I was born in Hanover General, but when I am asked where I am from I always respond “born and raised in McSherrystown, PA…a little town east of Gettysburg.”
Recently I took a drive through my hometown, a diversion while waiting for a parking spot to open along Main Street by the post office. I needed a book of stamps.
I made my way back to the ball fields and basketball courts on the north end of town. Immediately I was struck by all the homes that have been built behind the baseball diamonds. Chuckling to myself, I thought it a bit amusing to think of a foul ball going through a house window. The reality is that such a feat would be very unlikely considering the distance between home plate and the homes.
I was delighted to see the row of trees behind the backstop of the pee wee field. I could have used them on those late spring and summer evenings while standing on the mound with my cap pulled down to block the rays of the setting sun. Hmm. I guess progress can be a good thing.
I then drove towards Neiderer’s Pool, my hangout from noon to 3:30 every day in the summer. It was empty of water, the top foot or so of the inner wall displaying a dirty ring.
Staying on the road (I am bad with road names…give me a landmark and I’m there) that runs west from the pool on the south side of it, I came to a dead end that is the location to drop off recyclables in McSherrystown. I knew it was back there somewhere, just never knew where. You can bring all your glass, plastic, paper, compost, cans, etc. Don’t say you don’t know where to take it. Simply find the far northwest corner of McSherrystown and you’re there.
Let’s move to the south end of town, my stomping grounds. Again, not much has changed. Again, the only major change is the housing developments that sit to the right and left of Blettner Avenue. Though this is technically not McSherrystown, it was an extension of my roaming area when I was a kid.
Gone are the days of building forts in the corn fields and kids sledding down South Fourth and South Fifth Streets on metal runner sleds. We always slid right under the road closed barricades put up at the intersection with Delone Avenue at the bottom of the hill, the goal being to make it the stop sign at South Street.
I can still remember the day my brother made it to the stop sign! The road was covered in inches of ice. It was early afternoon. He took a long running start with the sled in his hands and in one fluid motion went from running feet to laying face first on the wood…….pure sledding nirvana. Straight and fast, smooth and calculated. We knew he had it. We only hoped no cars were coming down South Street.
The Moose went through a renovation, the bank clock is gone, and Turkey Hill has modern gas pumps. I’ve seen a few Latinos walking the streets. Other than that, there is nothing hugely different about my hometown that seems to stand out to me.
I like to think that kids growing up today in McSherrystown are doing the same things I did back in the late 70s and all of the 80s. While I am a proponent of the necessity for change, I also have a part of me that appreciates and respects tradition. Sometimes familiarity and the passing on of heritage are necessary. It allows for human connection between generations.
“Born and raised in McSherrystown, PA…a little town east of Gettysburg.”—a place along state route 116 in the southcentral region of the state that hasn’t changed much over the years. Most residents would agree that that is a good thing.
(written 8 February 2004)