Sunday, February 28, 2010
My morning was interrupted by a telephone call from an enthusiastic young man looking for some Bill Campbell pottery pieces. Luckily I was at the computer and could check our inventory for him; unfortunately I had none of the items he needed. He said he was having trouble because there was no gallery outlet near where he lived. And where was that? Billings, Montana! He had Googled Bill Campbell and The Bare Wall came up as a source. Do you think I might advertise the business as "nationally famous" after this? (I was able to direct him to Bill's studio and he was very grateful.) . . . It is amazing how much people can learn about you on the Internet. If you never have done so, Goggle your own name. You will be surprised by what you find . . . Thanks to a loan from Jacquie Kirby Hensel Bob and I are reading The Blue Orchard. Bob is finished and I am halfway through. Based on fact this is the story of a poor Perry County lass who becomes a nurse to a black abortion doctor in Harrisburg. Street addresses, stores, hotels, influential politicians and the like are all mentioned by name. It is virtually a history of the city through the Great Depression, World War II and beyond. It is exceptionally well written and a must read for anyone interested in our area's past . . .
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Well, it must have been a swinging birthday party. I am afraid our honoree lost some of the dignity she had shown in yesterday's post. One too many mimosas, I suspect. Girls just wanna have fun . . . It will come as no surprise that the month of February was a disastrous one for The Bare Wall. Too much snow and too little traffic . . . Have never figured out how to include a discount coupon on this site that you can print out, so I urge you to grab a copy of TheBurg when you see one. Clip the advertisement therein and save yourself 15% when you spend $15 . . .
Friday, February 26, 2010
JJ's sister Cecilia will be one year old tomorrow. Uncle Bob will represent us at her celebratory brunch . . . the noon to midnight musicale at the Maennerchor to benefit a Haitian hospital that was snowed out has been rescheduled for tomorrow; $20 donation is recommended . . . was truly saddened to learn that Jeff Bruno of Dauphin has left us. Jeff was always upbeat, cheerful and enthusiastic; a really one-in-a-million guy who will be missed by many, many people. Our condolences to his family and friends . . .
Thursday, February 25, 2010
City controller Dan Miller has created a website to make the workings of his office and city government more accessible to the public. This is an admirable first step that hopefully will be duplicated by the new mayor. I believe everyone will find the information interesting and enlightening. http://harrisburgcitycontroller.com/ . . .
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Was sorry to hear that plans for a luxury hotel at the corner of Third and State have been terminated. And a proposed high-rise hotel for Second and State also seems iffy at the moment . . . When I came here from Johnstown in 1962 Harrisburg was known as “Convention City” and hosted dozens of statewide conventions. We had many hotels of varying quality all grouped closely together . . . First and foremost was the Penn-Harris at Third and Walnut (featured prominently in the Mae West movie Go West, Young Man) where Strawberry Square stands today. The Penn-Harris had the Esquire Bar, a little French bistro overlooking the lobby (the Rue de la Paix I think it was called), the Commonwealth Room for formal dinners and banquets, the basement Pennsylvania Grille for breakfast coffee and fast lunches, and the Harris Ferry Tavern, a treasure trove of Harrisburg memorabilia. Its demolition went terribly astray, and the dynamite sent it tumbling into a line of Third Street shops that had to be torn down . . . across the street (now the Fulton Building) was the Harrisburger Hotel with its Pickwick Club for lunches and the basement Tack Room that served the best steaks in town (though the flames were so high in the open grill pit that one feared the building might go up at any minute) . . . the Governor stood at Fourth and Market and had a wonderful restaurant for lunch and dinner . . . the Senate was on the Square facing Market and featured a bar frequented by politicos (Durbin’s, I think, but I’m not sure) . . . Lesser accommodations could be had at the William Penn on Market about where Rite-Aid is today, the Plaza next to the train station which burned (the hotel, not the train station!), and the Warner on Market Square where Charles Dickens stayed during his tour of America. The last served wonderful corned beef sandwiches for lunch and the bar entertained a mostly-gay clientele in the evenings. It also provided space for the Arena House theater, our own professional "New York" playhouse. The Warner deteriorated badly in its last days, a haven for drug users and ladies-by-the-hour it was rumored . . . Zimmerman’s Holiday Inn at Second and Chestnut joined this group later and waged a war with the franchise company before becoming Holiday Inn Town (now the Crowne Plaza). It was noted for its portholes in the bar that looked into the swimming pool and for a rooftop revolving restaurant which was never open when I was there and I doubt that it ever revolved (though that would have been a nice sales pitch, I would imagine) . . . Gone are the glory days when a thousand or more visitors flooded the city for a few days, crowding restaurants and shopping up a storm at Pomeroy’s, Bowman’s and Mary Sachs’ . . . (Tried to find you a picture of the Penn Harris on the ‘net but was rebuffed—all those that I found were copyrighted by some brilliant entrepreneur . . .
