Monday, August 31, 2009

First chilly day of the fall season; cool weather is expected to continue through the week. . . Workmen put down the new cement sidewalk at the Lynn Lawson residence on Briggs Street today; the cement is tinted brick brown to coordinate with the sidewalk next door. . . the hummingbird bookends stand a tad over eight inches and sell for $47.50; have just this one pair to sell . . . the figures for August weren't so good, but then I remembered that we had a sale this time last year so the comparison is faulty . . . can we credit this blog with the clean-up of the Second and State Street site? I would like to think so . . .

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I have talked a bit about international radio via the net in the past. If you are old enough to appreciate the music of the 20s, 30s, and 40s, you will certainly enjoy Dewi Griffiths' String of Pearls program on Welsh radio. He provides a history of popular music and musicians every Sunday morning, but you can hear it anytime during the week. So rewarding to us old folks who haven't a decent radio station playing "our" music. To access: (If you have not contacted the BBC before, it may ask to install its "IPlayer;" takes just a few seconds.) On the main page, select "music" from the menu on the left and another page will appear; Dewi is frequently pictured there, or you can scroll down to String of Pearls. And while here, also try Beverley Humphreys' Showtime, songs from the West End, Broadway and the movies. (Bob and I are faithful listeners and have been for three years--that's 150 hours, folks!) Of course, you can listen while writing letters or playing solitaire; such a treat.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

This postcard has appeared on Eric's site some time ago, but for those of you who missed it I am repeating it here. This is our neighborhood in 1915. (Click to enlarge) The street on the right is North Street looking east. To get your bearings, I have marked The Bare Wall with a yellow-outlined red square. You can see Jack and Bob's yellow house, our neighborhood landmark, just across the street. Briggs Street cuts diagonally across the card from the lower left. The big building in the back was a high school, I am told, and the large building to its left (where the Liquor Control Board now stands) may have been Fink's Brewery (no relation). The Bare Wall block bounded by North, Green, Briggs and Prince Street (once Love Alley; I wonder why?) is the only one still intact in the downtown area. In the 1960s the city had planned to destroy at least one of the structures so that the yards within could be used for public parking. You can't imagine the outcry! I wonder if this picture was taken on a Monday; all the yards appear to be strewn with laundry drying on the line . . . I have another undated card showing the area just to the south and including the Capitol which I will post later.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Matt Simmons puts us on the alert: apparently houses that are empty or appear so are targets for squatters in this difficult economy. Such an event occurred at Green and Herr. Never hesitate to call the police (255-3131) if you see something suspicious. . . JJ sold his parents several candles this afternoon but made them put back the "stinky" one . . . Eric has solved the budget impasse--he is selling off the state to our neighbors. See his solution on his blog; link on the left. . .

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Had a very pleasant patio cookout with our friend Lee Spitalny at her condo out Linglestown way last night; Lee does some substitute teaching and, while looking forward to the school year, she hopes she isn't summoned right away. She was once part owner of The Proper Setting in New Cumberland and late husband, Howard, was a major Bon-Ton employee. . . The new books about Pennsylvania have arrived; a little something for everyone: Trains, cooking, crimes, paranormal experiences, breweries, and a lavish, all-color Christmas in Pennsylvania, $24.95. Worth looking over. . . John Goldsmith wants his friends to know that they can see his new condo neighborhood in Palm Springs at . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Apparently the anticipated eatery at North and Susquehanna is not to be; property posted "Build to Suit" . . . Parking at 709 Green restricted for another month as Doug and Amy move closer to realizing their dream home; roof, siding, spouting in place, porch railings coming up as soon as HARB approves the plan . . . told you recently about my fascination with streaming cams. Have found one by Bronco, a Harrisburg trucker, who appears to run day trips between Harrisburg and points west. You can ride the turnpike without driving or paying a toll! The site appears to be active only when he is in the truck, so you'll have to check it out daytime. Try this link: The site is "chat enabled" so you can talk with a lot of nice people; he has been doing this for four years.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This blog is not intended to address controversial issues, so I apologize for what follows. . . . There is something scary in the air these days; have the Commies been polluting it? Or is this simply the "silly season?" . . . First it has been reported that mothers Uptown have encouraged their daughters to fight, causing a near riot in the streets. Is this the new "parental guidance?" . . . then there is the saga of a man and his dog, the animal "dog-napped" and isolated by the Humane Society which will now spend thousands donated for abandoned pets to hire a competent but high-priced law firm to cover its ass-ets; for dog's sake, give the fellow his buddy and use the money to feed the other animals . . . (do I see fodder for another children's book a la Black Beauty in all of this?) . . . then there is the story of an abandoned right-of-way suddenly reclaimed by a school board on which a fence was erected thereby denying Camp Hill residents access to their garages. There is a simple solution: move the fence back a couple of feet. NO! Too simple in our complex society; rather we will spend thousands for a "feasibility study" and import a dozen "experts" (at great expense) to suggest, ultimately, that the fence be moved back two feet. We need horse-sense, folks, not horse--well, never mind. . . You can at least be happy that I'm ignoring the state budget crisis . . . talk about "silly season" . . .

