The Road to Damascus by Way of Easton, PA

 Easton, PA

It had been quite some time since David and I had the opportunity to pull off that lazy afternoon one-on-one brew and chat session. And we mutually agreed that Two Rivers Brewing Company in Easton, Pa would play host to our late summer tete-a-tete. By the time I embarked upon my second pint of  Rastafarye Ale from Blue Point, we had already cleared the small talk about family, friends and the circumstances of our personal being. So as it has been at other such encounters, we quickly moved the conversation into our version of progressive political and philosophical thought. Pint number three brought on the usual, easy to be heard from the other side of the room, bout of preachy pontifications. A well-mannered gentleman at the other end of the bar inquired if he might be allowed to join  the discussion.  

We welcomed Paul, whose accent and appearance suggested a Caribbean connection, into our friendly give-and-take.  After about an hour of  hashing out the current state of relations between humankind within our own borders and beyond, Paul interjected a bold pronouncement.

He declared that he would gladly give up all of his civil rights in exchange for true equality, justice and brotherhood. Once again a man of some insight had come to the conclusion that our most complex of problems would be better served if we adopted and adhered to those simpler virtues.

In that world, there would be no reason to remember December 7th and September 11th. In that world, there would be no call to take the high ground at Gettysburg and Normandy. In that world, there would be no reason to march on Washington or Tiananmen. And in that world, the road to Damascus would not be feeling the pain of the fallen, and those fleeing the ruthlessness–but only the gentle footsteps of fellow pilgrims seeking a better way to treat all of humanity.

he Bar at Two Rivers Brewing Company

Until such time, we can at least work out our differences and misperceptions over a few lazy afternoon pints!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Blue Tag

On Hallowed Ground – How Dare They Build a Mosque so Close to My Favorite Gentlemen’s Club

Now that there seems to be some genuine hope that the Macondo blowout is close to being permanently contained, Americans can turn their attentions to more serious concerns. Instead of giving reasonable consideration to whether or not we should allow oil companies to continue to build deep water oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, we can spend our time worrying about whether or not Muslims should be able to build a community center in Lower Manhattan.

 Much of this controversy has been fueled by many of the same folks that have made it their mission in life to return America to the enlightened path of Constitutional purity and righteousness as intended by the Founders and Framers of our governing principles, after of course the exclusion of the 14th and 17th Amendments. On this particular issue though, the Bill of Rights squarely comes down in favor of those seeking to build their community and prayer center in the proximity of New York’s Ground Zero. So those in opposition to the construction have no legal recourse other than to plead the political position that the placement of the structure is insensitive and insulting to those who suffered and died as a result of the September 11th attacks. And sadly, a majority of Americans support that argument; but as usual without the benefit of the facts.

  •  Innocent Muslims were also amongst the dead and injured in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
  • Muslim first responders aided in that rescue and recovery.
  • Thousands of American Muslims faithfully serve in our armed forces, and many of those have been wounded or killed as a consequence of combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Mount Rushmore - Photo By Dean Franklin

  Lastly, if there is a case to be made for honoring this piece of hallowed ground by vetting what is allowed to be located in its vicinity, perhaps we might first consider doing away with the nearby betting parlor and strip clubs. But this after all is America, a country that is supposedly guided by a spirit of tolerance and inclusion, and a country that makes its decisions grounded in the rule of law. If we were to let our citizens decide the lay of the land based solely upon their sensitivities, personal prejudices and perceptions of historic events not much of anything would ever get built.

 I’ve actually encountered people that are offended by the presence of the brew pub close to Robert E. Lee’s headquarters on the Gettysburg battlefield. And then there’s that contingent of Lakota Sioux that would rather not have the faces of the white fathers from Washington looking down at them, after we stole the Black Hills in South Dakota via slaughter and subterfuge. Now I might be somewhat ambivalent about the possible demise of Mount Rushmore—but I’d sure hate to lose that brew pub.

Posted by: Chris Poh

Discovering another of Gettysburg’s heroes

Now that baseball is back, I am reminded of a discovery I made out in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania a couple of years ago.  While conducting research about the Farnsworth House and the town, I and American Public House Review Publisher Chris Poh had the good fortune to spend the better part of a day listening to local lore and soaking in the ambiance of the tavern. Eileen, the Inn’s manager at the time, had given us an amazing tour of the building and filled that time with one fascinating story after another. Upon completion of our journalistic adventure, we adjourned to the bar to await the arrival of our wives.  

the courtyard of the historic Farnsworth House in Gettysburg, PA

My wife Corinn arrived, donning her best New York Yankees cap, and sat down next to me.  The Inn’s owner, Mr. Loring Schultz, was there getting his place ready for a busy afternoon.  He walked passed us and stopped to comment on my wife’s hat.  He asked her if she was a baseball fan, she replied yes and I said I was as well.  Mr. Schultz then asked us if we knew the name of a Hall of Fame player who was born and raised in Gettysburg.  My wife looked at me for help, and I turned, scratching my head, to Chris.  None of us had any idea.  No matter how many hints he gave us, we had no clue.

