From Bound for Belize to Bound for Brookville

Posted on

The Clarion River in front of Pine Run at dusk, when the mist rises too meet the rain.
The Clarion River in front of our 22-acre family camp, Pine Run, at dusk, when the mist rises too meet the rain.

I just finished a yoga class in Brookville, Pennsylvania, “the town that time forgot and age can not improve.”

Thank you, Garrison Keillor for the tag line.

Brookville was my Lake Wobegon when growing up.

Early Tuesday morning, a herd of deer came down to the lawn to graze for a while before people started rising and dogs started running free.
Early Tuesday morning, a herd of deer came down to the lawn to graze for a while among the kayaks and canoes, before people started rising and dogs started running free.

It was a small town, isolated from the outside world by millions of acres of forest and farmland and the limits of communications technology.  I never even heard of marijuana or recreational drugs, and I graduated from high school in 1968. The Summer of Love came and went and I was still loading lumber on to freight cars and swimming at The Dam to wash off the sweat and grit.

The town has changed, of course. Who and what hasn’t since 1968?

There are now TWO yoga studios. A short walk away, there is a gorgeous coffee shop, Coffee Cakes, with an 18-foot high , decorous tin ceiling.

My yoga class was taught by Teresa Stout, the owner of Yoga Brookville, a studio in the old McCabe Building, which also houses a large theatre on the second floor that I had no idea existed when growing up.

My favorite ice cream stand when growing up, hasn't changed much in 50 years -- and the ice cream portions are enormous. I got a medium soft serve and said "How the heck big is a large?" Thke young fellow behind the window said "For a large we just keep stacking the ice cream until were afraid it will fall over."
My favorite ice cream stand when growing up, hasn’t changed much in 50 years — and the ice cream portions are enormous. I got a medium soft serve and said “How the heck big is a large?” The young fellow behind the service window said “For a large we just keep stacking the ice cream until were afraid it will fall over.”

I’d met Teresa and one of her best friends, my childhood neighbor Tommy Ferraro, on Wednesday night at Dirty Ehrma’s, a tavern at the bottom of the hill on which we lived — the one topped by the Catholic Church, which may be why there were so many families with large broods living in its shadow. We had nine kids, so did the Cooks and the folks across the street had 12 or 14 (a number that probably doesn’t matter after 10).

Wednesday night at Dirty Erma’s is Chicken Wings Night, a night some of my friends, like Dick and Susie McLaughlin and Bobby Algar  have been attending faithfully for more than a decade. The waitresses and barmaids wear T-shirts with “I’m just a Dirty girl” in big letters — but the effect is not contrived, like Hooters or Tilted Kilt. They are probably the kids of somebody I went to high school with.

pinerun1 pinerun3

More views of the Clarion River in Pennsylvania.
More views of the Clarion River in Pennsylvania.

Speaking of which, Teresa’s dad was my history teacher, assistant football coach and the wrestling coach. When I showed up for class this morning Teresa handed me the 1968 Brookville Area High School yearbook, from the year I graduated.

“I thought you might enjoy looking through this. I couldn’t remember who you were so I looked you up in the book,” said Teresa. “You can return it to Coffee Cakes when you’re finished.”

Yes, Brookville is still that kind of town.

So, yoga has taken off. Teresa even has a class just for men, which, if you grew up and left Brookville with a truncated memory, as I did, is just amazing.

Main Street in Brookville, Pennsylvania -- unchanged but ever changing.
Main Street in Brookville, Pennsylvania — unchanged but ever changing.

I’m actually here for a family reunion and celebration of Pine Run, the 22-acre “camp” my folks bought on the Clarion River exactly 50 years ago this month. It is about 15 miles north of Brookville. Pine Run is our home away from home, the place my seven brothers and sister and our children and children’s children flock to when they can. It is the glue that keeps this far-flung family together.

The place where “the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children/grandchildren are all above average.

At least while we’re at “camp” — officially called Pine Run.