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
The agony of the old man in the tree at 711 Green during the height of the blizzard mirrors my own anguish as the snows melt and I discover that the bushes in front of The Bare Wall have been severely crushed, so much so that they may have to be removed. Of course this flattening happens after even moderate snows and the shrubbery bounces back but it looks a bit reluctant this time around. Our thanks to Bob Coldren for the photo (click to enlarge) . . . Some of the Spring merchandise arrived today. Cute bunnies, tin chicks, and woolly sheep; hope this is a harbinger of better weather . . . For Bob Deibler it was Bette Davis eating at the Harris Ferry Tavern in the old Penn-Harris Hotel; for Larry Kirkhuff, it was a nice chat on the train between New York and Philly with Pearl Bailey. I am talking about those totally unexpected encounters with notable people that just happen to occur when you turn a corner . . . I have had a few of these celebrity sightings in my life that were not job related . . . shared an elevator ride at Wanamaker's in Philadelphia with Oscar winner Jose Ferrer who was in town to promote a new Broadway-bound show . . . stumbled into and wasted a lot of time in New York City watching Mia Farrow film a scene for Rosemary's Baby; was doubly-pissed when that scene didn't make the final cut . . . almost got struck down by a sporty Mustang on Broad Street in Philly; the driver was Sammy Davis, Jr . . . went looking for an evacuee at William Penn High School during the Agnes flood and got shoved aside for Richard Nixon . . . but the big shock of my life occurred at Expo 67 in Montreal when, on a visit to the Ethiopian pavilion for the best coffee I ever tasted, I was truly manhandled to make way for Halie Selassie, the Emperor . . . my impression? "Boy, is he tiny!" . . .
Sunday, February 21, 2010
More sun, more melting. Everyone in good spirits . . . Rumor: the Furlow Building on North Third Street is to be restored. Apartments above, retail below. (Of course, we have heard this before, but informants think it might happen this time.) . . . The Historic Harrisburg Association will hold a happy hour social at 5 p.m. in the Stage on Herr Monday. No other details . . . Angela and Bob attended the Saturday night performance of Theatre Harrisburg's production of Curtains at Whittaker Center and spotted Frank Pines, Joe Russian, Michael Billo and Lonnie Kerr in the sold-out house. The show is delightfully silly and exceptionally well done, Ang and Bob reported . . . Looked through the program and was dismayed to realize that I recognized only one or two names in cast, crew and supporters lists. Used to have many theater people as customers and friends in my younger years . . .
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Sun shining, temps in the 40s, snow melting. What a change in our attitude. Many people out and about calling cheerfully to people they did not even know. So what if there is to be a little mixed precipitation on Monday or Tuesday? Today is today . . . Exchanged messages with Johnstown native Kevin Hancock on Facebook today. Cannot get over this new method of socializing. We haven't spoken for a few weeks, and he is sooooo far away--all of three doors up the street . . . Brought back memories of my two years in Johnstown as a nightside reporter for the Tribune-Democrat. My biggest assignment should have been the most memorable and in a way it is--it was a near disaster . . . I had to interview "America's Goodwill Ambassador" Louis Armstrong who was in town for a concert. Satchmo was not at all cordial to me, perhaps with reason. He was performing for a handful of people in the War Memorial which seats thousands. (The Paul Newman film Slapshot was filmed there.) The show was punctuated with shouts, cheers and applause--but not for his music. A high school football game was in progress in an adjacent stadium, and at that time the Johnstown High School team was a powerhouse that attracted just about everyone in town. The polite applause for Louis' musical numbers was all but drowned out by the racket next door . . . the concert chugged along to its conclusion (I hardly remember anything about it) and I dashed back to the office to file my report. Of course, the man was so famous that I reported as many good impressions as I could . . . it was a very short article, as I recall . . .
