Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Good Bye MyMiniLife.Com

Well if you know me, you know that I loved creating scenes, gardens, and homes on MyMiniLife.Com. Since mid-summer there seemed to be some problems with the site.
When I researched it on the Internet, I discovered that the company was bought by Zynga.

I signed on yesterday only to be greeted by this letter:

September 28th, 2009

Hi all,

It is with deep regret that we inform our users, friends, and fans that we will be shutting down the MyMiniLife.com service on October 15, 2009. We started the site with a dream of a user generated flash virtual world. We like to think we achieved that vision, even if it wasn’t sustainable. With over 4 million people coming through MML, 100+ thousand items, 50+ thousand wallpaper and flooring, the MML community has really flourished.

In the end, even with our heart and soul poured into the site, we could not power MML’s servers on savings alone. As a result, at the beginning of the year, we made an effort to sustain the site through gold bars, but still could not continue operating the service at the volume we were receiving. So instead of letting all of MML wither, we sought out a partner to help the technology live on. We found that partner in Zynga. Zynga recently acquired MyMiniLife, Inc. including the people and the technology, and we are proud to say that MyMiniLife’s technology supported FarmVille’s rise to what it is right now.

The past 3 years have been incredible for us. We would like to thank the community including all the people who have given countless feature suggestions to MyMiniLife, our investors, advisors, contractors, and our friends/family who supported us in a crazy dream. MyMiniLife will live on in the echoes of FarmVille and as a thank you for all the people who use the site, we developed a snapshot feature to allow you to create snapshots of your homes and download the images. We hope this will provide closure for all the people on the site.

To transition, please click the snapshot button in the interaction bar on the bottom:

We really appreciate your continued support, the time you’ve spent on the site, and we hope we’ll see you in FarmVille.

Best wishes,

Zao, Amitt, Luke, and Joel

I am quite upset over loosing My Mini Life. I liked it better than Farmville and Yoville as I did not need to make a commitment to keeping anything alive or in working order. I could create and the items were very life like on My Mini Life.

Well, in keeping with my continued ability to find good in all things, I will go back to oil painting on canvas in the real world.

Good Bye MyMiniLife.Com!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

There's A Birthday Celebration In Heaven Today...

It's your first birthday in Heaven
I know you're happy there

It just doesn't seem possible
That it has been a year.

You're surrounded by
friends, and family
That we miss and love,

And you're watching over those you left

Smiling down from above.

It's your first birthday in Heaven

We send our love to you,

And we find comfort in the reward.

Just to know, a birthday spent in Heaven,

Means you'll spend it with the Lord

All rights reserved Diane Dunwell-Hoffman 2009
My Aunt Dot will always hold a very dear place in my heart. I always had a great time during sleepovers at her house. She would take me to Sunday School at her church in Oxford. I always had fun hanging out at Connolly's farm with Paula, Butch and Pete.

Oxford Presbyterian Church Sunday School

Aunt Dot loved to tell us stories of those she loved. She would tell us a story of Petey when he was little. One Easter Sunday the pastor at the church asked the kids if anyone knew who Peter was, and Petey answered, "I know, I know, Peter Cotton Tail!" She told funny stories about me and my favorite meal "Oast Beef, Smashed Potatoes, and Peas." Sometimes it would be "Meat Oaf, Smashed Potatoes, and Peas." I can remember the story of the time that Uncle Charlie was in the Minstrel Show, and afterward when they were coming out to their cars, there was a blizzard outside, a couple of feet of snow. She told a story of my mother loosing one of her "falsies" (fake boob enhancers prelude to padded bra)on a dance floor. She made us all laugh. When I was a child, I loved her visits to our house. The grown ups at the table were always laughing. I also remember that she usually had photos from a trip she and Uncle Charlie had taken.

Years later I so loved to see her smiling face come through the door at the airport for an extended stay at my home. We continued to have lots of fun, and she had a real knack at telling a joke. She would have a few new ones, and would repeat a few we had already heard. Each time she and Uncle Charlie came up for a visit I would take them to visit "Mary Package" Patrick in Oxford. I so loved the trip to Oxford. It brought a rush of wonderful memories of those precious moments spent on Orams Lane. A trip to Oxford would not be complete without lunch at "Hot Johnnys" the endearing name her grand daughter Andrea gave to Johnny's Doggie Stand on Rt. 46 in Buttzville, just outside of Oxford.

It was awfully sad to see my dear Aunt Dot slip away through the devastating affects of Alzheimer's. Yet, just a week or so before she passed away last October when asked how she felt, she replied, "With my hands." Yes, that was Aunt Dot, she was a jokester to the end. She will remain in the hearts of all who knew her, she was and continues to be loved. Happy Birthday Aunt Dot!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Decorating For Autumn

The Autumnal Equinox will arrive at 5:18 tomorrow evening in the Northern Hemisphere. Soon the colors of the trees will change from bright vermilion to several shades of yellow, orange, and red. The air is already crisp, and the apples already have been turning red. The hummingbirds are rarely seen these days, and the fire flies are gone until next summer.

