Friday, December 31, 2010


Bob and I want to thank you for your support during this difficult year and we pass along our very best wishes to you and yours for a Happy New Year . . . Have fun and play safe. We will resume our blog entries on Monday if we survive Bob's family Christmas party Sunday afternoon . . . From the looks of it, Miss Cecilia is destined to be a real party animal when she grows up. Please follow her example and strap yourself in if you are driving anywhere . . .

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pleasant time last night with Rick, Eric, Maryann and Joanne. Lots of nice nibbles courtesy of Bob . . . Fun day for the most part. First visitor was Paul, a Russian native now living in Manhattan and working for Credit Suisse. He, his wife and young son live on the Upper West Side. He has been in the country for two years but is still mystified by some of our customs. He may continue to linger here, but thinks he might prefer London . . . Next in were two young ladies, one from Hoboken, N. J., and the other from Texas . . . After, an almost continuous line of shoppers getting ready for the holiday weekend. Didn't get a lot of inventory work done, needless to say . . . Copies of the latest issues of TheBurg and Central Voice are now available . . . The kid and his sister stopped by after school. JJ is into the Mario Brothers computer games. I haven't the slightest idea of what is going on, but I am impressed with his dexterity on the keyboard . . .

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A day of bookwork, inventory and markdowns. A bit blurry-eyed by now and looking forward to a relaxing evening with friends . . . A reminder that we will be closing early on Friday, probably between two and three . . .

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Entertained some bargain shoppers today. Hope all you regulars will stop and take advantage of our lowered prices while we take inventory. The Bennington aroma-therapy candles in a jar will be just $12 until the end of January. Come early if you have a favorite scent; a few may be sold out by the time you read this . . . Finally got around to packing up the pumpkins and the pilgrims for another season; would you say I am running a little late this year? . . . Mike Billo posted this picture of the altar at St. Patrick's Cathedral on his FaceBook page. While I don't usually delve into religious themes in this space, the photo was so striking that I thought I should share it with you . . .

Monday, December 27, 2010


A wonderful holiday weekend especially since we were spared the blizzard. Delightful Christmas Eve with the kids at the Battisti residence in Camp Hill. Bob played Santa and delighted Cecilia with a doll. He made JJ happy (and Daddy Eric wild) with a megaphone device that changes one's voice into that of a robot, alien, etc. . . . We later exchanged our gifts with each other; Bob cheated on the spending perimeters by surprising me with a flat-screen TV for the den . . . Christmas dinner was shared with Mark Stevens and George Miller, an engineer for Norfolk Southern who was supposed to leave with a train for Newark. Luckily, the blizzard struck before he hit the rails so he was spared the aggravation. Bob really outdid himself with the food. Yummy . . . Monday morning we began marking down our seasonal merchandise. Thus far the ornaments and boxed cards have been discounted. More to come . . . Angela Lawson drove me to my doctor's appointment. No diagnosis yet; more tests . . . Our Green Street house has been decorated top to bottom; Bob loves doing it and I get to appreciate his handiwork. This is the living room fireplace . . .

Friday, December 24, 2010


M E R R Y
C H R I S T M A S

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just one more day, and I will admit that I am tired. The crowds are delightful, but hustling the wares is not a fit occupation for a seventy-four year old. Happily, no one was in a frenzy . . . Larry Kirkhuff called to tell me that I had misplaced The Hill Cafe in yesterday's post. It was at 13th and Market and not Derry Street as I had intimated. Larry also mentioned the Antlers on Walnut Street which I did not recall; he believes it was torn down to make way for the Walnut Street garage . . . I hope everyone has a merry and safe holiday. Other than some Christmas greeting yet to be planned for tomorrow, I probably will not be posting again until Monday. Hopefully you will be in the joyous company of family and friends and won't miss it a bit . . .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eric and Joanne back from Florida where they celebrated their first wedding anniversary . . . The day began briskly and Mark Stevens was here to help. Biz tailed off in the early afternoon and Bob and I fell to remembering all the popular restaurants that Harrisburg was host to back in the '60s and '70s. Do you old folks remember Lombardo's on Seventh Street, Santanna's at Second and Washington, The Maverick on what was then known as the by-pass (is it still called that?), The Hill Cafe at the east end of the Mulberry Street Bridge, and of course Harry's somewhere on Allison Hill which I only visited once but which Bob frequented often. To be honest, we couldn't always come up with the name of these establishments, so we thank our friend Lee Spitalny for refreshing our memories . . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Sunny day with a chill but not a day for browsers. All who came had a purpose and we were pleased to assist and send them on their way with everything wrapped and ready . . . The Bare Wall is noted for its free gift wrap and we think we do a good job, Bob particularly, so we were appalled by the step-by-step gift wrapping procedures depicted in today's Patriot-News. These people need a few lessons themselves; only in extreme cases do you ever tape the paper to the box, for instance. Gift wrapping is a simple procedure and maybe I should do a blog on it sometime; it would only take a few lines and you would be a professional in no time . . . Our thanks to Paula Davenport for her kind review of us on TripAdvisor . . . I have only just learned that Google somehow tracks the people visiting this site, and I was surprised that people from all around the world have stumbled upon it. (Not that they are regular readers, of course.) But I guess we might bring a little touch of home to those in our armed forces. I would hope so . . . And according to the "stats" our readership is down a bit this month. People are busy and I can understand that . . . JJ wanted to show Cecilia and me what he had found on the computer. We were really too busy, but when the Prince commands his subjects obey. (I look too much like a grandpa--and mean no offense to Tom, the real one.) Anyway, that hands to the face gesture is pure Charlie Brown right out of Peanuts . . .

Monday, December 20, 2010

People are rushing to complete their shopping and the weather cooperated for a change. The store was abuzz most of the day--some were seeking major gifts, some just stocking stuffers. A few were "still looking" and left with the promise that "I will be back." Hmmm. But all were in good spirits which was a nice thing to see . . . All of the "candles in a can" are gone. Coffee and cider collections are in short supply. Remaining boxed Christmas cards are now 30% off . . . Got my tooth back in place and am so happy that I did. This was the day for treats! Michelle Freed sent her dad Ed in from Camp Hill with a large platter of cookies; Em Robey from just up the street arrived with her fancy homemade gift boxes of goodies; Judy Robinson drove down from Juniata County with more lip-smackers including her "famous among family" sugared pecans; Lee Spitalny came in from the suburbs with belly-warming gifts as well. No wonder Bob and I were in such a good mood all day . . . Our TripAdvisor visitors today were a young couple from Philadelphia on a quick day's escape from the city. Sadly they discovered that Harrisburg is a shuttered city on Mondays. I guess I knew but never realized what a disappointment this would be for tourists. The library, museum, Broad Street Market, Midtown Scholar bookstore and other places they tried to see were closed including some establishments on Restaurant Row. They came to The Bare Wall despite that harsh review we were given by the couples from North Carolina which we discussed a few month's back . . . Caused a major ruckus this evening by finding the SuperMarioBrothers games on the Internet. JJ was thrilled since no one else in his family had been able to do so. I then learned why they had played so "dumb." Once he got started he refused to go home; screams and tears ensued. Oh, well, I was a hero however so briefly . . . Incidentally I discovered later (as I tried to learn these games) that some are infected with spy ware and my AVG Free virus protection wouldn't allow access. Those of you with children might want to be aware that the "free service" on the kid's sites isn't as innocent as we think . . .

Sunday, December 19, 2010


What a difference. Last year the 19th was a Saturday, the one before Christmas and traditionally our biggest day of the year. If you remember, it snowed, and snowed, and snowed. The store never opened! We were fortunate to survive that experience; it almost brought The Bare Wall to an unexpected end. But we are still here, and today was sunny and allowed for a few shoppers . . . Bob and I spent the free time refilling our "flea market table" which shoppers demolished on Saturday. Still a lot of nice bargains to be had, so be sure to check the shelves just inside the door . . . Sold some more of our goat milk soap; the company is now Pennsylvania owned, but the goats are still in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. One customer from the region filled us in: there are now a lot of goat-raising farms in the area. The owners once raised tobacco, but when that market "went south" they turned to goats. Just why those animals were the chosen replacement for "the weed" is not quite clear . . . "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" in this limo. It plays the tune in the traditional way: wind it up. No computer chips here. And the tree on the hood goes around as the music plays. $35 . . .