Friday, February 19, 2010
Pleased to report that the garbage and recyclables were collected today; a couple of weeks late, but better than never . . . We spent the day processing two new shipments of greeting cards; very nice selection for Easter. Remember that we knock off ten percent when you buy five or more cards, any variety, at one time . . . Say "Happy Birthday" to Mary Ann Furedi May on Sunday . . . Appears that YouTube removed all of its "Kipper" cartoon episodes; that is not going to sit well with Godson JJ who had just learned how to manipulate the site. Sent out an urgent SOS on Facebook and luckily friend Jon Howard came to the rescue; he directed me to another site that offers some "Kipper clips" that should satisfy "the Prince." I think it is the "clicking" and not the "content" that is important to him . . .
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
This snow has got to go! No one can get here, apparently. Sold one card yesterday and nothing today . . . Ordered a couple of Easter "sit-arounds" today. The holiday is way too early this year. (April 4.) I think we all prefer it later in the month when the air is warmer and the spring blooms are ablaze . . . Finished my book and immediately wrote my review for Amazon.com. Started doing this as a lark a year or so ago. You can check me out under "armchair traveler." I am sure the world is eagerly awaiting my opinions on literary endeavors and those of train travel DVDs. According to Amazon, I am very, very popular; among their best reviewers I am ranked slightly out of the top spot--down in the 176,634th place, to be exact . . .
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
George fixed the heating system (we hope) but it was a slow day otherwise. Drew together all our Irish stuff for St. Paddy's Day (some nice green vases as well) and Bob re-dressed his window scarecrow to reflect the season. That scarecrow has been seen in many disguises over the last three years. I really must feature it here sometime . . . Bob stored the leftover Valentines and I got on the phone to order more Easter and birthday cards . . .
Monday, February 15, 2010
Chopped what ice I could from the back of the house. Don't know whether that helped or not . . . Thought it felt a bit chilly when I came back inside so went down in the basement to check water levels in the furnace to discover that a pipe had sprung a leak and the boiler was near empty. I must bless George from H. L. Bowman's plumbers for coming immediately to give things a look. He couldn't make an immediate repair (tomorrow, hopefully) but was able to get me a little heat and to show me what to do in the meanwhile. Won't freeze, but will be quite chilly this evening . . . Cannot develop an interest in anything, especially the taxes which I was planning to do on my "day off." Did start a puzzle and watched as the snow began . . . JJ and Cecilia have found a cure for their cabin fever. They have been "hanging out" at Barnes & Noble . . .
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Well, there is more snow on the way. "But it is no where as big as last time," all the weathermen are telling us, as if that somehow will soothe our weary souls. The Bare Wall is closed tomorrow for the holiday but with snow due in the afternoon, where can we go? . . . Must thank Ed Marsico for an album of pictures documenting the snowfall in our neighborhood . . . While we adults fret I guess we should remember that the kids are enjoying every minute. Addison Lawson looks quite content in her snow pile . . .
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Janet Reed came by with a plate of cookies and the latest copy of The Millersburg Sentinel which she shares with Bob every week. The only thing I really read in the paper (please don't laugh) are the weekly menus for lunches at the senior citizens' center. I cannot attest to the quality of the food but the selections certainly sound enticing . . . With all my concentration centered on the blizzard I neglected to send out a "Happy Birthday" to Ernie and Carl Kepner last Thursday. The brothers share the same birth date though born three years apart . . . Kevin Sheets, Mary Ann Furendi and Rick May took the "polar plunge" on City Island today to benefit the Special Olympics. Better them than me . . . Rick is lamenting the passing of his pet iguana . . .