Monday, August 24, 2009

Surprising lack of traffic for such a nice day. . . ordered a new batch of books about Pennsylvania which should be here within a week . . . the cider packets will be shipped September 15 so gear up those taste buds. . . . finished reading the Gurnsey Literary . . . Society. What a delight. Now I want to know more about the Channel Islands; if you have ever been there I want to hear about your trip . . .

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Posting early today but so far it is a no-news day. Sorry. Bob cleaned house and I read. Had a nice note from Angela about Syd's sculptures; thanks. . . Hurricane Bill brushed Provincetown without wind but brought much-needed rain . . . To compensate for the lack of anything I offer a peaceful picture of the Susquehanna that was snapped recently when Bob and I took an evening stroll along the river . . .

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Had promised some time ago to seek out a picture or two of Syd Summerhill"s sculpting talents. Am very happy to oblige, thanks to Madeline. . . (Click to enlarge) . . . have finished Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland. Fascinating. She has identified almost all the people in Renoir's famous painting and weaves their lives into the story of the picture's origins. . . . Am now deep into The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and apparently am the only person in the world who hasn't chuckled over it. Bob was sorry when he turned the last page--it was such a delight.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The ginger patchouli candles from Root have arrived; new packaging, same price. JJ unpacked the shipment and smelled every one! He proceeded to do the same with the new selections. The sandalwood and pumpkin spice scents got superior reviews; the tangerine/lemongrass was okay. The spiced pears and figs got a definite thumbs down: "It's stinky." . . . Rumor: a new bar soon where The Spot used to be.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Had a nice visit with Angela Durantine of the Burg, Harrisburg's free monthly newspaper, yesterday. Looks like a good place to do some advertising if I can get the bucks together . . . the horse sculpture is a nice one at $50. It is the last one we have available. . . this muggy stormy weather is taking its toll on everyone; the tree next door to Bob's lost another huge limb and will probably have to come down altogether. . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Some words about Bob are well overdue. He's a grad of Bloomsburg and taught English at Millersburg High School for 30 years. He directed the student musicals and appeared in productions with the Tri-Valley Players and Harrisburg Community Theater and others. One summer at Williamstown, Ma., he even appeared on stage with Tallulah Bankhead! ("I only had one line" in Separate Tables.) He spent a year's sabbatical in Savannah, Ga., to chronicle Sherman's March to the Sea ("I did it!") but mostly he was sipping mint juleps with the Grand Ladies of the city who clasped him to their bosoms. He is a meticulous housekeeper, gardener and gourmet cook who loves public sales, his late father and brother Dave being auctioneers. He has a flair for gift wrapping and prefers that to "selling" . . . and he is especially adept at slipping godson JJ forbidden treats when no one is looking, but their shared grin always gives them away . . .

