Bella Fontana

A weekly column about life in Bellefonte, PA, reprinted from the Centre Daily Times

Monday, September 12, 2005

Directions often filled with town history

For someone like me who gets disoriented in grocery stores, giving directions to strangers can be a challenge. Some questions, such as "Where's the courthouse?" are easy. Others, like "How do you get to Lower Coleville Road?" are harder.

I wisely stayed out of a recent discussion at the Diamond Deli when a motorist wanted to know how to pick up Interstate 80 without going back to Milesburg, where there were traffic delays. And I couldn't help the people who wanted to know how to get to Little Marsh Creek Road.

Sometimes, though, people want recommendations.

When a dad and his daughter asked where they could get a big breakfast, the Waffle Shop seemed like a good choice -- no one ever leaves there hungry. I was with a friend once who asked for pancakes, and when the tower-like structure arrived, she realized she should have ordered the "short stack."

Recently, a young couple asked if there was a dollar store in town. "Next light, turn left, straight ahead on your right."

But when another couple asked how to get to Sandy Ridge Furniture, I was stumped. I knew the place by family name, Roy and Martha Stoltzfus, but not by store name, so I hope those folks found it.

It's easy to confuse streets that have east and west versions or north and south ones. Newly located here, I once directed a friend up steep South Allegheny Street instead of North. By the time she arrived at my house, she was in a state of shock.

Watching a pizza delivery girl trying to maneuver down icy apartment steps on East Curtin Street last winter with her undelivered order, I realized she was looking for the same number on West Curtin.

Sometimes we use old businesses as landmarks. Bellefonte Hardware has been gone for many years, and Schaeffer Hardware not quite as many, but people still call these buildings by their former names. I've lived in my house for 20 years, but it is still Dr. Capers' home.

When I am out of town, I am often asked, "Where is Bellefonte?"

That's what Larry King wanted to know when he interviewed Police Chief Duane Dixon last month on "Larry King Live." The chief's answer was that we're about 10 miles from State College, giving Larry the chance he was probably waiting for, to bring up Joe Paterno and Penn State.

We may be living in reflected glory for now, but if Bellefonte keeps growing, people may some day ask, "Where is State College?"