Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Penn Street

Although Halloween has come and gone, this is a great post, so I chose this one to share from Cyndy my guest today. The blog is all yours dear:

Since living on Penn Street in Millheim, Halloween has become one of my favorite holidays. I have always enjoyed watching our kids get dressed up and be all excited about filling their bags with candy, but it has become so much more fun since moving to Penns Valley. For me it is the sense of community and tradition that walk the street one night a year.

Since we live in a rural area, many families pack up their little monsters and bring them to "town." Many of our homes on Penn Street are no more than inches apart, so for the kids it is an easy way to hit one house after another without expending too much effort, key in getting-candy logistics. We usually have the honor of seeing a couple of hundred ghosts and goblins each year. Our own kids even make their journey down the street really quick so that they can come back to see everyone up close rather than just in passing on the sidewalks.

Since we live in the old Theatre, one of the only properties with a front lawn on this "city" block, we decorate the front yard and porch and sit on the big steps that serve as front row seats to enjoy each of the trick-or-treaters and their families. This year we had tombstones and glowing skeletal hands emerging from the dirt in the planters. We didn't have time to carve pumpkins, so we had a fire in our little patio fireplace, placing it strategically on the side lawn away from flowing vampire capes and princess veils. The kids promenade up the walk like a runway to our stairs to get their treats, and this year we supplied the tricks with a candy dish that had a skeleton hand pop out when you reached into the bowl. It startled so many kids that we had to move the dish down a couple of stairs to prevent anyone from falling when they jumped in surprise!

The piece d'resistance, though, is our popcorn. Every year we schlep the theatre's old popcorn machine out onto the porch and make scores and scores of batches of yummy popcorn. The yellow glow from the lighted top of the machine and the aroma of toasting corn and melting butter fill the air. We originally started this tradition so the parents could have a treat while walking the street, but so many of the kids also choose this salty, crunchy goodie over the candy and will patiently wait until we fill the little bags. The only disappointment is that the bag often fills their little plastic treat buckets! Mom and dad often quickly remedy the problem by offering to "hold" the popcorn, often giving a knowing smile that it won't last the rest of the trek down Penn Street!

With so many people walking around town, everyone often taking a moment to stop and talk, it often makes me think that this must be what it was like when Millheim was in its heyday. No one is rushing by in their minivan to get to soccer practice; they are instead strolling the street and taking their time to meet and greet their neighbors. I didn't see one cell phone last night. Everyone was talking face to face. The kids all take time to really enjoy their hosts. They do not just grab their candy and run, even the teenagers. All would stop and visit for a moment, letting us admire their costumes and to share their excitement. We get to see their families together, sharing a night with a leisurely stroll down an old victorian avenue where the sidewalks lead you from one friendly face to another. For us, it is one night where we can see so many kids of the Valley as they are growing up, knowing that someday they will talk about coming to the Theatre on Halloween just as their parents reminisce about the days that they, too, enjoyed this place when they were little. Howdy Doody costumes may now be replaced with Darth Vader ensembles, but the ritual lives on.

The trick is making the moment last while the treat is a family tradition.

Cyndi can be found @ 110 Penned. (You have to go just for the great blog name!!!)
The original post can be found here


Cyndy said...


Thanks for the opportunity to share with your readers! Hope you are having a great time in Vegas and will bring home some amazing stories.

Halloween pretty much the same here this year on Penn Street, although it began with a rainy start. The humid air must have carried the aroma of popcorn for blocks for by the time people got to our home, they were ready for this annual treat!

You can't beat tradition...

Trooper Thorn said...

Sounds like a nice Halloween. Can you post a picture of the old time popcorn machines?

Deb said...

Oh yea, want to see the machine! I'd be there in a heartbeat for good fresh popcorn. What a lovely post and a lovely town tradition. thanks for sharing!

Vodka Logic said...

Wow sounds idillic. we get maybe 30 kids in our quiet neighbor hood

Tracie said...

That sounds so quaint and lovely.

Cwybrow said...

Makes me a bit sad we don't do more for Halloween in Australia!

Cyndy said...

Thanks for all the great comments and for stopping by 100 Penned.

While I would be glad to post a follow up picture of the popcorn machine, I am afraid I would disappoint. Technology has not changed much in this field. (I'll send you a note when I get the pictures up and you can decide).

But just as popcorn machines don't change much, neither does life in a sleepy town in rural Pennsylvania. For this we are grateful...