Friday, September 16, 2011

A Party & Lace Weekend

Friday evening I drove down to DC to Emily's house where we were celebrating Jason's birthday. It was an exceptional evening seeing folks I'd not seen for a while and meeting new people. And also great because I didn't have to drive back home, Emily had a spare bed for me. It was an evening of many laughs but not too much alcohol for me as we were on a mission to Scranton, PA, the next day.
 Emily with Mukul and Molly.
Me with Joe and his entourage, great lads.
And even though it was Jason's birthday, he was the one who gave me a gift. Throughout the evening he and Emily would mention the 'stuff' that was upstairs for me, and as people went on the house tour they came back down the stairs saying that they liked my 'stuff'. I didn't get a chance to look until I woke up the following morning and had a fine old time unwrapping paper and boxes to unearth an assortment of possible candleholders. Jason had heard me mention that I wanted to start painting glass pots for lanterns and hence the collection of 'stuff'. Awesome, Thanks Jason! Unfortunately the poor man had an eventful night with the pair of us as Emily was ill and needed help and then just when they were settled, I walked in still mostly asleep and wanted to know where I was, even going over to the window to try and get my bearings. I don't remember much of this but obviously went back to bed and slept OK. In the morning poor Emily had to sit through a hair appointment with a major hangover while I sat and demolished a sumptuous breakfast cooked by Jason. As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that this guy was the star of the weekend having to put up with us and also doing all the driving.
Soon after midday we set off of PA excited to finally exploring an old lace museum, a trip we'd been trying to pull off for some weeks.
We saw this wonderful doors and windows store on the way.
We managed to get to Scranton before dark and immediately headed to the factory to get our bearings. We actually had permission from the owner to explore the buildings which was quite a novelty for us but somehow I couldn't stop my instinctive skulking and lurking as we prowled around the perimeter. We snapped a few shots and then concentrated on finding a motel for the night and dinner, and of course, beers.
 We drove and walked around downtown Scranton but soon were desperately tired and realized we needed our beds. The next morning we were disciplined to get up at 7:30am and fortified with a Dunkin Donuts breakfast we raced back to the factory.
Scranton Lace Factory was the world's largest supplier of Nottingham Lace. During its heyday in the early 20th century, Scranton Lace employed over 1,400 people and had bowling alleys, a gymnasium, a barber, a fully staffed infirmary, and owned its own coal mine and cotton field. Founded in 1897 in Scranton, PA, the company used looms that were made in Nottingham, England, stood two and a half stories tall, were over 50 feet long, and weighed over 20 tons. During World War II, the company expanded its production line to include mosquito and camouflage netting, bomb parachutes, and tarpaulins. After the war, the company returned to producing cotton yarn, vinyl shower curtains, and textile laminates for umbrellas, patio furniture, and pool liners. In recent years, the number of employees dwindled to around 50 people, with annual sales averaging $6 million. As mechanized looms replace manual ones, Scranton Lace joined the ranks of craft-style textile manufacturers and shut their doors in 2002. The photo above was taken before 1928.
The building inside was vast and we realized it would take many hours to explore this place thoroughly. There was a radio playing on a talk station downstairs which I found a little unnerving as it would fade in and out as we wandered through the rooms. Records lay around as well as many packing boxes but for the first couple of hours Emily and I found nothing gut thumping exciting in the huge storage rooms.
We later met up with Jason by the clock tower and naturally had to climb up there. The ladders were very steep but the views in the clock face were worth it.
From the clock face level it was another 3 vertical ladders to the cone tip which you can see in the first SL photos above. The platform in this photo led to the outside of the cone where there was a final ladder to the whistle at the very top. I didn't do that one.
 We later came to a beautiful room with a domed roof carpeted with thousands of loom pattern cards. There were more in the next room, along with old sewing machines, which was once a basketball court. And then we came to a bowling alley.
It was still operational so Jason hurled a few balls down one of the lanes.
We found one of the loom rooms filled with wonderful old iron machines from Nottingham, England. They looked as if they could still be run and I tried to imagine the noise when this room was in its heyday. It was almost sad to see them standing silent yet still intertwined with miles of colored threads. We did notice that most of them were marked with notices telling us they were earmarked for removal to a museum. Good to know.
Some of the windows caught my eye as I walked around and these two were my favorites with the tendrils of ivy framing the hazy glass. We'd been exploring here for over 5 hours and decided we'd had enough for one day. There was more to see but creativity was waning and our beer cravings were sharpened so we left with a few hundred photos and headed south. I put together a short video which can be seen here. On the way up to Scranton we'd spotted an old coal breaker so thought we'd stop in on the drive home.
This impressive structure is the Huber Breaker which closed in 1976. There is currently an organization at work to trying to raise money and create a community park on the grounds. The coal breaker was in a lot worse condition than the Nicholas Coal Breaker which we'd explored a couple of years ago and we were a little apprehensive as we walked towards it.
Someone had climbed up to hang a Stars & Stripes in commemoration of the day, the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The light was starting so fade so we had no intention of scrabbling amongst those ruins but I did climb into the turbine room and take some photos helped with the last rays of the sun. This would be an excellent exploration to continue another time when we have more light and no need to rush.
On the way out I looked around and without thinking read the sign aloud as 'America's Finest Anthrax' Could've been funny but when I took the image into Photoshop with the intention of adjusting the sign to read that, I didn't find it so amusing in the light of previous anthrax attacks and the 9/11 anniversary so I left it alone.
We were totally beat by now and still hadn't had our ritualistic Exploration Beers, so we drove further south and stopped at the Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg where we quenched our thirst with some fine beers and an equally fine beef chilli with garlic bread. From there it was nonstop to DC and then for me another 1.5 hours back to Marshall, held up on 66 by bloody roadworks, 2 lots of them. But I had planned ahead and taken Monday off so it was with a very satisfied smile that I finally rested my head on my pillow next to Kota and slept deeply. A pucker weekend.

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