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The State Theater on Locust, a jewel in the Orpheum vaudeville circuit came to an ignominious end in 1974. The last film to unspool was a porno, Naked Lunch, with just a handful of patrons, me included, on hand. . . Community efforts to save this "Moorish Palace" is a saga crammed with intrigue and duplicity; it would make a great novel. . . the fight to preserve the structure almost brought down the Historic Harrisburg Association as well. Fresh from is triumph of establishing the first of the historic districts just a month earlier, the membership wanted to mount a "Save the Theater" campaign. The leadership, caught in a messy conflict of interest, refused. The resulting schism cut the HHA membership roster by more than half, and it never did fully recover despite the persistence of Hugh and Mary Peterson, Neil and Roseanne McGee and others . . .To placate the insurgent rabble (now aligned with the newly-formed Orpheum Theater Association) the Rural Electric Association (now in possession of the building) and the city promised a grand restoration of the historic Telegraph Building which stood next door. . . The preservation movement was doomed, but preservationist got the last laugh of sorts--the so-called "derelict" building refused to come down. It was so well built that the proscenium arch had to be dynamited--several times. And no one was surprised when, a few years later, the Telegraph Building was demolished for the Locust Street garage. . . Loss of the State was the last ding-dong of center city's death knell. The vibrancy was already fading and the theater's loss accelerated it. The city floated plans to turn the smaller, less ornate Colonial Theater (Third and Market) into a community center, but the building collapsed into the street (a very leaky roof was blamed) before that could happen. . . It is nice to have the plain-Jane Whittaker Center, but, oh, what might have been . . .

Monday, August 17, 2009

Charles Fetterhoff back after 10 glorious days in Prague . . . Today's announced emasculation of the State Library is a crime against every Pennsylvanian--21 furloughed, service slashed. Every politician remotely responsible deserves censure, and the Governor's reported statements--"only a repository" and "no kids" shows a grievous lack of understanding about the structure . . . our library system, the legacy of Governor Lawrence, is built on four "regional" libraries--Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Penn State U. and the State Library. The whole spectrum of knowledge has been segmented and specialties assigned to each. These collective resources are available to every Pennsylvanian through "district" libraries (Dauphin County, York, Lancaster etc.) so material beyond the basics of the local rural library can be accessed by anyone anywhere in the state . . . pull out one pillar and the system collapses; what a travesty! Nearly 50 years and millions down the drain. . . . This is criminal, folks. . . . Pix: then State Librarian Ernest Doerchuk and your humble reporter planning National Library Week activities, c.1966.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

John Goldsmith has sold his Boas Street home and is looking forward to his new digs in Palm Springs, California, come September. . . Eric and Joanne on the mend after a terrible bout with the flu . . . Be alert! a six-pack of "under teens" attacked a homeless man on a bench in downtown Riverfront Park Saturday afternoon, presumably to steal his backpack that contained all his earthly possessions; he fought back and gave chase on his bicycle. Four of the perps came pounding up Green Street past the Bare Wall in flight toward Uptown. Police responded but there was little they could do . . . Seems Cecilia has caught the public's fancy with her July 25 post; everyone wants to hear from her again. I'll ask her. She is sure to have a lot of gossip--she is so wide-awake and observant while sunning herself at the pool . . . (Hah!)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy birthday to Angela Lawson; she is 39 again today--or was that 49? . . . Our "French" lady, Yvonne Brown, (actually Belgian) and daughters Claire Pennington and Ann Duncan from Ohio, came shopping bearing tasty bread from Wegman's; yummy . . . the orange day-glo sidewalk vandalism rumored to be the work of a well-meaning individual marking perceived irregularities in the sidewalk; honorable intentions, but the markings do deteriorate the neighborhood and hopefully do not attract other graffiti taggers . . . Neighbors gathered at Rick and Mary Ann's last night for a patio party; such an attractive space. Amazing how city dwellers can with a little creativity enjoy the out-of-doors. The oasis pictured is on the sidewalk in the 200 block of North . . .

