Meantime, I am ping-ponging from one side of the bus to the other, capturing too-blurry photos on my phone, unusually anxious to capture this place.
Where we are is not actually Allentown. Not yet. The tour bus is rumbling through the Pennsylvania countryside. Eventually, we’ll reach the Airport de Allentown. Somehow, the combination of the Inspiration Location to the famous Billy Joel anthem + Pennsylvania’s rich revolution-era history is irresistible to history-&-music-loving me. My eyes try to absorb everything.
We randomly pass a 100-year old stone house and former farm.
I wonder…did a founding father pass this way?
We’ve left the town of Reading after a mere 21-hour stay, most of it spent in the business of putting on two shows in a mortifyingly small theatre. If there was interesting history there, there was no time to figure it out.
By now, we are well beyond the Reading city limits. And it’s pronounced REDDING, by the way, should it come up.
I spy the Kutztown University Water Tower. And in the distance, the elegant, stately outline of a domed building that could seem out of place in the countryside, except that this is storied Pennsylvania, so who knows who built that when.
The last few days of life on tour are a blur, filled with the basic combination of eat, sleep (little), sing, workout (a little).
We launch the week in Erie – Home of THE Lake Erie! – then spend a night in the Capitol of West Virginia – drive back to Pennsylvania for an unmemorable night in Johnstown (all I remember is performing atop an ice floor) – then, our final stop in the aforementioned Reading/Redding.
More beautiful, ramshackle farms dot Route 222. Every single dilapidated building captivates me with a sense of desolate romanticism. I imagine the life that once lived there in sharp relief to the sorrow of leaving it. Did they know it would fall to ruin?
“Well we’re waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard, If we behaved..”
– Billy Joel
There is much agriculture here… We pass a tree farm. Then, an improbably large steepled church, surrounded by graves, rises on our horizon. Do they have enough souls left here to fill the pews?
We pass a corn field, stalks gray and dry as bone.
What I have NOT seen are the famous Amish people, and this is their territory, but we do pass a store selling their handmade furniture. If only I could see a buggy.
Now, the fields are doing that patchwork of green thing.
Now, they’re brown.
Now a tree, with two crisp white adirondack chairs below it… A perfect picture of country idyll. But I cannot capture it. We move too fast.
The irony of tour revisits me. Free travel, but someone else picks the stops. I always leave wanting more.
I am leaving now through Allentown, for the Pennsylvania I never found. As is my now-usual habit, I add Reading to a “come back here” list. Billy Joel is back in my head because I realized he’d been gone for a while, so my brain pressed PLAY & REPEAT.
So I listen, and take the liberty to change the lyrics in my head… “And I won’t be going home todaaaaaayyy–aaa-aaa-aaa/aaa-aaa-aaa/aaa-aaa-aaay, and we’re leaving here in Allentown….” Chord-Chord-Chord-Chord……
To enjoy the musical musings of a traveling bohemian – plus pictures of questionable quality – subscribe to Eileen’s blog at: eileenfaxas.com/EF/Blog/Blog.html. Passports are optional. Full body scans are required.