Super Blessed
Off The Wall, February 05, 2010

Back in the early 70’s, the late Reverend Robert Vogelsang, pastor of the Latrobe Presbyterian Church, and I were shooting the breeze one day when we happened to get on the subject of eating places along State Route 30.

“Paul,” Dr. V. (that is what the people from his congregation called him) questioned me, “do you know how many restaurants there are along that stretch of highway between Latrobe and Irwin?”

That statement threw into somewhat of a tizzy, for I don’t think I’m any different than anyone else when I say that when I travel with my wife along that stretch of highway consideration isn’t given as to how many fast food establishments exist within a that amount of space.

So when the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary graduate (then the Western Theological Seminary) posed the question, all I could do is guess knowing in my heart, I’d probably be way off, and I was. Now, you have to figure that was a good number of years ago, but digging into the depths of my gray matter, the number 60 came to mind, so I stuck with that answer.

Needless to say, I was off by an embarrassing amount. So, I felt pushed into a corner of asking the key question, “O.K., Dr. Vogelsang, tell me what you discovered.”  The St. Vincent Religious Studies instructor revealed, “Can you believe, there are 100.” Wow…

But even though I lost a good friend back in 1982, the food chains continue to grow. Since I do not operate a motor vehicle, I can only surmise that there has been a significant growth since the man of the cloth took his original count.

In my opinion, that can only spell out one thing. We are super-blessed with food in this country.

As the outdoor writer for The Latrobe Bulletin, there are many stories that come across my desk that don’t make the newspaper. One subject is poaching. Very few of these concern local people, so I don’t publicize them. With that said, should these illegal acts be allowed because some may say they are destitute and need food? Sorry, but I can’t buy into that idea. There are people throughout this wonderful land of ours who are always willing to lend a hand. There are any number of ways for the hungry to obtain food.

But hunters aren’t the only guilty party. I have come upon several fishermen who have well-paying jobs, who think it is their right to cart home as many fish as they see fit. I know personally one gent who has a freezer full of trout. I don’t know if he doesn’t have a conscience, or feels the laws were written for others, or just what his thinking is.  Another angler had it all figured out. He would catch his limit, take the fish home, and then go back to the lake for more. I think his retirement income more than subsidized his living needs. Yet he still carried on his illegal acts. Maybe it was a challenge to him to see if he could ever get caught.

What these poachers don’t realize is that even though the wildlife or waterways conservation officers may not catch them in the act, more importantly, God is taking notes and will hold each person responsible for these forbidden acts. My suggestion – any one at any age can change his ways when it comes to legalities. When you realize that God’s overseeing one’s actions, it speaks for itself to turn around and fly right, or whatever the saying is.

I think when Dr. Bob pointed out to me that there were so many outlets where one could purchase food, he was telling me in essence, this country is gifted by God. For him to take notice and actually count the number of restaurants between the two cities back then must have boggled his mind.

But if he was still here today and the both of us could be chauffeured in a stream-lined limousine starting at the Rt. 982 bridge over Rt. 30 and traveling past the turnpike to Dunkin’ Donuts in Irwin, I can’t help but feel we’d both be in awe, for the amount of food places may have doubled. I can’t help but imagine his expression as being bewildered. I guess I would be, too, as anybody would, for change does have that effect. 

- Paul J. Volkmann
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