Tag Archives: Erie PA

A Year in Erie.


Tom Atkins is holding forth, on JET/FOX/ERIE, the latest weather forecast. Given tonight’s projections, our home town that time forgot might just jump into the national hot lights.

Seems we could break the all time record for 200 inches of the white stuff.

200 inches.

In one winter.

(Yes; around here, Punxsatawney Phil’s shadow notwithstanding, we will winter until the bitter end.)

Spring will arrive, according to the vernal equinox, sometime next week. But, Erie, PA is set to capture yet another snowfall, 8pm tonight through 8pm Wednesday night, 10 more inches that could blanket the already frosted landscape. Plus, another shot coming Thursday evening into Friday morning. It could happen.

But, take a moment.

Consider this.

Erie is known, already, for far more than snowfall in inches. And, the scope of its offerings could astonish you.

First of all, let’s look at the landscape.

Projecting out onto Lake Erie, one of the region’s most spacious state parks, the Presque Isle peninsula, boasts eleven public [public] beaches, complete with sunbathing, swimming, sailing, yachting, and skiing, as well as nature trail hiking, a family campground, bicycle path around the entire 13.4 miles, a nature center, lagoons for canoeing and paddleboating, the Oliver Hazard Perry Memorial, endless picnic groves and, nestled at its interior – a houseboat community!

Directly ahead of the entrance to the park, and careening overhead, the Ravine Flyer – a major rollercoaster – one of numerous amusement park rides, concessions, and arcades housed at Waldameer Park.

And, the cherry on top? Sara’s, Erie’s 50’s retro ice cream stop, featuring foot long Smith’s hotdogs with all the trimmings.

For evening, or other afternoon fare, try the Erie Seawolves, a pro baseball team at UPMC Park; a pro hockey team, the Erie Otters, and pro basketball, the Erie Bayhawks, at the Erie Insurance Arena; some 20! dance companies, more than one symphony, at least 5 (FIVE!) world class civic theatres, one of three of the original Warner Theatres, Jr’s Last Laugh, the comedy club, the fabulous Erie Art Museum (housing several thousand works in its collection), another several art galleries, Poet’s Hall, two Indy film societies, LECOM – the largest Osteopathic medical school in the nation, and 3 universities complete with their own collegiate offerings open to the public.

Hungry?  For every ethnic group ever populating this port city turned industrial turned vacation destination, there is a top notch dining experience. Latino’s, for authentic Mexico City fare; Cloud 9 Wine Bar; Mi Scuzi, Calao’s, and Serafini’s, only three of a multitude of Italian full course sit downs; Like My Thai, for the real Asian taste; Tandoori Hut, for Indian; and, Pineapple Eddie’s, for Caribbean. These are just a handful of remarkably high quality eateries literally too numerous to mention in one travelogue.

Thirsty? For wet: The Ale House. Jekyll & Hyde’s. The Plymouth. Two Public Houses. And, Brewerie, where a plethora of handcrafted beer holds court. Et al. For dry: try The Juice Jar, or our Whole Foods Co-op. et al, et al. ‘Nuff said?

But, here’s something else. The layout of Erie is Philadelphia grid style. This means a geometry of symmetry. Anywhere you want to go, from the Polish/Russian/German/Irish/African American/Middle Eastern East side to the Italian/Puerto Rican/Mexican/Greek west, you can clock any trip within 10 minutes. And, easy access means increased options –  for a weekend packed with more events and encounters with friends and family than most metropolitans can manage in ten days.

In fact, actor Tom Hanks liked us so much, he made a movie here, “That Thing You Do”.

So, suppose you get displaced. Or, you just need to make that jump.

Do this thing. Spend one year in Erie. Erie, Pennsylvania. If, after 365 days, you don’t feel like settling into the plushest comfort of All [waterfront] American cities, you can go.

But, you’ll never know unless you come to town and find out.

We’ll be here, like we’ve been for over 200 years, still reinventing what’s always been the best thing about living. We’d love to have you.

And, a year means you’d still be around for the first snow.





copyright 3/13/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  Share liberally. Thanks!!







Erie, PA is an anomaly. You should visit.

Located in the northwest corner of the Commonwealth, well away from the rest of the populace, we are a perfect hub between Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo.

And, when I say “perfect”, I mean it.

We are a vacation destination. We have incredible beauty of nature, here. Our Presque Isle peninsula has eleven public beaches, with walking and biking trails, lagoons for canoes and paddleboats, a campground, warblers, coyote, fox, owl……and, on the lakefront, (“Bayfront”) at the foot of the central artery, its magnificent view blocked by a huge hotel and convention center and not nearly enough of anything else except two restaurants and a tower, there are, nevertheless: sailboat races.

