Toney and I have vowed to shake things up a bit, and not just hang around the house all the time. Like sacks. There’s stuff to do, some of it not super-expensive. But do we do it? No, we do not. We just hang around. Like sacks. This is not the way we used to be, which concerns me. So, we’re shaking it up, dammit. It started with the New York City trip a few weeks ago, which we did basically on a whim. And this Sunday we spent the day in Jim Thorpe, PA. That’s a picture of the main drag above. I didn’t take it, it’s lifted straight off Google Images. But it gives you a general idea. It’s a quaint little town in the mountains, with shops ‘n’ shit.
It was a good day. I had some doubts, which is my nature, but it turned out well. Here are some random notes:
- As far as I know, Jim Thorpe never actually set foot in this town. Not when he was alive, anyway. He was from Oklahoma, I believe, and was Native American. When he died his wife was angry that his home state was not interested in erecting a statue or a tribute to Thorpe, the great athlete. So, she basically shopped his corpse around to the highest bidder. I think that’s how it went… And this little mountain town in Pennsylvania (called Mauch Chunk, if you can believe it) promised to change its name to Jim Thorpe, construct a proper tribute, and bury his remains. Of course they also believed it would attract tourists, which seems like a dubious assumption, in my opinion. But whatever. I told myself I’d read more about the history of all this when I got home, but just watched Master Chef instead. So, if I have any of it wrong… I apologize. But I think it’s fairly accurate. And it’s weird, huh? Perhaps my hometown of Dunbar can turn it all around by changing its name to Jack Benny, West Virginia?
- We toured the Old Jail yesterday. It is, as the name suggests, an old jail. More like a small prison, really. It’s very gothic and semi-creepy. Back in the 1870s some members of an Irish secret society, called the Molly Maguires, were hanged there. They were coal miners, accused of murder. Again, I’m foggy on the details… But I think they were moving in the direction of early union activity, and the company crushed it with trumped up charges, and a kangaroo court. One of the men put his hand print on the wall of his cell, and announced that it would remain there forever, as a testament to his innocence. He sounds fairly high-maintenance to me… But the print is still there, even after they supposedly painted over it multiple times, scrubbed it, etc. Here’s a page about it.
- The girl who hosted our tour was very young, possibly 16 or 17. She seemed nice and normal, but she had a typical tour guide’s demeanor. It’s hard to explain what I mean by that. But many tour guides have a specific way of talking, and an attitude that I find mildly off-putting. I think I could do that job without the swagger and the predictable cadence. I believe it can be done. Who decided that tour guides, all around the world, must talk that way? And how did this girl, who is younger than some of the socks in my dresser drawer, already become indoctrinated? Did they send her off to tour guide college, maybe in Albert Einstein, Tennessee? Or Paul Harvey, Kentucky? I tried to discuss this fascinating phenomenon with Toney during the ride home, but she just sighed and would not engage.
- There was an old row house for sale directly across the street from the jail. It looked to be fully restored, and in great shape. We were looking through the windows, ooohing and awwwing. I asked Toney how much she thought something like that would cost, and she said $300,000. That sounded low to me, and I said a million. Well, check it out. Built in 1860, fully restored and cool as shit. I’d be all over it, if I wasn’t, you know… a sack.
- We were in an antique store with cool items like an original unused Woodstock ticket ($54), and an 8×10 photo autographed by Mike Connors, who played Mannix ($22). It was fantastic! Right up my alley. But the owner snapped and told everybody to get out. It was strange. He voiced a few apologies, but his tone wasn’t apologetic at all. There were probably ten people in the shop at the time, and he asked us all to leave. Then he locked the door, and that was that. But thirty minutes later we walked by there again, and he was open for business. Who the hell knows? Maybe his Taco Bell lunch was going rogue on him? Any ideas what it might’ve been about?
- We walked past a small shop that advertised ice cream and “vintage” candies. I’ve been suckered by the vintage candy promise before, and have always come away disappointed. They all have the same stuff: Clove gum, bubble gum cigars, etc. But I’m looking for something specific and highly elusive: Zotz. It’s a hard candy with something fizzy in the middle, sold in strips. They were around when I was a kid, and are apparently still available. But I never see ’em. Until yesterday! That place actually had the things, and I bought two strips of four, for 45 cents each. I gave one to the younger boy, waiting to see his reaction when the fizzing commenced. But he rolled with it, which is a ripoff. It was exciting, though. The highlight of the day. It’s been a decades-long Zotz drought for yours truly. What candy or snack from your kidhood do you wish you could find again? Anything? How about Prontos? Do any of you remember those?
It was a good day. Much better than hanging around the house, or walking through Sam’s Club, or whatever. We’re shaking it up like Ocasek, dammit!
But I need to go to work now. You guys have yourselves a fine day, y’hear?
And I’ll see you again on Thursday.