home sweet and salty home.

this past weekend i went home to lehman pennsylvania. the intention of my trip was to celebrate my aunt phillis’ 80th birthday party. it was a nice event with good food, good conversation and lots of family i haven’t seen in ages.

while home, i ate like there was no tomorrow. ricci’s sweet sauce pizza, boulevard bakery almond ring, michael mootz fudge and my favorite of all hometown favorites, middleswarth barbeque kettle cooked potato chips. i seriously live, and probably die slowly from clogged arteries, for those chips!

other than sitting around my mothers house eating, i drove around the little town that is lehman taking pictures and reminiscing. when you have lived somewhere for decades, you become numb to or never really notice all of the little things that you rode your bike past or drove by, until you have a camera in hand. it was nice to see the post office, the now closed mazer’s nursery and cook’s variety store which is where i got my first taste of the goodness that is middleswarth potato chips. ahhh…those dang chips! there must be something in the salt and lard they are cooked in that resonates with me, 5 days later. i rode my bike or walked to cooks so many times as a child. it’s nice to see they have kept up their iconic golden mustard facade. if anyone ever decides to paint that building a different color, it will indeed be a sad day.

i also visited the corner where my family’s business “mccarroll precast inc.” houses all of their stock. again, until you look through the eye of a camera, you never realize that the things you have seen a million times, and thought mundane, could be so beautiful. my father had built many of the forms which the concrete gets poured into to create the structures. it was good to be reminded of his talent and hard work. there i bumped into my sister’s childhood friend, paula. we had a good chat about life and we laughed and she cried and then i took a drive around hayfield farm.

hayfield farm was established in 1910 and housed cattle, clydesdales, sheep and pigs and also harvested fruits, vegetables, corn and hay. my grandfather, marbel, also worked there as a blacksmith in the 1940’s. now it is dilapidated and only houses memories. it is currently owned by penn state university. i fondly recall riding my bike around there with childhood friends and taking walks with my sisters. my sister sandra used to jog around there and i believe there is a story about her eating brownies and v-8 juice before a jog and throwing up behind an oak tree. mmm…tasty!

i then drove to my elementary school which has this weird architectural structure above the walkway. i’m sure people think its ugly. i, of course, think it’s cool. my memories of elementary school include drawing a lot and twirling batons while everyone else played kickball and my sixth grade teacher, god bless that frosted hair of hers, not letting me participate in the halloween parade, which makes me dislike halloween to this day. i also remember my sister janet taking me to school in the rain the day my mother was in the hospital getting her varicose veins removed and crying because i thought she was dying.

in no particular order throughout the weekend, i saw the huntsville dam, visited my favorite thrift shops, saw that big beautiful moon…twice, did the puzzle in the sunday newspaper with my mother and ended my stay with a nature walk with my sister janet and her 6 dogs and 2 goats. yes…goats! who knew goats liked going for walks in the woods? my relaxing and reminiscing was coming to a close and it was then time for me to load up the car and head back to the big city. on my way back to philadelphia at the top of bear creek mountain, i stopped at the mini market at the turnpike entrance for, you guessed it, a bag of middleswarth barbeque kettle cooked potato chips!

11 thoughts on “home sweet and salty home.

  1. Jay- thanks for the pics of “home”! It makes me look at it in a different light. You should have came a little further down the road, I’d have walked with you and reminisced, although I’m a wee bit older. Thanks for the pics- love the concrete ones!

  2. It’s clear that all those things have stayed with you over the years. I see all of it in your work–a testament to the powers of unconscious observation.

    Taking a walk with goats sounds like an interesting item for a Bucket List. Must make myself a note about that.

  3. Thank you, Jay, for the prose and beautiful pictures. I was a few years behind you at Lehman and still live around here. As a previous poster wrote, it is nice seeing things in a different light. I see all these things often, yet found your pictures and words making it new.

  4. Thank you for the story, Jay. I went to Crestwood high school; we played sports against Lake Lehman and probably competed in baton twirling as well. I too love Middleswarth barbeque chips; they thrust me into a fling in high school because the dear boy kissed me right after eating them. mmmmm… I have food issues.

  5. OMG! Mazer’s is closed. 😦 I always got my flowers there. Great pics! I will always love the Back Mountain. Now I want some potato pancakes from Harvey’s Lake!

  6. I absolutely LOVE Middlesworth BBQ potato chips!! I could sit and eat a weekender bag in one sitting!!! Wish you could get them in SE PA!!! I usually pick up a couple bags when I go to Shady Maple!!!!

  7. Hey Jay its Michelle, Jen’s older sister from way back at old LLHS. Just wanted to say that I have not been back to Lehman in aobut 2 years and it was nice to see photos of all those things as well. Now in Philly too and hope you are doing great.

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