Thursday, September 6, 2018
“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
~ Henry James
Under the cool shade of trees in late August, a hammock I saw on a property along the Saucon Rail Trail, Hellertown, Pennsylvania paints a quintessential scene in sepia of a perfect afternoon in summer, my most favorite of seasons.
Ain’t nothin’ like a summer day!
Monday, August 13, 2018
~ “Yaeder mon set gae” (Pennsylvania German phrase for “Everyone should come”)
~ “Mer hoffe mer sehn eich datt” (Pennsylvania German phrase for “We hope to see you there”)
“The Peerless,” a traction steam engine made in 1917, can be seen at left bedecked for its 100th birthday at the 2017 Schpotyaahr Fescht (Fall Festival), the 15th annual living history event demonstrating the life of the Pennsylvania Germans in Weisenberg and Lowhill Townships.
The festival was held at the 153-year-old Werley’s Corner Hotel in New Tripoli, Weisenberg Township, Pennsylvania. The two-day annual event in early September is sponsored by the Weisenberg/Lowhill Township Historical Society. Werley’s Corner is an unincorporated community in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Germans, also known as The Pennsylvania Dutch, are a cultural group formed by early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania and their descendants. The work “Dutch” does not refer to Dutch people or language, but to the German settlers known as Deutsch in standard German and Deitsch in the principal dialect they spoke, Palatine German.
Most emigrated to the Americas from Germany or Switzerland in the 17th and 18th centuries. Over time, the various dialects spoken by these immigrants fused into a unique dialect of German known as Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania “Dutch.” At one time, more than one third of Pennsylvania’s population spoke this language.
A sign explained the 1917 Peerless Story: “Hello, my name is Peerless. I am a traction steam engine. I was manufactured in 1917 in Waynesboro, which is in south central PA. I was purchased when I was new, and went to work for a threshing crew on the local farms around a small town called New Schaefferstown, in western Berks County.
In 1923 I was purchased by William Stoudt. He used me to thresh the fields from June through August. In the spring and fall he used me at his brother’s farm to run a saw mill. I liked William, because he kept me in the New Schaefferstown area and if I was not working, he would take me to shows or parades in nearby Schaefferstown, Bernville or Shartlesville to show me off and have fun.
In the 1980s, William’s health started to decline, and I got parked outside under a maple tree. When William passed away, I sat under that tree and remembered the fun times I had over the years.
One day in November of 2008, a family friend saw a young fellow that he knew at an auction. While they were talking, my name was brought up, and he thought maybe he and his brother might be interested in purchasing me from the family. He thought they might like to try to get me up and running, so we could have fun going to shows and parades again.
In February of 2009, I met my new owners. They are Ben and David Sonon from Hamburg, PA. They pulled me out from under that maple tree, took me home and put me in a shed. In the summer months they get me out to go to shows, but it is not as fun as before, because when I was sitting out under that tree the weather took its toll on me. I can only movie if something pulls me along, because what you can call my engine (firebox) is bad and it is very expensive to repair.
If you would like to help the Sonon Brothers get me back up and running, so I can have fun and play at places like this under my own power, please make a donation to help them get me better again.”
Monday, July 9, 2018
“Roll along Wagon Train
Rollin’ over prairie where there ain’t no grass,
Rollin’ over mountain where there ain’t no pass.
Sittin’ on a board, eyein’ the weather,
Prayin’ to the Lord, we stay together
Side by side on the Wagon Train.
Wagon Train, roll along.
Pickin up a passenger in every town,
Wonderin’ if he’s ever gonna shoot you down.
Lookin’ for a pal, ain’t it a pity,
Looking for a gal, needn’t be pretty
If she’ll ride on the Wagon Train.
Gotta keep em on the run.
Time to go and follow the sun.
Roll along Wagon Train.
Never had a cabin near a general store,
Only had a wagon and a forty-four.
Sittin on a board, eyein’ the weather
Prayin’ to the Lord, we stay together
Side by side on the Wagon Train.”
~ Theme song from the television series “Wagon Train,” which used the instrumental version, but lyrics do exist, as sung by star Robert Horton.
“Wagons Ho!” as Ward Bond (1903-1960) said as wagon master Seth Adams on the western television series “Wagon Train,” which ran on NBC 1957-1962 and ABC 1962-1965. Ward Bond was the original star with Robert Horton (1924-2016), who portrayed frontier scout Flint McCullough.
My late grandfather loved Wagon Train, though I really never saw it, as the series ended before I was born, until I watched the reruns in recent years – and developed a mad crush on Robert Horton!
I thought it would be fun to take this covered wagon music box that was a gift to my grandfather out in the backyard to photograph with some artistic enhancements and sepia on a sunny summer day in late June.
The result is Wagons Ho!
Wagon Train chronicled the adventures of a wagon train as it makes its way from St. Joseph, Missouri to California and the trials and tribulations of the series regulars who conducted the train through the American West.
Episodes revolved around the stories of guest characters typically played by stars such as Bette Davis, Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan, Lee Marvin and Joseph Cotton portraying various members of the massive wagon train or encountered by it. Episode titles routinely emphasized the guest characters with titles such as “The Willy Moran Story” and “The Echo Pass Story.”
So notable was the show that veteran film director John Ford came on board to direct a 1960 segment.
The series was inspired by the 1950 film “Wagon Master” directed by John Ford and starring Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr. and Ward Bond, and harkens back to the early widescreen wagon train epic “The Big Trail” (1930) starring John Wayne and featuring Ward Bond in his first major screen appearance, playing a supporting role. Robert Horton’s buckskin outfit as the scout in the first season of the television series resembles John Wayne’s, who also played the wagon train’s scout in the earlier film.