Off the Wall, August 31, 2017

As I stepped outside my door one Tuesday morning waiting for my driver to pick me up, I noticed the number of tractor trailer trucks heading toward downtown, more cars than I could count heading east, and people walking dogs and jogging everywhere.

It was as though the surroundings were taken over by mass confusion that left my mind in utter disarray. Even though I wanted to think about one thing in particular, forget it, it wasn’t going to happen that morning.

Looking to my right, I glanced upon a heavy-set motorcyclist on his prize possession wheeling up Irving Avenue, radio blaring loud ruckus music, if one wishes to call it that. I know he was trying to draw attention to himself as being the ‘hip’ (I don’t know what the modern words are today, so I have to revert back to my time period) ‘bad boy of the block.’ All that was going through my mind was, “Get a haircut, loose weight and for the sake of everyone around Frederick’s Funeral Home, “Turn down that radio!”

There was no way in the world I would be able to ponder upon any given subject. It was chaotic at best.

On the other hand, I’m excited, for the expression, “Latrobe is a dead town” sure isn’t that way anymore.

If anything anymore, I compare it to a baby, sleeping in a crib. It’s so nice after the parents have gotten it to stop crying and it drifts off to sleep. Oh, when morning comes, it’s a whole new ball game, isn’t it?

With that little cry comes a little bit of motion, and with that, more, and more, and more. Before one realizes, that baby is screaming with all that it can force out of its undeveloped lungs.

Such is the case between 5:30 a.m. on Ligonier Street here in Latrobe as seen from the tower (my bedroom window), and 9:45 a.m. It is craziness after that.

Parents who cuddle babies in their arms to quiet them will only work with siblings. When things get going in this city, take my word, things don’t slow down until such time as when the sun goes down. The joggers come out, the dog walkers and the couples, hand in hand.

Eventually, the parents put the baby into the crib for another’s night sleep. Such is the case with our tourist community. What was once havoc in all directions was in the process of entering into a peace that ‘knoweth’ no understanding.

I think everyone gets the idea.

But I could stop here, because, I believe, my point has been made. But to really accentuate my message, I’d like to relate a journey I experienced one Sunday evening recently.

I decided that instead of going for a daytime walk, I took my stroll along the streets of my hometown beginning at 8:30 and concluding it at 10 p.m. Not really a great idea, if you ask me. I state that because I am not great on my feet needless to say particularly at night when and where I can’t see the ground I am walking on.

Yet, I decided that the temperature was so perfect for walking; I thought I would hit the pavement at those evening hours.

My excursion took me along my usual path. I would head south on Ligonier Street, turn left onto James Street and follow it up to Lincoln Avenue, cross it and up the hill a slight bit turning right onto Daily Ave. At the intersection of Daily and Cherry Street I made an abrupt left pounding the asphalt looking forward to my favorite hill, Sloan Avenue.

For those who don’t know this street, it is one of the steepest hills in Latrobe. I like to hoof it just as fast as I can using my walking stick for that additional push. I feel such an accomplishment once I have reached the top.

I would then follow the streets and avenues to Chestnut Street. During the daytime I go much farther, but since it was night and my bedtime was creeping closer, I thought I ‘d better stop and start heading down.

Along my path as I walked on the road, something came over me – total silence – except at the house where one neighbor must have been hosting a party.

It was if the baby had been put to bed and fell asleep instantly. I could sense that total peace that had come over Latrobe. What a blessing…

- Paul J. Volkmann
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