“Eddie Plank of the Philadelphia Athletics”, he said.  “Have you heard of him?”

I answered that I had heard of him, but truth be told, a faint memory of the name was the extent of my knowledge of Eddie Plank. Mr. Schultz told us a bit, like how he played for the Philadelphia Athletics and just how good he was, but it left me with a lingering curiosity.  How could I know so little about a Hall of Fame pitcher that was being described to me as one of the best southpaws ever? I was determined to find out more.

I began researching Plank as soon as I returned home.  I first reached out to the folks at the Farnsworth House again, hoping to get some details.  Eileen heightened my curiosity even more when she told me that Eddie Plank once gave Connie Mack a tour of the battle field.  She also stated that Ty Cobb had said he was the greatest pitcher he ever saw.  This guy must have been something else.  So I hit the library and the Internet, and contacted every old-time baseball fanatic I know.

eddie-plank-2

Born in Gettysburg in 1875, Plank grew up on a farm.  At the age of 25, he was enrolled into the Gettysburg Academy prep-school which at the time made him eligible to pitch for the Gettysburg College varsity.  He never graduated from the college, a fact often missed by even the most reputable of baseball historians.

His short time on the Gettysburg College team was enough to earn him an offer from Philadelphia Athletics’ owner and manager Connie Mack.  “Gettysburg Eddie” went straight to the major league club, never once taking the mound in the minors.  His first year was successful, going 17-13 with a 3.31 ERA for the fourth place Athletics.  But Plank would get much, much better. 

By the time Plank retired in 1917 at 42 years old, he left behind a legacy that still fills the record books.  In fact, Plank’s name comes up so often on “all-time” lists that reading through them made me more and more embarrassed that I didn’t know him better.  His 69 career shutouts are more than any other lefty in baseball history and fifth overall, better than Warren Spahn and only 7 short of the great Cy Young.  He’s 13thon the list of all time wins, with 326, and his 2246 strikeouts puts him in the top 50.  This is probably the most accomplished Hall of Famer you’ve never heard of.

While Plank was dominating hitters on the mound with a sidearm delivery that must have had lefty batters ducking for cover, he was also aggravating them to no end.  In an era long before the current trend of pitchers taking their time on the mound, Plank would routinely get on the batter’s nerves, by walking around the mound, fidgeting with his cap, and anything else that would knock their rhythm off.  Opponents complained endlessly, but there was nothing they could do about it and none could argue with the tactic’s success. 

eddie_plank_baseball

With all of Eddie Plank’s achievements and eye-popping statistics, he was considered a “hard luck” pitcher in the World Series.  He appeared in 7 games, and in over 54 innings of work he only gave up 8 earned runs.  From looking at those numbers, you would think Plank would have won more than only 2 games, but 2 and 5 was his postseason record.   In more than one start, Plank’s dominating performance was lost to an error, or an equally dominating opposing pitcher.

One of those dominating pitchers was a man who overshadowed Plank for most of his career, the great ChristyMathewson of the New York Giants.  But on one autumn day in 1913, Gettysburg Eddie got the best of his nemesis.  Leading up to the decisive Game 5 of the World Series, Matty had beaten Plank in their previous two postseason meetings, including Game 2 when the Athletics lost a heart breaker in extra innings.  But the A’s won the next two, and had a chance to win the title.  Despite the pressure, the worthy opponent, and his 38 years, Plank delivered a complete game shutout and the championship for Philadelphia.

After losing yet another hard luck game to the Boston Braves in Game 2 of the 1914 World Series, Plank was traded the following year to the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League, a short lived attempt to establish a third independent major league.  In 1916-17 he pitched for the St. Louis Browns and then retired.  Despite his retirement, he was traded to the New York Yankees, but he was well into his forties and no longer interested in pitching.  Instead, Gettysburg Eddie went back to his hometown and sold cars.  He died in 1926. 

Many ballplayers, especially those from the era before Babe Ruth, are lost to time.  Despite Eddie Plank’s storied success, many baseball aficionados can’t tell you much about him.  But if the folks at the Farnsworth House are any indication, the great southpaw has not been lost to Gettysburg’s time.  In fact, few things ever are.

