route (clever, huh). We have trouble keeping the ginger patchouli scent in stock; it is your favorite fragrance by far . . . The collection of blank cards featuring the work of New England artists has been well received (click to enlarge) . . . our "Christmas in July" selection is bigger than we first anticipated. Come see if there is anything you can use for those office parties.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sorry to learn that Terry Sneed required triple by-pass surgery last week. Doing well. Many of you will remember Terry from his years at Open Stage. (Always envied Terry's friendship with Joan Fontaine; he sent her a card from The Bare Wall once and she responded that it was a very nice greeting. That made even me feel good!) . . . Dee Doud's garden under the billboards at Second and Forster is a wonderful welcome to West Shore visitors. Commuters especially must enjoy watching the plantings transform on a daily basis. (Click picture to enlarge.) Dee is to be congratulated on this public service. She also was recently honored by the Historic Harrisburg Association for the hours of work she has done on the society's tour booklets . . . we have some truly grand people in our neighborhood.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

By all reports yesterday's Gay Pride march was the best parade Harrisburg has seen in many a year. Hopefully someone will post it to YouTube soon . . . Fellow blogger Eric has done a critique of the protesters' efforts; click on our link to the left to read his comments . . . Congratulations to Midtown's David Hoffman on the publication of his new book. WWII buffs will want I'll Be Home for the Christmas Rush: Letters from Europe, 1944-45. David's father served with the 29th Infantry Division, was injured at St. Lo, recuperated in England, and returned to the field. The letters (essentially a one-sided conversation since those to him did not survive) give thoughtful descriptions about the county where he was, how it compared to his home in Texas, and about the non-military personnel he encountered in England and on the continent. (Wartime restrictions prevented him from mentioning combat encounters.) More details from the publisher at David has promised The Bare Wall some autographed copies which will be available soon for $19.95. . . Our thanks to Cecilia for taking responsibility for the blog while Bob and I celebrated. A Hedda Hopper-Louella Parsons-Rona Barrett-Liz Smith clone? Maybe we will hear more from her later.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hi, folks. Cecilia here. Uncle Bob and Uncle Ronn are celebrating their 24th anniversary together today (imagine that!) so I said I would do this blog thing. The fellow in the green shirt below is my brother JJ. He kisses me a lot, plays with my toes (which I'm trying to taste), and pokes me when I am napping. He's okay--for a boy. He gets all the best snacks when we visit The Bare Wall; I only get a bottle. I'm looking forward to my first Oreo but I guess that is a year away. Well, enough. (I didn't promise to write an epic!) Please come back tomorrow and Uncle Ronn will tell you about a neighbor who has just published another book. Ta-ta . . . Cecilia.

Friday, July 24, 2009

All of our "Reflections in Silver" sterling jewelry is now on sale at 20% off; making way for new stuff for the holiday. . . Speaking of which, we are having a minor Christmas in July sale, and you can save 25% on boxed holiday cards and even more on an assortment of leftover ones-ies and twos-ies. . . I don't know why, but I am still amazed at how rude some people in their late teens and early twenties can be; no social graces whatsoever. Were we like that back then?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kevin and Kevin are having the brick sidewalk relaid at 802 Green; nice . . . PLEASE observe the 'no parking' signs in the 200 block of Briggs; five cars have been towed in the past few days . . . Please, people, the state workers need paid. This is shaping up to be the Bare Wall's worst July since 1973! . . . Harrisburg has just been named the Crime Capital of Pennsylvania. . . JJ says there is nothing better than a messy banana.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Neighbors were awakened at 4 a.m. by a break-in at the Maennerchor, North and Church Streets. Quick efficient action by our police force trapped and captured the alleged perp inside; rumored to be a former employee . . . (From the city police blotter: Mayor Reed said Marcus Wiseman, 24, of the 600 block of N. Front Street, was arrested and charged with burglary and public drunkenness). . . Contractors have at last attacked Doug and Amy's house like they mean business; no one is happier than Doug and Amy (and the neighbors who are eager for those quarantined parking spots) . . . have been told that my journalistic style is muddled and difficult to follow; my thanks to you readers who persevere . . . the morning glory picture doesn't signify anything. It just happens to be one of Dooley's that I like a lot.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Never EVER leave your keys within JJs reach. He gets an impish pleasure out of setting off car horns . . . Bob re-dressed the front window this afternoon . . . I don't mean to belabor yesterday's post, but it did make me think: in my lifetime there have been devastating wars and technological breakthroughs involving thousands of people, some taking years, and they have changed our lives. Strange then to realize that it was just a couple of "girls" out for a drink who reacted spontaneously and faster than a finger snap set off a chain reaction that changed the world forever. It is a mind-boggling thought . . . I truly feel sorry for those people who parade the streets talking on their cell phones. It is sad to know that they are so lonely that they can't enjoy the quiet of their own company on the short walk from office to home. In my professional heyday I was eager for the moments I would be incommunicado; it was the most refreshing part of the day. Of course, some people merely hope to enhance the appearance of their own importance by chatting loud enough for all to hear; I'm here to tell them that it doesn't work with me.

