March 9, 2010

Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania: Quaint



     Kraft Singles American Cheese and Disney ABC have partnered to find the best community in the United States.

     “Every American has something about their town that makes them proud to call it home, and the great thing is Americans all have a different perspective on what makes their town so special,” says Clayton Wai-Poi, senior brand manager for KRAFT Singles. Contest judges will be looking for the one-of-a-kind features that make American communities unique.

     I considered entering until I learned that entries were taken by text or cell phone—whatever, none of which I am savvy enough to use. But the idea challenged me to write something about my community.

     The judging was based on three criteria: 60% for originality in describing what makes the town unique; 25% for inspiring others to visit the Town, and 15% for a photo that best showcases the Town.

     I pondered my community, Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania, tucked into the Laurel Ridge foothills at the bottom of Laurel Mountain Borough. What one-of-a-kind feature makes this community unique.

     Quaintness…the single most frequent word used to describe Laurel Mountain Borough, a small community in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

     How does a resident get this point across in a short description, stated with originality, that will inspire others to visit the community?

     First, one must understand what quaintness is. Dictionaries offer three definitions. First, charmingly odd, especially in an old-fashioned way*, having an old-fashioned attractiveness or charm; **; or pleasingly or strikingly old-fashioned or unfamiliar***. Second, oddly picturesque, unfamiliar or unusual in character, strange*; unusual or different in character or appearance**; and strange, peculiar or unusual in an interesting, pleasing, or amusing way***. Finally, cleverly made, artful*; marked by skillful design**; and skillfully or cleverly made ***.

     According to these definitions, Laurel Mountain Borough is quaint.

     Upon entering the main part of the Borough, through the stone pillars that mark the two entrances to the larger part of the community, the pavement changes from asphalt to the gravel roads of your grandparent’s era.

     When my grandson Vince was two years old I took him for a walk. He balked—becoming visibly agitated and resistant. “Grandma,” he lectured me, “You don’t walk in the street.”

     In Laurel Mountain Borough, you do walk in the narrow, one-car wide streets. There are no sidewalks. Gravel roads slow traffic down, and walkers know to listen and watch for oncoming traffic. Should an occasional vehicle interrupt their stroll, they know to jump to the side of the road to let it pass.

     There is an ongoing debate in today’s economy about gravel versus asphalt roads. One article states:  “When times get tough, say it with gravel.” AP writer Clarke Canfield finds that asphalt roads are being replaced with that good old country favorite, crushed rock: “The high price of pavement and the sour economy have driven municipalities in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Vermont to roll up the asphalt — a mile here, a few miles there, mostly on back roads — rather than repave.”

     The 185 Laurel Mountain Borough residents have an opposing viewpoint. They like the gravel roads, all about one mile of them, and they consider them unusual in an interesting and pleasing way. Having seen the way asphalt roads can disintegrate when under attack by weather conditions and bad maintenance, gravel roads are considered a bonus.

     I am often asked why I don’t frequent the parks in my region. My response: When I walk out my front door, I am in a park. Surrounded by bird-filled trees; squirrels scampering for their share of the birdfeed; an occasional deer family stretched out on their back legs as they reach for apples on the tree outside our back door; wandering through the property, or a bear peeking in our living room window—all these things take me back to the days of yesteryear.

     Night skies are clearly visible at any point they are not blocked by tall hemlock pines or hardwood trees. The stars can shine brightly because the community does not have street lights. The only way to light your path is to carry a flashlight.

     My husband, Monte, once told me that if someone visits Laurel Mountain Borough and wants to find you, all they need is a description of your house. Originally built as cabins for families from Pittsburgh to escape the city summer, they evolved into full-time residences when gas and electricity came into the community. Some homes maintain their original design exterior and/or interior design, while others have been added on to by successive owners. No two are alike—each has their own stamp of personality—but none have lost their “cottage” character that is marked by skillful design. Entering these homes takes you back to your grandparent’s era.  

     Times must change. Phil Rose is one who romped here when the community began in the late 1920s into the 1930s. Others remain whose parents and/or grandparents summered here. However, the older generation is slowly being replaced by younger families. All who stay appreciate the quaint character of this community in the foothills of Laurel Mountain, whose 110 residential units sit on 90 acres of land.

          So how to describe Laurel Mountain Borough’s prime feature briefly and originally? I tried the following poem:

Laurel Mountain Borough—not the modernist’s town

Upon the gravel roads, those people would frown

No streetlights, no stores, no asphalt to boot

So quiet at night, you can hear owl hoots.


Filled with the pinks of Mountain Laurel

And skittering critters, the squirrels

With residents appearing to be saints

The atmosphere is really quite quaint.


Tucked into the Laurel Ridge foothills

Here once stood a needed lumber mill.

Now trees—hemlock and oak—are gigantic

They hold many secrets of the romantic,


It’s a place on earth like no other,

For parents, sister and brother

It’s here my life I’ll live out

With a laud of hurrah and a shout.

     Now that you’ve discovered poetry is not my genre, I’ll offer you the following limerick:

 The Borough is named Laurel Mountain

It has tall trees, too many for countin’

The aura is quite quaint

But there is no complaint

Its riches flow through like a fountain.

     Did either of these two creations give you the feeling that Laurel Mountain Borough is unique? Does either creation inspire you to visit my community?

     I invite anyone who can do better (and that is most of you) to submit a poem (typed in the comment box below) that will do a better job of describing my home community, Laurel Mountain Borough. Perhaps your submissions will demonstrate that Laurel Mountain Borough is the best United States community to live in.


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1 Comment »

  1. […] Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania: Quaint […]

    Pingback by Laurel Mountain Borough (PA): A Place to Visit | Carolyn's Online Magazine — February 23, 2015 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

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