After Ricky and Tiffany left for work, I took my time and did some research on the computer before I left the apartment and set out for Allentown to visit Frankie and Carolyn.I had been looking at some sites that I could stop at along the way, since I felt I had enough time to visit a few of these places before I reached Frankie’s house.I knew he and Carolyn were both working and wouldn’t arrive home until after their shifts ended, and I didn’t want to sit in the car while waiting in their driveway for them to show up.
The first stop I made was in Landsdale, where I went to see the Edward Morgan Log House.I imagine this doesn’t sound very exciting or something a normal person would choose to do, but it was right up my alley, since I’m such a history buff.The house was built around 1700 and one of the first owners, and possibly the builder of the structure, was Edward Morgan – the maternal grandfather of Daniel Boone.Even though Morgan was a Quaker from Wales, the house was built in the medieval Germanic style and it’s where his daughter Sarah grew up.She married Squire Boone in 1720 and in 1734 she gave birth to Daniel, although not on this property.
Over the years the house was sold to several others and not all of whom took good care of the house, and in 1967 it was condemned.In the same year the building was recognized as a historic structure and an organization was formed to purchase the property and save the building from demolition.Eventually, the two-and-a-half story home was completely restored to its original condition.I found the time I spent there very interesting and I was glad that I’d stopped to see it.
Once I left that location, I drove to Kulpsville next.I’d read about an establishment called CJ’s Doghouse and wanted to see what it was like, so I stopped there for lunch.The food menu consisted of multiple specialty beef hot dogs smothered in various items and served on a bun.They offered a grilled cheese sandwich as well.They also had a beverage menu that highlighted a wide range of craft beers and wines, but since I was driving I didn’t feel I should indulge in any of those items.
The best part about this location, though, was that they had a Bottle Shop and a Growler Shop where I could purchase those same items and take them with me for later.For those of you who are wondering what a growler is, it’s a special container that is used for transporting draft beer.Many people prefer draft beer and think it tastes better than bottled or canned beer, so the growler allows them to take it with them and indulge their tastes in the comfort of their own homes.
After I finished eating, I went to the Bottle Shop and bought a bottle of wine, and since I had no idea what we’d be having for dinner, I chose a Le Privet Rose.After I had that item, I went over to the Growler Shop and selected a variety of craft beers.I purchased a Sunlight Cream Ale, a Vanilla Ralphius Stout, and a Memories of Antwerp Pale Ale.I felt we could open a different growler each evening and have a couple of glasses each before going to bed, since the growlers contained 64 fluid ounces (1.9 liters) of beer.
Once I had those items, I drove over to the Pinball Parlour next, since I had read that they had fifty different classic pinball machines.I’d grown up during a period long before the advent of digital and hand held games and spent untold hours doing what we called ‘shaking the machines’.In addition to that activity, one of my favorite songs was Pinball Wizard by the Who, so I was unable to resist the temptation to go there and relive some of the best memories from my high school and college years.
In fact, I got so engrossed while playing the various games that I almost failed to realize the time, so I had to hustle in order to get to Frankie’s house, since I still had quite a ways to drive.When I finally arrived, Frankie and Carolyn questioned my tardiness and wanted to know if I’d encountered problems along the way.Sheepishly, I admitted that I’d spent time indulging in a nearly forgotten aspect of my youth and had lost track of time, and they merely laughed and told me it was fine.
“To make up for it, may I help you prepare dinner?”
“That won’t be necessary, because we’re planning on going out to eat,” Frankie replied.
“Then I insist that you let me pay for everything.”
“No, it will be our treat, since we were planning on doing this anyway and didn’t change our plans just because you got here a little later than we’d expected.”
“And this will work out fine,” Carolyn insisted. “It’s Thursday, so the place we’re going to won’t be as busy as it will be the next couple of nights, so we shouldn’t have any trouble getting in.”
“We’re going to take you to the Copperhead Grille,” Frankie added.“It’s nothing fancy, just a sport’s bar we frequent because the food is always delicious.I’m sure you’ll want to try their Sirloin and Rib combo.It’s incredible.”
“I’ll admit it sounds wonderful, but just give me a couple of minutes to freshen up first.”
“Sure, go ahead and I’ll call to see how busy they are.”
