Signs of the times

Trip Start Jul 16, 2011
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Trip End Jul 31, 2011


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Where I stayed
The Abraham Lincoln Hotel Reading
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Sunday, July 17, 2011

We came to Reading to visit some "historical" sites before heading farther north. These sites included the first house Pat remembers from her childhood.  The old homestead on Cleveland Avenue located in West Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.  I am not going to try to understand where the word Wyomissing comes from, but at least there is a place called Wyomissing for West Wyomissing to be west of. 

Enough about city names in Pennsylvania.  We spent the night at the Abraham Lincoln hotel which I got on a deal from Priceline.com.  The sign over the door is similar to a Broadway theater sign in New York circa 1980's.  When you enter the lobby you are taken back to the way hotel lobbies looked in the 1930’s. It is kind of cool.  There is of course the prerequisite desk clerk manning the helm when we check out so I ask him where we can get a Pennsylvania Dutch style breakfast.  His answer is “Lanckister”,  which is actually spelled Lancaster.  I am aware of this little nuance in the Pennsylvania language so I know where he is talking about.  Lancaster is south and we are headed north.  I ask if there is anything local.  His reply and once again I am not making this up, “there is a place at 4th and Penn that serves shit on a shingle and it’s pretty good.” 

Now I am not opposed to swearing.  In fact, given the right set of circumstances, I paint a picture in profanity that would make a sailor blush, but that one caught me off guard.  Any place that’s claim to fame is S.O.S. requires a visit.  So armed with directions and a sense of adventure, off we go to 4th and Penn.

We find the intersection with no drama and park at a meter.  We are trying to read the meter to see if we need to feed it on Sundays or not when a nice gentlemen wearing a wife beater and sporting a full sleeve tattoo yells, “Not on Sundays.”  I thank him and ask where the diner is.  He points to a door on the corner of the building that can only be described as a double glass hole in the wall.  Undaunted we enter the establishment.

Hopefully, you all remember the show “Alice” because the only way I can describe the waitress we are greeted by is as northern version of Flo from that show.  Here after, I will refer to her as Northern Flo.  Northern Flo is not wearing a uniform but that is the only thing that is missing.  The attitude is there, the conversation is there, the look is similar, now if I can only hear her say, “kiss my scrapple” the Northern Flo picture would be complete. 

Northern Flo retrieves my coffee while we peruse the extensive one page laminated menu.  Pat plays it safe.  A short stack.  Sarah is feeling somewhat adventurous and goes with a short stack with peanut butter chips.  With reckless abandon I order something called “The Mess.”  The Mess has all of Mrs. Obama’s new food pyramid and two days worth of calories on one plate.  The food was good, but the décor offered better conversation. 

Having downed a couple of cups of coffee I found it necessary to use… well, the necessary.  Of course going to the restroom requires a trip through the kitchen to the one room, and this will be important in a minute, a unisex restroom.  As you turn the corner to where the restroom is located you are greeted by a hand written sign that says, “No getting high in the bathroom”.  Now I am a sign guy and I like rules and order, but I have to say in a million years I never thought I would be somewhere that needed to post a sign that says that.  Besides we are in Reading not Pottstown.

This sign is only the appetizer to the buffet of signs I find when I enter the little bathroom.  Inside the bathroom I find no less that 6 signs in 6 different languages.  The sign in English says, and I am tweaking the wording just a bit in an effort to not be too graphic, “Do Not Flush a type of feminine supplies that “you normally flush””.  I am sure of the wording of at least 3 of the signs.  The other 3 I can only assume are the same since they are written in an Asian language I have not a clue how to read. 

I don’t frequent women’s rooms so I checked with Pat to say if this is standard signage in women’s rooms.  She assured me that term is not. I am not sure why the sign was necessary nor do I care to find out.  Who knew Reading was so international.   It bears pointing out, and I am not sure what to take from it, but the “no getting high sign” was only written in English.   I also think it is important to point out that the food was good, and priced very reasonably.   If our travels take us back to Reading this restaurant, which I never did get the name of, will be on our return-to list.

Breakfast over and the bill paid, off we went to Cleveland Avenue to see if the historical marker has been erected at Pat’s childhood home.  The house is easily found because Pat immediately recognizes the neighborhood.  The address and the 8 ˝ x 11 picture Pat has brought along to compare then and now is somewhat useful but completely unnecessary because Pat has crystal clear memories of this future historical treasure.  We park out front and Pat heads down memory lane.  I of course understand this, having done something similar in our trip to Cleveland a couple of years ago.  Sarah on the other hand is clueless and a bit impatient.  I remind her that we pay the bills, not her, so keep her comments to herself. 

Having parked in front of the house and not causing the Neighborhood Watch to be activated I feel bold enough to head for the alley behind the house.  This is where we meet George.  George’s daughter lives next to the historical house on Cleveland Avenue (at the end of the alley) and is packing up the grandkids for a trip to the lake.  Having never met a stranger, I decide I will let George in on what we are doing.  Besides this will greatly decrease the likelihood of me having to explain what we are doing to one of my brothers in blue. 

George fills us in on the old neighborhood and Reading in general.  The house is owned by a young man who is a chef.  Reading is trying to rebuild itself after the loss of industry.  He speaks of the downtown revitalization, but says there is still a drug problem in Reading.  I decide this is not to time to tell him I am aware of the drug problem having just observed the signage in a restaurant downtown.

We all part friends and we are off to visit a Pagoda on the side of mountain in the middle Pennsylvania.  We aim the car in the direction of the mountain and off we go.  For all the signage in the bathroom there is a serious lack of it directing us to the Pagoda which is supposed to be a big deal around here.  But with a few wrong turns we arrive at the only 5 story Pagoda overlooking the city of Reading. 

Within seconds of our arrival I meet John, who goes by Jeb, who was originally born in Reading, but is now living in Charleston, South Carolina.  He is up visiting his brother with his 10 year old daughter.  We exchange cameras and take group pictures of each other.  The conversation continues and I indicate Charleston is the destination of next year’s Spring break vacation. He says great.  His friend Sarah has a condo we can rent for a week that is 5 minutes from the beach.  What’s more he has a boat he will take us out on because you just have to see Charleston buy boat.  I say that sounds great and that I hear tell that there are places you can purchase adult beverages down there.  He says as luck would have it he knows of one.  We exchange texts and a friendship is formed. 

That was the highlight of the Pagoda trip.  I mean the Pagoda is nice, the view from there is excellent, I am glad we drove up there, but to be honest the building just seems a little out of place.  I can only assume Politician #1 was a driving force behind building the Pagoda after another one of his “fact finding” junkets, this time to Pottstown.

We are off to the most dangerous part of our trip; traveling I-95 between New York and Boston.  If the winds are behind us and the trucks are not overturned in front of us we will next check in from Mystic, Connecticut. 

My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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Comments

Peggi on

The Pagoda was cool, but no pictures of the house?

mbberg
mbberg on

We were wanted to take a picture but it seemed a little too stalkerish. If I had it to do over I should have thought of taking a phone pic.

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