Big Valley Pennsylvania (Travel)

Horses and buggies can be found clopping up and down the roads of Kishacoquillas Valley in Central Pennsylvania. Big Valley lies between the towns of Lewistown and Huntingdon. It is the home of a great number of Amish and Mennonite Farmers, who, along with many others farm, this beautiful valley. People there refer to their home as Big Valley. It is the home of many of my ancestors on both sides of my family. It is one of the most beautiful places in the country. These are a few of the sights you might see on a visit there.

Memories and roots

grow deep in rich black soil

Ancestors rest here

My mother’s home
My father’s home
The Crossroad

Death and Life

Great White Egret (2)

I posted this poem follow the death of my wife’s Uncle David, two years ago in September. We traveled to Pennsylvania and enjoyed our interactions with family members we had not scene in a long time. Following the funeral, we traveled around the community where here father’s family lived. This included visiting the Snavely Mill, that was once owned by her great grandfather. At the mill we encountered a beautiful Great White Egret that lived near the millpond! I thought it would be good to repost this memory once again for you to enjoy.

Mourning the loss of an uncle today
Everyone gathered to say goodbye
A sad occasion yet a celebration of life
Reviewing a life well lived and too soon gone
A reunion of sorts where the family gathers
Not only to say goodbye but to say hello
Many years of disconnect come together
Childhood cousins now grown break bread
Speak of their Uncle with stories to tell of their own
Following the funeral a long ride in the country
Enjoying corn fields and bubbling creeks
Looking for pieces of history finding some
At Great Grandpa’s millpond next to the Snavely Mill
A beautiful gift rises into the air
A Great White Egret with spreading wings
A reminder that along with history and reconnections
Life goes on
Life is beautiful
Life is still worth living

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Patio Picnic

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One of my great memories is spending part of a week with my two cousins at a vacation house along Stone Mountain in Pennsylvania. We had a beautiful view of Big Valley, where I spent five summers working on their farm. We enjoyed catching up with what we had been doing and taking a walk to the local Amish  Bakery. A patio picnic with fresh corn on the cobb and baked chicken topped off the visit.

Summer picnic enjoyed

Great food good conversation

Sweetheart celebrates

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Gina, at d’Verse. reflects on picnics with her family over the years,  and asked us to write about a picnic we remember.

Join us at:  https://dversepoets.com

 

Homeplace

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I found this old photo of my grandmother and her children. It was really worn and had some damage, but it still showed the personalities and character of each one. My father was the youngest and is on the far left in the picture. Sadly the oldest son was killed in a car wreck at the age of 21. A couple of years ago I did a painting of my father’s homeplace at the edge of Allensville, Pennsylvania, which you can see below. A number of improvements were made since the first photo was taken almost a hundred years ago.

Grandma Roth raising
four young children on their farm
A strong-willed woman
Providing for her family
Hardworking husband cared for

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Painting: Dwight L. Roth

 

Fall in Lancaster County

 

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When we were in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago for a funeral, I snapped photos from the car as we drove down the back country roads of Lancaster County. The farmers were cutting corn and filling silos for the winter. It was a beautiful site to ride through the rural country side and enjoy the views as we traveled.  Poetry in motion….No words needed!

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Photo #1 Ruth A. Roth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family History

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As we were riding down the back roads of Lancaster County Pennsylvania, we found Snavely’s Mill where my wife’s father played eighty years ago, when he visited his grandparents at age eight or nine.

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As you can see it is still operating and doing a booming business. Flour is trucked all over central Pennsylvania. My nephew works at a pretzel factory in Altoona that uses Sanvely’s flour.

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I am guessing that the arch and keystone are where the water came under the road from the pond and ran the water wheel. Since the wheel is no longer used it has been closed up.

EER_0391 Across the road from the mill is the house where her great great grandparents lived. The original millstones are leaning against the side of the barn.

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At one time the water from this pond flowed under the road and into the mill to run the wheel that turned the stones above.

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Below the house is the millpond where the children would ride in a flat boat dingy in the summer when visiting their grandparents.

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This is where I saw the Great White Haron flying across the mill pond.

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Some folks were fishing in Hammer Creek next to  the mill.

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The giant steel S hooks are connected to long rods that run under the each floor. They hold the walls in place and keep them from bulging outward.

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The large house is now used for mill offices.

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The original stone wall has settled, but remains in tact.

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Looks like the old mail boxes are in need of repair.

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This is the view of the mill from a distance. You can see the whole complex.

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The mill is a huge complex behind the old stone structure, as you can see in the photo below. The parking lot with filled with grain trucks waiting to be loaded and sent out.

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As we were leaving, one of the mill trucks came around the corner returning to the mill.

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things That are Gone

Brick wall mural

Old murals painted on brick walls are always a great find. While traveling in Pennsylavania we stayed in Manheim, a small town north of Lancaster. The front desk person at our motel recommended we check out a little out of the way restaurant with fine food in the middle of town.

The Cats Meow

It was called the Cat’s Meow and was decorated in the Roaring Twenties Flappper style.

Cat's meow wall photos

It was upstairs in a brick house across from the Beer Distributer’s warehouse.  The food was really great and the décor was enchanting.

We could not find a parking space on the street, so we parked in the warehouse parking lot. When I got out I saw this beautifully painted old sign on the brick wall.  Although we were very tired from traveling all day, this really made it all worthwhile!

