March 9, 2009

A Weekend in State College, Pennsylvania: Part 2



Part 2    


In this second part of the tales of our weekend in State College, PA, you will read about the downtown parking garage, a conversation in a store, and a meeting with Arlene at the College Buffet, a Chinese restaurant.     We were in State College on the weekend of March 7-9, 2009, where my husband, Monte, was attending the Big Ten wrestling competition at Bryce Jordan Center. I was doing my own relaxing activities, which produced the three reports below.
     Unfortunately, I did not get to visit the Penn State library, one of my destinations, because Penn State was closed due to spring break. I was impressed by the campus, however, and its beauty, and the walk to the library building was very enjoyable. I was also impressed by the scenery surrounding State College—a valley surrounded by mountains.
     To read Part 1 of this post, our experience at the Corner Room Restaurant, the Diner and Schlow Library, click on: 
A Weekend in State College, Pennsylvania: Part 1

     Keith and Edna had recommended that I park in the parking garage while I explored State College’s downtown area that afternoon, since it was difficult to find a parking place along the metered street parking, and parking tickets came with a mighty steep fine.
     At the parking garage, when I took a ticket from a machine when I entered the structure, I heard a voice message from the ticket machine, telling me that I should take my ticket with me, since I would needed it to pay for my parking time before I could pick up my car. This message was repeated over and over via signs posted throughout the garage.
     When I went returned to the garage to pick up my car, I sought out the payment place and discovered it was a machine. No “person” was around. I didn’t know what the parking fee was, and I was concerned that I might not have the correct change. In order to discover what fee I owed, I had to put my ticket in the machine. What if I put it in and I couldn’t produce the correct coinage? Could I get the ticket back? If I couldn’t get the ticket back, how could I retrieve my car?
     My wallet contained one five and two ten dollar bills. I had used the last bit of my change at the Diner.
     I left the garage and walked around the corner, where I spotted two men talking. I waited until I got their attention and asked them what I should do. They said they were pretty certain that the machine would take any of my monetary bills and return the balance over the cost of the ticket. I returned to the machine, reluctantly stuck in my ticket in its slot, and was “told” verbally and on a screen that I owed a three dollar parking fee. I stuck my fiver. The screen read that I would receive two dollars back.
     Clunk. Clunk.
     Tokens? What was I to do with TOKENS?
     The two men had suggested that a “person” might be in the garage across the street, so I crossed to the second parking garage. No human being there, either. Just another machine. I concluded that I would have to keep the tokens, since I only had fifteen minutes to remove my car from the premises after putting my money in the ticket machine. I returned to the first garage, easily located my car (I had written myself a note as to its location), and saw a couple of young fellows at a nearby car. I asked them what I should do with the tokens, and, figuring that they were from the area, I was ready to pass them on.
     “Those aren’t tokens,” one of them said. “Those are one dollar coins.”
     Huh? I’d never heard about one dollar coins!
     When I picked Monte up, I told him what had happened.
     “I heard about those coins,” he said. “We had an e-mail telling us not to accept them, since they do not have ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ on them.”
     “Oh,” I replied. “I haven’t read THAT e-mail. However, declining the coins was not an option. What am I supposed to do? Throw them away?”

     During a three-hour afternoon break in the wrestling competition, Monte was resting and watching the high school matches in the hotel room. So I went shopping. While browsing at a nearby department store, I overheard a man speaking in his cell phone. Clues from the conversation (I don’t know much about wrestling, but I do know it involves weight classes) told me that he, too, was attending the wrestling matches. When he completed his call, he confirmed my conclusion. He did.
     He said he was from Indiana, and his son, from Indiana University, was wrestling in the Big Ten Wrestling Championship. I asked him if he knew where Blairsville was. He said yes, it was west of Indiana, noting that he lived in the southwest corner of Indiana County. So far the conversation was congenial, understandable.
     Then it went downhill. Fast.
     “So you are on the border of Westmoreland County,” I said.
    He looked at me, strangely, confused, like I was nuts and not making sense. The rest of our conversation made even less sense, including his mention of a town I had never heard of—Evansburg.
     “Where is that?” I asked. “I never heard of that town.”
     Suddenly, something clued me in.
     “When you say Indiana, do you mean the state of Indiana?” I asked.
     That explained it! Indiana County, Indiana, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Blairsville are in Pennsylvania. Apparently, all these locations also exist in the state of Indiana, also. No wonder the conversation was nonsensical!
     We parted, both having enjoyed the conversation, and both  now knowing the real meaning of the repetitiveness of place and institutional names across state lines.

