Family and Connections

June 1, 2017

Written by Art Petrosemolo

Many of you know my wife, Tina, who has jumped into community activities with two feet. We moved to Sycamore Springs December 28. We lived through and continue to live with construction all around us. You actually get used to it and it certainly will be different when we don’t have construction people in and around Keyser Way.

I bring it up as it is where I started to see how much a close-knit family area of the country this is and where I continue to find “connections” at every turn.

I am out and around most days of the week researching feature stories and photographing for the Ephrata and Lititz newspapers. For me, I discovered it starts with families staying together. After I left my New Haven, CT home for college at age 18, my working career has been spent in six states…rarely did I have an out-of-the-blue connection with anyone. Not so here.

Here, I find fathers, sons, daughters and extended families, not only live in proximity of each other but work together. For example, we shop at Kings Meats at Green Dragon Market in Ephrata. Mr. King sells meat, fruit and produce in a section of one of the covered buildings. He has seven daughters and they all work for him. They greet me by name now.

I stopped at Martin Bicycle Shop on the way to Ephrata shortly after I moved in to test an electric bike and do initial research on a bicycle story. It was the senior Martin’s son who ran the shop.

John Lapp, who I wrote about several weeks ago in a story about Lancaster County’s wholesale flower business in New Holland, works with his brother, his sister-in-law, his father, his mother and his kids to keep the business going.

And the young man (no more than 18) who installed the tile in our home in January started in the profession at 15. “At 15,” I asked puzzled…. “My father owns the business,” he answered “and I was on a crew in high school,” I smiled.

So I’m learning families truly are families here and I like that.

Lately I also have run into several six degrees of separation encounters and I expect it’s only the beginning…..really because of close family ties.

As an example, I spent weeks networking and trying to meet an Amish family who hosts dinners in their home for a story for Ephrata Review. I talked to Art Saunders here at GSV who has worked with a number of Amish families to host dinner parties. All were pleasant but said thanks, no thanks. “We’d like to stay under the radar.” But I was passed on from family to family and always felt someone knew something and eventually I’d get to the right spot.

Finally, one of the woman sent me to Paradise and said go visit Ruth and Sam Lapp. I drove to the farm and they were away. I waited for an hour. They didn’t return.

Later in the day I was buying produce from an Amish farmer (John) from Gap at Green Dragon Market. His last name was Lapp….go figure! I have known him for years. I asked if he might know Ruth and Sam Lapp and if they are related. Guess what, Sam Lapp was his nephew and he called and got me the connection. And it turns out to be the right connection as the family will soon be certified to host dinners in their home and I’ll write the story.

Example two. I am finishing up a story on New Holland Church Furniture on Prospect Street. Garden Spot Village’s Mary Lou Weaver walks to work there every day and was featured in a story in Destination magazine this spring.

I spoke to Judy Phipps who had been there for 33 years. We talked about woodworking and how I had done a story on tall case or grandfather clocks at Hicks’ Clock Shoppe in New Holland. Turns out Mr. Hicks’ wife’s father was one of the past owners of New Holland Church Furniture.

And finally, I am working on a story for Destination on the Amish wood working genius who built the special natural, live-edge tables for Garden Spot Village. It’s a fun story to write as Mike Fisher is talented, smart and creative and I visit there at least once a week to talk. I spoke about him to Melvin who owns Adrianna bakery on Jackson Street where I get my coffee after swimming every morning…. I told Melvin about my new friendship and he smiled…. “I grew up with Mike Fisher,” he said, “We played a lot of softball as kids.”

So I smile and wait to run into the next connection on one hand and, on the other, think about what I have said to who and when and how they might be connected to half the community…. And how I hope I didn’t say something inappropriate!

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