Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pennsylvania: Hey Look Kids, Another Dead Deer!

Chapter 9 in the now-plodding along "Know Limpy's States"

Pennsylvania is the 2nd state, entering the Union on December 12, 1787. If they could have gotten their act together and done it 6 days earlier, none of us would ever have had to know anything about Delaware. Including perhaps how to spell it during the 5th grade spelling bee and therefore not losing to that geek Fred Humpage.

Pennsylvania is known as "The Keystone State", for some reason. According to this book it's because "[t]o a builder, the keystone is at the center of the arch, the stone that binds the others together. Pennsylvania was key to the nation's succesful start, and a major force in holding the union together during its toughest time." Which I guess would have been a little thing called the "Civil War", or as some of my 'Bama friends like to call it, spitting the words out between their three mismatched teeth, "The War of Northern Aggression." Face it, we kicked your asses. Get over it.

Anyway, calling Pennsylvania the Keystone State because it was crucial to the nation's start seems like kind of a kick to the groin of New York, Virginia and Massachussets, but what do I know? I was only a history major. As I recall, Washington was usually pissed off at the Quakers, who stayed out of the fighting due to their pacifist tendencies, but who were more than happy to sell stuff to the troops at a 200% mark-up, because, hey, a buck's a buck. Of course, Washington was also usually pissed off at the New England troops because they didn't listen well, tended to wander off, and didn't exactly bathe on a regular basis.

Of course, at the time Pennsylvania was pretty much the center of the universe because it had Philadelphia and to a (much) lesser extent, Pittsburgh. Which at the time was pretty much a wooden fort filled with sick and bitter troops and surrounded by Indians. Today, people in Pittsburgh refer to those times, justifiably, as "The Good Old Days". Philadelphia had, in the Revolutionary era, Ben Franklin, who was probably the most famous American in the world, (and something of a slut if you believe the stuff written about what he was doing in Europe while representing America), so it was probably the most famous city in the US for a time. It was the first capital of the country, (in colonial times anyway, I think NYC took it over after the Constitution, but I'm too lazy to go look that up), and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written there. Also there's a bell in the city somewhere but the name escapes me.

Pennsylvania is a long state, with many highways. I had thought, based on a movie I had rented as research for this post, that the most famous of these highways was the one leading to the chocolate factories in Hershey, but it turns out that "Chocolate Thunder's Adventures On The Hershey Highway" meant something entirely different. Boy was my face red!

That mistake aside however, I did once drive across Pennsylvania in one day. There are few experiences I can think of more unpleasant than that, although to be fair, at least two from that movie spring to mind fairly quickly. Mile after mile after mile of two lane highway with traffic stuck at 45 mph at best. And as the title of this little opus suggests, as far as I know the Pennsylvania DOT has a plan for the removal of deer carcasses which is called "ignore them and they will eventually rot", because I shit you not, during those hellish 7 hours my brother and I saw dozens of dead deer on the side of the road, several of which had clearly been out there past their expiration date.

We also noticed that in western PA there's a porn shop about every 7 miles off the highway.

Pennsylvania's state bird is the Ruffed Grouse. I know little about this bird but would hope it knows how to avoid highways or else it's ll be extinct by the time you finish reading this.

Pennsylvania's state flower is the mountain laurel, which is a total fucking rip-off of Connecticut! We had it first bitch! Perhaps we can fight another war about this issue. Connecticut and Pennsylvania did actually exchange a few shots at one point over an area of land called the "Case Western Reserve" Seems that CT's original charter from the British king, (either George III or someone else), extended CT lands as far west as the next ocean. Pennsylvania and Ohio would later get somewhat uppity about this. CT settlers later settled in parts of Pennsylvania, and, since no ones happy when CT yuppies come in wearing pink shirts and green pants, the Pennsylvania people got pissed and I believe some shots were fired and farms burned before differences were settled. To learn more about this fascinating chapter of our history, ask someone who knows more about it than I do. The wino on the corner would be a good place to start.

The highest point in Pennsylvania is Mt. Davis, in the southwest, looming up 3,213 above sea level. One of the lowest points in Pennsylvania is the Johnstown River valley. In 1889, an old and incredibly poorly maintained earthen dam located, quite unfortunately, above the towns in said valley, burst. The lake behind the dam came down the valley like a huge, uh, well, like a huge fucking wave I guess, and pretty much cleaned everything out. More than 2,000 people were killed. The most incredible thing about the flood? Very few lawsuits were filed and none of the plaintiffs recovered anything except one where someone recovered for some stolen whiskey!! Good book by the way, but then, McCullough could rewrite the phone book and I'd probably read it.

There are 12,365,455 people in Pennsylvania. Some of them are Amish. The Amish are a weird religious group, (although certainly not as weird as Scientolgists or, -shudder-, Catholics), who mostly live in the southeast and shun modern technology. Kind of like Ewoks but not as cuddly. For fun you can drive thought the area pointing your camera at them and watch them dive to the ground lest your magical flashamabulb thingie capture their souls.

Actually, I don't know if they do that, but they do have a kind of neat tradition or ritual or ritual-tradition, called "rumspringa" This, as I understand it, is kind of a young person's last chance to leave the community and join the land of the living, or else get baptized and commit to a life of scrapple and button-fly flannel pants and saying "thee" and "thou" a lot. One of the MTV channels did a reality show on this a few years ago. They took a handful of Amish teens and stuck them in a house in LA while they did their rumspringa. I thought it was going to be like watching a car crash, but it was kind of cool watching the kids see an entirely different, ("entirely" doesn't quite describe what it must be like going from Ephrata, PA to Los Angeles, but for now it'll do), and seeing how they reacted to it. As the show went on it seemed like the women were more inclined to rethink this whole living in the 18th century way of life, while the guys were frankly terrified of the concept, although they did like the beer. Which just goes to show you that what I've always said is true: If you expect breakfast on the table every morning don't ever let your wife leaving the house!

