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Friday, June 15, 2012

My Gettysburg excursions......

last month revolved around two friends who came down from Pittsburg for a visit to Gettysburg. For the first outing, I met up with Jennifer to go and meet our mutual friend Britta who had recently moved to Pittsburg but was coming back to our area for a prom dance. The three of us met up at the Food Court in the Gettysburg Outlet and chatted over pizza, French fries, and an extremely well-done burger which Britta ate separately from the bun, according to her custom!

    Once we had completed our meal, we traversed the length of the outlet window-shopping. Frankly, I am not a major adherent of the supposedly favorite feminine pastime of shopping, unless of course it involves books or knick-knacks. Nevertheless, I dutifully followed along as my friends gazed fondly into store windows. We went into a shop which sold various assorted lotions, soaps, and candles. The concentrated aroma of the place was amazingly potent, but I have always had a soft spot in my heart for scented candles, so I went over to the counter to bask in their aroma. Moving on, we went into a knick-knack store (huzzah!) and wandered aimlessly amidst the flashing, splashing, and dashing items arrayed on the shelves and on the ground.

    Next we went to a bargain book store and scoured the shelves for anything of literary value and low cash. Whilst my friends lunged for the fiction, I chose the non-fiction section in search of historically-oriented gems. Unfortunately, the pickings were slim, and the only thing that caught my attention was a giant paper-back called The Patriot's History of the United States. I flipped through it and saw that it did mention some stuff about the connection between the Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution. The price wasn’t bad, but I had no real desire the lug the tome around all day, so I let it slide.

    After finishing our meandering, we went over to the hotel across the street where Britta’s family was staying and soon after descended into the basement floor where the hotel pool and hot tub were located. I am not much of a water person due to some unpleasant swimming lesson experiences and the antics of my crazy cousin at the beach when I was a toddler. Hence, I just decided to sit alongside the watery basins in a lawn chair, observing the panoply of swimmers coming to indulge in the pleasures of chlorine-saturation while my friends dangled their legs in the hot tub.

    We returned to the hotel room and lounged on the sofa talking about books and movies for a while before returning to the streets. We went into a shoe/jewelry store where Britta bought a necklace on sale, and then we returned to the Food Court and shared a cinnamon sugar hot pretzel. (By the way, if any of my readers ever come to Gettysburg, you really must get one of these! The sweet and salty sensations that strike your sense of taste are sheer bliss ;-) After finishing our treat, we finally parted ways, making a pact to do so again when we all returned to the same locality.

    My second excursion was to the more historic section of Gettysburg, and by far my favorite part of the town. My father and I were going to "Gettysburg Days", when the native denizens of the area bring forth their trash and treasures exhibit in the streets and parking lots in hopes of making some degree of monetary gain. Being a professional antique hunter, my dad makes attending an annual ritual, and I tagged along with him this time in order to meet my pen-pal, Mary, who was coming to Gettysburg from Pittsburgh to visit family. This would be our first meeting, and I was a tad bit nervous at first. But the sense of discomfort soon melted away when we got to talking!

    We rendezvoused at her grandmother's Christian book/gift shop and then headed out with my dad to sample the delights of the streets. Church parking lots were loaded with paraphernalia parishioners had accumulated throughout their lives and now felt the need to rid themselves of. There were paperback books, VHS movies, plastic snow globes with dancing penguins, and also a stand serving hotdogs. Beyond the parking lots, there were a fair amount of professional antique-ers on the streets selling their truly valuable wares that had sat collecting dust in antique malls for far too long.

    Since Mary and I collect similar things, such as royal collectibles and historical books, it was fun searching together. The best thing I was able to locate was a giant Bonnie Prince Charlie cookie jar - which happened to almost as expensive as the reward put out for the capture of the Young Pretender when he was on the run in the Highlands, persuading me let him go “like a bird on a wing”! Our hunger soon took priority and we went into a diner where we enjoyed getting to know each other better over a basket of chicken fingers and fries, although neither of us felt the urge to consume the accompanying sauerkraut.