Monday, July 20, 2009

This is Gay Pride week in Harrisburg and rainbow flags are flapping everywhere. A Friday night concert at Market Square Presbyterian, a Saturday morning parade and afternoon festivities in the park are just some of the activities planned. (There is lots on YouTube of past years' events in the city; search Harrisburg Gay Pride). . . this is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots which gave birth to the equal rights movement. A group of drag queens in New York lamenting the death of Judy Garland was set upon by police; the cops got the shock of their lives when, for the first time, the queens shoved back. Several nights of civil disobedience followed. The news spread worldwide, and soon there were demonstrations everywhere. . . Best book on the "movement" is Making History by Eric Marcus (the original, not the revised edition) . . . but, to be perverse, the best "entertainment" is provided by the bigots who come to protest these events . . . Jack Barnett wants me to say a good word for the Shire-Max Inn, a guest house he owns with Bob Coldren in Provincetown, Ma. I have not been there, but many Harrisburgers call it their home on the Cape. It is managed by Mark Stevens, whom many of you know--he helps out at the Bare Wall during the holiday season. . . Oh, yeah . . . the inside of the card reads Keep up the good work!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bob home safely from a weekend in the woods . . . More on Saturday . . . did not get to attend the dedication of the HHA plaque (click to enlarge) commemorating the successful preservation of the neighborhood when GSA attempted to destroy it for the new courthouse; many politicos had nice things to say about this community effort. . . between bites of a delicious couscous salad got to exchange words with my neighbors Doug and Amy Hill; learned that they had honeymooned in Rome, had an audience with the Pope and visited a lot of ice cream parlors. . . talk of the picnic--the sale of the convent buildings at Second and Liberty Streets; it is rumored they will be converted to 18 apartments. And you thought parking was already at a premium. . . One piece of Americana that I truly miss is the practice of women wearing hats to church. I recently watched the crowd leave Sunday morning mass at St. Pat's and saw only one hat, a small summer straw far removed from the flamboyant millinery creations of the past. I'm told that I should visit some black churches where women still parade their finery in the grand tradition. Good for them!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

First read on the CAN-wide street sale: no slam-dunk but profitable enough to be worthwhile. My thanks to Mike Billo for the free jigsaw puzzle. All our thanks to Jaime and Bryan MacLeod for underwriting the costs of the advertising. . . annual CAN picnic crammed with good friends and wonderful food; our thanks to Kathy MacNett for the use of her house and garden and to Matt Simmons for his mastery of the grill. . . just learned of the recurring vandalism to the business sign on Dan Miller's building at North and Second; apparently the perp has paid more than one visit to the scene of the crime.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Here is the picture of Ruth's painted rocks I promised earlier. (Click to enlarge.) Each is an individual work; there are no duplicates. When an image is sold it is gone for good. . . Remember that tomorrow (Saturday) is the CAN neighborhood street sale--7 a.m.-2 p.m., but don't look for the Bare Wall to be open that early; more like 10 a.m. . . Bryan and Jaime got a great spot in the Pat-News yard sale classifieds (second in a long list) so good traffic is to be expected if the weather cooperates; also listed on Penn-Live. . . Jigsaw puzzles anyone?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Joel Turley spent the day beautifying the parking lot in the 200 block of Briggs Street (it needed it). Lelia, Tyler and Matt swept up around 701 Green Street in preparation for festivities there this weekend. (It really needed it.) . . . Sadly, our neighborhood isn't as clean as it used to be. I remember Mary, Merle and Jean Busey, and Ruth DeGroot (aged 98) out with their brooms attacking the sidewalks AND gutters almost daily. I don't do as much as I used to either; Bob does most of what gets done, though I do make an effort to corral the paper litter that people bless us with every day. . . I am also keen to raise the fines for cars that don't move for street cleaning; they always seem to be left right under the signs that say "No Parking Overnite." . . . Now who will be the first to point out that I don't have a car? . . . A rare political observation: that woman up for a Supreme Court judgeship is eminently qualified; the people asking her stupid questions aren't.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Maria tells me the Lingus fig tree survived another year and is in full leaf. However, the cool and rainy weather has not been conducive to setting fruit. Very little can be seen in that department, much to the disappointment of the birds which usually get to the goodies before the family . . .