Once I had finished getting ready, we went out and got into their vehicle, and even though Carolyn had offered to let me sit in front, I hopped in the back and let her sit beside Frankie.It didn’t take very long for us to get there and we were seated immediately.I heeded Frankie’s suggestion and ordered the Sirloin and Ribs combo.After the server came back with our beverages, we sipped our drinks as we waited for the food and began to chat.
“How are your jobs going?” I asked.“Are you happy you chose to go into law enforcement?”
“I am,” Frankie answered.“I was happy being on the road, but I’m even happier now that I’m a detective.I love having to use my brain to solve crimes and nail the criminals.”
“I like being a trooper as well,” Carolyn added.“I don’t usually have to deal with serious incidents, but sometimes my training gets tested when I run up against an uncooperative drunk or a pissed off guy who is four inches (10 cm) taller and 50 pounds (22.7 kg) heavier.”
“Yes, I’m sure that would get your adrenaline flowing.I hope you have back-up when that happens.”
“Sometimes, but I haven’t run into anything I couldn’t handle yet.”
“Carolyn, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself, because I’d like to get to know more about you?”
“Sure, I guess I can do that.Besides my parents, I have a brother who’s three years younger.I guess you could say I was always sort of a tomboy, because I was never into dolls, tea parties, or dressing up like a princess and preferred playing sports, climbing trees, and investigating nature instead.I played Little League with the boys, but I ended up playing softball in high school, and I was on the girls’ basketball team as well.As we were growing up, I was also the one who taught my brother how to play sports, climb trees, and learn about insects, so he always told his friends that it was more like having a brother than a sister.”
“Then I’m sure you’ll fit in very well with our family.”
“Frankie’s told me about his brothers and I can’t wait to meet them.I’m sorry I couldn’t go to the wedding with him, but I just couldn’t get the time off from work.A couple of others were on vacation and our barracks was already shorthanded, so I had to stay and fill some of the shifts.”
“That’s fine and I understand.”
“We’re also trying to work it out so we can both come to the house for Thanksgiving this year,” Frankie stated.“In fact, it’s looking good right now and I think we’ll both be able to join the rest of you for the holiday.”
“That will be wonderful.”
“And we also have an announcement to make,” Carolyn added.“We’ll tell the others then, but we’ll tell you now.”
“I asked Carolyn to marry me,” Frankie chimed in, “and she agreed.We’re planning on having a July wedding next year.”
“Wow, and Ricky told me he’s moved his wedding date back to next May, since they were having problems reserving a hall and a church.”
“We’ve already booked those places,” Carolyn added, “and we reserved a huge hall, because Frankie is hoping that all of his brothers, sisters, and their families will attend.”
“I hope you and your family don’t end up regretting that decision.”
She giggled.“No, it will be fun being part of such a large family.It was usually just the four of us for the holidays, because my mom was an only child and my dad’s two brothers have died.One was killed in a traffic accident and the other was killed while serving in the first Gulf war.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but be careful what you wish for.I’m sure Frankie must have told you stories about what a rowdy bunch his brothers can be.”
“Yes, although he said it’s usually done in fun.I can tell he loves all of them and you too.”
“Yes, we’re a fairly close-knit family, but the boys can be a handful at times.”
At this point the server returned with our food, so we stopped talking and simply enjoyed our meals.As promised, the food was delicious and I enjoyed everything.When we got back to the house, I gave them a choice.
“Would you prefer opening the bottle of wine or having a beer?”
“Let’s have the beer and save the wine for tomorrow night’s dinner,” Carolyn replied.“We’re going to have Chicken Parmesan.”
“Ok, that sounds good, so which beer would you care to start with?”I then told her the choices.
“The Sunlight Cream Ale sounds interesting, so let’s try that.”
“It sounds good to me too,” Frankie agreed.
As I retrieved the growler with that beer, Frankie got three glasses for us to use.I poured one for each of us and then we gave it a try.
“Great choice, honey.This is really good,” Frankie stated.
“Yes, I like it too,” Carolyn agreed.
As we drank the beer, Frankie and Carolyn went over the various choices of things we could do while I was there and we eventually agreed on a plan of action.We also polished off the growler of beer, rinsed our glasses, and placed them in the dishwasher before turning in.