When autumn wind goes running
It does some magic things.
It gives the shadows dancing shoes
It gives the bright leaves wings
When autumn wind goes running

It curls the bonfire's tail of smoke
And shares a little whispered joke
With cornstalks who delight to prattle
It turns a seed pod into a rattle
When autumn wind goes running

I was bored and determined to get those boxes of fall decorations down from the attic. I brought one down, and unpacked it. Then the fun begins trying to come up with a new idea and a new place to showcase my old decorations. I added a new swag this year to the mantle.

I sometimes re-arrange things that are already in the room, adding the colors of the season.

A fallen leaf is nothing more than summers wave good bye!

I brought down the second box that had some of the decorations for the outside. I started decorating the porches. There are more things in the basement.

Pumpkins in the cornfields
Gold among the brown
Leaves of rust and scarlet
Trembling slowly down
Birds that travel southward
Lovely time to play
Nothing is as pleasant
As an autumn day!

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face

Autumn quote by John Donne

Decorating For Autumn Continued...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Children One And All

Rod McKuen and Mary Travers

Children One And All
For Novella Nelson by Rod McKuen

Some of us live in big white houses,
some of us live in small.
Some of our names are written on blackboards,
some are written on walls.

Some of our daddies work in factories,
some of them stand in line.
Some of our daddies buy us marbles,
some of them just buy wine.

But at night you can’t tell Sunday suits
from tattered overalls.
Then we’re only children,
children one and all.

Some of us take our lunch in boxes,
some in paper sacks.
Some of us kids join in the laughter,
some hear it at our backs.

Some of our mothers sew fine linen,
some can’t sew a stitch.
Some of our mothers dress up poorly,
some of them dress up rich.

But at night you can’t tell party dresses
from hand-me-downs too small.
Then we’re only children
children one and all.

Some of us learn our lessons poorly,
some of us learn them well.
Some of us find an earthly heaven,
some of us live in hell.

Some of us go right on a-preachin’,
without making’ too much sense.
Some of us hide behind a wall,
some behind a fence.

But at night you can’t tell picket fences
from bricks that tower tall.
Then we’re only children,
children one and all.

Some of us grow up tall and handsome,
some of us grow up plain.
Some of us own the world in ransom,
some of us just our name.

Some of our people die in mis’ry,
some of them die in peace.
Some of our people die for nothing,
but dying doesn’t cease.

And at night you can’t tell fancy coffins
from boxes in the hall.
Then we’re only children,
children one and all.

Recorded On An Album, "Mary" by Mary Travers

I've Been Spoiled

This is my silly little blog about how some simple little things have spoiled me. We recently rented a car to use when attending our friend John's award ceremony at Rutgers University.

Since we only needed it for the day, I chose the cheapest, smallest car that would get great gas mileage. We ended up with a Chevy Cobalt. I got into the little red car, drove it to the nearest gas station. I decided to go in and use their ATM as it was my bank's ATM and wanted some cash. I was killing two birds with one stone, as I needed to find the gas cap side.

As I stepped out of the car I immediately noticed that there was no "chirper" on the key chain to use a keyless locking mechanism. So then I reached in toward the place on the door where four door automatic lock buttons are located, and noticed there wasn't one. I had to physically reach around the inside of the car and lock the doors. "What no electric locks!" I immediately looked for the window up/down button, "Oh no crank window handles!" "What a piece of crap!"

Wow, have I become spoiled. Even my husband's 95 Ford van has electric locks and windows. It doesn't have the "chirper" on the key chain though. I can't wait till my husband finally has my PT Cruiser repaired. It has all of those new-fangled electric gadgets that I so love to use.

Yes, I've been spoiled!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Crystal Cave, Kutztown, PA

History of Crystal Cave

On Sunday, November 12, 1871, William Merkel and his assistant, John Gehret, were blasting for limestone on a farm owned by William Merkel’s parents. At the time, crushed limestone was a valuable resource widely used and distributed on fields by farmers to increase the fertility of soil.

To their astonishment, they noticed an open and dark hole in the side of the steep hill, eighty feet from Gideon Merkel’s farmhouse. They pulled away the surrounding dirt to reveal a sizeable opening large enough to penetrate. Once inside, darkness precluded further exploration.

The news of the potential cave discovery created much excitement in the small rural Kutztown community. Plans to explore this natural curiosity were made that same evening at a local tavern called Lesher’s Bar. Several adventurous neighbors, including John Gehret, reconvened at the proposed site a few days later equipped with ropes, ladders, coal oil lanterns, and torches. Their suspicions were confirmed. A sizeable and well-decorated cave did exist on Gideon Merkel’s farm. Through word of mouth, nature’s silent development in the mountainside suddenly became big news.