The county courthouse on Main Street in Brookville, Pa. Our major public edifice, next to some amazing churches.
The county courthouse on Main Street in Brookville, Pa. Our major public edifice, next to some amazing churches.

It fronts on the Clarion River which was a biologically dead, flowing cesspool of coal mine sulfur and wood pulp mill acids when we first bought it. Today, it is a pristine and hardly developed waterway that is filled with fish and surrounded by wildlife — including American eagles, ducks and other migrating waterfowl, bears, deer, turkeys and more.

God bless the EPA, the federal agency which forced the cleanup of this river among many others.

When I saw the miracle that had been wrought upon this river, I sat on a rock and cried tears of joy.

Pine Run now has three full-size houses and two cottages. It also has mail delivery, satellite TV and WiFi and a paved road — none of which existed in 1965.

This weekend some 150 family members and friends of Pine Run will be joining us 15 miles north of Brookville to celebrate the brilliance of my parents in spending $9,500 hard earned dollars to buy Pine Run back in the day.

Brookville used to be the kind of place young adults moved away from to make a living. They still do, but every time I return I see more and more examples of people who have put their faith in small town community and put down stakes with a commitment to making “their town” a better place to live.

When I grew up there, a high school boy could get arrested for drinking on a Saturday night and it would be all over the school by Monday morning. Teachers would lecture the kid in front of classmates and athletic coaches would take him for counseling walks around the track or smack him on the side of the head. Even the cops would take him and his buddies to the pizza shop for sobering cups of coffee before sending them home.

I think that may be where I developed my taste for black coffee.

We knew that it takes a village long before politicians were saying so.

But Brookville is no longer my town. I’m just an occasional visitor with memories mostly frozen around 1968. But I cherish the memories that I have. My classmates friends and neighbors were good, hard working, God fearing people who preferred to raise families surrounded by families, in a place where you can still probably leave your front door unlocked when you go away on vacation.

And now there are two yoga studios.

The other day, two of my brothers and I went to the general store closest to Pine Run for supplies. It is called Truman’s.  While Tim Truman, whom we have known since we were kids of the same age, was cutting up cheese and cold cuts for us, my brother Bill told him excitedly about our 50th anniversary.

“Yeah?,” said Tim a bit disinterestedly, “Truman’s store is celebrating its 150th year this month.”

“Has it always been Truman’s?”

“Yep.”

“Any celebration planned?”

“Nope.”

And that is one reason why I love this region.

 

 

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “From Bound for Belize to Bound for Brookville

    Cheryl said:
    July 10, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Small world! We have friends that live there! George & Vicki Butzin…… We moved to Belize (Cayo) not long after you moved to Ambergris Caye…. Been following your blog from the beginning!

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 10, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Small world, for sure! I’ll ask around; not surprised if my brother might know them.

      Like

        Cheryl said:
        July 11, 2015 at 6:19 am

        They moved there @ 15 years ago – so, relative new comers!

        Like

        Linda Swab said:
        August 7, 2015 at 4:25 am

        They live on my street! I have often said hello to them. It is indeed a small world.

        Liked by 1 person

    Rob Chodowski said:
    July 10, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    You may or may not of heard that Garrison Keiler (I might be spelling his name wrong) is planning to retire this year according to NPR.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 11, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Yeah, a guy from Nickle Creek who has guest hosted in the past, although I’ve never heard him. Be interesting to see how it all changes.

      Like

    Susan Watts said:
    July 11, 2015 at 5:33 am

    Well it’s no wonder you love Ambergris Caye so much! It’s the Pine Run version of Belize! (kinda)

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 12, 2015 at 7:55 am

      I’ve been lobbying them to think about a Pine Run South! Maybe one of the older small resorts up north ….

