November 22, 2018 // 10:44 AM

What Can You Do for an Encore?

Written by Art Petrosemolo

I have not been blogging lately as I am writing like crazy to finish up several stories for the Lititz Record, Ephrata Review and Lancaster Farming before Tina and I leave for Europe December 1, where we start in Rome and then cruise the Mediterranean and then go trans-Atlantic arriving home the day before Christmas.

But in the midst of juggling stories and photos this November, I suddenly realized I have taken a 180-degree turn in what I am writing about compared to a year ago.

In late fall 2017, I was hard at work at a number of faith-based stories. I truly believe that since we moved to Garden Spot (Sycamore Springs) in late December 2016, I have been guided by a higher hand in meeting interesting people that eventually turn into interesting stories.

Some of the stories just dropped in my lap. First, I wrote about a woman I met on an auction story who collected angels—she had 3,000 when I visited and it was fascinating. I still greet the angel she gave me for my office/man cave every morning before I fire up the computer.

With Chaplain Chet Yoder’s help, I visited and learned about a historical Mennonite Meeting House in Alleghenyville and was able to attend, photograph and write about their early December Carole sing. It sent chills up my spine even packed into a one-room building with 100 others.

And I spent weeks learning about the Moravian Christmas service they call a Lovefest. I attended one of their December services with Tina and friends and was pretty impressed.

I even did a story about Outback Toys in Lititz, the largest retailer of farm toys in the country and they were swamped with orders for Christmas 2017.

So, this year, I waited patiently while the Lord decided what I was going to write about for the holidays. I waited and waited and waited and finally realized the Lord was going to make me work for 2018.

After a number of ideas just did not work out, I focused on a “Christmas Remembered” theme but only with seniors age 80 and over. I visited four retirement communities (including Garden Spot Village) in Lancaster County and spoke to 10 seniors who ranged in age from 80 to 108. I was a little naive to think that people could remember specific holiday events 60, 70 and 80 years ago when I have trouble remembering what I ate for dinner last Christmas.

I was half right! With a little prodding, coaxing and research about the early decades of the 20th century, I was able to get the seniors I visited to remember some interesting things. A 100-year-old woman at Luther Acres in Lititz had vivid memories of her family’s Ephrata Christmases which were fun to hear.

The story will appear in the Ephrata and Lititz papers just before Christmas.

So, maybe the Lord took pity on me after I found my Christmas story as he dropped a bunch of farm stories into my lap and said “see what you can do with these!” I am a city kid and my Plain Community Old Order friends—the Hoovers, Fishers, and Lapps—are helping me understand some of farm life, but I am still a real rookie in the area.

I am always up for a challenge and I have had a wonderful fall writing about 4H kids who are livestock judges and were state champions and ninth in the nation.

I also am in the midst of following two FFA kids as they raise goats and lambs for the Farm Show in January, as well as literally falling into the cabbage patch on Linden Grove Road to write about the cold crop harvest.

And for my second year, I ventured into the Weaver Turkey Farm coops to photograph the turkeys literally in their last two weeks before becoming dinner. I had taken the photo so many times in my mind and it worked out as I saw it and was the front-page photo in the November 17 issue of Lancaster Farming. I was pleased.

I’m looking forward to our overseas holiday trip and I know I’ll come back raring to finding new people, places and things to write about for the Garden Spot Village blog and the local newspapers for 2019.

Happy Holidays to all from Tina Petrosemolo and her writer-husband Art.

By
Contributing Writer