A few weeks later, a group of 12 men organized an exploration of Crystal Cave. Once inside the cave, four of the men exited back outside and remained above ground. The rest of the group climbed through the cave for the next 1 ½ hours. They remarked about the sparkling diamond-like crystals that adorned the walls of the cave.

A local jeweler examined the small sparkling formations and determined they were not diamonds. Early explorers were disappointed by the jeweler’s assessment, however, their disappointment was soon replaced by joy when they realized the sizeable dimension of the cave cavity and the abundance of ornate formations. What was created silently by nature over the centuries was in fact a notable discovery, knowledge of which spread rapidly within the local community.

For the next two months, numerous curiosity seekers entered the open cave at their discretion. Fearful of vandalism and broken formations a neighboring farmer with a passionate hobby for collecting Indian relics and geologic specimens, leased the cave from Gideon Merkel in February 1872. Samuel D. F. Kohler, leesee, immediately erected a rudimentary wooden door to protect the cave from trespassers who could potentially damage the cave. A few years later a more appealing stout door replaced the wooden planks that were initially nailed to the side of the hillside.

No one was allowed inside the cave unless Kohler accompanied them. The next month, 31-year old Samuel Kohler purchased the 47-acre farm, including Crystal Cave, for $5000, a sizeable expenditure for this period of time and became Pennsylvania’s first full time cave operator. The formal deed of conveyance was recorded in the Recorder of Deeds Office of the Berks County Courthouse on April 1, 1873, more than a year after execution of the sale. (Deed Book Volume 492, P. 621-623.)

Interest in Crystal Cave was so great that as soon as Kohler formally leased the property he received word that a committee of men from a newly formed association of scientists, academic professionals, and enthusiasts of natural history were planning to study and report on the recently discovered cave in Richmond Township. They called themselves The Reading Society of Natural Sciences. For years Kohler reprinted their marvelous testimonial about Crystal Cave in various marketing promotions. In anticipation of his grand opening, Kohler labored fastidiously to remove unnecessary breakdown to create a suitable pathway inside the cave. He laid boardwalks and built wooden stairs and railings for safe passage.

Samuel Kohler advertised the Grand Illumination of the Crystal Cave on the front page of the Reading Times and Dispatch Newspaper on May 23, 1872 and also on page 4 the following day. Printed billboards posted at various business establishments also provided notice that the public was invited to the grand opening and illumination of the beautiful Cave and that The Greenwich Cornet Band would provide entertainment. There is no record of attendance that day. This is inconsequential, however, due to the historic nature of the event.

It was not unusual to find limestone caves in this region as Berks County has a disproportionate share of them. What was unusual was the promotion of a natural wonder for profit. Operating a cave for public pleasure in Pennsylvania was a novel concept and was unprecedented at that time. Crystal Cave not only was the first show cave to operate in Pennsylvania but was one of the first tourist attractions in the state. Kohler continued to focus on relevant marketing details of the day to advertise Crystal Cave.

Common forms of advertising in the 1870’s were word of mouth, newspaper advertising, and ephemera such as trade cards, printed billboards and broadsides, and postcards. Trade cards were a cheap, colorful and common form of Victorian advertising. Typical trade cards had a picture on one side and an ad on the other and were considered to be the TV commercials of the day.

19th Century Trade Card for Crystal Cave, courtesy National Cave Museum

19th Century Trade Card (National Cave Museum)
1874 Guidebook to Crystal Cave
1874 Guidebook to Crystal Cave

They were beautiful, plentiful, and economical. The ones that Samuel Kohler had printed relayed relevant train destination details and glowing testimonials from influential people. He used billboards or signs that were displayed on public buildings, fences, taverns and hotels.

Commencing in 1873, an advertising pamphlet, referred to as a guidebook, was printed and sold as souvenirs. This was the first show cave guidebook for a cave in Pennsylvania.

The formations in Crystal Cave were described in exaggerated and profound terms and the Cave grounds were embellished with amenities of a pleasant summer resort.

Reprinted the next year, the new guidebook proclaimed Crystal Cave as "The Greatest Natural Wonder Of Pennsylvania" inviting tourists, scientists, and excursion parties to visit. In 1876 a German version of the guidebook was printed and sold.

Travelers initially arrived on foot, horseback, or by stagecoach. Recognizing Crystal Cave’s remote and inaccessible location, Kohler realized that to be successful, Crystal Cave required a direct link to the railway system. The East Penn Railway Station in Kutztown was a four-mile horse drawn carriage ride from Crystal Cave. In 1876, The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad established a depot at nearby Virginville.