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Happily busy today. Root candles and Santas were a big attraction. Everyone was in a cheerful mood--it is time we ignored the world for a bit and enjoy the friends around us. Pam MacNett was the lucky one--she got the last box of our Christmas mints! . . . We still have a nice selection of Emerson pottery; made and hand-painted in Virginia. Patterns feature dragonflies, pine cones, and wisteria among others . . . I may not be smiling when you next visit, but I will still be happy to see you. I just couldn't resist those yummy chocolates so I sneaked one when Bob wasn't looking. Unfortunately, the candy wasn't as creamy as I expected and I lost a tooth from my dental plate--and right up front, of course. Please, let me find someone willing to make a quick fix come Monday . . .

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bustling business today. Bob has been wrapping his little heart out. As most of you know, we provide free gift wrapping of your purchases . . . I haven't had a moment to plan today's post, so perhaps this will suffice. If you have about five free minutes don't miss this performance by the Norwegian Royal Guard. It is spectacular: http://www.sorisomail.com/email/16993/exibicao-de-banda-militar--um-espectaculo-imperdivel.html

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Harrisburg is changing its schedule for curbside trash pickups come January. City readers will surely be informed of the change via news releases. In my area, the pickup changes to Tuesday . . . Mark Stevens is back from Dublin, Ireland, and in a dilemma. He went to interview for a summer hospitality job and his credentials were such that he got multiple and competing offers. He is mulling over which, if any, he should accept; one venue would like him to take some lessons in French and/or Italian. At least he won't have to learn Gaelic--or will he? . . . I have no animosity for any people. I support the United Nations. But I swear if I get one more call from India asking to "update my files" I will blow a gasket. I have gotten about four a week for the last month. Apparently being registered on the "do not call" list is less than effective . . . Snow, snow, go away . . .

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Minor improvement in the weather led to a minor improvement in business. We do have an alert for those laggard shoppers: some items are fast disappearing. We have only 12 or less of the bayberry candle pairs, the "Around the World" coffee collection, and the Christmas mints. And there is only one "cocktail glass" pin left. If any of these were among your anticipated purchases please e-mail us immediately to reserve. (Address to the left.) . . . this fancy tassel sells for $7 and also is in short supply . . . I wonder what triggers the recall of long buried memories. That happened to me today. For no discernible reason I suddenly remembered an event from the '60s . . . My party was at a window atop the very fashionable Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Fog had billowed in, blotting out the ground below; it was like flying just above the clouds. Suddenly there was a terrible ruckus in this quiet and most sophisticated venue. A patron, somewhat inebriated, was shouting obscenities and threatening the bartender. That brought the manager and security guards running. The man said he had stepped away from the bar for just a moment to visit the men's room and when he returned his drink had been discarded and his stash of money stolen. He was certain the bartender was the culprit. The staff was patient and when they calmed the man sufficiently they explained that his drink and his money were safe and intact. But both were now about ninety degrees to the left of where they had been. This was, the drunk was informed, the famous scenic revolving bar. He was then led to his seat, his drink and his money. A subdued collective snicker echoed through the room as we returned to our conversation . . . But why I should have remembered that incident this afternoon totally escapes me . . .

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Cold, cold, BITTER cold and even a dusting of snow early this morning. Bob and I huddled around the radiator all day and we didn't see a single customer. We closed an hour early. This doesn't bode well; hope our creditors are an understanding lot . . . Very happy to report that Jack Barnett is back home after an extended stay in the hospital . . . Well, what can I say about this sampling of our Santa Clauses and Snowmen? This is just a few of them. They range in price from $6 (the small pair of snowmen on the left, front) to $36 (the jolly old fellow, left rear). Most are in the $23 range and as you can see vary in height (click to enlarge). . . I thought we all could use a little warmth, so on the left we are featuring the Battisti fireplace decked out for the season. You can bet that the largest stocking belongs to JJ but it will never hold all the "dollar store goodies" that Uncle Bob spent the day wrapping . . .

Monday, December 13, 2010


After the hustle and bustle of the past week today was a real disappointment. I don't know if it was the bright winter sun or the bitter cold wind that kept everyone inside . . . In Southern California Alan Peters went shopping for his tree in sunny eighty-plus degree weather. That just wouldn't put me in the holiday spirit . . . I chuckled over Kimberly Rathnam's FaceBook post today: Women are angels and when someone breaks their wings they continue to fly--on their broomsticks . . . E-mails are flying--it is that time of year again: Put Christ back in Xmas; boycott any store promising Happy Holidays; Season's Greetings is insufficient. Only Merry Christmas is acceptable . . . I appreciate the argument with reservations and would offer this alternative: Say whatever is comfortable to you and respect the response you get. Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah. This should resolve the situation . . . Years ago when I was in public relations I met an associate who had inadvertently cut his Christmas card list by half when he sent what he considered a very clever greeting. The card, beautiful in design, had a simple message inside: The same to you. Friends and acquaintances were not as amused as he thought they would be . . . The Bluebirds of Happiness are wrapped and ready for giving. A nice token gift for neighbor or associate and only $9.50 . . .

Sunday, December 12, 2010


It appeared to be a smaller than usual crowd that turned out in warmish but very rainy weather for the HHA Candlelight House Tour today. There was nice traffic through the store, however, though not as much as last year . . . The Santa cookie jars mentioned here a few days ago have all found homes. So have the porcelain slippers and Victorian pedestal eggs . . . The "de-decorators" attacked Bob's Christmas tree with a vengeance today. He is hoping it will be completely bare by December 25 . . . Am already shuddering with the cold that is to come. We will linger in the low 30s for most of the week if the forecast holds true . . . Bob has written and mailed most of our cards; it is nice to have a social secretary in the family . . .

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Nice traffic flow today but Bob and I found time to hang our greenery around the door. Folks were in search of a little bit of everything, and of course they could find it here . . . Our TripAdvisor visitors today were a couple from Buffalo, New York. Very pleasant people and they found some treasures . . . Always check the glass and chrome shelving just inside the door when you enter--it contains our in-store flea market items greatly reduced for clearance. Some really good bargains . . . Well after twelve or so attempts I was able to get this shot of Fred Imhoff's new collection of glass jewelry. (Still does not do it justice.) This is just one tray; there are a few others featuring the blue and green pieces. Now is the time to choose while the selection is greatest . . . And remember that our few remaining pieces of "Reflections in Silver" are on sale at 25% off . . .

Friday, December 10, 2010


Early morning snow flurries engendered the holiday spirit but the cold dissuaded all but the heartiest shoppers. It was good to see Mollie Clark, Terry Sneed and Richard Williams, among others . . . Georgia Latsha is planning to enroll The Bare Wall in the Friends of Midtown organization (for a fee, of course) and Julie Catanzaro is helping to place a free mention of the store on the VisitPa.com website which directs tourists to various attractions . . . A new shipment of Fred Imhoff's glass jewelry arrived today and it looks spectacular in the showcase. We have six earring/pendant sets ($70) and 36 pairs of earrings ($29). I hope I can photograph these for the blog . . . I don't know why no one wants to give this jolly fellow a home. He would make a great cookie/candy accent during the season, but this is the second (or third) year that he has been languishing on our shelves and he is only $14 to begin with. Would someone offer $10? . . .

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Another busy day despite the chill and thanks in part to our advertisement in theBurg. Two women who couldn't remember the address toured Green Street from Division before they spotted us. Others were here for the pre-wrapped grab bag gifts. Everyone has been in a happy mood, a change from attitudes this summer. Hope we can continue to see better news through the holiday . . . Sunday's tour ticket sales have picked up slightly; good coverage in today's Pat-News and the weather forecast says it may be wet but not severe for the event . . . We have only one more set of the bottle brush trees featured in yesterday's post . . . For your Francophile friends no gift would be more welcome than these Eiffel Tower bookends. $42. The real thing, incidentally, has been closed down because of heavy snows that inundated Paris . . .

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Cold and promising to get colder after a weekend warm-up. When I joked a few days ago that Alan in Palm Springs would have to look elsewhere for a shipment of snow he informed me that he can see snow caps from his home and in 20 minutes he can tram up the mountain to all the snow he could possibly want . . . It was nice to see Peggy and Charlie Schenck today. They have been in and out of the area all summer . . . The kid amazed both Bob and me this afternoon when he sat behind the checkout counter and wrote down every number from one to 109. And he can count backwards, too. And, most important, he can tell you exactly how many days there are till Christmas . . . The season does bring back childhood memories. My grandfather was a coal miner with a two-tiered round aluminum lunch bucket. I would greet him every evening and sort through the leavings; there was always a little pie or cupcake left over for me. It was years before I realized that grandpa hadn't saved it for me. Rather, grandma always packed something extra for me to find. Today, JJ has a magic jacket. Every night when he slips on his coat he finds that a Tootsie Roll has mysteriously appeared in each pocket. The smile that forms on his face is precious . . . These charming Woodland Santas are just $22.00 each and the big gold-tipped bottle brush trees are $30.00 for the set of four . . .

