Monday, October 17, 2011

Geezer Bus Tour

Since this is my favorite season for going on a bit of a ramble, and since I can't drive any more, I went on a bus tour last week to one of my favorite places, Hanoverton. It is now a pretty small town, but it was built along the Sandy and Beaver canal back in the early 19th century. Unfortunately, the canal was never completed down the line, and it was pretty much abandoned. It looks like 18th century Philadelphia or Boston, with brick row houses. I believe that some of the earliest settlers were Quakers. When I first went there, many years ago, there was nothing much there and many of the houses were in pretty bad shape. The houses have since been restored, and there is the Spread Eagle Tavern, a tourist draw, and one of our destinations on this tour. It's a fine place for lunch. It's been beautifully restored, and is also an inn. One of the problems for me, however, is that the owner has decorated the public rooms with pictures of himself with the likes of Reagan and George Bush. I took Harriet down there for lunch once and told  her that she was not allowed to comment until we got back in the car. I took another friend there, another fire breathing liberal, and told her the same thing. It's hard for us not to draw moustaches  on pictures like that, but so far, we have held back and enjoyed the food and the non-conservative decor. Most of the buildings in the town are on the National Historic Register.
It is a conservative area. Clement Vallandingham, the leader of the Copperheads, lived in nearby Lisbon which was also home to the Apple Farm, a commune which hoped to improve the human species by breeding super men and women. It didn't last long, since, while there was a plenitude of male volunteers for the experiment, there was a reluctance on the part of females to participate. But I digress.
We made a brief stop at the Hanoverton cemetery for some feeble ghost stories  by some not very good storytellers. One was dressed as a Confederate soldier, who professed that the war was about states' rights, not slavery. He was obviously a Copperhead. The other was supposed to be a town character and he stumbled through some tale, supposedly true, about a witch who really wasn't one, even though she put a spell on a family and they all died.  Since it was a gray and windy day, this could have been a pretty good experience. The cemetery is old and full of spooky tress, but these tellers just weren't up to it.
Out final stop was a tour of Stonegate, a pseudo Tudor castle. It turned out to be a place I had read about a few years ago, which this guy built because he'd always wanted to live in the past. John had done a seminar there once on stone masonry; the guy had wanted to hold classes there in various areas of historic handicrafts, but nothing came of it. Now he does these tours in October and his wife teaches stained glass classes. They built the house of used materials from demolished buildings. They got the stone and a lot of the wood from the property and picked up some remarkable things from trash piles and dumps: windows, furniture, beams from old barns, lamps, etc, They learned how to plane wood, plaster walls, carve stone and wood and generally taught themselves all sorts of crafts. They got slate from a torn down church and learned how to do the roof. They designed Gothic doors for the three car garage, where they presumably keep their donkey cart. It took them 33 years to do all this and it is impressive, I must say. It's also a bit tacky in spots, and it seemed pretty gloomy on this gray day. He's a self made man, happy in his isolated castle. John said that he owns a large pizza franchise, but I didn't see any pizza oven in the Gothic kitchen.
We had earlier stopped at an apple orchard, where we had cider and doughnuts and I bought some really fine apples, Honey Crisps, that John made into a pie last night in our 1950s kitchen. I enjoyed the geezer tour, but I do miss driving to places like Hanoverton.


Expat Hausfrau said...

That looks like a lovely tour, but really - The Spread Eagle Tavern?! Are you sure this isn't secretly a gay bar with a name like that?

Stravaros said...

The Beaver Canal?
The Spread Eagle Tavern?
I must say I am extremely dismayed by the racy tone that this blog has adopted, all in an apparently cynical attempt to gain a wider readership. For SHAME! Next thing you know you'll be reduced to blogging about Britney and Lindsay. Please! More tomato blogs! Less filth!