Train schedules were commonly published in newspapers and railroad guidebooks. In 1876, to accommodate the increasing numbers of tourists patronizing Crystal Cave, Kohler built a sizeable 35 by 35 foot 2 ½ story Victorian Italianate addition to the farmhouse that was on the property. He called it the “Cave House” or “Kohler Hotel.”

During construction he erected a two-sided cornerstone where it is written “Crystal Cave discovered November 12, 1871 by Messers J. Gehret and Merkel. S.D.F. Kohler Proprietor.” and “This cornerstone is in remembrance of the greatest natural wonder in Pennsylvania.”

J. Gehret’s name is clearly identified on the Cornerstone as being one the discoverers of Crystal Cave. The first name of Merkel, however, was not etched into the cornerstone leading to confusion as to which Merkel co-discovered Crystal Cave. For many years, Gideon Merkel, owner of the property, was referenced and credited for accidentally discovering Crystal Cave as Ticnor Brooks, author of the first Crystal Cave guidebook stated. Other reference materials including an article written by William J. Dietrich and read before the Historical Society of Berks County on December 11, 1906, mention William’s name for the fascinating find. A handwritten note in the Berks County Historical Society signed by David Kohler, son of Samuel D.F. Kohler, clearly states that William Merkel was the co-discoverer of Crystal Cave.

The original German drop siding, trim, window headers, and cornice brackets remain intact today. The shutters on the front fa├žade had been removed in the 1920’s, stored, and forgotten for seventy years. In 1997, they were found, repaired, repainted, hung and fitted with the original iron strap hinges.

When there was no vacancy at the Inn, Kohler rented rooms in his private residence. He also provided meals and entertainment in the form of dances and hoe-downs featuring live entertainment in the “cool” cave on warm summer evenings. A small wooden enclosure in the Crystal Ballroom, the largest room in the cave, served as a refreshment stand where beverages were sold. Guests were also invited to relax on the open porches of the Inn to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Traveling to Crystal Cave was slow and time consuming. To accommodate tourists Kohler owned three stagecoaches that transported travelers from both nearby railway stations to Crystal Cave.

1891 Stage Coach

These stagecoaches were used until 1912 when cars became the popular mode of transportation. One two-horse drawn stagecoach, commonly referred to as an “Opera Bus”, remains on display at the Crystal Cave Museum. This stagecoach, manufactured in 1891 by Healy & Co. in New York, narrowly escaped ruin when a fire destroyed the Company barn on December 16, 1976, where the coach had been stored for fifty years. Fortuitously, this particular stagecoach was on loan to a local high school theater department when the barn unexpectedly burned to the ground destroying all contents including an Amish Buggy. In addition to providing the means for sparing the stagecoach from certain destruction, the local actors cleaned and removed approximately 50 pounds of walnuts that squirrels had store inside and cleaned and refinished the outside. This particular stagecoach remains on display at the Crystal Cave Museum.

Samuel’s son David was twelve years old when he became a tour guide and driver of the stagecoach that transported tourists. On November 2, 1886, at the young age of 21, David purchased the tract of land known as “Crystal Cave” from his father for a sum of $4300.00. (Deed Book Volume 170, page 394.)

David continued the pursuance established by his father of publicizing and creating interest in the increasingly renowned natural curiosity. Local artists, photographers, scientists, members of the Berks County Historical Society, and Professors of higher education were encouraged or invited to come to Crystal Cave in the anticipation of resulting free publicity.

He was successful in this achievement. He probably remembered that on August 23, 1876, several prominent French educators partaking in the Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia visited Crystal Cave. Samuel Kohler had been given an autographic statement that “Niagara Falls and the Crystal Cave are the greatest natural wonders we have seen in America.” Naturally, Kohler capitalized on the glowing testimonial and used it extensively in his marketing efforts.

A major economic depression occurred in 1893. Remembered as the Panic of 1893, the economy was characterized by unusually high levels of unemployment, bankruptcies, bank failures, railroad collapses, and restrictions of credit. Crystal Cave was not immune to this financial distress.

On February 25, 1893, David Kohler was forced into a receivership arrangement as a result of Sheriff Sale. Whereas David remained at the property and managed it as usual, a receiver was appointed by the Court to pay creditors. Just 6 months later, David recovered the deed to Crystal Cave and would retain ownership and successfully operate Crystal Cave for an additional thirty years. It is documented that by 1906, 15,000 visitors had spent the night at the “Cave House.”

On October 15, 1919 Marion Kurtz and Francis Finley were united in marriage beside a floral decorated natural alter inside of Crystal Cave. A piano carried inside the cave provided musical accompaniment. Several hundred people arrived that day to wish the newlyweds well. It was the first time a wedding had been performed in a cave in Pennsylvania. The unusual nature of the nuptials provided a substantial amount of free publicity, as it was front-page news in both the Reading and Kutztown newspapers. For years David Kohler sold postcards of the couple on their wedding day at Crystal Cave.

