Only in York County

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Is stubbornness a Yorkism?

So last week, for the Fourth of July, you might remember it poured, at least in many parts of the county.

Despite this, I stood in my driveway (about a mile from the Expo Center, uphill from it) and watched the fireworks. Further, I drug out my husband in his sock feet* so he wouldn’t miss any. (He took off the socks before going out the door, wisely.)

* Now there’s a Yorkism. Sock feet! Like butter bread – feet with socks, bread with butter?

Anyway, the fireworks looked awesome. I’d say we could see 80 percent of them, all but the very lowest ones. And though I was upset that I missed the symphony players, we could even hear them a little between fireworks blasts.

I was thinking about how to write a blog post here about watching the fireworks – one of my favorite things to do – when one of my readers, Jo Ott from Fairview Township, near Lewisberry, wrote me a letter. SHE had braved the Expo Center, to hilarious results!

Here is an excerpt from Jo’s letter. Though she asked me what the “Yorkism” for this phenomenon was, I think she summed it up pretty well herself!

Last night I sat in my car near the grandstand eating dinner picked up from the Subway in Rossville on the way to York. It was about one and a half hours before concert time and a pre-concert entertainment was taking place in the view out the windshield as I watched the steady flow of concert goers and fireworks watchers go by. It was so continuous it was almost as though each and every one was on one of those moving sidewalks.

They came in large groups, smaller groups; singles; couples. There were infants and toddler-aged children in strollers and other young people of all ages. There were a few in wheelchairs, but as I realized later, inside, many fewer than at previous concerts. The weather no doubt had something to do with this.

Elderly folks like the concerts and fireworks, attested by their numbers walking by. Some though with difficulty, limping along or being assisted by others.

Others–the orchestra members–were lugging bulky and heavy, large instruments like drum sets, large woodwinds and basses. You could tell what some were carrying by the shape of the instrument case. Kudos to those who chose a piccolo or flute! Many others were carrying all sorts of paraphernalia while attempting to carefully balance flimsy paper plates covered with funnel cakes or overflowing cups of french fries. The latter, while trying to get one or two into the carrier’s mouth would sometimes miss and leave a trail of fries on the pavement. Sort of like rubbing the tummy one way and rubbing the head in the opposite direction.

People carried in all sorts of seating. There was everything from blankets and quilts to the mundane webbed lawn chairs to fancier stackables. Nothing outlandish or unusual though and most carried none, planning to sit in grandstands seats, I supposed. There were coolers of various sizes, too, the larger ones always good for a seat.

After about forty-five minutes of this entertainment the sky opened and let loose a heavy downpour lasting several minutes. Having finished eating my dinner I began debating whether to just leave and go home or hang in there a bit longer to see what else Mother Nature has in store for this evening.

There’s no question my decision to stay was the right one for the show only got better and now, humorous.

I gotta say first–guys, get real about the umbrellas. If you’re going to carry one and actually use it, that is–put it up and over your head–small, dainty and pink doesn’t cut it. The man carrying this one barely covered the top of his head and was by no means keeping the rest of his body dry. He looked like one of the Shrine clowns who are meant to be very funny and funny-looking is what this guy was!

Then there was the husky one carrying the aqua-colored umbrella with fringes all the way around. They sort of matched the hanging threads of his cut-off jean shorts. I wondered if he purposely coordinated his outfit.

The woman didn’t fare much better. Those that were using umbrellas to keep dry, well, some had it figured right and some were as clueless as their male counterparts. Cluelessness has no sex boundaries. My favorite weather protector? The chairs being held over people’s heads. Tiring on the arms, I thought.

What really was amazing, however, is that, given days of advanced weather forecasting for stormy weather, indeed, even late-hour and last minute forecasting of bad weather and even a tornado watch in effect, Yorkers trudged onward and the flow of visitors continued and never let up. Just as amazing to me were the number of people with no weather protection gear at all as though they were totally oblivious to the weather or never heard a recent forecast.

Here then, Joan, lies my question. I tried to think of a York-ism to describe the behaviors witnessed last night and couldn’t come up with one. What makes Yorkers so blase, yet so determined? Is it that this concert and in particular, this annual fireworks display, are so much of the essence of living in York that countians go even at the risk of a last minute cancellation caused by stormy weather. Watching for over an hour as I just did all the mothers and grandparents struggling sometimes with difficulty to keep small children moving and not straying, and strollers containing even smaller children, and all the fathers, sometimes carrying the young on their shoulders, many of them all in the heavy rain without any protection.

I wouldn’t be going thru what I see some of these folks going thru. No way. I was alone and had only to be concerned about keeping my camera dry for which I stuffed a plastic bag in my pocket before leaving home. I also had a very large umbrella next to me in the passenger seat of my car.

Is the will of all these Yorkers so very strong, is their determination so great– the come-hell-or-high-water kind–are these what keeps them from being denied their annual rite of a summer’s passage? There’s gotta be a great York-ism for this. I just can’t think of what it is.

I think Jo got it in one. We’re stubborn. And if we say we’re going to do something, especially something that’s what we’ve always done, then we’re going to do it even if we look ridiculous. I looked up a Penna Dutch word for it and found schtarrkeppich – stubborn. I’d say that covers it!

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