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Nice traffic in the store today despite the continuing cold wind. I cannot remember when I was comfy warm. And I must get outside and hang our greenery before Sunday's HHA tour . . . Ticket sales for the event have been slow. The rise in price may have inhibited some, while others are waiting to see the weather forecast before making a commitment. But remember that the price goes to $20 for day-of-tour purchases . . . At first glance I thought this photo had a charming Victorian "Tiny Tim" quality about it. But then I studied it for a while and came up with a different scenario: A smug JJ is thinking I know I will get everything on my list, while a stunned Santa is mentally calculating all the overtime he will have to pay the elves to fill this kid's request. And, of course, JJ is on the NICE side of the ledger so he is deserving. (He really does take good care of his sister, Cecilia.) . . . Santa shouldn't worry. Uncle Bob and Grandma Diane and Grandpa Tom have all been busy at Toys 'R' Us . . .

Monday, December 6, 2010


Thanks to all who came out in this cold and blustery weather to make our day worthwhile. It is nearly impossible to get an old house warm when it is so-o-o-o breezy as you already know if you own one . . . Our street is already looking spiffy and in a holiday mood. Amy and Doug Hill, Jaime and Bryan MacLeod, Erica Gordon and Dr. Bob Coldren and Jack Barnett are deep into their preparations. We all try to look good for the HHA Candlelight House Tour which is this coming Sunday . . . Just learned that Lyn Lawson's house at 225 Briggs Street is the latest to hit the market, asking $224,900. I have lived in this area since 1963 and I cannot remember a time when so many properties were available--I can name six without even thinking . . . I was happy to hear that plans for converting the old convent at 603 North Second Street into a rooming house had been shot down by the city planning commission. It was a bad idea, parking considerations aside. That grand old building deserves a better fate . . . And speaking of conversions, this little gadget will make your prized (empty) spirits bottle into a stunning conversation starter when displayed amid your nibbles trays at your next party. The five-pronged candelabra is made of wrought iron and sells for $18.50. Candles are provided for the inaugural burn . . .

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Bob's party was a great success; comradeship and lots of tasty food. The men usually "regift" a lot of worthless junk (which they may have received the year before) in their gift exchange, so I was surprised when Bob came home with an expensive coffee bean grinder. Now all we need are the beans . . . Our overnight guests report that they encountered very light snow on the turnpike as they returned to Needmore in Fulton County . . . Very, very busy day at the store. Some Juniata County people discovered our store thanks to our ad in TheBurg and they were delighted with the selection. We made their trip from the distant suburbs quite worthwhile (and they made their visit quite worthwhile for us as well). It really delights us when the merchandise we select delights others as well . . . Perhaps I shouldn't share a really good thing with potential competitors, but TheBurg advertising rates really do return excellent value for the investment . Whatever your business you should call Angela (602-4300) and ask for a rate card . . .

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Overcast and colder. The weather inhibited the browsers but not a couple of serious shoppers. Mark Stevens came to assist in Bob's absence; we have house guests this weekend and Bob was preparing for tonight's party. Many of you know Mark from past Christmas seasons; he will be helping again later in the month but in the meanwhile he is flying off to Dublin, Ireland, to interview for a summer job in the hospitality industry. We certainly wish him the best . . . Mark and I had a nice chat with Richard Hebbard . . . Got an S.O.S. from Alan Peters in Palm Springs; he has searched all of Southern California for bayberry candles without success. Apparently this tradition has not yet reached the West Coast. While we don't normally provide a shipping service we will make an exception this time. But Alan will have to go elsewhere if he wants snow for a white Christmas . . . Bob is holding up (and hiding behind) this cuddly printed fleece decorated with cabins, pine cones, bears and animal tracks. Real comfy for your cozy lodge in Sullivan County or in front of the fireplace in your suburban rec room. It truly is snuggle-y and only $20. We have two . . .

Friday, December 3, 2010


Too quiet a day for the holiday season . . . I have lost the argument with my "decorator" and have wisely thrown in the towel. My tree is decorated in green and gold to match the room decor, but JJ insists that red is the color of Christmas. So I made the concession (as if I had the choice) and now there is one red ball prominently displayed on my tree . . . Bob's men's club has its Christmas dinner and party this weekend; guess which white-bearded member gets to play Santa Claus . . . And speaking of Santa, I really like this little fellow who stands ten inches tall and sells for $18.50. We have only two on hand . . .

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Post #525. Just the kind of day I like--lots of sales and chitchat. Yvonne Brown, Suzi Marsico, Jacquie Kirby Hensel, David Koppenheffer. Like "old home week" as people are wont to say . . . First, I must remind you that your purchase of tickets for the Candlelight House Tour must be made by cash or check; no arrangements have been made for the use of your credit or debit cards . . . I just learned today that Bill Campbell has "retired" his chowder bowl which was A12 in the collector's log. We still have four of them at $23 each. Collectors are already scrounging for these; I had a call from Lynchburg, Va., from one collector already. If any of you are into Campbell Pottery seriously, please contact me immediately to reserve. (Phone or e-mail on the left.) The Lynchburg man is awaiting a reply from another gallery before committing to these, and I would rather that our regulars get first dibbs. (Where did that word originate anyway?) . . . The Harrisburg Men's Chorus will present two concerts at the Maennerchor on North Street this Sunday, at 4 p.m. and then at 7 p.m. $10 . . . And you could shop The Bare Wall before the afternoon show . . .

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The handmade holiday candy sale is in full swing at St. Michael's Lutheran Church on State Street. Patties are fifty cents each and come in an assortment of flavors--peanut butter, mint, creamsickle, butter cream and others. You can place your order and get further information by calling Lindsay at 234-6644. But don't wait too long; the candy makers have other duties in the church's Christmas programs . . . Our neighborhood is in an uproar since we learned that a corporation wants to convert the old convent at Second and Liberty into a boarding house for 30-some residents while waving the requirement to provide parking spaces. Our CAN organization is certain to raise objections and well they should. One may hope that the city is a bit far-thinking before it approves of this particular project . . . Bob is having new windows installed in his Uptown home and a new door to the balcony from my second-floor bedroom. We try not to smile at his predicament, but the workman installing the door inadvertently locked himself out on the balcony. He couldn't pound for attention since Bob would simply have thought it a part of the construction. Luckily the workman had a cell phone and could call his company which in turn called Bob and told him to go unlock the door. Does this fall under the "occupational hazard" definition? . . . Thanks to Angela Lawson for treating us to Susan Boyle's Christmas album . . .

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Warmish but rainy all day--among those occasional days when it feels warmer outside than in no matter how high you set the thermostat. There was no one on the street and who could blame them? But my longtime friend (35+ years) Ed Freed came to save the day . . . but wait, Bryan MacLeod just e-mailed to have some bayberry candles put aside. I wonder, does that mean the Bare Wall is now a participant in all that "cyber shopping" that we hear so much about on TV? . . . The kids stopped by after school today and demolished their stash of treats; I haven't seen them that hungry in a long time. Daddy Eric was home preparing pasta. I do hope they ate a little, at least. Otherwise I am in deep doo-doo . . .

Monday, November 29, 2010


Busy day with visits from several friends: Janet Day, Frank Hummert, locksmith J.C. Peters, Eric & Joanne . . . TheBurg for December has arrived; your copy awaits. We thank them for the nice recommendation they made to holiday shoppers about us . . . I am a bit under the weather and hope the situation improves quickly. I can ill afford to be sick at this time of year . . . Shoppers crowded our downtown streets in the mid-'30s as can be seen in this old photo from the Dauphin County Historical Society website. Woolworth's, Bowman's and Pomeroy's are on the left. It was not unusual even in the early '60s to be forced into the street when battling the holiday crowds. And the animated windows at Pomeroy's was a major attraction. You can see more historical photos weekly. Go to http://www.dauphincountyhistory.org/ and scroll down to the bottom of the page . . .

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Boxed Christmas cards were at the top of shopping lists today and we were happy to accommodate. Still a nice selection to meet your needs . . . A nice chat with Jim Akers whom we had not seen for a while . . . Happy 50th birthday to Bill Gipe tomorrow . . . Mike Billo posted a photo on FaceBook of a daredevil Lonnie Kerr on the roof stringing lights . . . Had a moment this morning to check my web cams and it really is snowing in Scotland, Ireland, and parts of Great Britain. More in Maine and New Brunswick but none in Newfoundland. Go figure . . . Jordan Lawson celebrated his 17th birthday today . . .