In 1923, at the age of 57, David Kohler was ready to retire and sold his interest in Crystal Cave to the present owners who formed Crystal Cave Company, Inc. The company instituted a massive revitalization effort both below and above ground with the objective of maintaining integrity of the cave. Tons of concrete were required to rebuild steps and pathways inside the cave. Railings and metal bridges were installed for safety consideration. In 1927 a massive lead cable connected to metal reflectors replaced the delco battery pack lighting system. Large dome lampshades were installed subsequently.

Other improvements to the property included building and macadamizing roads and creating parking lots, constructing a prominent stone entrance to the cave in 1935, planting several hundred thousand evergreen trees, and creating a picnic park.

Automobile travel effectively closed the hotel to overnight guests. Reconfiguration of the hotel for the increasingly prevalent day-tripper resulted in a dining area and souvenir store on the first floor and an apartment for the resident manager on the second. To further accommodate tourists several buildings were built on the cave property between 1968 and 1981. A fast food restaurant, ice cream parlor, and second gift shop operated seasonally.

In 1976 an 18-hole regulation cave oriented miniature golf course was constructed. That same year, a theater was built to provide a movie presentation about the formation of caves and a nature trail was paved through the woods. A Crystal Cave Museum containing the 1891 stagecoach, old bedroom and restaurant furnishings from the former hotel and original postcards, brochures, promo cards, and other advertising memorabilia opened in 1981. Panning for gemstones was the most recent acquisition to Crystal Cave.

From a 1924 Guidebook

Despite the passage of time today’s tourists are intrigued in the same manner as early visitors of the 1800’s were about Crystal Cave. With the exception of easier access, illumination and slightly different names to identify formations, Crystal Cave’s appearance and description is very similar to when it was a newly discovered cave. In 1876, William H. Egle M.D. stated in his book An Illustrated History of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Civil, Political, and Military “that Crystal Cave is a remarkable curiosity and a subterranean wonder regarded by admiration by all who have examined it”.

In 2000, Earl Steinbicker, author of Daytrips Pennsylvania Dutch Country and Philadelphia wrote, “that Crystal Cave is a classic among tourists attractions. By now, millions of millions of people have taken the 45 minute guided tour marveling at this subterranean wonderland.” Interestingly, the 124-year time difference did not alter the sentiments about Crystal Cave.

Dean H. Snyder, author of The Hidden Green Diamond stated that “Crystal Cave remains as one of the premier tourist attractions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bless The Beasts And The Children

Bless the beasts and the children
For in this world they have no voice
They have no choice

Bless the beasts and the children
For the world can never be
The world they see
Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them

Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children

Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

The children
The children

Friday, September 11, 2009

Look At The Stars

In Memory September 11, 2001
World Trade Towers, NYC, Shanksville, PA, and the Pentagon, DC

Rhymes and Reasons

by John Denver

So you speak to me of sadness
And the coming of the winter
Fear that is within you now
It seems to never end
And the dreams that have escaped you
And the hope that you've forgotten
You tell me that you need me now
You want to be my friend

And you wonder where we're going
Where's the rhyme and where's the reason
And it's you cannot accept
It is here we must begin
To seek the wisdom of the children
And the graceful way of flowers in the wind

For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Could clear a cloudy day

Like the music of the mountains
And the colours of the rainbow
They're a promise of the future
And a blessing for today
Though the cities start to crumble
And the towers fall around us
The sun is slowly fading
And it's colder than the sea

It is written from the desert
To the mountains they shall lead us
By the hand and by the heart
They will comfort you and me
In their innocence and trusting
They will teach us to be free

For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Could clear a cloudy day

And the song that I am singing
Is a prayer to non believers
Come and stand beside us
We can find a better way

Look At The Stars

by Barry Manilow

Look, look at the stars
How brilliant they are
How can they be shining now?
When hope is so far
Look, look how they shine
These cruelest of stars
What fire inspires them,
What faith is it fires them?
Darkness grows,the world turns cold
And still, there glows the light
Heaven knows what hope they hold tonight

Look,look how they shine
These stars in the night
The darker the night becomes
The brighter their light becomes
Chill winds wail
The tempest blues
and clouds asail the sky
Through the veil,
The stars refuse to die

In this world of darkest night
Where hope is hurled away
There they are
And still, there's light
Oh,so far, but will they
There they lift our hearts
As we lift our eyes
Are we fools to see
The harmony that fills the sky
Look,there's the light
Stars In The Night
The Stars In The Night

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Knoebels Amusement Park

Knoebels Amusement Park in Elysburg, PA began as a farm known as Peggy's Farm purchased by a Reverend Henry Knoebel in 1828. His grandson of the same name, but known to all as Ole Hen envisioned the land as a recreational site.