    Moving on, we went into an antique shop and scoured the book shelves for anything of mutual interest, but most of the literature was about the American Civil - I mean we were in Gettysburg, after all! We did manage to locate a book on castles, one on naval battles, and another on the Hundred Years' War, but the prices were a little high for our liking. We headed to another antique shop and continued our search, managing to locate a few "Royal Year" books and a photograph of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. We also enjoyed looking at the Civil War era dresses on display.

    After a little more adventuring abroad, we returned to the Christian shop and picked up Mary’s younger sister, Katie, to take her for a snack. My father and I had scouted out a church bakery sale, but when we arrived all the cupcakes and cake slices were already gone, and the doors were barred against us. Then my dad noticed a sign on the outside of a building which read "Popcorn and Water", so we decided to enter. It turned out to be a theatre in which a production of Charlie Brown, the Musical was underway. Back stage, we purchased some popcorn, brownies, and bottled water, and sat out back listening the muffled voices of the young performers singing the anthems of the Sunday Comic Superstar. Admittedly, we got a good laugh at our rather interesting position as outsiders looking in!

    We returned to Mary’s grandmother's bookstore and checked out the array of Christian books, films, signs, bookmarks, name cards, games, and fossil rocks for sale. It is a really lovely store, with friendly people and a friendly atmosphere. I found a book about providential incidents in the American Revolution and came across the name of a Methodist preacher, John Fletcher, who served with John Wesley on the circuit and opposed the Revolution. I later found out that Wesley himself was a Tory, and both of them wrote tracks supporting the king. In fact, King George III was so pleased with Fletcher's track, he offered to reward him. But Fletcher replied that the only thing he wanted was more grace.

    Anyway, when the time finally came to part, we took a group shot and made plans to try getting together again when Mary is back in the area. I am deeply grateful for having these opportunities to spend time with people I care about and who are fun to be with. Such experiences and memories make life more enjoyable and full, smooth out rough times and sweeten bitter ones.

"Welcome to Historic Gettysburg" Road Sign



  1. A nice recounting of our visit, Pearl:-) It was so funny that we ended up munching on popcorn backstage during a performance of "Charlie Brown". Its too bad that there weren't more British collectibles out, I'd love to visit a street fair in England!
    ~~I'm happy that you liked my Grandma's store; I'm sure that she looks foward to your occasional visits:-)~~

  2. Hi, Meredith!

    I'm glad you liked my recounting of our adventure in G-Burg! The Charlie Brown musical was an unexpected experience, ha, ha! It's funny, because I didn't even know such a thing existed! Next time we should offer to join the chorus of young songsters or something, LOL!

    Oh, yes, a street fair in England would be sheer heaven! Just think of the antique shops over there....Wow! It's all probably terribly expensive, but it would be fun just to go hunting.

    Your grandma's store is very nice, especially and book selection! I never got the chance to look at all the rocks and stuff in the back room, so I'll try to remember to do that the next time we visit!


  3. Um, if we joined the singers, you would have to cover up all of my flat notes, just saying;-) Mayhaps I should try to sneak in amoung the actors on stage instead!(giggle)
    My heart skips a beat when I think of all the treasures that must lie hidden away in England's antique stores...although good point-we'd probably both be bankrupt by the end of the day!
    (Maybe I should ask my grandparents to order some British history books esp. for you;-)

  4. Hi Pearl,

    Unusually for a Scot, I have long had an interest in U.S. history, particularly the Civil War period, for which reason I can well imagine how fascinating a visit to Gettysburg would be. The tragedy of this period is that, whatever the rights and wrongs of North and South, secession led to neighbour fighting against neighbour, especially in border states such as your Maryland. It is partly for this reason that I oppose secession in the United Kingdom, on the basis that I think it will increase enmity between neighbours.

    I have been very grateful to you for your kind comments and support. It is not always easy to deal with people who comment rudely and aggressively, but we have the perfect model from the gospels and the lives of the saints, in order to know how to respond. My theology I imagine is similar to yours, basically old fashioned Roman Catholic. After studying the Reformation I found myself more and more Catholic and view the split that occurred then as deeply tragic. I likewise have learned a great deal from the Russian Orthodox perspective and also regret that earlier schism and wish that somehow Christendom could be united. Of course we must be patient.

    I don't think I have your e-mail address, for which reason I write this here. You can contact me directly at:

    Best wishes and God bless.


    I'll have a few more articles on my blog in the next few days.