“I hope you find the bed in the spare room comfortable, because it doesn’t get used very often,” Frankie commented.
“Don’t worry.I’m sure it will be fine.Goodnight and I’ll see you in the morning.I’ll even help to make breakfast, if you’re planning on eating here.”
“Yes, we can do that, because I make some mean omelets,” Carolyn offered.
“So, cooking fit into your tomboy lifestyle?” I teased.
“Not at first and I only started cooking after I graduated from high school.During my last couple of years in college I lived off campus and had a couple of roommates, and we took turns fixing meals.We did it mostly out of necessity, because it was just too expensive to eat out all the time, especially as students.The other two could fix a few things, but we mostly learned by trial and error, especially me. Some of the meals didn’t turn out very well, but we still ate them because we couldn’t afford to throw the food out.Frankie also had to put up with some less than stellar dinners at first, but I’ve gotten a lot better since then and we’ve both survived.”
“I usually help fix the meals too,” Frankie added, “but maybe she can pick up a few pointers from you.She’s also been working with her mother when we go over to their house to eat, so she’s a lot better than when we first met.”
“Hey, none of us were master chefs when we first started out, and I’m willing to help with dinner as well.”
“My mom showed me how to fix the chicken parmesan after I learned you were coming for a visit, but I’d be happy for your help too.You can make sure I don’t screw things up.”
“Sounds good to me,” I concluded before we started getting ready for bed.
To my surprise, we all woke up about the same time the following morning and Carolyn quickly announced our omelet choices.“I know how to make two types of omelets, a Western omelet and a Greek Omelet.I’m pretty sure you know what’s in a Western Omelet, and I make the Greek Omelet with mince onions, chopped tomatoes, sliced olives, and feta cheese.We also made sure we have the ingredients for both, since we knew you were coming.”
“Which are you and Frankie going to have?”
“We’ve agreed to have a Greek Omelet this morning.”
“Then I’ll have that as well.”
I merely stood by the stove and watched Carolyn as she made the omelets.She also heated up some hash browns to go with it, and while we were doing that Frankie made toast and poured each of us a small glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee.When the omelets and hash browns were ready, we sat down to eat.
“You did a great job and this omelet is delicious,” I told her.
“Thank you.It’s one of the items I’ve had the most practice making.I usually make those for us on our days off.”
As we ate, we talked about several other topics, including what we’d planned for the day.Once we finished breakfast, we took care of the breakfast dishes and then went to clean up and change before heading out.When we were all ready, they took me to see where they worked first, along with introducing me to whomever was there.After that, they drove me around Allentown and gave me a feel for the place.
Those things took us to lunchtime, and after we grabbed a bite to eat, they took me to the Merchants Square Model Train Exhibit.To the utter delight of my inner child, this was much more elaborate than I’d anticipated.The layout was enormous and there were forty trains in operation, which included freight trains, passenger trains, subway trains, and those traveling on elevated tracks.There was also a Thomas the Tank Engine, which many of the younger visitors recognized immediately.This also made me wish that Joshie was here with us, because I used to watch Thomas with him on TV when he was younger.
As we walked around and peered through the plexiglass barrier, we saw a wide assortment of scale buildings, ranging from houses, small shops, and skyscrapers.There was also a neo-classical library, complete with columns, and a 1940s era railcar-style diner.There were also a vast number of miniature people, cars, trucks, and buses placed throughout the display, and a few of the vehicles were even motoring around on their own, just like the trains.There were also some lighted railroad crossings, along with traffic lights located at strategic points, and they had a drive-in movie theater with multiple cars watching the main feature on a large screen.
In addition to those items, there was a mountain with an active ski resort and multiple skiers tackling the various trails.At another area there was an amusement park, complete with an enchanted castle and a large number of rides in action.Not far from there was a sulky horse track, which is the type of race where the horses pull a small cart and driver around the track.Finally, there was a lake that’s 4 inches (10 cm) deep and is caught in the midst of a thunder and lightening storm.On the way out, I turned to Frankie and Carolyn and spoke.
“That was awesome.Thanks for bringing me here.Not only is it an elaborate set-up, but the owners even paid attention to the smallest details, such as the placement of the rocks, shrubs, and miniature trees that were used.”