Saturday, November 27, 2010


A couple of snow flurries throughout the day. Cold, too. Enough to engender the holiday spirit. Thanks to all who came to shop . . . The HHA Candlelight House Tour tickets have arrived. $18. Homes are concentrated in the Midtown area between Forster and Maclay Streets. This year's event is dedicated to Frank Pines who originated the house tour 38 years ago. Allison Hill residences will be featured next year if all goes as envisioned . . . Today's out-of-town visitors were from Washington, D.C. They had seen us on that TripAdvisor site. They apologized straight away; they were not here to shop. But one of the reviews said this was a good place for info and they were looking for a family restaurant and advice on other tourist attractions. Maybe we have a future after all albeit with a different emphasis. The old Harrisburg Tourist Office in Shipoke (once a gas station) will soon be empty again, by the way; The Greater Harrisburg Arts Council is moving its offices to Cameron Street . . . Godson JJ has begun to decorate Uncle Ronn's Christmas tree; he helps with it every year. Earlier on the tree was "bottom heavy" with ornaments, but this year he is taller so we are looking good in the middle as well. By next year he will be able to do the whole thing by himself . . .

Friday, November 26, 2010


We usually do not see a lot of people on "Black Friday" so we were delighted to see so many of you today. (Saturdays are generally better on this particular weekend.) Even better, you took time to look seriously at all our offerings and the selections you made were diverse. That should bode well for the season . . . My thanks to Andrea McKenna who contributed a jigsaw puzzle to my collection . . . I spent every free minute following the Millersburg/Reading Holy Name football game on PennLive. You could comment as the reporter typed out the plays. A fun way to participate when you couldn't get to the game. The underdog Millersburg team acquitted themselves quite well but fell short in the final minute. Their parents, friends and classmates should applaud their effort with pride . . . The crowd and chaos of the season did not bother Miss Cecilia who found a quiet corner at Barnes & Noble and rose above the rabble. Hard to say what she found so interesting, but it obviously was better than the actions of the crazies swirling about her . . .

Thursday, November 25, 2010

BOB'S THANKSGIVING

* My Favorite Holiday *

Let me tell you how I usually celebrate Thanksgiving . . . First, I get two feasts. (I do like to eat.) On Wednesday evening I prepare a special ham dinner for Ronn and me. (Ronn does not eat turkey!) . . . Then, on Thursday, I go up river (not over) and through the woods to my brother and sister-in-law’s house where the entire family congregates. I’m loaded down with a cooked ham (a different one), my own frozen corn, and ranch dressing crackers. When I arrive, Jacquie, my sister-in-law, has taken the turkey from the electric roaster and Dave, my brother, is cutting the turkey with his lethal looking electric knife, putting it back into the roaster to keep warm . . . Others arrive loaded down with various foods. After a flurry of last minute preparations, we all sit down at one big table groaning with food—ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, three kinds of stuffing, two vegetables--to name a few. Dave says grace and then we eat and eat . . . We tease Jerry, my niece’s husband, not to mistake the salad dressing for gravy and pour it over his potatoes and stuffing as he did one year . . . Then it is clear the table and load the dishwasher for its first of many loads . . . and on to dessert—pies, cakes, cookies, and usually something gooey and extremely fattening. No one has any room for dessert, but we eat anyway . . . Now it’s football/nap time and tales of hunting—after all, deer season begins Monday—all under the watchful eyes of those deer heads staring down on us . . . By mid-afternoon when I have burped enough to be able to walk, Trish, my niece, and I along with any young kids who want to tag along, go out into Dave’s woods to collect greens for holiday decorating. By the time we get back from our trek people are thinking about eating again . . . There is nothing better than cold sliced stuffing slathered with cranberry sauce and topped with sliced turkey. There is a lot of “I can’t eat another bite,” but we do. Then we help clean up a bit and begin heading home with the admonition to watch out for deer . . . This is MY Thanksgiving . . .

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

People hit the road early for the Thanksgiving holiday. The street was empty most of the day. Bob made us a wonderful ham dinner tonight and topped it off with his own pumpkin pie . . . We certainly give thanks to the mayor for finally stepping forward and addressing the criminal activities that have been taking place for the past several months. She promises action will be taken to make our streets safe; about time we hear from her. She wants parents to convince their family's criminals to change their ways; I am not optimistic that this approach will accomplish much . . .

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nice turnout today as you made your preparations for Thanksgiving visitors. The gas line crew spent the day drilling and filling little holes up and down the block. Does this mean they will dig or are they satisfied with what they have learned? . . . Received more Campbell Pottery today, the last shipment before the holiday. Some very nice pieces and new designs. These will definitely please the collectors . . . Learned that Officer Chris Butler who has been traveling with Officer Hammaker most of the summer will be on patrol in our area evenings in an attempt to stem the crime wave we have been experiencing lately. There are also some "undercovers" lurking about. 'Tis rumored that there may be some leads in the recent criminal activity. Let us hope so . . . Remember that we are open Sundays from noon until 4 p.m. beginning this weekend. I have entered this fact under our hours on the left . . . Apparently some have been told that we have Candlelight House Tour tickets; we will have but they haven't been delivered yet. Will blog the fact when they arrive . . .

Monday, November 22, 2010

Surprisingly quiet day. Where are you folks? . . . No sleeping in tomorrow. UGI group plans to dig next door. They promise it will all be done in one day. The area is posting NO PARKING, but of course the locals shouldn't be there anyway--it is street cleaning night . . . It snowed again today in Moncton, New Brunswick, which caused a rush-hour traffic jam this afternoon. I forgot to add the webcam address yesterday. Just remember that they are an hour ahead of us, so you won't see much at 11 p.m . . . http://grandpajim.camstreams.com/ . . .

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Lazed in bed for most of the morning but finally lost the battle with a leaf blower somewhere down the block . . . Two cups of coffee didn't provide much inspiration but I did get some checks written and I worked on the inventory. If you have an extra $40,000 you can have just about everything in the store . . . Visited a few of my favorite webcam sites; there had been snow in Moncton, New Brunswick. One wag from Ontario posted the following: According to surveys Canadians walk 900 miles a year. They also drink 22 gallons of beer per annum. On average, then, a fellow gets 41 miles to the gallon . . . Bob spent the afternoon haunting toy counters in the hope of finding JJ an appropriate Christmas gift. Bob returned empty-handed and complaining about all the junk that we are supposed to foist upon the kids . . . Well, it is time to get crackin' on those Christmas greetings. We have a nice supply of boxed cards. I do regret that young folks seem to prefer the convenient but impersonal "tweet or twitter" for their holiday message. Wouldn't they themselves rather receive a nicely illustrated card that could be displayed on buffet or mantel? I deplore the loss of social graces these days, though I myself do not practice them enough. Bob is our "social secretary" and religiously sends birthday cards and thank you notes for the both of us . . .

Saturday, November 20, 2010


JJ and Cecilia got a crow's nest view of today's holiday parade. There appeared to be quite a turnout, so we were disappointed when so few stopped in to see our wares. A father and his two sons from Lewistown did pay a visit and were thrilled with their "find;" they left in an excited state with the perfect gift for mom . . . Santa got up-staged today, however; the talk on everyone's lips was about Thompson. Apparently our mayor has not yet discovered that the city is near bankruptcy; she wants to nearly double her own budget for the coming year just as she is talking layoffs and the closing of a fire station. It seems she has a lot of travel plans on her wish list. I try not to be political, but one man's comment on PennLive did give me a smile. He is all for the travel--if it is a one-way ticket . . .

Friday, November 19, 2010

Okay, folks, it is time to get serious about Thursday's Thanksgiving celebration. We still have pumpkins and pilgrims for your table centerpiece. There are also nine-inch dinner tapers in various shades of orange that burn for more than 13 hours. Each pair is $5.75 . . . Scent the air with a wonderful aroma; our fragrant pumpkin spice candle will do that nicely . . . Did a friend or relative invite you for dinner? We've a nice selection of host/hostess gifts at a variety of price points. A six-pot collection of coffees is $8.75; our box of beautifully decorated mints is $15. And we wrap it for you, of course . . . It is not too late to send a greeting card; we still have a nice selection of those . . . There are just too many options to mention here. Please drop by for a look around. We will be happy to make suggestions . . . (Note that there has been an added comment to Tuesday's post. Did you contact a council person yet?) . . .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We are rushing along here and hope to have most of the decorating done in time for Harrisburg's holiday parade on Saturday. I do have one unhappy note for all you visitors, however; St. Michael's Lutheran Church on State Street will not be providing free hot dogs to the attendees as they have done in the past. That tradition has been interrupted by a scheduling conflict--the church will be used for a wedding on Saturday. So bring your own coffee and snacks and be sure to visit The Bare Wall when the festivities end . . . While here be sure to pick up your pair of bayberry candles. We generally sell out early and end up disappointing a customer or two on New Year's Eve . . . The Patriot-News has apparently awakened to the fact that there is a crime wave in the city; there was a story of sorts in today's paper (but far from inclusive). Perhaps we will even hear from the mayor--eventually. We are still asking that you e-mail city council with your concerns . . .