Friday, February 12, 2010
Had a pleasant surprise visit from Bob's sister-in-law Jacquie and niece Trisha Boyer today . . . Another casualty of the snow storm was Jon and Larry's week-long vacation in Las Vegas; flight canceled until four days after scheduled departure date which wouldn't have made the trip worthwhile . . . A reminder that we will be closed Monday for the Federal holiday . . . Our second story bay window overlooking the street is covered with a sheet of snow/ice which at some point will plummet onto the sidewalk. We have posted a warning sign. For those of you walking in the city be advised that there is as much danger from dangling icicles above as there is from icy sidewalks below . . . This afternoon Bob and I were remembering our Valentine's Day celebrations in elementary school. The "mailbox" was constructed a week in advance and covered in tissue, red construction-paper hearts and those lacy paper doilies one buys at the 5&10. (You do remember the 5&10, don't you? Woolworth's, Murphy's, Kresge's, Furlow's, etc., each an emporium for life's little necessities all in one place.) You and your classmates would buy these sacks of mixed cards--some large and some small--and you would spend a whole evening trying to decide which card was most appropriate for which classmate. (Mom always insisted that I send one to everyone in the class, even if I didn't like someone much.) Then one morning you would smuggle your Valentines into the classroom and try to slip them into the box without being seen . . . On THE DAY a couple of boys (never girls) would be appointed postmen, and with all of us in our seats, the mail would be distributed. Did anyone send us a card? Is your friend seated across the aisle getting more cards than you? The 'rich kids' sent heavy cardboard greetings with little lollipops attached. Would we get one of those? Could we hide our disappointment (or embarrassment) if we didn't? . . . When it was over, we had punch and cookies and we all scurried home to really look at our greetings. We weren't as interested in the sentiment as we were in who didn't send us a card . . . Then we knew who to cross off our "best friends" list . . . Come to think of it, maybe we were simply in training for adult life; we all have experienced the guilty feeling of receiving a Christmas card from someone we left off our list AND in reviewing those we did receive we note (somewhat miffed) that Aunt Agnus, the Smiths in Delaware and that nice couple we meet at the shore DIDN'T send us one . . . (And if you didn't get one from us, be advised that Bob does all our greetings, so don't blame me) . . .
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Bless my neighbors! The goodies keep coming. I will be feasting on ham and split pea soup tonight courtesy of Victoria Zellers . . . I have recalled a long-ago act by a Good Samaritan in circumstances similar to these. Admittedly, the details are hazy but the gist is honest. I was probably six at the time, a growing boy--especially my feet. I had all but outgrown the single pair of shoes I owned and they had to be conserved for going to school. Mother was frantic since she knew they hurt my feet, but there were no shoes to be had since I had gone through my share of ration coupons. On a couple of occasions she sent me to the grocery just a few doors away and I went through the snow and slush barefoot. On one of these trips I was seen by an old man and the store clerk explained my situation to him. I am not sure how this worked itself out, but he got in touch with mom and gave her shoe coupons which he wasn't going to use. I think I got new shoes and a pair of boots, thanks to his kindness . . . I have got to research this WWII rationing thing some time. I assume each book was the same, and that we kids got coffee coupons just like the adults. There are still some unused ones in the old books I have . . . Bob was a farm boy and since they raised their own meat, his mother would trade meat stamps for sugar ones so she could do more canning . . .
Dr. Bob's Snow Stories
Yesterday's post awakened some memories of snows past for Dr. Bob Coldren. He has allowed me to share them with you:
Dr. Bob's Snow Stories
Yesterday's post awakened some memories of snows past for Dr. Bob Coldren. He has allowed me to share them with you:
Of course January, 1996, sticks in my mind. Jack and I were spending our first winter at 711 Green Street. The city and, I think, much of the southern part of the state was shut down. We had ice dams in our gutters and downspouts with leaks resulting (I shudder to think that's what will come next). This was followed by the thaw from hell; warm weather and rain, flooding in the city, and the destruction of the western sections of the Walnut Street bridge, a fire in Shipoke that the fire dept couldn't get to. I guess we're lucky, so far . . .