Photos: Dwight L. Roth

 

Publishing the Past

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 Childhood Stories … Growing up in Ephrata, Pennsylvania

By Paul H. White

The past couple of months I have been transcribing stories written by my wife’s father. He grew up in Ephrata, Pennsylvania in the 1930s. When he was sixty-five he decided to write stories he remembered from his childhood. His mother died when he was almost five years old. His father later remarried and he tells of the adjustments he had to make, getting used to a new step-mother. Most of his stories were short and rarely more than a page and a half. He hand typed forty- six stories and made copies for each of his four children.  He is now 89 years old and living in an Alzheimer’s unit in Edmonton, Alberta.  I felt these stories should be kept for grandchildren and beyond, so I decided to transcribe them to digital format and get them printed into books for our family.

Below is an example of one of his stories.

Selling Beans

When I was twelve or thirteen years old, and David was ten or eleven, Father and Mother decided a little extra income could be made selling extra things from the garden and field.

So on Thursday evenings we would get things ready to take to Ephrata. There would be beans, carrots, potatoes, flowers and whatever else was in season. The next morning we would ride with Father when he left for work at 7:30 AM. We had a 1932 Chevy. We would remove the back seat and put in our big six wheeler express wagon with green racks. Then we’d load the produce and drive three miles to where Father had a garage he rented, where he kept his car while he was at work.

Now it was up to David and me to go from house to house in all directions and knock or ring the bell telling what we were selling. We had a peck Measure and a half-peck measure to use to sell potatoes and beans, etc. Usually we could sell everything by 2:00 PM or so.  Then we would walk the three miles through Lincoln to our home in Weidmansville.

One week we had mainly green beans to sell, and everybody said they already had too many beans, so consequently we hardly sold anything from 8:00 to 12:00 noon. I said to David, “We will go up the hill to Spring Garden Street and if we don’t sell any beans we will go home right after lunch, especially since it was such a hot day.

We knocked on many doors, but no one pitied us so we started down the hill toward the garage. We had an idea that it would be fun to coast the whole way down on the sidewalk. I sat on the back corner with one foot out in case I needed to brake. I held the wagon tongue tightly to guide us. David somehow perched on the other back corner. The wagon was still loaded with boxes of green beans. The sidewalk was clear. Soon we gained more speed than expected. Suddenly we approached a driveway we didn’t know about. It had a one inch step up in the concrete. Without warning the front of the wagon jumped into the air, and the front wheels turned sharply to the left. There was a crash, rattle and BANG! We rammed the corner of the two foot high cement wall around someone’s yard. The beans scattered in seven or eight hundred different directions. The metal peck measure kept rolling in a straight line down the hill telling all the neighbors something strange was happening. David and I picked ourselves up from the cement. David told me quietly, “I can’t find my shoe.”  I began picking up the beans. Some boys came and asked David what he was looking for. “My shoe,” he told them. One said, “I saw something land on the street, beyond the parked car.” Sure enough, there was his shoe on the street.

So we returned to the garage, where the car was parked, with the crashed wagon and the bruised beans. We left it there and walked home.

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If you wish to read more of my books I have published on Amazon Kindle click on the Amazon Kindle site below:

https://www.amazon.com/Dwight-Roth/e/B017HW5AHG/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

 

 

Pennsylvania Memories

 

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My birthplace and childhood home will always have a special place in my heart. Growing up in Western Pennsylvania and spending five summers on my uncle’s farm in Central Pennsylvania, has left indelible impressions in my mind. My parent and grandparents, uncles and aunts, all lived and grew up there.  Staying in Virginia after college and later moving to North Carolina has not dampened my appreciation of the state of my birth. This poem tells how I feel about it.

In the corner of the state just north of the Mason Dixon

Along the Monongahela River is a place called Masontown

I was born beside a coal bank

Just a mile outside of town

‘Twas Sunday noon on the fourth of May

Dr. Messmore came knocking out our way

He welcomed me into the world

In that good old fashioned way

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Pappa was a preacher so money was tight

A well-dressed chicken for the doc would suffice.

Pittsburgh not far from home

Only fifty-one miles up route fifty-one

A day trip to the airport was always fun

Watching TWA birds go and come

Pirate baseball cards clicked in my spokes

Alongside Cubs, Yankees, and other folks

High School trips to Kennywood Park

To ride the coaster till it got dark

Over the river and through the woods

We traveled to Grandma’s house

To Beautiful Big Valley only four hours away

On the Fourth of July and every Christmas day

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Uncles, Aunts, and lots of cousins,

Farms tractors, hay fields, and slow Amish buggies

I spent five summers there driving the tractor

Chasing cows, pitching hay, Uncle Fred was quite the actor

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Lancaster County makes me high,

Homemade Bread, Sweet Bologna, and Shoo-fly Pie

Down the Turnpike through tunnels and hills

To Ruth’s Grandma’s house up Blueball hill

Breaking down in the middle of nowhere

A broken crankshaft in my 61 Corvair

Dwight's 61 Covair

Five hours in Camp Hill… not much fun

Sitting in our car till my dad could come

Eastern Pennsylvania where two brothers reside

Is where my Mom spent her eventide

Each time we’d visit was always great fun

But glad to head south with the setting sun

Down through Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond

I-95 is never a fun run

Too many people too many roads and too many cars

Philadelphia holds no place in my mind

As much as I love my native state

My home’s in Caroline

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Pennsylvania such a beautiful state

With mountains, farms, and rivers

In my heart it’s is near and dear

I will cherish it forever

It is Pennsylvania from where my roots came

Coal dust runs deep in my veins

And although my home’s in Caroline

Memories of Pennsylvania will always make me pine

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