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Very windy and slow, business-wise; where is everybody? Another half-empty street all day. All the utilities are drawing their squiggles on the roadway in my block. Are they about to dig AGAIN? They seem always to know when I most need free access to the store and do their best to close the street . . . JJ, like all youngsters, loved his Crocs footwear, but they now will take a back seat to the real thing. Today was a boat ride through the swamp to see dozens of alligators; he even got to hold a wee one. One picture did make me smile--JJ wearing a life jacket in the boat with reptiles all around. Had he fallen overboard I am not sure the Mae West would have been of much help . . . I hope everyone--especially those in Midtown--will take the time to read the comment attached to yesterday's post. Rick and Mary Ann May have e-mailed Councilwoman Kim about the epidemic of crime in our neighborhood. I hope others will do the same--Rick has provided the address, and I will be sending my message as well. We need to make a stink if we hope for any assistance from City Hall . . .

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A dreary rainy day with nary a soul about. You had your choice of parking spots up and down the street . . . We spent the day decorating. The place is starting to look quite festive . . . People are beginning to refer to Harrisburg as "Detroit City" and with good reason. The weekend brought midtown a home invasion, a kidnapping/car-jacking, a mugging in which a young lady was bound with duct tape and a shooting out on the hill. Truly, this is not a safe place after dark and I am beginning to wonder about the daylight as well. It is time to let the mayor and city council know how we feel; hope our various neighborhood organizations mount a campaign soon. And I was not joking about the National Guard. Whatever it takes . . . "The Kid" is on vacation this week and for some reason I have missed him terribly so last night's telephone call was especially welcome. He rattled on at some length about the plane ride and other things which I didn't always comprehend. "Sure are a lot of coconut trees around here" was one of the items I understood. But the sign-off was heart-warming: "I love you and I will be home on Friday" . . . Bob has made sure that there are Tootsie Rolls awaiting . . .

Monday, November 15, 2010

Overcast but warm. I had expected more customers than we got . . . Bob's plumber, Tom Arndt, came by to repair our outside spigot which sprung a leak last week. Bob "inherited" Tom from Judy Robinson and he came with the highest recommendation. He had done the plumbing work for Judy before Bob bought the house from her . . . We cleared the front window and made a first effort at decorating it for the holiday. Doubtless there will be many changes through the season . . . Tried to clean up the computer files a bit and was surprised to find that JJ's personal folder was created in 2oo7. Heck, the kid was barely one-and-a-half when he started clicking the mouse. He has learned to stick to his own files--so far . . .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It was unseasonably warm today and the trees were shedding leaves blizzard-like. Quite a sight. I would rather rake than shovel . . . Today was Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom when the country honors its war dead (similar to our Memorial Day). Welsh Radio had an interesting piece that was something of an eye-opener for me; I had never given a thought to the thousands of animal "soldiers" that were sacrificed during the conflicts. Horses, mules, dogs, carrier pigeons. It was mentioned that during the U.S.'s hasty and chaotic withdrawal from Vietnam we had to abandon numerous kennels of "sniffer dogs." I don't recall any news program that mentioned that fact . . . Used much of the day to clean my environment. Why did I ever keep this stuff in the first place? Does it mysteriously multiply when the lights go out? . . . I have already mentioned that Bob bought us a new flat-screen computer monitor and that means we have the big boxy old one to get rid of. It was almost new so if anyone could use it, please come pick it up. No charge . . .

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Well, it has happened again. The Patriot-News did a little squibb about the city arts scene and managed to mention just about every little venue in our neighborhood except for The Bare Wall. We have only been here for 38 years; you'd think they might have heard of us. Who you gotta know on the editorial board to get noticed? . . . Lee Spitalny dropped by to do a bit of shopping and brought me some more puzzles for my collection. I am not hoping for another blizzard like we had last year, but it would give me the time to work on my jigsaws . . . Ronald Hoffman and his A-Team Construction crew from Dillsburg kept their promise of a month ago and made the repairs to my house. Really nice job and it certainly leaves me with one less thing to worry about . . . (But Bob says I'll find something else to worry about--even if it is only Sarah Palin.) . . .

Friday, November 12, 2010

Keep forgetting to thank Jacquie Kirby Hensel publicly for the nice plug she gave The Bare Wall in this month's Re/Max Realty News. Very much appreciated . . . Two black teens in hoodies accosted a young man on North Street in the early evening yesterday. Blows were exchanged but the victim escaped. Two others (?) attacked a woman fifteen minutes later as she left her job at the hospital. There were several similar incidents out on the hill in the past 48 hours. Still no reaction from our mayor. It is time that we request National Guard assistance. I have lived here since 1962 and cannot remember any such crime wave by armed young people . . . Bob put up the store Christmas tree and decorated it this afternoon. Nice . . . Joe Kershner so enjoyed our link to The Four Freshmen singing It's a Blue World that he posted it on his FaceBook page. I notice that since the subject first surfaced there have been more than one hundred additional hits on that site. Think Joe and I can take the credit for at least some of those . . .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I am in deep doo-doo with a couple of my customers. Just learned that the company has had a little trouble with its cranberry soap and it won't be available for Christmas. Maybe our patrons will settle for the Forest Pine scent instead. ($2 per bar.) At least I can report that the cranberry tea arrived and bags have been tucked away for those of you who called us earlier . . . The new Campbell pottery has also arrived. Some very pretty pieces though we lost a huge urn in the shipping. Bill has promised to replace that as soon as possible . . . Some of you were out and about during your Veterans' Day vacation. Thanks for stopping by . . . My father was in WWII and was seriously injured in the battle for Metz, France. He never complained about the constant pain and serious limp that resulted but he constantly complained that he never got onto German soil. "Just a few miles further and I would have been there" . . . We still have copies of David Hoffman's book of his father's letters home from the Continent during the conflict. $19.95 . . .

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The conversion from autumn to Christmas continues, but slowly. We will have it all in place by the day after Thanksgiving, I am sure . . . Talked to Fred in Portland, Ore., and will have a fresh display of his glass jewelry in a few weeks . . . The Christmas mints arrived and are still $15. Since I had over-stocked last year I have cut our order drastically, so if you are looking forward to these sweets please give us a call and we will put yours aside. Also have a few boxes of peanut butter fudge. $10 . . . Bob and I are possessed as godparents: we both have been avoiding the candy bowl because there are only a few little Tootsie Rolls left and we don't want to deprive "the kid" when he comes . . . Larry Kirkhuff has sympathized with me for not being a passenger on that stranded ocean liner. All the passengers have for food is SPAM, one of my favorites. Thanks to the trip to the doctor and my cholesterol count I have been deprived of it for almost a year now. My mouth waters just typing this . . .

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Glad news and sad news today . . . Excited to report that Jaime and Bryan MacLeod will be adding to their family about April 15 or so. Jaime will probably finish the school year on maternity leave . . . Longtime residents of the neighborhood will remember "Timmy" Marahoris who lived above the restaurant at North and Susquehanna Streets. He was interred today at Ft. Indiantown Gap National Cemetery having won a bronze star in the Korean Conflict. Tim was 80. His family had owned a chain of movie houses in the Eastern part of the state at one time and Timmy had a huge collection of movie memorabilia that must have been worth thousands. Wonder whatever became of that . . . Eric and Sarah Battisti climbed and climbed stair after stair this morning and were rewarded with a fantastic view of The Mall from the top of our nation's Capitol. So glad they shared it with us. Splendid . . . The shift is on: merchandise is moving from table to table as we prepare for the holiday season. The first wreaths are up over the archways, thanks to Bob . . . a former teacher, Bob has been disturbed by the suicides of a number of teenagers across the nation and especially by the local boy who stepped out onto the highway in front of truck to end his life. Bob was moved to write the following: I don’t get on a soapbox about too many things, but the recent suicide of a young teen from Snyder County has stirred me to comment. Being a teenager is difficult enough, but being a teenager who is gay—or presumed gay—is an almost impossible situation, especially in a rural area of Pennsylvania where anyone who does not conform to the norm is suspect, whether it is by dress, interests or mannerisms. It’s these kids who are labeled queers, faggots, lesbians, etc. . . . The rural teen has nowhere or no one to turn to. He sees himself alone. He is afraid to talk to parents out of fear of rejection; he can’t talk to his minister who thumps the Bible and cites Leviticus, and most school guidance counselors are guide-less. Most kids try to appear to fit the “mold” and pray for the day they can get out of this hell hole; a few see no way out. They are the ones who die . . .

