On my trip to Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago, since I had more than enough time to get from Pittsburgh to State College, I decided to get off the direct route for at least a few miles and see some of the countryside. After driving east on highway 22 to Holidaysburg, I skipped I-99 (shouldn’t that be on the Atlantic seaboard?) and headed one valley over through scenic farms and hills to Huntingdon.
It was well after 1 when I arrived in Huntingdon, and I was rather hungry for some lunch. I bumbled around until I found the downtown area and, after parking 2 blocks off the main road to avoid pointless parking meters that I didn’t have any change for, started looking for somewhere to eat. After walking the length of the main drag without seeing much of interest, I stopped into a candy store (which, incidentally, are found everywhere in Pennsylvania) to ask where I might be able to get lunch. The lady there suggested Oven One which is—get this—hidden in a furniture store across the street. That’s right, the restaurant is tucked in between the sofas, easy chairs and side tables. If I hadn’t been told, I would never have found it.
The place was dead quiet when I stepped inside—just one person hanging around chatting with the waitress. I asked if they were still open. “We’re open until 2, so I guess so,” said the waitress. It was 1:45.
I sat down and asked the other lady what was good to eat.
“Oh, everything’s good here. They’ve got burgers and sandwiches and just about anything you’d want.”
So I ordered the special, a chicken sandwich with fries. The cook stepped out from the kitchen and confirmed that I wanted everything on it: “mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato?” “Yeah, that’s all good.”
A few minutes later it arrived on the counter in front of me. The bun was el cheapo Wonder bread, but other than that it was good. I chatted with the lady hanging out there while I ate.
“I’m Connie Hoover, and I’m 80 years old.”
Have you lived here long? “Well, I guess so. I moved back here when I retired in 1987. Before that I lived in Harrisburg.” Oh yeah? What did you do there? “I was a legal assistant. Working with lawyers and secretaries and helping people file their claims and file their forms, and taking their statements and filing briefs and filling out forms and all that kind of thing.”
So what do people do around here for fun? “Oh, all the usual stuff. We’ve got the college so they have plays and bands and that kind of stuff. Up at the college they do some real good plays and stuff. And the high school, they have all the sports, you know. They have the basketball and the football and all that kind of stuff. And on the fourth of July, they have fireworks. They put on a real good show—$15,000 or something, and it goes on for forty-five minutes or an hour. That’s a real good show.”
“You know, you should come by for coffee club tomorrow morning. You’d like that.”
Are you part of it? “Oh, no, no women allowed! But they come in here every morning for coffee, have been for years.”
Sadly, I couldn’t come back for coffee club. In fact I had a lot less slack time than I’d hoped for, so I paid the bill walked back to the car and drove off to State College.