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spent much of the day working with what remains of our VHS/DVD collection. As most of you know, we are getting out of the rental business. To date 4050 titles have been sold; about 800 remain, and 300 are in foreign languages. Where are all the French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Icelandic teachers? You can't beat the price--$2 and up. . . the old man in the tree has been looking down on Green Street for nine months now. I wonder how many pass through the neighborhood every day and have not yet noticed him.

Monday, July 13, 2009

An absolutely lazy day. Did a little bookwork and read some of my mystery novel: Martha Grimes' Dust. . . there was a fender-bender at Forster and Green; no injuries. . . Stayed up late last night listening to the firemen battling the blaze on Royal Terrace . . .

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Toured Riverview Manor to check on the conversion of the grand old apartment building into condos. From what I could see, pains are being taken to preserve much of the original decor which is a major plus. I could easily imagine any number of my friends living there. But there is a major downside: the glorious trees and lawns that once enhanced the building have been destroyed, replaced by (seemingly) acres of pavement for parking. There is no indication that the greenery will be replaced. . . the same destruction took place when creating parking for the HACC center city classrooms and "enhancing" State Street. Why must all of center city be sun-baked? Has no one heard of "going green?" The city needs a "tree replacement" policy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ruth Reed of Dalmatia delivered a small shipment of her popular painted rocks this morning; sold one even before they got in the door! Still have thirteen others priced $7, $10 and $16. Will provide a picture in the next few days, but these are works of art, not duplicates. Once gone, they are gone. And, of course, Ruth insists that we reserve a couple for JJs garden. He has quite a collection.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Week after July 4th normally one of the slowest of the year; not bad this year despite the fact that the steam company had the street closed for much of the week. . . someone trashed the flower and vegetable garden at 806 Green overnight. A real tragedy. Bart and Collette had the property looking better than it has in a decade or two. Vandals never seem to be caught . . . Matt reports an attempted break-in at the Mannerchor on North Street Wednesday night/Thursday a.m.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pleasant day with some nice visitors. . . Here is a picture of the brass critters that I promised. (Click to enlarge). This is just a sampling. These were made in Philadelphia for many years before the operation moved to Florida. These are in the $20 and above range and are just a few inches tall; an heirloom in the making, one might say. . . Note to the Young Professionals: Your Forster Street garden (which we all appreciate) needs weeding.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Today Jaime and Bryan papered the neighborhood with flyers for the CAN yard sale July 18th. (Front to Third, Walnut to Forster.) Why not clean the attic and basement and come join us. We will find you a spot; the more the merrier. Do you remember the annual Great North Street Sale of several years ago? Forty or fifty vendors lined both sides of North Street and the 700 block of Green. Food, entertainment and bargains. Lots of fun . . . A little excitement at Jack and Dr. Bob's Provincetown Inn over the weekend. A guest slipped his late-night dinner into the communal oven and forgot about it. The house filled with smoke and everyone was routed at 4 a.m. Don't think Jack renewed this patron's reservation for next season!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A quiet day in the neighborhood. Guess everyone was watching the M. Jackson funeral. One of the eulogists said he was the greatest entertainer ever; wonder what Mozart (and others) thought about that. . . sorry to learn that one of my friends has lost his job after 28 years with a company; we hear these stories every day but this is the first time it has happened to someone I know. . . JJ is taking soccer lessons; Bob is sorry for the coach.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Someone scaled the scaffolding in the 200 block of Briggs Street overnight and stole Nate's distinctive "N8" banner used to advertise his painting business. Shown here on another job . . . Bill S. of Steelton and fellow vets are working feverishly to save Scotland School for the future although the coming year is lost; three-quarters of the staff have promised to return should the school continue . . . Remember: you save 10% when you buy five or more greeting cards at the same time . . . Received twenty or so new blank cards this afternoon.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bob turned the cherries into a delicious pie . . . Fireworks are ever so much better when seen with a three-year-old.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Our Favorite Holiday Destination