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nice visit with Paul the potter from Grayco and his parents from Wisconsin . . . missed the visit of Nevin Midlin, mayoral candidate, when he canvassed the neighborhood Wednesday night (?); made a decent impression on a number of people I am told. Reed plans to announce his "aye" or "nay" on a write-in bid around Sept. l . . . still don't know who/why the orange day-glo paint sprayed on the sidewalk surrounding 241 Briggs; the owner hasn't a clue either; big mystery. . . the wine lovers/entertainment merchandise arrived today; that which is holiday related won't be shown immediately although I am told that the big box stores already have Christmas on the shelves. Bob and I enjoy the fall--colored leaves, pumkins, mums, apple cider, gingerbread, and JJ in his trick-or-treat outfits. (Unusual kid--he likes the decorations more than the treats!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Appears that the steam company is set to discontinue service in the 800 block of Green; resident users have received letters of "intent to disconnect;" the "buy-out" offer is less than generous, I have been told. Can public utilities do that? . . . St. Michael's Lutheran Church on State Street is having a book sale Saturday from 8 a.m. till noon . . . the first big shipment of Christmas cards arrived today; looking at all those snow scenes didn't help in this humidity . . . the full-bodied cast iron cow is 6x10 and sells for $24. Only one in stock at the moment. . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A very happy birthday to Dr. Bob Coldren. . . but even greater accolades are called for. At noon today, the good doctor retired from practice; we wish him much happiness in his free time . . . and speaking of time, our red mantel clock is showing up in holiday catalogs for $35 or more. Buy it here for $29.50; we have two to sell . . . Matt Simmons' house on the corner of Briggs and Green is now available for rent; you can get more info from Matt at 877-1316. . . Sorry to report that I lost the squirt-gun battle with a three-year-old . . .

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bob and I accompanied Ernie Kepner to an art exhibit and reception for Earl Blust at Messiah Village. It was my first visit to the sprawling complex and I was impressed. Earl is the favorite painter of all three of us; collectors all, I have been doing so since 1970 or thereabouts. Earl is the last of the original Seven Lively Artists (which now number 15 or so, I am told). The show continues through August. . . encountered friends Madeline and Syd at the exhibit. Syd is a noted sculptor who should have his own local show; will try for a photo of one of his works. . . met our new Briggs Street neighbors Alex, Allison and their dog Malcolm . . .Joanne and Eric are safely back from a few days in Chicago, though Eric is now "under the weather;" speedy recovery is in store, we hope. . . click to enlarge pix, as if I haven't mentioned that often enough. . .

Monday, August 10, 2009

At the urging of Bob's neighbor, Betty Holmboe, (via a gift certificate) we visited Breads and Spreads at 1419 North Third over the weekend. Bob said his home-made coconut ice cream was the best he ever had; I tried the ham and Swiss with pineapple spread on a Kaiser and made two meals of it. Tasty. Patti gave us service with a smile--despite the fact that we forgot to tip her! . . . and, of course, on the hottest day of the year, the new shipment of Campbell pottery showed up at the door.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Monday is to be a bad "air" day; old fogies like Bob and me are to stay inside and avoid exertion. Okay by me . . . thought I would say a few words about the sleek, ultra-modern hotel at State and Second--it anchors the northern end of Restaurant Row and enhances 'La Grande Allee' leading to the Capitol. Seems like months since the big fight about the razing of some historic though derelict buildings for this project and an eventual moderating of the design to be more compatible with the surrounding environment. . . Okay, so economic conditions have scuttled those plans (temporarily we hope) and there ain't no hotel. But, folks, this is a key intersection, especially for tourists. The least we could ask is for the weeds to be uprooted and the trash to be cleared. This is a major center city eyesore. Click on the picture if you don't believe me. . . And I guess I should admit that my "undercover investigation" was compromised when Ned Hoffner came by on his way to his job at the hospital and caught me in the act . . .

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Janet Reed back from her vacation in Arizona . . . one clip of the Gay Pride parade in Harrisburg has made it to YouTube; must say--the city looks pretty good in those shots. Maybe a good tourism promotion . . . Bob Coldren and Jack Barnett safely back from their trip to Provincetown; Dr. Bob is looking forward to his retirement from practice next week . . . The Victorian golfers (click to enlarge) stand a foot high and are sold as a set for $39.50. Have two sets to sell . . .

Friday, August 7, 2009

Belligerent drunk had police swarming Briggs and Prince Street Thursday night at nine. . . A quiet Friday for us; Bob finished reading his novel and I did some more ordering. . . JJs sidewalk hopscotch board has been welcomed by kids and adults. . . may we never grow old. . . Michelle and Neil Hollis off to sample the Dixie Diner fare at the Maennerchor. . .