“I agree, and I had a feeling you would enjoy this.”
“And now I feel a little guilty that I didn’t have a model train set up in the basement for you boys to enjoy when you were younger.”
“Believe me – you did more than enough for all of us.”
Once we finished there, we drove back to the house and I helped Carolyn prepare dinner.She seemed fairly confident about fixing the main dish, so I merely made spaghetti to go with it, along with fixing each of us a small salad and heating up a loaf of garlic bread.When everything was ready, I opened the bottle of wine before we sat down to eat.
“This is great, honey.You did a wonderful job with the chicken parmesan,” Frankie told her.
“Yes, I agree,” I added.
“And thank you for taking care of everything else,” she responded, “and this wine is amazing.”
“Yes, it goes well with the meal,” Frankie agreed.
“I’m glad I bought it, because it complements the dinner very nicely.”
After we finished eating, we went to the living room, loosened our clothing after the large meal, and we settled in to watch a movie.It was a relaxing way to end a wonderful day, and it was so relaxing that Frankie fell asleep about halfway through the entertainment.I’m not sure if it was due to the food, the wine, or all of the walking around we’d done earlier, although it was probably a combination of all of those things.Carolyn and I decided not to wake him, but he awoke before the movie ended and then he pretended that he’d been awake the entire time, even though Carolyn and I knew better.
When we woke up on Saturday morning, I suggested that we go out for breakfast – my treat.After a little discussion they finally agreed, and I asked them to select where they wanted to go, since I didn’t know the area.
“The Griddle 145 has a nice selection and the prices are reasonable,” Frankie offered.
“Great, then let’s go there.”
Once we were seated and began looking at the menu, I spotted an item that I just had to try.It was the Red Velvet Pancakes, which I’d never heard of before, and they were delicious.Frankie ordered the Bananas Foster French Toast and Carolyn had the Coconut Bananas French toast, and they both let me take a bite of those as well.Everything was excellent and I was more than happy to pick up the tab.
After waddling out to their vehicle, Frankie drove us to our next destination, the America on WheelsMuseum.He had told me a little about this place when we were deciding on what we were going to do, and it sounded very interesting.I quickly learned the museum opened in April 2008, and then in 2009 Mack Truck, one of the area’s largest employers, moved its headquarters to Greensboro, North Carolina.Even though the company was no longer in Allentown, the museum is still home to the Mack Truck archives.
The Museum also has a vast collection of vehicles, the oldest being an 1889 Nadig Gas-Powered Carriage, which is one of the first gas-powered vehicles driven in the United States.Many of the vehicles are on loan, so the exhibits change frequently, but there is still an amazing representation of twentieth century motor vehicles.We saw a 1915 Model T roadster and a mini Indy racecar, as well as an electric powered 1990s GM EV1, which was never sold to the public.There was also a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner “Superbird”, and an infamous Ford Edsel that was produced from 1958 to 1960, as well as a vast array of cars from the 1910s to the 1950s.There were also a few trucks on loan from Mack Truck, which still maintains its own museum in Allentown, and there’s also an entire wing dedicated to bicycles and motorcycles.
We were told that in 2012 the museum featured a gallery of movie vehicles entitled ‘Cars That Were Stars’.The collection included the 1930 GMC taxi used in It’s a Wonderful Life, a 1940 Ford De Luxe Coup that was used in The Blob, and the 1998 VW Bug driven by Austin Powers in The Spy Who Shagged Me.I’m sorry I missed seeing those vehicles.
“Wow, that was another amazing tour, although I’m not sure if Carolyn was as intrigued by it as we were,” I said as we exited the building.
“Don’t fool yourself,” Frankie shot back.
“Although I’ve been through here once before,” Carolyn responded, “they’ve changed some of the exhibits and I found a number of cars that I hadn’t seen before.Did you forget about me telling you that I was a tomboy growing up?I also spent hours helping my dad when he worked on his car, and I was more into it than my brother.”
“Yes, I guess I didn’t consider that.”
“We spent a long time in there and it’s well past lunchtime,” Frankie pointed out, “so do you want to grab a quick bite to eat to tide us over or just have an early dinner?”