At some time during the turn of the century, the Knoebel farm began to be visited by "tally-hos." A tally-ho was a Sunday afternoon hayride with a destination. On those tally-hos destined for the Knoebel farm participants would sit along the creek banks, picnic in the woods, and some of the more daring would even jump from the covered bridge to the swimming hole below.

Henry welcomed these groups and was even able to profit from their visits. He charged 25¢ to water, feed, and brush the horses that pulled the wagons. Picnic tables and benches were added and a life guard was hired to protect the swimmers. Eventually the sale of ice cream, popcorn, peanuts, and soft drinks was added to Henry's new enterprise. It is from these humble beginnings that Knoebels Amusement Resort arose.

In 1917 a Boyer family from Shamokin added a cottage at the cost of $175.00 and leased the land for a dollar a month. Shortly thereafter, Knoebels began to build cottages to rent. Some of these were unique structures. They included a Covered Wagon, a Trolley Car, a School House, and a Boat. Some of the cottages still remain, some were destroyed in the flood of 1972. Some cottages became something else, for example, Caldwell cottage became the Old Mill ice cream stand

In 1926 a swimming pool and carosel was added in the exact spots were they remain today. However the pool has been improved and the carosel is new. A few games and a restaurant was added, on the spot where the Alamo Restaurant sits today.

It could be said that the covered bridge is the best known symbol of the earliest days of Knoebels Groves. It was from a covered bridge that daring swimmers jumped into the sparkling waters of Roaring Creek and Mugser's Run. Even after the park began to take shape and the pool was built, the bridge remained. It stood until 1940, when the highway department tore it down and replaced it with the steel structure that still serves the park today.

The covered bridge leading to Knoebels Campground was originally built in 1875 over West Creek in Columbia County. When the road was relocated, the bridge was purchased by Knoebels, dismantled, moved 50 miles, and reassembled at the park. This span was dedicated as the Lawrence L. Knoebel Memorial Bridge by the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society in July of 1964. It was severly damaged in the June Flood of 1972 but was repaired and still stands.

The third covered bridge was built in 1975 and serves as a pedestrian crossing for the thousands of people who visit the resort. It crosses Roaring Creek joining Columbia and Northumberland Counties and is dubbed the newest "Old Covered Bridge" in the world. Although the span is relatively new, it already has a history. The main roof support timbers measuring 14" x 16" and 51' long were hand hewn in 1865. They were originally cut for the Berninger Grist Mill which was located a few miles from the park.

On a beautiful summer's day, the sounds of Roaring Creek and Mugser's Run rippling through the park add a beautiful, natural touch to the hustle and bustle of the park. But on Thursday, June 22, 1972 these streams took on a more threatening character. Rains from the aftermath of Hurricane Agnes drove the creeks beyond their banks.

Water spilled onto 24 of the park's 25 rides. 200 electric motors were submerged in muddy flood waters. Six cottages were destroyed, another dozen were no longer usable from the water damage. Nearly everything at the park was covered with mud. Six feet of it covered the bottom of the Crystal Pool. At the roller rink the hardwood floor, waterlogged by the flood, buckled.

Through the efforts of park employees and many friends and neighbors who volunteered their help the park opened nine days later with 11 of the park's rides operating. Although many people volunteered their time, no one went unpaid.

The cleanup statistics: 11,000 manhours; 3,600 tons of fill recovered and redistributed; and 210 truckloads of debris removed. All of this was accomplished without government loans or grants. Although Knoebels qualified for government assistance, the decision was made to rebuild without it.

People camped at Knoebels long before there was a formal campground. There were campers in the groves as early as the 1920s. The establishment of nine sites in 1963 marked the formal beginning of the campground. Approximately two years later 25 sites were added and the first designated campground restroom was constructed.

Over the years more and more visitors to the park wanted to extend their visits and it became necessary to add to the campground. Today the main campground features over 550 sites and 36 log cabins.

After the January 1996 flood, Knoebels purchased and the restored the Lake Glory campground about five miles from the park. Today this facility features over 150 sites and a dozen log cabins. Shuttle service to and from the park is provided.

There are at least sixty different rides in the park, a sky ride that takes you into the nearby mountain area, a miniature as well an eighteen hole golf course, laser runner, boat tag, shooting gallery, XD theater, several museums, a bald eagle exihibit, band shell with live entertainment, children's live interactive theater, and so much more.

My granddaughters of the Sklooosh and Log Flume Rides. One ride on the Sklooosh and you get soaked.

It has every kind of food from potato pancakes, to baked potatoes, candy apples to steak, German as well as Mexican cuisine. Every thing in the park is family oriented, and reasonably priced. There is no cost for parking or admission, and tickets are still sold for the rides like the old days when I was a child.

You can rent strollers built for small and medium sized children, as well as battery operated scooters for the handicapped or those who just can't stand or walk for long periods. The rates are very reasonable. There are plenty of benches throughout the park for resting.