We have the magnificent Erie Art Museum, the leader for Gallery Night at least twice per year for all 14 art galleries to strut their stuff. We have 5 dramatic theater companies (just saw AUGUST: Osage County, and ALL MY SONS, just three blocks from my house – both Broadway quality), 20 dance studios, 2 professional symphony orchestras (Erie Phil/Erie Chamber), the best a cappella choir on the east coast (Erie Renaissance Singers – go listen, at YouTube), and even film societies. Even live poetry readings! The best Jazz anywhere, endless rock bands. A casino and racetrack. An indoor water slide paradise. A huge amusement park. And, hundreds of restaurants, many of them privately owned featuring master chefs.

Yet, we are a distressed city. Go figure.

28% poverty rate. Among 100,000 total population, 4700 vacant housing units, 1900 abandoned (data revealed at a development symposium, attended last evening.) We used to be a thriving manufacturing center; yet, General Electric is dumping jobs like waste and the paper mill has long been gone, leaving behind toxic nickel plating and bronzing, and tool and die, and now three plastics plants likely pouring their poisons into the air and water (thankfully, not near me).

I have an air cleaner, and a filter on my heating system, and a radon mitigation sub slab system, and I never drink or cook with the tap water because we have as much lead (and, toluene) as Flint, MI.

But – we can buy the sweetest spring water. In 32 count bottles, it comes from NY state, sold at the local Tops market. And, everything we ever need is within a ten minute drive, or a twenty minute WALK. I’m serious.

So, if you are a visionary, come.

If you are a city planner, come.

If you are an environmentalist, come.

If you are an investor, please come.

Yes. Come visit.

We need you.





© Ruth Ann Scanzillo     10/13/16


The Scent of Nickel.

The freight train is moving east across 15th.

Its warning horn blends with the breeze in the newly leafing trees, and a scent wafts through that spins me into the deep past.

We are in the late 1960’s. I am a child. It is Dad’s day off from the barbershop, where he works cutting hair; Mum is outside, on her knees, putting in the red geraniums along the walkway leading to the front porch.

The black DeSoto is parked by the telephone pole. I scramble in, and Dad takes me with him down Parade Street, windows wide open. We stop at the tracks at 15th, to wait for the train. I look across at the feed store, and inhale deeply the mixture of grain, soil and soot. The sound of the train, the smell, the look. I watch each car fly by. When the caboose disappears, the sun brightens ahead of us through the windshield. We cross the tracks, and move on.

Coasting further down to 5th, we turn right one block to get to the shop. He’s whistling.

Unlocking the front storm door, Dad lets me scamper in ahead. The old cigar ashes fill the air. He flicks on the black and white cabinet Tv, gathers his broom and dustpan, and begins to sweep the floor of cut hair residue. I sit on the bouncy vinyl chair cushion and run my hands along the smoothe, tubular, nickel plated arm rests. I look at the tall pedestal ash trays, filled with grey mounds the size of cremated remains.

Worn magazines are piled on the small tables, Sports Illustrated, Mechanics Illustrated, men’s magazines, the pages all slippery, the pictures all black and angular and strange. I look for the pretty girl in the bathing suit.

The faces on the Tv are talking. Their voices have a buzz in them, not like people sound in real life. I watch my father sweep the floor, swinging my legs over the side of the puffy vinyl chair.

He’s all done. Walking past me into the back room, he gathers all the soiled towels to take home for Mum to wash. I run back quickly to use the rusty toilet. I smell the must, and stare around at the manly grunge.

We head back up Wallace, then over to Ash. We pass Peterman’s Market, the old Russian church. We turn right at Ash, and head up the slight hill under the overpass. The train is long gone, but we can still smell it. Dad toots his car horn under the pass, and the sound is loud and grande. We both laugh. The sun is still bright as we pass the Polish Falcons and then the corner store.

Soon, we are home. Mum looks up and smiles as we pull in the drive. Dad gets out of the car and walks up to her, jingling the change in his pants pocket.

There will be rigatonis for supper.


The freight continues its trek east toward the New York State line, moaning its horn the whole way. And, I inhale again, reaching from down in the pockets of my lungs for that last remnant of the scent of nickel.







.© Ruth Ann Scanzillo

5/12/15  All rights reserved. Thank you for the daytrip.