THE COLLEGE BUFFET: A Chinese Restaurant
     State College ought to hire Arlene in their public relations department. Her enthusiasm for the area deserves a blue ribbon and “best of fair.”
     I decided to eat at the College Buffet on Saturday evening. After filling my plate, I noticed a lady sitting alone at an adjacent table. I asked her if she would like company, and she said yes, so I joined her.
     “We’re so lucky to live here—its heaven on earth,” she began, and stated repeatedly, during our visit.
     A Penn State retiree, Arlene was preparing for a baby shower, wedding shower and her daughter’s fiftieth birthday party. She had tickets to the Big Ten Wrestling competition, but wasn’t going to make it. Actually, she had season tickets to the wrestling matches, and her favorite sport was football, but she liked all sports. She explained that the Bryce Jordan Center had three tiers of seats, light, medium and dark blue. The dark blue are on the highest level. Her pride in the center swelled as she spoke of the huge events that occur there, including shows by national stars. She noted that the local airport had expanded during recent times to the point that they were going to have to build an air traffic control tower.
     Her mother, ninety, still enjoyed the wrestling, and also gymnastics, and Arlene tried to take her to as many of these events at the Bryce Jordan Center as possible. Her mother no longer attended the football games, however.
     Arlene was enjoying her retirement. Both she and her husband had worked at Penn State, and her children were doing so now. She said the family owed the university gratitude for what it had offered her family.
     “We (Centre County) owe 99% to the university and what it brought in to the community,” she said, mentioning the university’s agricultural facet and the importance of scholarship coming before sports.
     “They are student athletes,” she noted, “not athlete students. Studies come first.”
     She asked me if I’d seen Nittany Mountain, somewhere behind Bryce Jordan Center (I’d seen the mountain, but not identified its importance). Then she explained that the lion became the symbol of the university because once upon a time, before the settlers arrived, the mountains were filled with them—not, however, the African lion, which has a mane.  
     According to Arlene, some persons, through the years, have considered bringing the lions back to the mountains, but the farmers feel they would endanger livestock.      However, there is an animal farm in Center Hall that has one lion. Without a mane. Not an African lion.  The operator of the animal farm also operates an underwater cave, which is reached by boat.
     Arlene told me about the stake marking the center of the state, and that she had made a quilt.
     But what was really striking in her discussion was the number of times she noted that State College, Centre College and the central part of Pennsylvania was the best place to live. It was heaven on earth.
     “I’m glad you got to State College,” she told me.
     And I am glad, too, that I finally took the opportunity to visit an area so valued by a woman named Arlene.

NOTE: I would recommend the food at the Corner Restaurant, the Diner and the College Buffet, all three of which provided three great meals. We also enjoyed Cici’s Pizza.


A Weekend in State College, Pennsylvania: Part 1

Writer’s calls for submissions, competitions & events March 1, 2009

Basic Biblical Teachings for the Godly and Moral Life: 1

Basic Biblical Teachings for the Godly and Moral Life: 2

Ashes to Ashes: A Devotion for Ash Wednesday


Path to Peace

Route 30: A Review of John Putch’s Movie

Ashes to Ashes: A Devotion for Ash Wednesday

Online Sites for Caretakers & Families of Brain Injury Victims

March days to celebrate






A Singapore Pine Tree & Kampong Buangkok, Singapore





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