I remember another winter but can't place the year; the late 1950's would be my guess. I know I was delivering the Reading Eagle (the evening paper there) in Shillington, my home town. It was snowing heavily, and there was often a flash of light when the trolleys on Wyomissing Avenue crossed some sort of juncture. There was suddenly a very bright flash, followed some seconds later by thunder. Scared the s--t out of me (were the Russians coming?). This was my first and, come to think it, maybe my only recollection of thunder snow. That snow resulted in school being canceled for a full week because it was followed by wind and drifting. Power was out for quite a while. I can still recall the smell of the charcoal my mother used on the back porch to cook. It was quite an adventure! What I can't recall is how cold I must have been delivering newspapers in that weather . . .
A few years later, my newspaper route changed. I had a Reading Times route (morning) covering one of the hilliest sections of town. We'd had some snow, followed by freezing rain, so there was a crust on the snow. I remember having to break the crust on hands and knees to climb the hill to deliver my papers. (I know, this sounds like some apocryphal old codger's story, but it's true. I had no choice; my father was one of those meticulous customers who insisted his paper had to be at the house by 6:00 AM so he could read it before work.) Again, it must have been bitter cold, especially since I got up at 4:30 AM to do this, but that part eludes me. Oh, the joys of childhood!!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
It has been an incredible 24 hours of tension for many of us. The more we listened to the news--and we were glued to it--the more the panic grew. Inches and inches of snow, high winds, collapsing buildings, Interstates closed, accidents. I think it might be even harder on those of us alone during this crisis. There was no one to take our minds off the impending doom . . . I was blessed by caring neighbors and friends. Some phone calls, lots of e-mails. My sidewalk and stoop were cleared several times--I thank each of you and wish I knew who you were so I could name you here. Dinner was delivered to my door courtesy of Joanne and Eric. I am still concerned about the possible damage to the house and--dare I suggest it--what might be to come. Flooding could be a future problem . . . Our friends in Fulton County who had the tree fall on the house in the last storm lost their carport to 40 inches of snow. It collapsed on their truck, breaking the windshield and tearing out some electrical circuits to the house. Almost as bad or worse--the generator they have for when the power fails totally was also trapped in the debris . . . Bob spent the day pacing (as did we all) at his house and helping the neighbors clear their sidewalks. We are all exhausted, some with exertion and all with tension . . . I have tried to recall snowfall memories of childhood but nothing leaps to mind. Of course, all we kids looked forward to a "snow day" (much rarer then than now) but the sledding, snowball fights, and creation of snowmen seem so distant . . . Yeah, I was a chubby little fellow back in 1940(?) . . . I suspect we will all suffer another restless night what with the wind howling the way it is. Tomorrow was supposed to be garbage collecting in our neighborhood. Angela Lawson and I decided not to participate, though we agreed that if we were to put it out it would probably be a mile away before any trucks could get here . . . Be safe all, and thanks for reading . . . (click pictures to enlarge)
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Brief but pleasant chat with Audrey Trussell today. Several people in for Valentine cards. The weather is going to take some of the "sweetness" from the season I fear . . . The new snow storm has begun. Several of us in the neighborhood have frozen downspouts and leaky roofs. I dread the thought, but ice damage to my building is almost a certainty. At least the insurance is paid up . . . Guess my jaw dropped open when I heard that a bankrupt city paid over $35,000 to renovate the mayor's office. That is more than The Bare Wall took in all of last year . . . The Haitian hospital benefit concert at the Maennerchor has been rescheduled for February 27th . . . there was nothing on PennLive about the equal rights march yesterday and I didn't see anyone to ask about it. If someone has a report, please e-mail me at the address to the left . . . P.S. Bob's soup is pretty good, especially on a evening such as this . . .
