Greetings from Blue Bell, Pa.
Linda and I arrived weary, but relieved, on Aug. 14. Family members graciously rose to the occasion and helped us unload the Pennske and move our stuff into storage.
Blue Bell, Pa. is a bustling suburb of mostly congenial go-getters. The density and pace of traffic takes a little getting used to, as does the more urban energy. Linda’s sister, Donna, has offered us a beautiful oasis at her home, which sits on many acres of natural beauty set back from the street. Here we can slow down, breathe and prepare to find a more permanent dwelling.
We are also enjoying spending time with Dillon the Cat, who has an endearing way of letting us know who’s in charge. He seems to have figured out that a gentle meow and leg rub will get him what he wants without having to raise his voice…well, most of the time.
The passage of a week has afforded some time to ponder what I wanted to say in this month’s column. Certainly, I feel the loss of so much good in Shepherdstown. The fabled dear hearts and gentle people who warmed my soul these past 16 years are surely and sorely missed. I also miss being on a first name basis with doctors, insurers, auto maintainers and, last but not least, the liquor store owner. I miss the southern charm, the northern sophistication, the friendly mix of town and gown.
All of these high positives are true and remain true. There is, however, a new note of discord weaving in and out of Shepherdstown’s fair streets. In all the time I lived there, I do not remember a single instance of people lacking manners; just this summer, though, I experienced two instances of this.
The first happened when I slowed my car down to make the routine right turn onto Shepherd Lane, where we lived. I glanced in my rearview mirror to reassure myself that the driver behind me was not going to land in my trunk. I was greeted with not one but two middle fingers. Apparently the chap behind me was annoyed that he had to slow down while I made my turn. Really?
The second occurred one day, when Linda and I were jaywalking to get from our parking space on German Street to a store across the way. Now, I know jaywalking is illegal, but it’s also true that the jaywalking culprits retain the right of way. Besides, who wants to walk half a block to the crosswalk and then another half block back to the shop du jour. Well, Linda and I reached the middle of the street to see a large black van hurtling down on us and displaying no sign that he would be yielding to us. So we stopped and let him go by. His windows were blackened so we could not see inside. I put my hands on my hips and scowled at him (Giving him the digital sign is not my style and, besides, it might have inspired him to stop his car and beat me silly).
There is also a third example that I have heard about from a reliable source, but I did not experience personally. It seems there is a growing trend to run the four-way stop at Duke and German.
Who knows if these travesties were perpetrated by newbies or just Trumpies passing through (oh, lighten up). Regardless, it would be a shame if Shepherdstown lost its charm. See you next month.
Bill O’Brien is a consciousness coach and shamanic practitioner. He and his wife Linda lived in Shepherdstown from 2005-2021, before relocating near family in Blue Bell, Pa. He can be reached at email@example.com.