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Posted by: David McBride

Searching for Ghosts in Gettysburg

The Travel Channel’s popular “Most Haunted” show did a live program this past Friday from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Most Haunted is certainly a controversial show, even within the realm of other paranormal investigators.  Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of Ghost Hunters have been openly critical of the show’s investigative style and techniques.  But despite that, Most Haunted did choose wisely when picking Gettysburg as a subject.

The interesting thing about the show was that they used the entire town in the investigation and not just one location.  They included battlefield areas, popular buildings in town, the famous covered bridge, and more.

the courtyard of the historic Farnsworth House in Gettysburg, PA
But not to toot my own horn here or anything, I must admit that few publications or websites have covered Gettysburg as well as the American Public House Review.  We have been to this hallowed area many times and have reported back from three our favorite places, two of which have been exhaustively investigated for paranormal activity. 

The Farnsworth House appeared on the Review in November of 2007.  This incredible building was a stronghold for Confederate sharpshooters during the first day of the bloody three day struggle.  Now it is home to a Bed and Breakfast, a great tavern, and an incredible collection of memorabilia from the film “Gettysburg” left here by cast and crew who made this their hangout.  It is also thought to be the home of many spirits who have not left since that fateful July day.

an invitation to enjoy the Farnsworth House

an invitation to enjoy the Farnsworth House

In January of 2008, Chris Poh made his way just outside of town to a place called the Cashtown Inn.  People who are knowledgeable of the world of the paranormal will immediately recognize this name, if they haven’t been there already themselves.  It is one of the country’s supposedly most haunted buildings, and was the subject of a Ghost Hunters program.  The team found some amazing evidence of the paranormal in this historic inn.

Is the Cashtown Inn truly haunted?

Is the Cashtown Inn truly haunted?

And let us not forget O’Rorkes.  Perhaps it is not the oldest and creepiest of buildings in town, but it may be the best place to just sit, have a drink, and talk with a wonderful collection of locals who can tell you all you need to know about their hometown.

Yes, we love Gettysburg.  It is a treasure trove of great pubs, rich history, and haunted places.  There are even more places for us to cover and we plan on going back there soon.  Keep checking back this fall and perhaps you’ll find yet another great place in Gettysburg to have a drink.

Posted by: David McBride

 

Possibly the Best Civil War Ballad Ever Written

During the month of July American Public House Review has focused on locations and articles germane to colonial America and the struggle for independence. The entire staff, including our one citizen of the realm –Dunmore Throop, agree that a good revolution needs to be celebrated for more than just one day. So one might ask, “Why the Civil War Ballad?’

The Civil War is in many ways an extension of the American Revolution. Those compromises made at Philadelphia in 1776, over the issues of slavery and state’s rights, in order to gain a unanimous vote for sovereignty and self-rule planted the seeds for the inevitable civil crisis.

On July 4th, 1863 Vicksburg surrendered to Grant, and in the north the cannons at Gettysburg fell silent by midday. While armed conflict would continue for almost two more years, the war was essentially over. The union of states founded on the 4th of July 1776, would be saved on this particular anniversary of our nation’s independence.

Please take a few minutes to listen to The 111th Pennsylvane by Jack Hardy from the release Civil Wars. Our staff collectively believes that this may be one of the best historical ballads ever written. Enjoy!

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher

FROM THIS PUBLICAN’S PERCH, November 2007

Chris PohAt some point during the cobbling together of this particular issue someone requested a file name for November’s content. After a cursory review of the articles my response was call it “The War Years.” Whether by intent or fortune this author and our merry band of stringers seemed to have wandered into pubs that have a profound connection to the armed conflicts that have defined this nation. It seems that guns, guts and glory have always been the convenient forte of the fourth estate.

Contained within these pages are the memories and stories of those who have fought, and in many instances given the last full measure on behalf of country. Framed in perfect settings of wood and stone, and accented with the trophies and artistic depictions of battle, these stories take on a lore and grandeur that soften the suffering and hardships of battle. But in many other locations throughout this land are much simpler rooms that serve as the final post for those that truly understand the brutality, bloodshed and tragedy of war. To these veterans and legionnaires we raise our glasses.

Next month our reporters take on rough seas and salt water. Our roving scribes will be anchored in bars from the beaches of California to the rugged coastline of Maine. As for me, the only salt that I’ll taste will be on the rim of a Margarita glass from the relative calm of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Till then we wish you a great November and a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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