…they sure don’t make things like they used to.

Pennsylvania is a pretty big state.  While only ranked 33 out of the 50 (yes, I checked), occupying over 46,000 square miles, the good ol’ Keystone State takes a bit of time to traverse.  My trusty steed carried me out to Harrisburg and back to witness Danny B (Diva) get hitched.  Oh, high school.  The memories came back of the “good ol’ days”.  Some familiar faces reappeared.  I was reminded that I’m getting older – I’m now that one saying, “I remember when you were this big…” and other variations of the like.  But seriously, when did these kids grow up, go to high school, and have their voices drop an octave?  I remember when they were rambunctious little eight-year-olds fighting over who got to have a piggy-back ride first and tickling me because they liked to watch me squirm.  Oh my.

Finding ourselves in the neighborhood (aka 50 mile radius) of Ben’s college roommate and dear friend, we decided to stick around for most of Sunday in order to pay him and his wife a visit before heading back to the west side of the state.  We needed something to help pass the time before we were to meet.  In efforts to take advantage of our location, we tried to think of what was nearby and was also something that we could do only here, rather than going to Barnes & Noble or a mall (Ben agreed to go to the mall – a rarity.  Actually, a first occurrence.  I should have taken advantage of it!).  We set out for one of my favorite vacation destinations of my youth: Gettysburg.  A town full of history and charm, it made for a delightful afternoon.  Starting near Lincoln Square, we weaved our way through the town streets, window-shopping, wine-tasting (and for Ben, cigar-smoking) and people-watching.  For a moment we seemed to be more like eighty-year-olds than twenty-somethings as we marvelled at the buildings and town structure concluding that they sure don’t make things like they used to.  The architecture, the landscaping, tall doors, intricate detail and ornamentation all serve as a testament to the past, marking an era much different than the one we inhabit today.  One of the homes was trimmed with brightly neon-colored paint – it made me cringe.  It just didn’t fit; it looked out of place, a seemingly post-modern statement of style and perspective amidst a treasured corridor of the past.  Later on, as we made our way to Chambersburg, the architecture and colonial-esque appearance continued.  James and Danelle’s apartment was in a beautiful old home, with arched doorways, hardwood floors, french doors…I could go on and on about the glories of old homes.  The charm and character are so much more inviting than the often sterile modern creations.

It was a wonderful weekend – relaxing, a bit of a getaway, time to catch up with friends…even victories for both the Bills and the Steelers.  The weekend served as a reminder of the transient nature of our lives, as well as the enduring elements of our country, the creation, and mankind.  I’m hesitant to claim that the time following the monumental battle of July 1863 has been one strictly of progress, for each one’s definition of progress may be a bit different.  I think it is fair to say that things have changed, leaving judgment of for better or worse to the eye of the beholder.  The unintended consequences of the invention and adoption of tools of convenience, as well as revelations and discoveries, of the past abound and continue to surface – easily accepted, rarely acknowledged or critiqued (an easy one, for example: implications of the automobile).  But one thing is for certain: they sure don’t make things like they used to.  One day people will be recycling this phrase when referring to things familiar in our times.  So what will endure and be considered valuable, and what will quickly fade from memory?  I hope that the artifacts of my generation will evidence more than a technology-addicted, shallow, self-indulgent culture.  Only time will tell.


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