I’ve started walking again. For a while, I was going to the Back Mountain Trail. When I say for a while, I mean three or four times since the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day. But recently, I decided just to walk my neighborhood so I didn’t have to drive to the trail. I really enjoy it. I walked the neighborhood a few times this summer, too, going a few different directions throughout Swoyersville and Luzerne. But, finally chose a route that I like and have been walking that ever since. My regular route is pretty interesting. When I say regular, I really mean the past four days. That’s about as regular I’ve been with exercise all summer. Ha!
On Tuesday, just making my way down two houses from mine, a neighbor’s outdoor cat brushed up against me. I bent down to pet him or her. The orange kitty followed me for about a block and a half. It was cute. So I took a picture and posted it to Twitter through Twitpic. Whenever I do that on my iPhone, Pandora shuts off. It’s annoying.
After I saw the cat, I saw a bunny rabbit hop across the street. I thought to myself, “Do bunnies walk, too? Or do they just hop?”
Then, I passed a tan, blond dude who I met in my basement once (sidebar: he was building shelves for my landlord in the other half of the basement I never go it – my neighbor’s side- so he scared the crap outta me. But we talked about the Bob Dylan show I was headed to that week). He was just stepping out to his porch, and hollered, “Hey! How was Dylan?!” After that, two or three neighbors waved and greeted me. I realized that aside from the people who live on either side of me in my own house, and that bandanna guy, I don’t know any neighbors.
So, I sent another tweet: “I should meet more neighbors- everyone’s so nice as I walk by. Yes. This is live ‘stweam’ of conscience while I’m trying to uh, ‘twexercise’
At that point, I decided what the heck, I’ll record my walk. Pandora was already off from taking pictures of animals and tweeting. Here’s some thoughts and sights from my walk from my house on Oliver St. in Swoyersville to when it turns into Oliver St. in Luzerne, down some side street I forget, down Miller to the dead end, around the old railroad tracks, and up Charles about six or seven blocks, making a right onto Church Street in Luzerne, and taking that until it turns into Main Street in Swoyersville, and then finally taking a right back down Oliver.
This is the orange cat. When I first moved to his apartment in September 2008, I thought he/she was a stray. But then I saw its collar. However, she’s an outdoor cat and roams the neighborhood. Its brother or sisters also roam around. They are like Heathcliff and Friends!
Miller Street. 200 block. Wow. There is an airplane in someone’s yard. A real airplane, like the ones you jump out of when you skydive. I wanted to take a closer pic, but I was afraid I would get yelled at.
Miller Street. 200 block. Not the bunny that made me pose the question about bunnies being able to walk too, but Luzerne is filled with rabbits. Too bad it didn’t tell me we were late for a party and take me with him on an adventure.
Miller Street. 100 block? Now this is nostalgic. Never knew this was here. This is right at the dead end of Miller, where the railroad tracks are and a bunch of old warehouses. There was also a train station one block over here in the old days. This was probably a prime location for this family business. Now, desolation. Or not. The windows looked new, so I Googled the name when I got home, and looks like this still may be in operation. Found something about it being incorporated in 1974. So, could be a family business that DID last over 100 years. However, the building still has that old, nostalgic feel. (I want to research this now!)
Not sure. Maybe Eley Street? Whenever I see a ball, even one this small, I get sad because it means some child probably lost it playing catch.
Not sure. Maybe Eley Street? The railroad tracks, all filled with stone. Don’t think these are used anymore. There was SO much litter along the sides of the tracks. Sad.
Charles Street. 200 block. Andy Perugino’s. I always forget this restaurant is here. They have good food. I should go here more often. It’s off the beaten path on Charles Street in Luzerne. Again, right off the tracks. Probably used to get lots of traffic from the people at the train station.
Charles Street. 400 block. Milk crate. Remember getting milk delivered and those old wooden crates? I don’t. But I wish I did. My mom’s high school best friend’s father was a milk man and delivered milk to homes. She told me he worked for the dairy until he retired (maybe still does?) but his role changed as technology changed.
Charles St. 600 block. Odd. Guess they don’t use this door. No steps. A very high mailbox. The door was open, however, probably for natural AC. I am hoping they have a front door. If not, they must be A) Agoraphobic B) A high jump champ C) On house arrest. The picture is a little blurry because I thought I saw a shadow coming and I didn’t want to get yelled at. Especially if the answer to my multiple choice question was C.
