Defining My New Corridor
Routes 6, 220, and 187, along with numerous back roads between Towanda, Herrick Township, and New Albany were the primary stretches of pavement I remember from my earliest days in this area. As my life shifted south and east and I got my first car, I added Routes 29, 92, and 87 to my mental map. These six highways remained key arteries of travel for my next 30 years, even if I only glanced off of them via my trips in and out of the area. Little did I know that these same roads would come to define my very existence here upon returning to work at the Rocket-Courier.
I come from a well-traveled family in that we were often in the car, and my father especially loved to simply “go for a ride” on the weekends. There was usually an ice cream stop involved in the trip, so I never much minded which direction he would take us. Quite frankly, I could never have gotten us back to the house if I had to because he was one to take a turn onto an unfamiliar road just to see where it went, and, yes, he did drive us down the occasional cow path, and we would have to turn around.
Those memories come flooding back to me as I reacquaint myself with Bradford, Wyoming, Susquehanna, and Sullivan Counties in the course of gathering information, conducting interviews, and taking photos for stories. It has been a thrill to “rediscover” the lower end of Route 187 and to be reintroduced to Route 706 and the beautiful expanse of countryside between Camptown and Montrose.
As I run into people from my past, I realize that something has happened in the last decade or so that I don’t believe was as common when I was younger. I am finding old Tunkhannock friends in Towanda and vice versa. I’m running into people whom I used to associate with the Montrose area in Dushore as well, but it’s the Towanda/Tunkhannock swap that I’ve found most intriguing.
When I lived in Towanda, Tunkhannock was a place we drove through to get someplace else, often to Olyphant, where many Hyduks (correct spelling) still resided, or to get to the turnpike. Conversely, coming into Tunkhannock from the east meant that we were almost home, which, in itself, made Tunkhannock synonymous with “hominess,” a feeling that I wouldn’t fully embrace for another decade. When I lived in Tunkhannock, nobody ever mentioned Towanda beyond acknowledging its location upriver whenever I would reference it.
I doubt that the change occurred overnight, but there must have been some tipping point when people living in and around these two county seats started migrating toward each other and commerce between the two counties picked up steam. My “flip-flopping” friends agree that this is not the way it always was. What had always seemed natural to me has since become a cohesive commonality that probably helped gas companies and their related support industries flourish in the area. When you factor in Montrose and Dushore, the picture becomes even clearer. The Endless Mountains as a region comes into focus, and one finds Wyalusing at the center of that universe—a small town that is uniquely situated to function as a vital hub to everything that is going on around us.
I’m sure now that the Keelers saw my personal experience as an asset to maintaining that cohesiveness even more than I initially did. I remember thinking, “How am I going to tie all of this together?” I didn’t have to. There’s hardly a story I approach that does not automatically feed on the correlation between the parts of these four counties that work so well together, and I’ve made it a point to bring that connection to the forefront. I want our readers in Montrose to find something relative in a story that is centered on Towanda. I want readers in Tunkhannock and Rome to recognize names and elements from an article about something that happened in Dushore. Otherwise, the marriage of the Rocket and the Courier in the late 70s would have been in vain. In hindsight, that merger probably has more to do with this phenomenon than most people might think.
As much as I have enjoyed wrapping myself around this region that is defined by our readership, I realize that there is one area that I have missed, and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to make my way out Routes 187 and 467 and get to know some of the folks in Rome and LeRaysville. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been in either town since I was a drummer in the Towanda High School Marching Band. I know that we have a lot of readers up that way, and I want to keep all of you in the loop. I ask that you too keep us in mind to share your comments and story ideas with us so we can maintain the significance of this publication to the heart of the Endless Mountains for many years to come.
P.S.—I can’t lie. I do have a secret agenda. I’m addicted to LeRaysville Cheese, and I really want to see where and how it is made.