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Joel Turley has been collecting letters from US presidents (click to enlarge) since Ronald Reagan. His hobby was noted with an interview last night on CBS 21's local news show and the tape was repeated this morning. Joel is quite proud of his assortment . . . The Bare Wall staff (that is, Bob and myself) has been ordering new merchandise hand over fist as if we had a mega-store. In addition to the candles and "Harrisburg" pottery already mentioned, we've contacted Bill Campbell for more of his pottery, ordered Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas cards from Maine, and are expecting a new shipment of doodads for wine lovers from the Napa Valley in California. . . Next up, those cider packets you couldn't get enough of last autumn.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A few years ago Bob and his neighbor, Betty Holmboe, decided that their Christmas holiday schedules were too busy to celebrate their neighborliness in the way it deserves so it was decreed that Christmas would be observed in mid-summer when things were less hectic and they really could enjoy each other's company. So last night Bob's porch was decorated with Santas, candy canes, Christmas trees and a group of penguins singing carols while Bob and Betty (and myself as hanger-on) toasted each other with wine and indulged in a sinful dessert Bob had cooked up. It was a festive night, and neighbors dropped by with a "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" in the typical holiday spirit. (The tradition is something of a welcome fixture in the area, and people up and down the street look forward to it.) . . . David Hoffman's book mentioned in an earlier post has arrived and autographed copies are now available at The Bare Wall for $19.95. Very appropriate for this posting when one considers the title. (Click to enlarge.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Police were called to Second and Liberty about 1:30 a.m. to investigate a flasher who was exposing his wares to traffic on Second Street . . . Happy to report that Joe Theurer is home from a brief hospital visit and doing well; we will soon be seeing his "Letters to the Editor" in the paper again . . . In this age of hi-tech toys a plain old-fashioned porch swing can still be a lot of fun for a three-year-old, especially if there is someone to do the pushing. However, JJs growing expertise on the computer is somewhat alarming; how do youngsters learn this stuff? . . . please God, don't let him erase any Bare Wall data.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Don't know if our recent post was the motivator, but happy to report that the HYP Forster Street garden has been cleaned up; our thanks to all who participated . . . there is nothing nicer during a stroll than finding patches of curbside gardens; someone has been thoughtful enough to turn an old tree well into a blaze of color to the delight of neighbors and passers-by. It is actions like these that make an ordinary street a respectable neighborhood. . . that being said, Saturday night two such gardens near Briggs and Second Streets were vandalized. Who gets their "jollies" doing that, we wonder . . . I like dogs a lot. Cooper and Luna stop by regularly for treats. But why do some owners let their pets tinkle on our ornamental trees, shrubs and flowerbeds? Aren't there plenty of lamp posts, signposts and gutters? And what about those people who fail to "clean up?" Must they degrade our neighborhood? I know there is a dog law but I don't know how we enforce it. Take names? Take pictures? Collect the "evidence?" Maybe CAN will research this issue and put us wise. . . Tomorrow is "Night Out" against crime.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Police were called to our area last night at 11:30 to check out three suspicious teens lurking in our neighborhood; nothing on the city police blotter to indicate the outcome . . . Everyone laughs at me, but I have become (almost) an addict where internet cams are concerned. No, not the "adult" kind. I would rather see who is traversing Trafalgar Square in London, center city Dublin, or Belushi's Bar in Edinburgh, Scotland. There are thousands to explore. Some show the street outside an apartment in Belfast, a garden in England, or the stage show at any number of Key West night clubs. I am especially fascinated with rides in big rigs as they travel the Interstates in the US. I am sure everyone wants to know how heavy the traffic is on the Forth Bridge in Scotland. Anyway, the best site is because everything is live and moving. Click on "live cams" and then pick your poison--people, scenery, pets. (But if you want to see Hungry or the South of France, remember the time difference; you might get a black screen.) Once you have exhausted that site, move on to I find this whole thing a lot of fun for a few minutes . . . or an hour!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A slow news day, but it was great to see Lucy Miller Murray just back from one overseas trip and preparing for a couple of others. Lucy is one of our favorite people even if she does cook fish with the heads intact . . . As I predicted our July was something of a disaster, the worst since '73. . . Told you sometime back about the renovations taking place at the Riverview Manor. Nice, but if you really want a view, consider the Waterford condo complex that dominates the Wormleysburg skyline. (Click to enlarge.) Think fireworks, snow storms, sunsets . . . A belated thanks to Suzi, Madeline, Ed and Syd.