For more information on Knoebels: Click Here

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day

From Wikipedia: The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City.[1] In the aftermath of the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the US military and US Marshals during the 1894 Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with Labor as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike.[2] Cleveland was also concerned that aligning a US labor holiday with existing international May Day celebrations would stir up negative emotions linked to the Haymarket Affair.[3] All 50 U.S. states have made Labor Day a state holiday.

The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations," followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parades. Speeches or political demonstrations are more low-key than May 1 Labour Day celebrations in most countries, although events held by labor organizations often feature political themes and appearances by candidates for office, especially in election years. Forms of celebration include picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays, water sports, and public art events. Families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer recess. Similarly, some teenagers and young adults view it as the last weekend for parties before returning to school. However, start dates for schools vary widely, beginning as early as July 24 in urban districts such as Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles. In addition, Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons. The NCAA usually plays their first games the week before Labor Day, with the NFL traditionally playing their first game the Thursday following Labor Day.

As for me it symbolized a day without labor. So I had a huge picnic, with lots of labor. My daughters helped, but today I am tired and in pain. So this is my attempt at blogging without actually blogging. I am now off to purchase fuel oil for the winter, and a membership to Aquabilities where I exercise in the water. The heated pool helps at relieving pain.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

How Prayers Are Answered

A few days ago I received a call from a loved one who was distraught that her brother who has a mental illness had stopped taking his medication and was missing for over two weeks. Because he was last seen at the edge of a major river, we both had feared that perhaps he had fallen in and could have drowned. There was extra reason to worry as he had not shown up at his former place of residence to pick up his S.S.D. check which would have helped him survive.

He had been hearing voices, and was fearful that he was sought after by the CIA, and FBI. Not one of his old friends had seen him, and everyone who was close to him was worried. I had expressed to his sister that I could help her search for him in  his hometown, which is about fifty miles away.  His sister lives about sixty miles south west of me. We decided that we could get together on the Tuesday after Labor Day, and drive up to the area where he was last seen.

Last night both of us prayed that he would be alive, and that we would soon find him. Today I got up early, did some household chores, and my daughter, granddaughter and I did my grocery shopping for our planned Labor Day picnic. On the way home I realized that I had forgotten a few things and that later we would have to go to the local store downtown to pick them up.

Around 3:30 my daughter had mentioned that she was going to the pharmacy to pick up anti acids for her indigestion. I told her that I would tag along so we could stop at the store for those few things. My husband said he would keep and eye on my granddaughter who was playing a game on the Internet.

Normally, I would have gone over a bridge that leads to the downtown area just down the road, but it had been closed for repairs a few weeks ago, so I had to take a detour that heads up to the intersection of two major highways.

We passed a rather disheveled hitchhiker at the intersection. I looked at his appearance and thought that he would have a hard time getting a ride.  It then hit me like a brick that it possibly could have been our missing loved one. My daughter said she couldn't believe it was him, and I had not shared with her the fact that he had been missing.

We were after all fifty miles west of where he had gone missing over three weeks earlier. I still could not go on without checking him out one more time. I had to drive into town to turn around and then make another turn around to end up on the right side of this highway. I slowed as I passed and was thankful that a PA State Trooper was parked approximately five hundred feet away from the man, in case it wasn't the missing loved one.

As we approached the hitchhiker we immediately recognized him as the missing loved one. My daughter yelled his name, and he responded. We pulled off to the side of the road, I put on the four way flashers, and the State Trooper got out of his car and quickly approached us. He asked the missing man if he knew us and he answered with my daughter's name, and we showed our identification.

I had told him that the man's sister had reported him missing and there was supposedly an all states bulletin regarding him. The trooper had said that he had already checked his credentials and found no such bulletin. I told him what town to check, and he went to his vehicle and had the dispatcher check and found that there was a missing person's report out on him. We called the man's sister on my cell phone and told her the good news. She was ecstatic, and told me that she was on her way to my house to pick him up ASAP. We followed the trooper back to the barracks where he checked everything out and released him to my care until his sister could get to my home to pick him up.

I am sharing this story without giving away the identity of the people involved. I needed to show everyone how the power of prayer works. So many pieces had to be in place to bring this child of GOD into the care of those who love him. He had not eaten in two days, was thirsty, had injuries on his arms, and was aching and tired. He had not bathed in over three weeks. He suffers from schizophrenia an illness that is feared, yet is just as real as diabetes, or high blood pressure. People with mental illness often receive our disdain, instead of compassion.

It is amazing to me that he had wondered into my area fifty miles west of his last sighting. It is amazing to me that my daughter and I set out to the store for the forgotten items at that very moment when he was on the highway that I would not have traversed if it had not been that the bridge to the town was closed for repairs three weeks earlier. It amazes me that the trooper showed up then as I feared stopping, in case it was not the loved one that I knew so well. GOD put all those pieces together. HE was perfectly in charge, and I am thankful that HE knew that I cared enough to help this loved one in his time of need.

