September 13, 2008

SNAPSHOT ENCOUNTERS: Brief Meetings with People #1

Filed under: NEW ENGLAND — carolyncholland @ 3:24 am
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SNAPSHOT ENCOUNTERS: Brief Meetings with People #1


On a beautiful September 1, 2008, morning, Monte and I left Laurel Mountain Borough for our fourth extended trip up the New England coast for a “vacation,” which involves some research for my historic journal article and historic romance novel. Along the way, we are visiting relatives and friends. The night before last, we stayed in Pocasset, Mass., with Monte’s nephew and his wife, Gaylord and Dale. Tonight, we are staying in Weymouth, Mass., with Monte’s newlywed niece, Amy, and her husband, Randy. They graciously extended their invitation to include another night when they heard we were trying to do the impossible tonight: driving to Kittery, Maine, for a motel reservation, where we had to be before 8:00 p.m.—but wouldn’t be leaving Brocton, Mass. before four or five in the afternoon—something that apparently isn’t reasonable to accomplish, with the Friday evening Boston traffic.



From time to time, I will post snapshot descriptions of interactions with people along the way. Nothing in depth—just interesting one-time, brief encounters with people we meet along the way. 


As I wrote, our travels began September 1. We headed to Philadelphia, not the usual route to New England from Southwestern Pennsylvania. However, I’d discovered that at least two bundles of letters and documents written by Madame, the woman I am profiling for my journal article, were buried among the William Bingham papers at the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia. When planning our travels, we decided to stop there on the way, thereby accessing the information immediately (especially if it affected our Maine research) and avoiding a separate trip to Philadelphia.



Once we decided to travel to Philadelphia, we chose to follow Rt. 30 (the Lincoln Highway), east to the city.


On September 1, we stopped at a Gettysburg information center, on the Lincoln Highway, where Monte noticed a white van with Maine license plates. I asked the couple where they were from (I didn’t write it down) and told them there was a monument to a Maine brigade up the road about the distance of two blocks. They indicated they were headed into the park proper, but as we left they were walking toward the monument. Otherwise, they didn’t seem too friendly.


At this site there was also a detective with the DA’s office in Philadelphia. Hearing we were headed towards Philadelphia, and the Germantown Historical Society, he informed us it was in an unsafe area and warned us to “be careful.”  I told him about the research I was doing, and gave him a business card, since he seemed quite interested in history. I asked him to comment on any Philly errors on my site. He said he would, but he would do it gently. Before suggested other Philadelphia sites we should visit, like Independence Hall and the Ben Franklin something.


The third of September came: it was our 42nd anniversary and also the long day at the Pennsylvania Historical Society. We were staying at a motel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, just over the border from Philadelphia. Monte wrote the following snapshot.



I got up at about 7:00 a.m. Carolyn was still sleeping, so I went outside to look around and to seek information on public transportation. The young lady at the desk told me that she takes the bus to Philly all the time, catching it from the mall, which is a short walk from the motel. As I started walking toward the mall I saw a large black man walking in the same general direction. I thought he was probably headed for the bus, but I just proceeded looking, not paying attention to him. A little later when, when I was not able to find the bus stop, he came along and asked me if I was lost. I told him what I was trying to find, and he directed me to the bus stop.

At the stop, I met a man who was staying at the same motel. He was headed to the convention center, and this was his first time taking the bus. He told me about senior fares, and said he just missed qualifying. When a couple of busses came, I got their schedules.

While we were talking to the man about the fare to Philly and discussing senior rates, a forty-ish woman, who was sitting waiting for the bus, said: “You don’t look old enough for that rate.”

I said, “How old do you think you have to be?”


I responded, “It’s sixty-two. How old do you think I am?”

When she didn’t give a reply, I said, “I’m seventy.”

“You look really good for seventy!” The man agreed.

I said, “I feel really good.” In addition her response had made me feel even better. 

Her speech indicated she was, perhaps, part of the lower class society. When I asked her how to figure the zones for the trip, she said I would probably travel through a lot of zones, because it takes four zones for her to get to Camden.

This interchange was the first of many helpful encounters with people in the Camden and Philadelphia areas. More later, as we make our way from Philadelphia up the coast of New England.





  1. I have lived in Germantown since 1970. It is safe. I am an old man. It is safe.
    Don’t believe everything that you hear.

    Comment by Gene Stackhouse — September 13, 2008 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  2. Germantown is not the safest area of the city, but it’s not worth missing. The architecture and history are extraordinary. Please let me know the next time you are headed to Philadelphia and I will personally give you a tour of Germantown and introduce you to the Germantown Historical Society (an amazing place with an incredible archive).


    Julie Stapleton Carroll
    Treasurer – Germantown Historical Society
    and proud resident of the Germantown neighborhood, Philadelphia

    Comment by Julie Stapleton Carroll — September 15, 2008 @ 2:03 am | Reply

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