Monday, November 8, 2010

Windy day. Everyone trying to corral leaves for tonight's street cleaning but with little success . . . The English soaps arrived. Smelly and beautifully wrapped. Bergamot tea, Lemon basil, Serenity (the company's most popular). The bath bar size is $9.50 and the two-bar gift package is $17. The packaging is quite elegant . . . Bob made a half-hearted attempt to begin our holiday decorating; we want it to be Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time. I am still digging through closets for our holiday cheer. Where did all these Santas come from? . . . My neighbors were jogging on the river at dusk and saw (not encountered) a man with a knife. Police were summoned to check it out but nothing further to report at this writing . . . The talk over the weekend was about the location of the Frigate where the Four Freshmen reportedly performed once. We are thinking it might have been in the old Beachcomber building on Walnut near Penbrook. Keep asking the old folks, please. In the meanwhile, enjoy the frosh singing It's a Blue World, their theme song more or less. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iggWvFgp3KE

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I was a theater addict back in the ‘60s. I couldn’t wait to get to New York, Philadelphia, or to our own professional company, the Arena House just off Market Square on Second Street. I have a huge collection of old playbills. Some bring back wonderful memories; a few I don’t even remember. . . One musical that caught my fancy was Riverwind, a little show down in Greenwich Village that ran for over a year. I saw it a couple of times there, and again at Arena House when Helon Blount of the original cast came to Harrisburg to reprise her role . . . I wore out my vinyl cast recording but luckily my techno-savvy friend John Bartolotta was able to transfer it to CD for me. Just last year Playbill campaigned for re-issues of shows on CD that have thus far been ignored and Riverwind was one of them. (Another was Man With a Load of Mischief which I will tell you about at a later date) . . . Riverwind is set in a dilapidated cabins-only motel along the Wabash in Indiana run by a widowed mother (Blount) and her daughter who is adored by the young handyman. Two couples are patrons: a pair “living in sin” for seven years and an older couple whose marriage is failing; they have returned here because this was a stop on their honeymoon. Essentially it is a story of people “finding themselves” and of course it all works out. There are some very good tunes, some innovative for their day . . . As good as the show was, that is not the most memorable thing about the New York production. Here we are in rural Indiana, crickets chirping and frogs croaking. So-o-o-o bucolic! But the venue was a couple of flights down into the depths of the building, and—would you believe—every so often the subway would rumble through right under our feet! Talk about breaking the mood . . . I think one of our local theater companies ought to consider scheduling this. My research suggests that it is inexpensive to license and mount . . . You can hear thirty seconds of each song from the original cast recording here: http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000104 . . .

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Clocks go back tonight. That means we will all feel gloomy at four p.m. until we get used to it. I just do not feel comfortable these days once the sun goes down. I remind you again that we will not have evening hours for the holiday except by appointment . . . Caitlin Pennington of Dayton, Ohio, in town to spend several days with grandparents Wes and Yvonne Brown; of course, any visit to Pennsylvania means a shopping trip to The Bare Wall . . . In response to yesterday's post Dr. Bob Coldren e-mailed to say that as a youth he frequented a PennSupreme ice cream parlor. He never finished his "pig dinner" however because he doesn't like bananas so he never got a button to wear . . . We have a nice selection of cards for Thanksgiving Day . . . Cecilia asks: How many pies are you making, Mom? This big enough? . . .

Friday, November 5, 2010


Entered a very optimistic order with Bill Campbell for his pottery today despite the fact that we saw only two customers. (Thanks Charles F. and Jack B.) There will be quite a collection of vases this time around . . . TheBurg reports that the former Ron Brown Charter School buildings along Third Street at Boas have been repurchased by a for-profit education firm which could signal another attempt at a center city charter school. It was hoped that the properties might become storefronts and offices to compliment the growing business district in that area . . . I've been thinking about Sunday's post concerning the closing of dairy stores in Wales and realized that the same thing has already happened here. Remember the soda shoppes and ice cream parlors we once had? In the Bedford-Johnstown area in the '50s they were Dairy Dell with sit-down service and lots of ice cream treats. Dairy Queen and Twin Kiss were springing up to serve the drive-in crowd. When I came to Harrisburg in the early '60s we walked up Sixth Street to Maclay a few evenings a week to partake of sweets at Dairy Maid. They (and other places across the country) served a gigantic banana split in a trough-shaped container; if you ate it all you got a button to wear: I was a pig at -----. We still have BBBs and Dairy Queen of course, but nothing to compare with those other-era venues with vinyl booths and a jukebox . . . Some home decor for the Thanksgiving get-together. The pilgrims are $16.50 the set (we have two sets), the turkey is $20 (also two) and the embroidered dish towel is $5.25 (only a couple left) . . .

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chilly, rainy, raw. A sad kind of day for Bob to attend a family funeral. It was made sadder when he got a flat tire en route . . . Barbara Allen came to claim her gift certificate and after some soul-searching she bought something for herself. Jean Leonard had come earlier in the week and did the same thing. Good for you, girls . . . Jim Cowden celebrates a birthday tomorrow . . . Copies of the latest Central Voice, the area's gay newspaper, have arrived and are available free at The Bare Wall . . . Had a nice chat with Sue Jennings in West Virginia and ordered some more of her and her husband's wood ware--tea tweezers, cookie shovels, pie servers, etc. Theirs is an interesting story and I quote from something Sue has written . . . "(Stan and I) met while working underground in the coal mines in October 1984, but soon found ourselves out of a job one month later when the mines shut down. We married in 1986 and began our woodworking career in 1990. What started as our hobby easily turned into a full-time profession. Our ancestors, both colonial and shaker in nature, provided a wealth of knowledge and designs that have proven successful in today's kitchens . . . We've been honored with many awards and recognitions for our work over the years, one of which includes a listing in the Early American Homes Directory of the top 200 Traditional Craftsmen in the United States." . . . The shipment should arrive in about two weeks . . .

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quiet street and slow traffic. Guess everyone had an Election night hangover. As I suspected, my candidates were losers. I feel like singing a Kermit lament: "It's not easy being . . . red." Bob had a friend running for the State House; Bob is sad for him, but glad. The friend lost, but he was running on the Republican ticket . . . My thanks to Susan Wesley for the free jigsaw puzzle; Joe Russian also has been contributing to my stash. Now if I could only find the time to puzzle and to read the stack of books that continues to grow . . . Another home in our neighborhood is now on the market. This house in the 800 block of Second is superb, especially the third floor deck that overlooks the river . . .

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Okay, okay, folks, I got your messages loud and clear so today I placed an order for the cranberry tea and the cranberry soap. Both come from Maine and should be here by the end of next week. I had forgotten that these are holiday stocking stuffer staples. Many mea culpas! (Is that spelled right?) . . . And let me remind everyone that I still have a few copies of Odin Rathnam's CD The Four Seasons. $15. Another good stuffer . . . I also have to apologize to Bob for doubting that he saw a deer roaming his neighborhood earlier this week. He wasn't the only one it seems. Everyone was doubting his own eyesight and looking for confirmation from others on the street . . . Got a solicitation in the mail today asking if The Bare Wall would be interested in some program advertising. We get a lot of those throughout the year but haven't the resources to follow through; this one, however, was really intriguing. It came from the Harrisburg Harp Orchestra which is playing two concerts at the Whittaker Center on Sunday, Nov. 28. According to their promo this is their seventh season and they are one of the largest such organizations in the nation. I had never heard of them I am sorry to say and I do try to keep up with the local arts scene. Just cannot imagine what 48 harps in concert must sound like. Unfortunately the store will be open during those performances so I will not be able to attend but I hope to hear from someone who does. I find the whole idea fascinating. Maybe someone will post some of the performance on YouTube . . . I voted today and was the 181st to do so at our polling place; usually I am 65th or so. I posted this fact on FaceBook and got responses from Joe Kershner in York and Michael Billo in the suburbs who experienced the same thing. So happy to see so many making the effort though I doubt that my candidates will win. I fear this election may create more problems than it solves and that we will have two more years of wrangling . . . And I still do not understand what is wrong with health care for everyone . . . (Please note that yesterday's post now contains a comment from a reader.) . . .

