For years, I would visit my family in Elizabethtown, Pa. Each time, the same smile would come to my face as I saw New Jersey in my rear view mirror and Pennsylvania ahead of me. It wasn’t just the prospect of seeing my grands. It was a feeling of being drawn toward something desirable.
As time passed, the stars fell in line. I sold my house and found myself following a U-Haul truck filled with my collectibles. Suddenly, my wish was coming true. I remember uttering the words, “E-Town, here I come.”
At first it took time to settle in and find a spot for everything that fell out of that U-Haul. Along the way, I would linger over a memory, evoked by a picture or souvenir, before dropping it into another sealed box. Out of sight … out of mind … until —
After weeks passed, it came clear that I was not just visiting. Suddenly, new schedules, habits and routines were falling into place. I was collecting store logos on my car keys and committing to memory which way to turn for those stores and restaurants. I was calling me New Jersey friends to say, “I have arrived.” And I have a new (unflattering) photo on a Pennsylvania license to prove it.
Finally, one day it happened. Everything had found a place to plop, hang or pose. With time on my hands, I opened the front door, put one foot in front of the other and headed to Market Street.
I truly needed nothing, but that didn’t stop me from picking of things that shouted from the shelves, “Me!” “Me!” “You know you want me!” In the weeks to follow, I found a unique Singer sewing machine converted into a table as I walked through the door of The Turquoise Bear. In the library, I found a great book and good cup of coffee. I was like Barnes & Noble, but the books were free and the coffee was inexpensive. Instead of a two-hour ride for a well-needed haircut, I walked two blocks to find the Cutting Edge. There I found Jo Ann and Cindy, both smiling and accommodating. I was told to check out a place called Folklore, so I did. I was thrilled as soon as I set foot through the door. The aroma, the shining wood and sturdy red bricks, the music, the espresso, the variety in food and people would combine to lure me back in the future. My travels took me to The Shoppes on Market. I found my pace slowing to a crawl. I didn’t want to miss anything and I didn’t. A friendly and well-informed lady named Tammy told me of the many charities that profit from the sales. It sounded like a win-win. Everything was inexpensive and it was heartwarming to know you could help someone in need. My daughter introduced me to Groff’s when we needed meat for the dinner table. My first impression was “fresh” — no — “friendly” — no — “helpful” — no — all of the above. Having grand munchkins, I had to visit Rita’s. There is nothing like watching smiling grandkids as they try to lick a melting cone of ice cream, topped with jimmies — or is it sprinkles? Seems there is an ongoing debate over the correct term. The difference being whether your feet are on Pennsylvania or New Jersey soil.
So many more businesses in town to discover and explore. I am looking forward to each one.
But E-Town is more than places to shop and eat. In a mere two-minute ride out of town, the views are breathtaking. The twists and turns, the ups and downs, are so unexpected at times. You don’t dare linger on the beauty too long. The urge is to stop and stare at the countless shades of green, the rolling hills and the peaceful farm land. It reminds me of an expression: “God’s Country.”
I truly believe if God took a vacation, he would pack his bags and head to Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.
SUSAN LUCKINS, Elizabethtown