Church Street. No matter how peaceful a walk is in NEPA, you can’t escape the recent headlines of corruption. I am starting to wish I was around for railroad’s boom and milk delivery.
An old long-empty sporting goods store that really pushed that it sold shotgun shells. It made me sad because there was still an “open” sign on the door with a sticker beneath it that said, “Buy your fishing license here.”
Crossing the border of Luzerne into Swoyersville. Just look at how faded the sign is. After seeing the railroad tracks, the old roofing company, the milk crate and other empty store fronts, I thought about how faded this area is. There are nice things here and nice houses. But mixed within it all are reminders that things used to be better.(The days of coal!)
I always thought of the upper part of Swoyersville to be like a shelf. The main street in Swoyersville runs from Luzerne all the way to West Pittston. Most of it is at a higher elevation, looking down to the valley. In the picture above you can see down the street, into the valley, but then also see the other mountain that creates the Wyoming Valley. On the other side of that is the Pocono area.
Yet, from the main drag in Swoyersville you can also look up at what we call the “Back Mountain.” Swoyersville is like a shelf hung up between the Wilkes-Barre/Kingston and Dallas/Back Mountain. This isn’t a really great picture of it because of the iPhone and from my view with all the homes.
A view of the culm bank, a Swoyersville landmark. You can’t zoom on the iPhone so this picture doesn’t do it justice at all. There are flags planted in the top. That heap of gray stands for our area’s rich coal history. It reminds us that these empty storefronts were once full. That all the little run down shacks (between other houses that were kept up with or restored) around Swoyersville once were home to coal miners. Wilkes-Barre, Kingston and lots of the mainline communities in Northeast PA are on the upswing. But these little off-the-path places like Swoyersville make me sad.
Oliver Street. My Street. Every time I walk past these stacks of concrete, I think they are going to fall down on me. But who I am kidding? They are rusty all over. There’s plants growing in them. They’ve been sitting there for decades. They won’t fall.
I arrived on my porch to find the other neighborhood kitty asleep on my porch chair. She’s been sleeping there a lot the past few weeks. My neighbor J* thinks she may be on her way out. She looks very frail, and hobbles when she walks. I pet her and went inside. I don’t know if I feel so hot after the walk.
My cat, Spectra, sniffs the heck out of me. I cheated on her with the orange kitty, I suppose.
I took a little rest on my sofa. My walk conjured up so many thoughts. I smiled and said hi to other walkers, and people sitting on their porches. It was a gorgeous day. The colors were vibrant, from the blue sky to the green grass to the rainbow of wildflowers dotting so many lawns. There were old couples chatting like they were teenagers in love. There were young couples enjoying coffee or beer or glasses of wine on their porches. There were kids riding trikes. There were kids riding bikes. There were smells of people grilling. There were sounds of splashes from backyard pools. (In fact, I mentally cataloged all the houses on my ‘regular’ route that had pools and noted that they were on the ‘friends-to-make’ list- just kidding.) So, those things all made me smile.
On the other hand, mixed in, there were dull colors of washed out houses, sheds, and warehouses. There were rotting porches. EMPTY porches. There was the smell of must. There were junk cars. There was a huge heap of culm. That made me sad.
It’s no secret that Northeast Pennsylvania is a depressed area. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many positive changes. There’s a lot to do here. There’s a lot of talent here. You can have a career here. Some careers, you do need to leave. But there are opportunities. I love it. Many friends of mine moved away. Some came back, though. But I never left. I have big city dreams. Or did. I am not quite sure. Something about this area keeps me here. Still, things will never be the same. Wilkes-Barre and it’s surrounding ‘coal towns’ like Swoyersville were once ritzy, some would say, a mini-New York City. Coal was booming. Railroads were too. Mills. Car plants. A manufacturing hub, if you will.
The few pictures I took on my walk are teensy reminders. I never thought a walk to clear my head (and help me lose weight) would instead fill my thoughts to maximum capacity and make me feel so heavy.
- To see just HOW much used to be in Swoyersville, one historian out together an incredible compilation, here.
- Here’s a smaller history of Luzerne Borough I found online. I want to get back into local history and renew my membership to the Luzerne Historical Society.
- I also just found this great blog, Wyoming Valley Photos. A man shows how all the local businesses have changed over the years. I will write a full blog post about this soon because this blog post is just going on and on!