Sprucing up downtown


hen I first visited the small towns of central Pennsylvania a couple of years back — about the same time I was starting this blog, as it happens — I was struck by a number of things, which I chronicled at the time.

A couple of them have stuck with me, and were reinforced when I was there a few days ago. First, the South certainly doesn’t cornered the market in preserving the past. Most of the housesPenn_045
in the central parts of Shippensburg, Carlisle and many hamlets scattered across the countryside compete well with Charleston and Beaufort in terms of age and states of preservation. There are also in regular use, and not as museums or second homes for rich folks from elsewhere. They are still in use as businesses, or as housing for folks of all income levels.

Second, there is a communal effort, beyond the pride of individual property owners, to spruce up the common spaces. One of most noticeable things is the huge, lush baskets of flowers hanging from streetlamps in the center of downtown. On this latest trip, I saw some men going around watering the plants Sunday morning, and I learned that the local Rotary Club puts up and maintains the flowers as a service project.

I thought that was pretty cool. I think I’ll mention it to my own Rotary compadres. In the meantime, I share it with you.