      Like

    Wayne Kocher said:
    July 11, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Damn Bob. Why didn’t you post me that you were coming to Brookville? I would have loved to see you and Bill. I did see Tommy Ferraro the other day. He looks good. I see Jim every now and then at Mass in Sigel. FYI. My first time hunting deer with a bow was At Pine Run with your brother, Bill. A few other Hawkins were there as well. Bill put me at the top of the mountain in a tree stand at 5:30 AM. I fell asleep. No deer that day.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 11, 2015 at 6:47 am

      Open house this afternoon at camp if you are in the area Wayne! Great memories here huh?

      Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 12, 2015 at 8:02 am

      Wayne, thanks for stopping by and thanks for the pictures! It was terrific to see you again.

      Like

    Joe & Gale Myers Wolfe said:
    July 11, 2015 at 7:13 am

    My 2 granddaughters & I were having lunch yesterday at CoffeeCakes & I noticed a gentleman (about my age) at a table across from us diligently typing on his laptop. I teasingly said to the girls that I bet he is writing about Brookville. After I saw your article on fb, I now realize it must have been you. The article was wonderful. We love B-ville & my granddaughters love to vacation here & roam around town. I am hoping you can make it back in 2018 for our 50th class reunion. Just wanted to say hello from us & have a joyous family reunion. Joe & Gale Myers Wolfe

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      August 7, 2015 at 5:53 am

      Gale, the following response to your message was accidentally posted on another writer’s comment. Please keep me advised of any plans for a 50th!

      “I remember seeing you at the table! So sorry I didn’t recognize you, Gayle but you guys looked like you were having a great time. Fun outing with the grandkids! I’m doing the same thing next week in Belize!
      “It will be 50 years in 2018?? Yikes! I will start planning for it. Keep me in the loop. Maybe we can do a pre-party BBQ at Pine Run!”

      Like

    SAndra Blake said:
    July 11, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I have loved reading this as I too was raised on Catholic Hill. That was back in the days when people neighbored and kids played well after dark with no fear of finding their way home. It has been said by someone I know that they spent 18 years hoping to soon get out of Brookville and 30 trying to get back. You know who you are and truer words were never spoken.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 12, 2015 at 7:53 am

      Hi Sandra! Isn’t that the truth. I am thrilled every time one of my California kids makes it back to Pine Run and Brookville so they can experience at least a sliver of what our life was like. There was an innocence to growing up in Brookville back on the day.

      Like

    Linda Benigni Barnes said:
    July 11, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Bob, I really enjoyed reading your thoughtful comments about Brookville and seeing the photos you posted. I have fond memories of the Hawkins’ clan when you all were in Brookville! So glad you venture back here occasionally. Take care.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 12, 2015 at 8:09 am

      Hi Linda! Brookville has always been great therapy for me — take two weeks and get my head back to where it should be!

      Like

    Mickey Truman said:
    July 12, 2015 at 5:16 am

    Bob, I thoroughly enjoyed your article. My memories are of waiting on your mother and father when they would come to The Store (H. Truman’s Store that is). What lovely people and what a wonderful time to celebrate 50 years of memories in this beautiful area. As for my dad, Tim, I think you captured his essence perfectly! Thanks for your continued patronage, have a wonderful weekend, and best wishes in Belize.

    Mickey

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 12, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Thanks, Mickey. No visit to Pine Run is complete without a stop in at Truman’s. My childhood floods back and there is great comfort in seeing Tim, kind of a timeless icon!

      Like

    Janet Cook said:
    July 25, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Hi Bob, I so greatly appreciated your article about Brookville. You captured so many of my thoughts and emotions about the town that I still consider my home even though we moved 28 years ago. We also still
    have a camp along the Clarion river and love getting up there to visit friends. We often ride past Pine Run
    and I have always wondered if the Hawkins family still owned it. I am glad to know that it is still in great hands. Please give my regards to your family members. Janet Noel Cook

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 25, 2015 at 11:47 am

      Hi Janet!
      Yes the family still returns too! Jim lives in the house right next to Pine Run year round. Stop in and say hi! He’d enjoy the company. Or stop into Pine Run — you never know who might be staying there. Thanks for writing!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s