Monday, November 1, 2010


Sorry to hear that our little grocery store at Green and Hamilton was robbed by two armed black men last Friday morning . . . Lindsay Mills e-mailed to remind us that St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 118 State Street, will be selling carry-out soup and baked goods from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow. The church is our polling place. Everyone--please vote . . . Suzi Marsico called to say that she does indeed remember the Four Freshmen fondly. They were a favorite group of hers back then. She and her husband, Ed, heard them in the early sixties at the old 210 Club on Walnut Street. For you youngsters, that venue was in the basement of the building now housing The Plum. We are still trying to find out where the Frigate was . . . Today's out-of-towners were two young women from Pittsburgh who discovered us on the Internet. We had a wonderful visit; I recalled some favorite haunts of mine in Steeltown during the sixties. Most of them are now gone, I was told, but La Mont is still feeding the well-heeled up on Mount Washington . . . Miss Cecilia thinks she is ready to strut the runway as a super model. She demonstrated her technique for dad's camera this morning . . . Well, yesterday was Halloween, tomorrow is Election Day. Is the spooky stuff over or is it just beginning? . . .

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Spent the morning with long-neglected paper work and listening to my foreign broadcasts. There was a sad and nostalgic look at a family-owned chain of seventeen "milk bars" in Wales which will be out of business at the end of December after 70-some years. The young crowd no longer wants milk shakes and ice cream; they have been beguiled by the big bucks spent by Starbucks to wean them away. There was further discussion about the plight of dairy farmers and the weak prices for milk which we have also heard here . . . Spent a lonely and weepy afternoon exploring YouTube for clips of the Four Freshmen, my favorite vocal group for sixty years. I first heard them one Sunday afternoon in the mid-fifties at Penn State. A few years later I met them when I was doing public relations work for the Bedford County Fair and they were a featured grandstand attraction. I would play their records weekly in the store but Bob is not as fond of them as I am. He heard them when they visited Bloomsburg College while he was there . . . According to the memoir Now You Know, they appeared in Harrisburg at The Frigate. I had not heard of or didn't remember where this club was located. If anyone knows, please let me know . . . Don (seated in the photo) left the original group to try a solo career. He was replaced and the new group was at the old Howard Johnson Restaurant on North Front Street (now an oriental restaurant, I think) when one bought a newspaper and discovered that Don had just been killed in an auto accident in L.A. They had to break the news to his brother, Ross. (On the right in the photo.) . . . There were many great male singing groups in the fifties but they faded; the Four Freshmen continued, adding new personnel when necessary. They continue today. Last I heard the latest group is the 22nd reincarnation in a long history filled with hit after hit . . . And they are still winning awards . . .

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Our 38th anniversary sale came to an end in a whirlwind of activity and everyone was in a good mood. Our thanks to all of you who visited us the past two weeks. You made this sale more successful than last year's and we'll be able to add still more product for the holiday season . . . Sixty-three people signed up for our drawing. Larry Kirkhuff and Jon Carfagno determined the winners; Larry shuffled the deck repeatedly while Jon made the selections. Our winners of $25 gift certificates this year are Barbara Allen, Yvonne Brown and Jean Leonard. Yvonne is a repeat winner, incidentally . . . Our first visitors this morning were Mr. and Mrs. Briggs from Toronto, Canada. They found us on that TripAdvisor website and dropped by despite the lady from North Carolina's negative entry. They anticipated a "small" one-room and were delighted to explore the whole first floor; they chose a piece of Campbell pottery. They are so enjoying the area that they would like to return and asked if I could recommend a bed-and-breakfast. While I know there are several, I know nothing about them; if any of you can provide an opinion please e-mail me (address at left). I will pass your comments on to them . . . Candles, candles, candles. Our shipment from Root earlier this week has proved to be a real hit; I may even have to reorder before the end of the year . . . Again, our thanks for all your kindnesses . . . Happy Halloween . . .

Friday, October 29, 2010


A reminder that tomorrow is the great fall flea market at the Harris Street Church (near Third). It is also the last day of our anniversary sale and a chance to save 15%. Be sure that your name is in the box for a chance to win one of three $25 gift certificates we are giving away . . . Perhaps Bob had one too many pieces from his trick-or-treat bucket but he swears that he saw a deer roaming his midtown neighborhood this morning . . . I am beginning to believe those claims that men do not like working with/for a woman. How many times this week have I heard some man complaining about Nancy Pelosi? . . . And why can't we have universal health care? . . . So many political claims raise more questions than they answer. I cannot recall a more bizarre election in my 74 years. I think we have all had one too many cups of tea . . . Today's picture is more than just a pretty autumn scene. Trisha Boyer surprised her Uncle Bob with this photo of the old family homestead. Bob never actually lived here; he had moved to his own place before his parents took over the farm. But I dare not call it "Millersburg." Bob always corrects me. The farm is on Deibler Road in Killinger . . .

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Happy Birthday to Sarah Battisti . . . Breezy fall day; I sat on the stoop for a bit and was almost buried in leaves . . . Went trick-or-treating with JJ and Cecilia this evening but his heart didn't seem to be in it. He loves the decorations but is shy about asking for candy as dad insists he should. So, to please dad, he sneaked back home ahead of the others and supplemented his "take" with treats from their own give-aways . . . Mystery solved; lots of people got calls on their answering machines from Pat Boone. He was spieling for Toomey (but without much success to hear others tell it) . . . The November issue of TheBurg has arrived and is available at The Bare Wall. Was sorry to learn from the new issue that the 510 Art Gallery on North Third Street will be shuttering its doors at the end of the year. It originated as the William Ris Gallery in a Camp Hill house, a bigger version of The Bare Wall, and it was a wonderful place to visit. One could amble from room to room upstairs and down and find a treasure in every nook and cranny. The crafts scene was more vibrant then and the choices greater so we tried not to duplicate each other's wares . . . I am happy for all the current activity on the Harrisburg arts scene these days but I do think that we are becoming "over-galleried." I do not think the region can sustain this explosion of venues . . . The scene is the same in Provincetown, Ma., which has dozens (hundreds?) of shops for the tourist trade. Just recently The Banner, the local paper, made mention of this fact and asked if "free wine and nibbles once a month" was really enough to keep all the galleries afloat. I ask myself the same question about Harrisburg . . . I "borrowed" this picture of Millersburg dressed for autumn from the FaceBook album of Trisha Boyer, Bob's niece. True Americana, don't you think? . . .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Overcast until late afternoon. Only one customer; seems like when we have a sale there is always one day when the crowds stay away. Let's hope today was it. As one customer said last Saturday: "There's more stuff here than there was the last times we were here." And we need more space for all the stuff still in the closets . . . Our thanks to Larry at TheBurg; he plugged our sale on the newspaper's FaceBook page yesterday . . . Jackson Taylor, author of The Blue Orchard, will be back at Midtown Scholar for a group discussion on Thursday, November 11, at 7:30 p.m. . . . Wish dog owners would learn to keep their pets away from the greenery along the street. Our evergreens are permanently brown around the lower edges and the lush boxwood at 711 Green Street is rapidly being destroyed. When I yell at an offender the leash-holder gives me a vacant Zombie stare as if that somehow makes him/her invisible . . . Well, in less than a week we will know which are "the best politicians money can buy." I am not advocating any candidate because all have received thousands. Toomey, it has been reported, got more money from outside parties (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, NRA, etc.) than he raised within the Commonwealth . . . I got a phone call from '50s crooner Pat Boone earlier this evening; Bob is furious with me because I hung up on "April Love" before I learned which candidate he was
hawking . . .

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Post #490 . . . Sorry to learn that Dale Guanowsky has passed away. He was a well-known and well-liked bartender in town. He, his mom and sister were frequent shoppers at The Bare Wall . . . The Subway at Third and Forster was held up by an armed black man last evening about 7:30 . . . Had an e-mail about the rates at the Shire-Max Inn in Provincetown after yesterday's post. Management informs me that rates change according to season or special activities in town; they ask that you call for quotes . . . The visitor counter below resets every evening about 8 p.m. to suggest a weekly total of "hits" . . . That TripAdvisor site that we had some fun with a few weeks back is now being sued by hotels which got unfavorable reviews from customers; they want the "bad" reviews removed . . . Received more "Twelve Coffees Around the World" collections; the title tells it all. It sells for $17.50 and is quite popular with our clients. A smaller six-pot version sells for $8.75 and would make a wonderful hostess gift during the holidays . . . David Morrison reported on FaceBook that he had just seen the great old 1930s musical "42nd Street" and that he was ready to "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," one of the featured production numbers. It is a terrific film and if you watch that particular segment you will hear Ginger Rogers sing one of the song's later verses. She almost sings "belly" but quickly changes to "tummy" which of course is not the necessary rhyme. The word belly was considered obscene in the '30s and there were apparently a lot of chuckles in the audience when it almost slipped out--accidentally, of course. It was Mae West whose antics and clever turns of phrase brought about the Production Code back then. Knowing Mae, she would have said belly with puckered lips and a twinkle in her eye . . .