I make my own oatmeal pretty much every morning.

IF YOU'RE IN PENNSYLVANIA YOU SHOULD: First, keep an eye peeled for deer, because the things are apparently sucidal down there and prefer to off themselves in traffic. Second, stay away from Scranton, the ugliest metropolitan, (and I use that term loosely), area I've ever seen, and remember, I dated a girl who lived in Worcester, MA! Other than that, I can't really tell you. I went to Philadelphia once. Saw a baseball game at the old stadium, which was a hideous monstrosity and deserved to be blown up. It was 108 degrees that day, and for once I'm not lying. The new stadium looks nice, although unfortunately it's still the Phillies in there. My brother went to Pittsburgh last summer and said it was nice. You could see a Pirates game there, they have a nice new stadium as well, which is odd for a Double A team. My advice would be to root for the visitors.

I don't know about you, but that was kinda worth the wait.

LIMPY'S CONNECTION TO STATE: Minimal. Although I've driven the length of the state twice, the most time I've spent out of the car was at that one Phillies game. That was for about four hours, the last two of which I was drunk and suffering from heat stroke.


Up next, Rhode Island. Hold the applause.


Blogger tysgirl said...

Don't be ridiculous, people from 'Bama don't have teeth.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Sugar Smacks said...

As a Canadian and an unedumacated one, I know nothing of these "states" and mystery bells you speak of Limpy, but damn, I wish I saw that mtv show on rumspringa.

We have the equivalent of the Amish here in Ontario, called "Mennonites." The men are allowed to have beards, but not mustaches. They make great quilts.

This post was funny AND informative! I did catch one of those "typos" you do, though...hehe.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I’ve driven the Pennsylvania Turnpike from west to east and back so many times I think I can do it in my sleep. I think I have done it in my sleep.

3:37 PM  
Blogger eclectic said...

No cream cheese? No cheese steak sandwiches?? You obviously know nothing about Philadelphia. You seem to think it's a place. Pfffffft.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

My grandfather was Amish. Married a southern baptist so that whole rumspringa thing might not be all it's cracked up to be.

And am I the only one that writes "rumpspringa" originally?

10:21 PM  
Blogger tysgirl said...

Mags, it kinda just begs to be spelled that way, doesn't it? Especially if you know what happens during rumspringa!

5:25 AM  
Blogger Litlsassy20 said...

uuummmm, I have ALL of my teeth thankyouverymuch!

8:32 AM  
Blogger limpy99 said...

Tysgirl, not many of 'em anyway.

Sugar smacks, if I got through all that with only one typo, I'd be happier than a Mennonite winning a quilt-making contest!

Nick, that would explain all the dead deer anyway.

Eclectic, I find that cheese-steak sandwiches are probably one of the more over-rated foods around. I've had them in Philadephia, and although drunk and very over-heated, I do recall thinking they weren't anything I couldn't recreate myself given a microwave and some Cheese-whiz.

Maggie, your grandfather married a Southern Baptist? Were the Amish to loose in their morals?

LS, give it time.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Ookami Snow said...

Fun fact, the highest point in Kansas is Mount Sunflower at 4,039 feet, almost 1000ft higher than the highest point in Pennsylvania.

You also fail to mention that almost all American born Vampires can trace their roots back to Pennsylvania.

8:04 AM  
Blogger The Recovering Straight Girl said...

You forgot the white supremacists, and the fact that I, RSG, grew up in PA.

(Those two things are not related, they do not let my kind into the WS groups.)

10:17 AM  
Blogger puerileuwaite said...

From this point onward, my new "incognito at the bar" name shall be Fred Humpage. Thank you for that.

So does this mean that Quaker Oats ALSO have a 200% markup? Because that would cause me to shit a brick, albeit a tad bit easier due to the fiber and whatnot.

It would be tough for me to head up the Hershey Highway without thinking of the "other" Hershey Highway ... and unfortunately ... vice versa.

And based on your post, I cannot help but suspect that Kamikaze deer and the closely located Porn Shops may somehow be related.

Well, I'd love to stay and comment further, but I am off to flesh out the details of my "Pugspringa" concept with the Aruba Tourism Board.

6:40 PM  
Blogger puerileuwaite said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:41 PM  
Blogger limpy99 said...

ookami, great, now you've ruined the Kansas entry. AND I have to go google "American vampires" to satisfy my curiosity. And THEN I've got to go kill a hooker to satisfy this craving for blood I picked up after driving through Pennsylvania.

RSG, I'd let you into my white supremacist group any day.

Pug, I actually toyed with the idea of putting up a shot of the Quaker Oats guy for Miss Pennsylvania, but I thought that might have been too obvious. Maybe I'll re-edit this, because the more I think about it, the funnier it sounds. Also I can claim its a new post and get away with blowing off Rhode Island. Good luck getting any with "Fred Humpage" The real one never did. He could spell the shit out of Delaware though.

8:48 PM  
Blogger shellibells said...

CT thinks they shit ice cream. Not just cheap generic ice cream either. THE GOOD stuff. pfft fuckem.

the only thing i remember in PA (while driving thru to ohio- a girlfriend and i) was trees and dead deer. very dead deer everywhere. And the one car that passed us on the hwy that wasn't rolling on 18 wheels? two guys in a car who held up a sign that said "flash us your tits"

fascinating state, i must say.

5:40 PM  

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