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I claim Philly as city of origin since I lived there for a few years in college and because I survived the stint residing in North Philly, though I really grew up in the suburbs, some 45 minutes north of the city and because it’s easier then explaining the previous statement. The pace of life for the most part is still the same, though some sections of the area I no longer recognize. The parts closer to the city now have Starbucks, drugstores on every corner, and just about every imaginable modern-day convenience, but the dairy farms, curvy and confusing back roads remain – though the selling of bits and pieces of land have given way to gated communities and golf courses. While I’m sad that the landscape of my memories is becoming but a memory, the Lederach Tea Room is still a constant. They serve a fabulous brunch and full tea service, fresh eggs picked from the hen-house next door, fresh squeezed juices, and of course, a Pennsylvania Dutch treat, homemade apple butter. Not only do they make the best French toast I’ve ever had, but the place literally looks when I left it, specifically the morning I graduated from high school. This was my last stop before returning home, and I couldn’t have been happier to spend it with two very incredible ladies, Liz and Beth, who are practically my little sisters. Somehow they’ve managed to become amazing adults, while I still feel so very young…

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Tim and I share a lot. We share the same brown eyes that get us out of trouble, the same sarcastic wit that makes us both laugh, the same secret addiction of watching The World’s Strongest Man Competition (secrets out, and I don’t think that anyone’s ever topped Magnus Ver Magnusson), the same last name, and of course, the same ’86 Ford Crown Victoria LTD.

I’m sure that back in its day it was quite the looker, and I bet Grandfather Skoczen never looked finer in it. I have fond memories, driving with my entire family, 4 of us seated in the back, my dear Papa driving the entire family over to see the cousins during the holidays in the snowbelt of Ohio. When they traded up, they generously gave the car to recently licensed brother and after Timmy left for college, it was all mine.

I took my first drive in that car, and it was a beast, but not more than I could handle. It was a smooth ride, and I knew nothing bad could ever happen to me in it – it was basically like driving around in an iron vault. It felt like a vault when the mechanism to operate the windows broke and the ac went out, but despite the lack of airbags I knew I was going to be just fine.

I have so many great and unbelievable stories from that car, and I can’t think of high school or college without it entering my mind; of course all those trips to Philly, all the gigs for string quartet in which the entire group, instruments and stands could fit in my trunk, having someone break into it and steal only the car battery, and having a man in North Philly buy me a 40 since we had the same ride – and ‘m pretty sure by the way he was dressed he was either a pimp or from Trenton.

After some wear and tear, finally it was time for me to get a car that worked, or at least one that you could actually lock and operate the windshield wipers. Tim came and got her and moved to Gettysburg, and every residence in the past 5 years that car went with him. Finally, after much prodding from the wife, the real threat of his toddler contracting tetanus if she even looked at it, and perhaps not the way to endear the neighbors, he gave her up.

I honestly never thought that I would see this day, but as of yesterday, she was excommunicated from the family, for the first time in over two decades. And someone actually paid money for that magnificent barge, a staple of our youth.

February 2020
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