Monday, October 25, 2010


Another Indian Summer day. The Root Candle order did arrive late this afternoon, and we two old men lugged them in and opened all the cartons. We missed JJ; last year he insisted on bringing in the boxes and opening them himself. At least we didn't pause to sniff every candle jar as he had done. Some really nice scents this year--Enchanted Twilight, Oakmoss, Vanilla Cream, Japanese Cedar--plus all your favorites. The tumblers are still only $10 . . . Bob is having some furnace problems so he had to scurry up to the house when we finished. And just moments later the big coffee order arrived. You will have to wait until tomorrow for a report on that; it has not been unpacked yet . . . Angela Lawson and various family members met in Philly over the weekend for a theater outing. They saw The Jersey Boys and loved it . . . Missed greeting Amy Hill with a Happy Birthday several days back; but then she was celebrating in Oregon at the time and didn't miss it . . . During the past year I have often mentioned Jack Barnett and Dr. Bob Coldren's Shire-Max Inn in Provincetown, Ma. I am now pleased to report that their website is up and running so you can tour the rooms for yourself. The Internet address is http://shiremaxinn.com/home.html . . . Heard that Mickey and Elizabeth's Briggs Street home is back on the market. I thought it had been sold. No other details at the moment . . . Bob was quite taken with this decorated doorway in the 1600 block of North Second Street and ambled down to take this picture. I don't know about you, but I think I might just pass it by on trick-or-treat night. Spooky. Congratulations to those responsible . . . You might notice if you scroll down that I was curious enough about my readership to see how many check in here now and then. It would appear if I can trust my math (and that is spooky) that we entertain around 55 persons a day . . .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wonderful Indian Summer day, but I spent a lot of it juggling the accounts and writing checks. Also made a few changes to the blog page . . . Shared a birthday celebration with Sarah Battisti this evening. (Hers is on Thursday.) Her husband Eric did steaks on the grill and her parents, Tom and Diane Neiper, were also on hand. Bob and Cecilia played while JJ and I hid in a corner and ate grapes and gourmet crackers . . . The arrival of new merchandise always lifts my spirits, but if FedEx is to be believed, we will receive twelve cartons of Root Candles tomorrow. That is just too much of a good thing . . .

Saturday, October 23, 2010


It is now 7:30 p.m. October 23rd, so I am officially 74 years old. I was born in the Everett (Pa) Hospital which is now the Grace Brethren Bible School (Hmmm). When Mom was asked what my name would be she said that none had been chosen. The nurses put their heads together and decided I would be Ronald (for English movie star Ronald Colman, heart throb of the day) and Carl (my dad). I would become "Ronn" in 1957 when I ran for Juniata College Student Senate and a poster-maker named Roger Bennett added the extra "n" to "balance" the lettering . . . The big headline on October 23, 1936, touted a new passenger train speed record set between Chicago and Denver. A loaf of bread was eight cents. You could have bought a car (Studebaker) for $665 or a new house for $3,925. Gas was ten cents a gallon . . . Had a great time celebrating today. Visits from friends bearing goodies, FaceBook and e-mail greetings, cards, some surprise gifts and a wonderful beef dinner that Bob prepared . . . My thanks to everyone . . . One benefit of being old is the fact that you can use it as an excuse for all your shortcomings . . .

Friday, October 22, 2010


Another busy day with shoppers. Thanks to all of you. The sale continues for another week . . . Bob spent the morning at Harris Street Church helping Eileen Young and her crew prepare for next Saturday's autumn flea market. He said that the church had been overwhelmed with merchandise this year; there are a lot of bargains to be had . . . I got a telephone call from Tom Corbett this morning but the tape was so garbled I couldn't understand his message . . . Bob and I have begun to worry about ourselves. Not so many years ago we were Jeopardy whizzes and knew all the answers. Today the questions are so steeped in popular culture that we know almost nothing at all. It is the same when I turn to "celebrity" news on the net or in the newspapers. Who are these people? I have never heard of them . . . What is so special about this wrought iron globe you may wonder. It stands 13 inches tall and sells for $27.50. It has more than a decorative purpose, to be sure. For the person who has everything--a place to store and display wine corks! . . .

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Barely got the children's books onto the shelve when I sold four of them. At the outset I thought the first shipment would see me through the holidays. Now I am not even sure that the second will and it was twice as large as the first. These you gotta see! . . . But the one thing I have learned in 38 years of business--you never know . . . JJ is suffering "growing pains" with aches in his legs. I am told this is normal but I don't recall it as a child. (Bob does.) But I do have my knickers in a twist for the moment; this is one thing I cannot help him with. Tried to tote him around the neighborhood to ease the pain, but he isn't the babe he used to be. More like a full sack of potatoes . . . Got my Amazon shipment today so nothing got done while I explored the new books. There just aren't enough hours in the day to do the pleasurable things, let alone running a business . . . Before the green ash next door met its demise on a windy day Bryan MacLeod got a neat picture of our front entrance. Must have been warm--the door is hanging open. Please, please let the weekend be in the 70s as currently promised . . .

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A nice visit from Judy Robinson and her mom who came bearing birthday goodies and did some shopping. In fact, quite a number of people responded to our recent mailing. Thanks to all of you. The sale continues through October 30, so come register for our drawing . . . Our shipment of old-fashioned children's books has arrived; the big headache--where best to display them. Several new titles included. They sell for $9.95 . . . Have entered our Root Candle order which will be delivered in a week or two. It was a budget-buster, so I hope I included your favorite scents. There are a couple of new ones, too . . . Since so many of you are loyal readers of the Huffington Post--http://www.huffingtonpost.com/-- I have been giving it a look for the last few days. I am not quite sure what to make of it. Is this a checkout-line tabloid or a legitimate newspaper? Or a little bit of both? Guess you will have to see for yourself . . . This fabric doll would look good on a bookshelf or table, especially if you've an Americana decor. Not a child's toy though, I don't think. Retails for $13.00 . . .

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Bob's niece, Trisha Boyer, celebrates her birthday tomorrow. If I can trust Joel's memory, Lyn Lawson is celebrating today . . . I am sure I will appreciate the end result, but each time I walk down Third Street and see the construction intended to widen the sidewalk around Capitol Park I feel a pang of anger. The project seems no further along than it was back in July, and all the money being spent might have saved the State Library from virtual extinction. I see that the "bucket of blood" Keystone that once honored the 28th division has also been uprooted. Bet that doesn't get replaced . . . Now that our Senate race is being rated a toss-up, more foreign money is pouring into the Commonwealth. The NRA has joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in financing Toomey's adverts on TV . . . Can't wait for this sleaze to end, though I am glad that the public is taking a closer look at the so-called tea party movement. It doesn't survive serious scrutiny . . . If you do not get a postcard from us in the next day or so you are not on our mailing list . . . A couple of glitches with the electricity knocked me off line twice this afternoon. And if I am going to show you a picture tonight, it has to be soon. The uploading process is being interrupted by Google this evening for maintenance. So . . . Here (hopefully) is JJ working on one of his pumpkin projects . . .

Monday, October 18, 2010


Happy birthday to Lindsay Mills--who baked his own cake and one for me as well . . . At last! The postcards announcing the 38th Anniversary sale are in the mail. Hopefully they will generate more traffic than we have seen since beginning the celebration . . . There are just a few retail businesses downtown that have been operating longer than we have. Today I heard a rumor that Baker & Price Jewelers in Strawberry Square may close. If true, that leaves Walker's Paint Center and me as the old kids on the block. If anyone knows of one in business longer, please let me know . . . Visited JJ's creepy residence last night to see his seasonal decor. He took Bob and me by the hand and told us not to be afraid as he gave us a tour of the spooks and goblins hiding around the lawn. A huge inflated and lighted ghost dominates the graveyard and the wind was doing a number on it at the time. "Stand up, you stupid ghost," JJ shouted and at that moment the breeze died down and the ghost sprang upright. Spooky. There are spiders all over the inside of the house too which bring a grin to JJ's and Cecilia's faces when one recoils . . . Spent a few brief moments with my web cams this morning and discovered that fall has descended on Europe as well as the USA. Leaves are changing everywhere. We can thank Eric Battisti for this view in Mt. Gretna . . .