Thursday, July 9, 2009

RL Diversion to Pennsylvania

Independence Day weekend found my typist on a brief trip to central Pennsylvania; specifically, State College, where one of our party spent some formative years, with a side trip to Bellefonte, with its downtown of Victorian houses.

Below, Old Main at twilight:

I will admit some disappointment in Bellefonte. Though some of the buildings were magnificent - in particular, a massive brownstone built in the early years of the 20th century by the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and a majestic white courthouse, the town itself seemed well past its prime and unable to resurrect its main streets the way other small towns have recently. Perhaps its time will come after the current economic difficulties are over.

Penn State people are a little touched when it comes to buying memorabilia. The blue-and-white bandages, for example, or the Penn State dog dish, were over the top. I joked about not seeing any school-branded products of a more intimate nature, but it's possible I wasn't looking in the right place.

College towns are not a good place to find fine food or beverages. That's not an indictment, just an observation. It can't be steak and lobster every day. Still, one would like to remind people that beer is not a major food group. Liquor can be used in concoctions other than frozen daiquiris and variants of the Long Island Iced Tea. I had forgotten how seriously college town bars and restaurants tend to take ID checks. I observed one place check IDs of everyone coming in, including several elderly customers. (Then I wondered why the Jameson party had no IDs checked. One explanation: we just looked like senior citizens. My explanation: we were so unaware of the process that we just waltzed past the bouncer, who was too intimidated to ask.)

(As an aside, not every place is quite as compulsive about enforcing drinking age laws. Many years ago, in a completely different Pennsylvania city, at a bar that shall remain namess - oh, heck, let's call it Smokey Joe's - my 19-year-old self walked in with an equally underage companion. No one asked for my ID, but my friend was asked for hers, so she showed her actual driver's license that showed her to be underage. The bouncer looked, eyed her, and said, "Eh, close enough." We wondered how much the bar was paying to have the police stay away.)

My favorite photo of the trip was of this church, on College Avenue.

The sign reads: "Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character. Come back to your senses and stop sinning." I was at a loss for words. Which of us was the bad company?

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