Monday, February 8, 2010
One good thing (the only one?) about the snow storm past and the one to come: Bob's soup kitchen is open again. All the neighbors in the 1600 Green block are supping on beef vegetable. I will get mine tomorrow . . . For the record, I am tired of reading books, doing crossword puzzles and surfing the net for something to write here. I hope my readers will be faithful and return when I have something worthwhile to report . . .
Sunday, February 7, 2010
When Wes and Yvonne Brown moved into their condo they blessed us with snow shovels they would no longer need. Those got a workout this weekend . . . Bob went walking this afternoon and found a lot of kitchen chairs in the street "reserving" parking spots. Sure to be some ruckus in several neighborhoods and maybe a city directive . . . The musicale at the Maennerchor to benefit a Haitian hospital that was wiped out by the storm Saturday night will be rescheduled Jeff Lynch reports . . . Remember that the Freedom to Marry group will be meeting with legislators tomorrow and will be marching down State Street to the courthouse for a rally late in the afternoon. Have not heard of any changes, so be careful if you are driving in that area . . . for other events this week please go to http://freedomtomarrypa.org/ . . .
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Surprise, surprise. The Bare Wall was not open today. For those of you elsewhere, the snow storm blessed Harrisburg with 17 inches at last report. I have to thank Sharon, Tyler and Lelia for breaking a path through the drifts for me this morning. Others kept it open . . . The roads in most parts of the city were passable but the alley in which Bob parks could be closed for a day or two. I might have to spend Super Sunday alone; we are such jocks, you know . . . Our friends in Fulton County got over 26 inches and a tree collapsed on their house . . . I struggled to post this picture on Facebook with no success; my thanks to Rick May for tramping down the street to show me how it is done . . . am halfway through another mystery. Had I known I would be snowbound I might have tackled War and Peace myself . . .
Friday, February 5, 2010
Well, the snow has begun. If it is the ten or twelve inches that have been promised, The Bare Wall definitely will not be open tomorrow (Saturday). I remember a few years ago that City Council complained about the slow pace of snow removal during a big storm; the current mayor was one of that group so it will be interesting to see how fast she responds in similar circumstances . . . Snow or no, the shows will go on I am told: the noon-to-midnight series of concerts at Maennerchor (a Haitian hospital benefit) and the 10 p.m. Queen of Hearts drag show at the Stage on Herr . . . Wish Victoria Zellers a "Happy Birthday" on Sunday . . .
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Bob went to the grocery early this morning and said the place was mobbed. Everyone is anticipating "the BIG one" that Trish Deibler Boyer is hoping for. On days like this I wish The Bare Wall sold milk and bread. No one bought candles in anticipation of a power outage, but we did have one customer. And what did we sell? Our coffee collection, would you believe! Maybe Mother Nature did us a favor after all . . .
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Since store traffic has been slow, Bob and I have had our noses in books. Within the last two weeks we collectively have ripped through about a dozen easily-read mysteries. It has been fun, but lest we be mistaken for bibliophiles, I should add that neighbor Bob Coldren is now more than 500 pages into War and Peace . . . Since I am supposed to be selling you something, I should remind you that Valentine's Day is approaching quickly. We have cards, of course, and always promote Fred's glass earrings ($29) and Lucille's scarves ($36) at this time. Any girl would be happy with either or both . . . Valentine's Day is on a Sunday this year with a state holiday to follow, so we plan to be closed Monday, Feb. 15 . . . Jeff Lynch is promoting a noon-to-midnight musicale Saturday at the Maennerchor to benefit a hospital in Haiti. A donation of $20 is recommended, but half that is acceptable if you are strapped . . .
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Took a brisk walk to the bank and was surprised to see the street empty. Had expected a few others to venture out. The day wasn't so bad . . . There seems to be some misunderstanding about permit parking for CAN residents and just what spots are available to them. Don't understand the whole thing myself, so watch for further clarification and, if possible, do not park at meters during daytime hours until things are straightened out with the new administration . . .