I was slaving away at my desk this morning when I got a call that some folks from Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania were at the Embassy’s front gate to say hello.  That’s the kind of neighborly thing we do back in Schuylkill County, so I went down and had a nice chat with my new friends Jake, Diane, Jacob(15), and Maya (12) Throne.  The Thrones are gradually making their way through the country from Auckland to Queenstown, on the vacation of a lifetime.

Hanging out with fellow coalcrackers (from left) Jacob, Jake, Diane, and Maya.
Hanging out with fellow coalcrackers (from left) Jacob, Jake, Diane, and Maya.

As I have mentioned before, I am originally from Mahanoy City (population approx. 4,000) in Schuylkill County (population approx. 150,000) in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania.  Orwigsburg (population approx. 2,800) is just a 17-mile drive from Mahanoy City, if you take the back shortcut through Middleport.  (Taking Interstate 81 and then Route 61 adds about 7 miles but shaves almost 5 minutes off the drive.)  I remember the routes to Orwigsburg very well because I used to commute there for awhile for piano lessons.

'A' marks the spot ... Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. Click through for image source and larger map.
‘A’ marks the spot … Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania.

The Thrones and I talked about all the usual Schuylkill County things including Yuengling beer, which is brewed in America’s oldest brewery (operating continuously since 1829) just up the road in Pottsville.  Pottsville is a bit of a sore spot for Orwigsians, I think, because Orwigsburg was the original Schuylkill County seat until the county government picked itself up and moved the eight miles north to Pottsville in 1851, perhaps to get closer to the brewery.

Speaking of Pottsville, that’s where you can find Jerry’s Classic Cars Museum, where two of my Dad’s most prized possessions now reside.  When my Dad died two years ago, we gave Jerry the fire-engine red 1963 Dodge Custom 880 that my Dad had driven for 45 of his 79 years.

The Dodge.
The Dodge.

We had previously given Jerry the 1952 Dodge panel truck that my Grandfather and Dad used for decades to deliver meat and groceries throughout the rural areas around Mahanoy City.

The Huebner Fine Meats & Groceries wagon, all polished up at Jerry's.

But I digress.  If you see the Thrones wandering around Wellington or the South Island over the next week or so, please introduce yourself and say hello.  They’re good folks.