Wednesday, November 19, 2014

If Ever We Were Fab

A lifetime ago - when I was a small boy and before my father died - my parents had a "summer" home.  It was nestled up in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, in Luzerne County, in the little piece of Neverland known as Harvey's Lake.  

A rite of summer was our entry onto the lake - a 9 1/2 mile, natural body of water with but a single, two-lane roadway encircling it - at Joe's Grotto.  Even as a little kid, I knew what bad pizza was.  I renewed my acquaintance with it every time we ate pizza from Joe's Grotto.  It was adjacent to Joe's that the town fathers had affixed the Welcome to Harvey's Lake sign.  Each summer as we passed it, Kelly would read the sign's words aloud, pause for half a click and then add "now please set back your clocks 200 years."   Every year, all of the rest of us kids would laugh and laugh.  Dad would fix that "If I could reach you where you are sitting Mister" stare on Kelly while gripping the steering wheel so tightly in both hands we thought for a just a moment he might actually burst.  We would then make the left turn at the STOP sign, and begin the trek around the lake to our parents' home. 

It mystified me as a small boy - and the youngest of six children - how exactly my parents afforded a summer home.  For quite a considerable amount of time, Mom's primary job responsibility was within the four walls of the familial home and it was not until I reached either the 5th or 6th grade that Mom was able to matriculate back into the "outside of the home" workforce.  I know not how my father did what he did as the sole wage-earner, although as I grew older I developed a far better understanding about why his favorite place to visit was the island of Manhattan and why - try as he might - he could not persuade his heart to power his whole self for longer than fifty-seven years or so.

One of the things that was a fixture at Harvey's Lake was Hanson's Amusement Park.  My single clearest memory of Hanson's was the rickety old wooden roller coaster that was perched somewhat precariously over the two-lane roadway that separated the amusement park from the lake.   Although I recall having read somewhere years ago that Hanson's had closed down, I did not realize that it went out of business thirty years ago.  Dad died on May 31, 1981.  I recall making a trip up to Harvey's Lake for a couple of days that summer with Mom to check on the house and to visit Uncle Jim and Aunt Dot.  To my memory, I never set foot on the lake again after that summer.  

This past weekend, B-O-B shared with me a link to a news story documenting the demolition of the final remaining pieces of Hanson's Park.  If I understood the story correctly, the property that once housed Hanson's has been sold to a developer.  The developer intends to build homes on the property.  Harvey's Lake being the anti-mecca that it is, the developer's plan calls for the construction of four new homes.  

Maybe, just maybe, when people pass the Welcome to Harvey's Lake sign, they no longer are compelled to set their clocks back 200 years.  Anything is possible.  Do not feel obligated to take my word for it.  Stop in at Grotto Pizza and check it out for yourself.  If you are feeling hungry enough, you might even decide to have a slice.    

-AK 


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