I had just been listening to the John Denver song "On The Wings Of A Dream" this morning. These words came back to me as I pondered this amazing experience of today:

There are those in this life
Who are friends from our heavenly home
So I listen to the voices inside me
For I know they are there just to guide me
And my faith will proclaim it is so
We are never alone.

Another song comes to mind:

Lord, Make us instruments of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let your love increase
Lord, make us instruments of your peace,
Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease
When we are your instruments of peace.

Where there is hatred, we will show his love
Where there is injury, we will never judge
Where there is striving, we will speak his peace
To the millions crying for release,
We will be his instruments of peace

Lord, Make us instruments of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let your love increase
Lord, make us instruments of your peace,
Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease
When we are your instruments of peace.

Where there is blindness, we will pray for sight
where there is darkness, we will shine his light
Where there is sadness, we will bear their grief
To the millions crying for relief,
We will be your instruments of peace.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Historic Smithville Village, Jersey Shore

You can be sure to find one of a kind gifts at the shops in Smithville, where the little Jersey village is open year round. With shops specializing in Early American local crafts and products, Smithville's stores include Cook's Corner, Adrianna's Boutique, Crafting Cellar and more. My favorite is the Country Folk store, lower left hand corner, just off the parking lot. The two men who run it are friendly and always great for good conversation.

In town, there are also restaurants, cafes, and the popular Colonial Inn Bed and Breakfast. Special events have drawn people from all over the east coast and have included a Children's Festival, Antique Show Day, Corvette Day and Olde Fife and Drum Corp. The people of Smithville encourage every visitor staying in Atlantic City to start a tradition of seeing the village any time of year.

The village is open every day of the year except Christmas. It's a wonderful place to shop and stroll. Enjoy the views, cafes, restaurants and shoppes. Find a one of a kind gift or just relax and have a cup of coffee.

Check out the entire slide show below....

Smithville Village is on Rt. 9, take the Port Republic exit of the Garden State Parkway, and it is just a few miles down the road on the right if you are heading south. If you are coming from Trenton area Rt 539 to Rt. 9 south.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Earth, Wind, & Fire/Chicago Concert

My friend Cindy and I attended the Earth, Wind, and Fire/Chicago Concert at the Great Allentown Fair in Allentown, PA last night. When they first came out onto the stage, both bands joined forces, and what a force their sound was. Each band has a fantastic brass and percussion section, so the sound was phenomenal. You could feel the music vibrate through you, and the energy on stage was explosive. The two bands did songs made popular by both, and I just loved "Beginnings" a Chicago original.

These two fantastic groups from my teen days combined for a summer tour, and recorded three tracks to be obtained by going to either band's official website to make a donation to fight against hunger in our own country. Here is a link to Earth, Wind, and Fire's site, the link to make a donation of three cans of food is on their home page.

Robert Lamm of Chicago joked that they flipped a coin, and that Earth, Wind, and Fire would take the stage first, and after intermission Chicago would return. I being a Chicago fan since 1969 was a little disappointed at first, but Earth, Wind, and Fire very quickly changed my mood.

I was blown away by their excellence in music, and their entertaining presence which is larger than life. Their sound was vibrating, and Philip Bailey's voice is perfection! His vocal range is unparalleled. I believe that when he hits the high notes he could shatter glass. Last night I became a fan of Earth, Wind, and Fire, and most especially of Philip Bailey.

Just when you thought their act had culminated, the stage lights went dark and three huge colorful drums appeared. Suddenly glowing drum sticks, and other glowing patterns appeared on stage, with a burst of soul moving drum beats thundered throughout the venue, as the audience roared with approval.

Earth, Wind, and Fire also were giving away a prize of a back stage meet and greet to cellphone users who could text a number appearing on the jumbo tron.

Then Chicago came out onto stage. Their sound was tremendous. They still have so much energy, especially the trombonist, Jimmy Pankow. He is still rockin like in 1971 when I saw Chicago for the first time at the now defunct Nazareth Speedway, in Nazareth, PA. After that concert we met up with the band at the side of the stage and Jimmy handed me a bottle of Schaefer Beer, which I still have to this day, as I did not drink alcohol. That concert was before the death of their late lead vocalist/guitarist Terry Kath whose rendition of "Color My World" was deeply moving.

While Chicago's music was on target, the vocals fell short, especially in "Color My World", no one does it as good as Terry Kath. Jason Sheff is pretty good, but no Peter Cetera. While the vocals were weak throughout, except for "Old Days" done by a newcomer to the band, Keith Howland who is also a guitarist.

All and all it was great to see them again, and worth the price of a ticket.

Chicago's website

A very special thank you to Kutztown University Radio for the comp. tickets!