Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday's postcard: Why haven't I been to Shartlesville?

The back of today's postcard states:
Greetings from the Dutch Country!
ROADSIDE AMERICA -- The Great and Beautiful Indoor Miniature Village. Visit our Penna. Dutch Gift Haus for a big variety of usability gifts -- Lunch Room. SHARTLESTVILLE, EXIT, PA., Route 22 or 78.
The Modern Village of Fairfield at dawn with the Organ playing and the Choir singing in the Cathedral. One of 100 displays.

The unused card, made by Dexter Press, is stamped SEP 30 1978, though I would guess it was produced years before that. One of my favorite small details is the movie marquee indicating that "Boys Town" is playing.

Amazingly, with all the road trips my wife and I have taken, we have never stopped in Shartlesville1 or at Roadside America.

We've been to Emporium, Warren, the ghost town of Centralia (three times), English Center, Big Cove Tannery, Burning Well, Cold Cabin Beach, Picture Rocks, Breezewood, Tunkhannock and Needmore.

But we've never been to Shartlesville.

I feel a little like Daniel Plainview, towering over a map of Pennsylvania, frowning and demanding, "Why haven't I been here? Why haven't I been HERE?"

Roadside America is the kind of attraction I love. We've been to the Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg twice. When I win Powerball and no longer have to work, model trains will be one of my side hobbies. Maybe I'll even create something to rival Gorre and Daphetid.

But, until that day, I'll have to settle for checking out other people's models, such as Laurence Gieringer's creation at Roadside America.

From what I've read, the miniature village and railway, created in 1935, covers 8,000 square feet2. It contains 400 miniature buildings and 4,000 miniature people. The Roadside America website states: "The exhibit fascinates not only because of its authentic, beautifully crafted miniatures, but because of the excitement of continual movement. Swift trains glide through tunnels and over bridges … a tiny fountain bubbles in the miniature Zoo … a mountain trolley hustles through the woodland … an old-time grist mill slowly grinds grain for flour."

I have a second piece of ephemera related to Roadside America, which is a clear sign that I need to get my butt there this year. Pictured below is an advertisement from the American Automobile Association's 1967-68 Mideastern Tour Book.

1. Shartlesville is a small unincorporated community in Upper Bern Township, Berks County. It is just south of Interstate 78. So I've driven PAST it dozens of times, on the way to and from the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area.
2. The Choo Choo Barn, by comparison, is 1,700 square feet.

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