Enjoying a bit of Hollywood magic in Pennsylvania

Traveler visits statues in Punxsutawney, Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana

Posted: Friday, September 05, 2008

On our fourth day of visiting our friends, the Ryens, in Pennsylvania, Karen Ryen took my husband, Don, and me to her friend Tina's wonderful arts and crafts home. The Ryens, Tina, Don and I love old houses and good junk. Tina owns a second house that is next door and she lives in both houses. She shares another house with a neighbor.

Courtesy Of Alma Harris
Courtesy Of Alma Harris

After we toured the three houses, Karen, Tina, Don and I drove to the village of Brookfield to visit the Brookfield General Store that is a museum as well as a general store that still sells groceries. The lady storekeeper became quite friendly when the four of us asked questions. From the general store, we walked to the antique store and in Karen's words "spent money on good junk."

From Brookfield, we drove to Punxsutawney and met Allen at The Meeting Place restaurant. The grilled vegetables were quite tasty. After lunch, Allen and Don went their own way and Karen, Tina and I went our way. We drove to the town square to see Punxsutawney Phil hibernating in his glassed-in den. Phil looked quite small. However, tall Phils are seen on many street corners. The 7- to 8-foot tall, colorful Phil statues are made of resin and each Phil is dressed differently.

Later in the afternoon we had tea in Tina's second house. Allen and Don joined us. The tea included cheese and crackers and sinful pastries from the Israeli bakery. We returned to Creek House and the four of us packed the antiques and treasures that Don and I had acquired thus far. When Don and I travel, we usually mail our treasures to our house.

The next morning, we four explored the old Oberlin General Store. When Allen's grandfather decided to retire from his general store, instead of selling his remaining inventory, he closed and locked up the building. We spent several hours exploring the old store.

We found boxes of shoes and boots, boxes of canning jars, old checks and bills, tins, bottles, display cases, baskets, clothes wringers, treenware, advertising posters, harnesses, wall paper, palm fans and empty wooden boxes. The bats also loved the second story ceiling and had left their "calling cards."

After exploring the general store, we ate lunch and drove to Indiana, Pa., and visited the Jimmy Stewart Museum. Jimmy Stewart was born and raised in Indiana. During WWII, James M. Stewart was a Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force "flying twenty dangerous combat missions."

In addition to the Military Gallery there are five more galleries: It's a Wonderful Life, Indiana, Hollywood, Awards and Celebrity Tribute. The Shop Around the Corner is the name of the museum's store. The museum also has a film theater featuring, of course, Jimmy Stewart.

The next day, Sunday, Don and Allen got up early and drove to the Rod and Gun Club for an archery match. Karen and I left Creek House and Karen dropped me off at Tina's. On Sundays, Karen visits her mother and aunt who live together in a senior care facility. Karen cleans their rooms. When she returned to Tina's, she was exhausted by the 90 degrees room temperature and dealing with the two older women.

Meanwhile, Tina gave me a thorough tour of her 2½ houses. Tina has wonderful old furnishings in her homes including a 1920s Jewel range. Tina, Karen and I all like using old furnishings and antiques. After the tour, the two of us sat on one of Tina's porches, sipped tea and munched Girl Scout cookies. Tina as well as Karen and Allen insisted that our next destination had to be Niagara Falls. Tina gave me brochures, tore several pages from her atlas for us and told me that we had to stay at the Sheridan Hotel on the Canadian side and to ask for a falls side room.

When Karen and I returned to Creek House, Allen and Don were watching a Jimmy Stewart movie. Karen took a nap and made a salad to take to the hunting camp. On Sunday nights the extended Ryen family and friends gather at the camp for Sunday dinner. Don and I met more of the extended family. We left the camp around dusk after the turkeys roosted in the trees. The deer grazed peacefully and were not spooked like the turkeys.

We returned to Creek House and packed. Our next destination: Niagara Falls.

• Alma Harris is a retired Juneau-Douglas High School English teacher who loves to travel and write.

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