Aug 27, 2010

Reading, Pennsylvania

My children have easily connected to my past because we live right next to it. I grew up in Long Beach, California and my parents continue to reside in the house of my youth. My 2 brothers and they're families live close by.

My husband, Barry, is a transplant from Reading, Pennsylvania due to serving in the Marines. Once he landed in California, I like to say that he fell in love 3 times: first with California, next with God, and then happily with me.

Barry's hometown of Reading houses the famous Reading Railroad noted in Monopoly (see previous post.) His family is Pennsylvania Dutch, so he has a hearty heritage of good cooking as well as Dutch-ified speech. They don't bury people, they "burr-ry" them. They go "ot and abot," not out and about. And, in a town that was mostly Dutch-German, Polish, Italian, and Jewish, they built a giant pagoda on Mt. Penn. Go figure.

The Pagoda - Reading, PA.

Reading Company's Outer Station, Reading, PA
Circa 1910-1920 - Courtesy of Peachhead (Loretta Killian)

The website, Remembering Great American Department Stores, wrote the following: "Pomeroy's was a department store chain, originally based in Reading, PA. It also had flagship stores in Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg, and was later operated in two divisions based in Harrisburg and Levittown, PA." Although Pomeroy's is a stranger to California, we did have an F. W. Woolworth Co. (right side of postcard) where I spent my girlhood allowance on Christmas gifts.

Postcard: Pomeroy's Department Store - Reading, PA.

Postcard: Penn Square looking east from 5th.
The Pagoda on Mt. Penn can also be seen.

In almost 26 years of marriage, I have been to Reading only once. It was for the wedding of Barry's brother, Kenny, and I would discover there that I was pregnant with our first child. Years later, I took a trip to D.C. for a large rally and I had time to slip into Gettysburg for a life-changing tour. Sadly, I have never been back to Pennsylvania.

We have lived a modest life and airfare has been a major challenge without racking up credit card bills. Barry, thankfully, has been able to fly back a few times for visits, which included the funerals of his parents.

Up until this week, not one of my children had stepped foot in Pennsylvania. Uncle Kenny changed that by arranging for our son, Bryce (almost 16) to fly back for a few days. Bryce had flown on a plane only once when he was 3 years old. This was his first solo flight — with layovers. What an adventure!

Uncle Kenny, who is quite a cook, is feeding my son all of the comforts of the Dutch-German lifestyle, including Kielbasa Stew for today's menu. Bryce has seen the old Cotton Street row home where his dad and uncle grew up; the swimming pool built into a hillside just behind their home; their schools; The Pagoda; The Neversink Woods where the boys played; the neighborhood where his grandparents lived and met...

As for Barry, well he is overwhelmed with emotion that one of his children is finally experiencing his roots.

NOTE: The tall building in the Penn Square photo is the Berks County Courthouse. Barry's grandfather was a highly skilled mason and he chiseled glorious eagles at the top of the courthouse. The eagles are lit up at night.


  1. I love it that you know and care so much about Barry's home town - and thanks for the background in words and nostalgic pictures.

  2. I'm popping in to say Hi, after visiting Becky's blog. I saw Reading, PA so I knew I had to visit...It's a town very close to your post about Reading brought back some happy memories...

  3. This was a nice post. I like to read about bloggy buddies and their families. I hope you come join me soon. I also wish you would come check out the miracle party going on this weekend. I am glad to know you California girl! From Colorful Colorado Anne

  4. Lovely post Karen! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Happy week to you my friend.



  5. Hi Karen, I found your blog post a while back and had to save it. It brought back so many memories, what a great town it was. I grew up in the surrounding area, Berks County, and my mom was born and raised on Spruce St, around the time that the Courthouse was built. There is currently a drive to restore the lights to the Courthouse, as it needs new lights and they are very expensive. Here's a link to the Facebook page, maybe your husband Barry would like to say hi, and tell how his grandfather proudly crafted the eagles! Best to you, Cathy

  6. Oops, sorry, here is the link to the Facebook page:

    If you scroll down, there is a great picture of the eagles.


Thanks for stopping by!
♫ Karen