Friday, July 3, 2009

Metalware figurines and bookends arrived today. Handsome but not inexpensive. Will try to give you a picture or two next week. . . Mary Ann and her sister went ape at Strite's Orchard today, but their enthusiasm was to our advantage. Free cherries! . . . The summer reading season is in full swing. Angela, Bob and Doctor Bob loved "Lottery." I enjoyed "The Big Clock" but am finding "Nightmare Alley" a bit of a slog. Have a safe holiday.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bryan and Jaime back from their Caribbean honeymoon . . . Big tractor-trailer tore off a major limb of the green ash next door; we could lose all that lush greenery . . . mugger at Second and Calder mentioned in a earlier post this week was caught; Eric posted the particulars on his site. Click on the link to Capital Area on the left of this post . . . still feeling poorly . . . ordered several dozens of blank cards containing the artwork of New England artists. . . Amy and Doug's metal roof was finished today. . . Mollie Sugden (Mrs. Slocombe) died yesterday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Harrisburg Arts Festival 1969
Dozens of artists and craftsmen flood the plaza with their works for an appreciative but sweaty audience. A performance is in progress on the stage in the rear.
Inside the museum, The Harrisburg Craftsmen show their wares. Similar displays were provided by clubs and organizations throughout Central Pennsylvania. Your humble reporter was responsible for the geometric black and white rug.

Although it is no longer the community asset it once was, I am offended by the fact that, beginning today, the State Museum is assessing an admission fee. Being an old man I get in on the cheap but that doesn't soften the blow. And coming just before Independence Day makes it seem--well--un-American somehow.
In the early days the museum was the hub of neighborhood activity. Several clubs used the classroom for meetings and projects. Historic Harrisburg met there monthly for several years. There were frequent plays, readings, and concerts in the auditorium. One group presented several seasons of foreign films there. New art exhibits were greeted by marvelous receptions.
If memory serves correctly, the museum hit the heights when Fern Hetrick was director. She wanted it to be a "people place" and did what no one had done before. She shocked the purists by using china from the collections and--worse--brought out the elegant silver service from the USS Pennsylvania for mere mortals to use at receptions. She also arranged for summer movies on the plaza--grand old MGM musicals projected on the Archives tower. Ah, those were the days. God bless you, Fern.
But THE EVENT of the year was the Harrisburg Arts Festival during its Gilded Age. Art galore, dance, music, theater, film. The Harrisburg Symphony, choral societies, ballet, opera, school bands, plays performed in the period rooms, the Poet's Corner in the Archives garden. The biggest headache was the scheduling. With so much to squeeze into four days, it sometimes happened that two very desirable groups were scheduled opposite each other. This was a true celebration of the arts in Central Pennsylvania by artists in Pennsylvania, not the commercial traveling show that we have today. There was also a late-night coffee house for solo performers that was very popular.
One of the highlights of that golden era was a pirate ship built on the plaza as a playground for youngsters, the brain child of Charlie Speers. Unfortunately I do not have a picture of that. If anyone does, I would love to have a copy. E-mail me at
I did not intend for these posts to be more than a few lines a day, but so few people will now recall what a vibrant place the museum used to be that I felt obligated to make this report. I have not been to the museum more than once or twice in the last five years, but in the "old days" we were there two or three times a week.