Friday, June 10, 2011

Not a Native

With our annual July 4th Independence Day celebration on the near horizon, I've noticed that it is a big deal in this region. I was born in Florida, so I'm not a native of Pennsylvania, but since I have lived in the region for 44 years, I tend to take it for granted. I'm like the New Yorker who has forgotten about the Statue of Liberty. Specifically, I live in southeastern Pennsylvania near Philadelphia, and when someone asked me about the area, I said I live in the Northeast, or as some would say, The Mid-Atlantic States--South of New England, north of the Carolinas. I appreciate many things about my adopted state.

The weather is very tolerable most of the time with few extremes. We hear a lot about the Delaware Valley relative to our weather with the Delaware River located to the East and the mountains to the north and west. It creates a little cradle that has fairly moderate weather.We have four seasons, sometimes a deep snowfall, but only a few tornadoes. We have no earthquakes of significance, only a few brush fires in the pine barrens of New Jersey, and the occasional hurricane that survives this far north brings diminished winds and some rains. I have no complaints about our weather and wouldn't move because of it. Many other places have worse weather and disasters that are hard on the population.

The senior population finds pluses in the low state income tax and no taxes on pensions. We like to shop in nearby DE where there is no sales tax. Property taxes vary by area. In the 'burbs, the school taxes can be steep. Seniors can find the best medical care available in the country in this area. Colleges and universities are numerous and some offer either free or discount classes that seniors can attend. College students can find the best college education in their own back yard.

The crime rate isn't zero, but the bank robberies are few and the gangs and illegal drugs aren't a big consideration in the 'burbs. There is crime everywhere, but common sense goes a long way. Walking alone at 3 AM isn't advisable anywhere. There is public transportation, but in this particular sprawling metropolitan area, people tend to drive their own vehicles unless heading to a sports event in Philly, or heading to nearby N.Y., Baltimore or D.C. Major commuter lines are available and link the routes between D.C. and Boston. We don't use public transportation because it is time-consuming and inconvenient for us.

There are many major league sports teams in Philly for anyone who likes that kind of thing. A major international airport is south of the city and within thirty minutes driving time for us when we travel. Other major airports are also available within driving distance. The Atlantic coast is as close as an hour or two driving time along N.J., Delaware and Maryland beaches. Atlantic City is an easy drive any time we want to gamble or see the beach or a major entertainer.


A tourist could find many sights of interest. The historical Independence Hall of Philadelphia where our country's Declaration of Independence was crafted and signed is pretty high on the list of important places to visit. The historical area of the city contains the Betsy Ross House, an Edgar Allen Poe house, Elfreth's Alley and Christ Church where the famous Ben Franklin is buried along with four other signers of the Declaration of Independence.  The nation's historical development produced commemorative places like Gettysburg battlefield, Valley Forge and assorted other battlefields. The predominate architecture of the region is "Early American".

One industrious village of note called Batsto Village lies in the pine barrens of Southern New Jersey and it played an important role during the American Revolutionary War. At the time, it produced "bog ore" for iron works along with a number of other successful businesses. It is maintained as a museum village with working artisans doing glass works, pottery, iron making and lumber cutting. Rumored to have harbored some spies (including Benedict Arnold) during that period of time in the middle 1700's, it is an intriguing place to roam and imagine life during the time.

A major attractive point of this area would have to be its easy proximity to places like New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. All are easy day trips by car. We have all of their benefits and none of their problems.


  1. It sounds like a very nice place to visit, as you say it has all the best parts of being close to big cities and none of the downside. Same here in Bellingham, situated between Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. An easy drive AND we are right here on Bellingham Bay. Well, a half mile away.

  2. Years ago I lived in Marlton NJ and would take my kids on the train to Philadelphia. It was especially beautiful in their eyes around Christmas time, lights galore.
    It sounds like you have adapted to your home well since you have lived there 44 years now. I hope I live long enough to live in the little town we are in now 44 years.

  3. I stayed in Philly for a few days once, partly in the downtown area, and partly in an intentional subdivision north of the city (I wish I could remember its name--it was something like Bryn Mawr, as I recall) that you had to apply to join and be voted into before you could buy property. When I was there, that notorious shootout between some black separatists and the cops had just occurred, which resulted in a fire, and the first friend I stayed with flew me over the area in his Cessna.

  4. Are you referring to the Move confrontation in 1981? That was a dark time in the political history of the city, but that was a long time ago. The inner city has some problems, as do all urban areas, but I don't live inside the city limits. They have a good mayor right now who is likeable and tries very hard. Maybe he will make a difference.

  5. The actual bombing of the Move residence was in 1985 but it was still a long time ago.

  6. Yes, that must have been it because I would have been there in '84 or '85, and it had just happened. I was actually looking for another place to live--instead of Mississippi--at the time, and we moved here to Oregon in '86.