“I hadn’t even noticed that we missed lunch, since I was still full from breakfast and totally into the various exhibits,” I replied.
“Yes, I think we all were,” Carolyn chimed in.
“So, what do you two want to do?” I followed.
“I’m fine doing it either way,” Frankie answered.
“Me too,” Carolyn concurred.
“That helps out a lot,” I scoffed.“In that case, why don’t you let me take you out for an early dinner?”
“We can eat at home,” Carolyn shot back.
“I know, but we did a lot of walking today and I’m tired and my stomach is starting to growl, so I would rather not wait until we throw something together at home.It will be faster and easier to eat out, and I’ll even let you pick out the place.”
“If you’re going to treat us again, what would you say if we took you to see a movie after we finish stuffing ourselves again?” Frankie offered.
“Do you promise you won’t fall asleep this time?” I teased.
“I’ll try my best,” he agreed, and then we all laughed.
They suggested we go to Chris’ Family Restaurant, and that sounded fine to me, and it didn’t take very long before we were seated, since it was too early for most people to be having dinner.I ordered Fish and Chips with a side of broccoli, Carolyn ordered the Toasted Sesame Chicken with broccoli, and Frankie went with the Bourbon Glazed Chicken with broccoli.We were all more than satisfied with our meal, and when we had finished eating, Frankie drove us over to the cinema complex to see what was playing.
“Is there anything in particular that you’d like to see?” Frankie asked.
“No, so why don’t you two select the movie.I’m sure I’ll enjoy whatever you choose.I’m used to watching whatever the group at home wants to watch, and they’re quite a bit younger and have some pretty extreme tastes.”
“Oh, that’s right.Frankie told me that some of your grandchildren live with you too,” Carolyn acknowledged.
“Yes, and even though Danny and Brandon, or Dion and Trey are their fathers, I end up doing quite a bit with them as well.”
“That’s great, as long as you enjoy it.”
“I do most of the time, although sometimes I have to grin and bear some of their antics. I try to let their fathers rein them in and set the limits, but sometimes I make suggestions to the adults when the boys aren’t around.”
“That’s probably best,” Frankie agreed.
Carolyn talked Frankie into going to see a rom-com, or a romantic comedy, which was at the other end of the spectrum from what I usually watched with the boys at home.We each got a small drink to take with us and I found the movie to be quite enjoyable.I merely sipped the drink as I kept my eyes on the screen, but I still noticed that Carolyn elbowed Frankie a couple of times when he started to doze off again.
When the movie ended, Frankie drove us back to his place, and once we were inside I asked a question.“Which beer would you like to try tonight before turning in?”
“I chose last night, so Frankie can make the selection tonight,” Carolyn replied.
After reminding him of the choices, Frankie responded.“Memories of Antwerp Pale Ale sounds interesting, because I’ve always enjoyed the foreign beers I’ve tried before, such as Harp, Guinness, Beck’s and Lowenbrau.”
The first two he mentioned were Irish and the last two were from Germany.“That sounds fine with me, so I’ll get the growler while you get the glasses for us again.”
After I poured each of us a glass, we gave it a try.“This is nice too,” Carolyn proclaimed.“Had you tried any of these before you brought them here?”
“No, I just went by what the employee told me about them when I inquired, and then I made a decision as to which ones sounded best.”
“You made some good choices then.”
We each had a second glass, rinsed our glasses, and placed them in the dishwasher before going to clean up and turn in.“Goodnight and I’ll see you in the morning,” I said as we parted.
“Ok, and how does Western Omelets, home fries, and toast sound for breakfast?” Carolyn asked.
“It sounds perfect,” I agreed.“What if I work on the home fries while you’re making the omelets?”
“That works for me,” she agreed.
“Then I guess it means that I’m making toast again,” Frankie chimed in.
“Yes, because you do such a wonderful job at it,” Carolyn teased.
“Yes, it’s so hard putting the slices of bread in the toaster and buttering them after they pop up,” Frankie sneered.
“It may not be difficult, but it’s an important part of our breakfast,” I offered, hoping it would put an end to this give and take.
Once that had been decided, we went to brush our teeth before heading to bed, and then I enjoyed another wonderful night’s sleep.