Sunday, August 16, 2009

Traval Series - Spotlight Coplay, PA

Needing a vacation - and also wanting to try and understand why the dimwit owner is the way he is I decided to sneak out this past weekend and venture off to his old stomping grounds of Coplay, PA to see what could be in the air, water, etc. that could turn a human being into this thing that calls itself my owner. My weekend in Pennsylvania gave me a few insights but unfortunately it did not fully explain the lump that props itself up on the couch every night at home. Well - nobody can say I didn't try. Anyway here is the story.

Just a bit of background first on Coplay - it is a small community of about 3,000 people nestled in the green Lehigh Valley area of eastern Pennsylvania. The history of Coplay is comprised of blue-collar immigrants from Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the Ukraine. They had mainly come to work at one of the first Portland cement mills built in 1866 in the United States. The photo above is of the kilns from that plant - which are still standing today. Today, the local area has shifted from manufacturing to now reflect a service-oriented economy, which is inline with the rest of the Allentown/ Bethlehem/ Easton Area.

Ok, so I began my journey by sneaking out of the house and making my way to our local airport here in Burbank. After a short look around, I was able to find an old abandoned pet carrier that was about my size and after a few choice markings on the outside - I boarded the crate and proceeded to bark my head off until I caught one of the baggage handler's attention. Once discovered, I was quickly put on the next plane bound for Allentown airport. I guess nobody wanted to explain to his or her superior why a beloved family pet was left out at the Burbank airport for who knows how long. Better to ship me and let the Allentown people sort it out was no-doubt the plan. 

Once in Allentown, I departed my pet carrier and made my way to the sleepy Borough of Coplay about five miles away. Walking down the main street of Coplay, I soon realized where some of the owner's madness came from since I swear I didn't see any cars for about five to ten minutes at a time. The owner might have gone partially mad enduring the unlimited supply of boredom growing up here I figured as I walked the lonely streets. 

Eventually my walk led me to a wonderful hot dog shop on 2nd street called Binnies Dog House. Walking in through the front door, I experience smells that completely fascinated my nasal senses. Man - this food must be straight from God I thought - chili cheese hot dogs and pierogies marinated in onions and butter! My, my, my I absolutely needed to get my paws on some of that! Like many of the small food establishments in that area - it wasn't much to look at - just an old ordinary house and the inside was not much to look at either - just a few coolers with soda cans, water, and stands of potato chip bags. Outside of that it was just a few customers and a few people working the grill. Not sure of what they were thinking when I entered but they didn't appear to mind. Donna the woman behind the counter thought I was cute and proceeded to fill my gullet with all manner of delicious food. I sure wish I'd get that kind of service here in Burbank. Oh well, maybe this place wasn't too bad after all I thought. Anyway - with all the food fare - I was in dog heaven - pardon the pun! 

On the way out of the hot dog shop I stumbled over a man who would eventually become my traveling companion/ tour guide for the night. His name was Rudy and he was a tall gangly specimen of a man who spit as he talked through his yellow cigarette stained teeth. He also kept turning his head to the side as he talked - apparently so he could see around his unkempt - long grey and brownish hair. Uh, hello - uh-little doggie - he said as I was coming out. Do you have a home or would you like to come ahome with me hear naw? When he said hear naw his voice quivered and grew louder. Funny - he had some kind of weird accent even though he said he was born and raised in Coplay. The owner doesn't have that accent so I'm not sure what that was about.

Well Binnies at least explained the owner's physique but I wanted to find out where his general goofiness came from. I saw some of it in Rudy but it was different. I wondered if they might have been related. Rudy soon recommended that we stop by somewhere to get a drink.  He suggested a place he called the Log Cabin. I have lots of friends in there hear naw - he said as he walked faster to get his drink quicker. The Log Cabin is an establishment that has been serving the area for longer than most locals can remember. It's a great place to have small conversation, shoot darts or a game or two of pool. The main food item served is the local version of the Philadelphia Cheese steak that comes topped with marinara sauce and a side of french fries of deep fried pirogies. If you haven't figured by now - pierogies are everywhere you go in this area. These people are complete pierogi nuts - and they serve them in many different ways - pan fried, deep fried, sauteed, baked, or even bathed in a marinara sauce.  

As for beverages, the drink of choice is this area is the locally brewed Yuengling brand beer - which by the way is also America's oldest brewery. One has not lived until he or she has had a pint of this wonderful brew into their intestinal waiting room! Overall the clientele at the log cabin were a basic folksy group who enjoy each other's company - a bit loudly if I might add. If one can get past the smoke cloud that is the bar area - I recommend chewing the fat with Butch the bartender who can supply all manner of stories about the place and Coplay in general. That is of course until he is forced to throw one of the local out for unruly behavior. In this case, it was my companion Rudy who received the Ole heave -ho after screaming around the bar in a mixture of German and English something about his Aunt being a bitch hear naw! He then proceeded to scream outside about how he was not going to take this sh_t from anyone and emphasized it with a thunderous, "hear naw!" Not sure what - hear naw means but it sure is entertaining emphasis. Overall, the bar crowd was a fun bunch who liked to smoke cigarettes like they were going out of style but they were not overly goofy like my moron. Also, when I asked around - nobody could remember my village idiot. This surprised me since he should have really stood out around this place. I'm wondering now if my guy hasn't been lying about his history now that I think about it. Anyway - I decided to continue on. 

The last stop on my whirlwind Coplay tour was the owner's grade school up on fifth street - a Roman Catholic school. One look at the place gave me chills down my spine as I walked by at night-time. A large multi-floored building (pictured below) it looked erie in the night with the moonlight. I could almost still hear all the screams from a hundred years of hot ruler strikes to unruly children. Rudy didn't seam to mind, he was busy stumbling down the street saying how I should meet his mom - hear naw. She likes doggies - hear naw - but not as much as his old uncle something or other who isn't around anymore - hear naw! We passed the school and Rudy had evidently reached his home since he fell into the bushes to sleep the rest of the evening away. I did hear him say one more time that his aunt was a bitch - hear naw before he passed out to sleep the evening off. 

Well, I had had enough of this place so I headed back to the airport in order to start my journey back home to Burbank. Getting back was not as easy since my original container had been stowed away somewhere. This made me stuff myself into a container meant for a beagle so half my body stuck out of the crate. Funny how nobody seamed to notice or care. Oh well, eventually I made it home and luckily the family was none the wiser since they were all too busy attending to the puppy to notice me gone. Well at least I know I can get away now when I want. I'm heading to Hawaii next time I get a chance. No need to get back to PA Dutch country anymore. Nothing against the area - just been there and done that - hear naw!

1 comment:

  1. I am sitting in Lancaster PA as I read this. So glad that we had similar experiences, though, if I knew you were in the area, we could have gotten together over some beers and milkbones. PA is a wacky place indeed. At least your owner doesn't adopt the ways of the Amish. He'd probably look very funny with a beard and no moustache. In my opinion, no one can carry that look off successfully.