by John Canning

Sometime in the middle of August the following question was posed to a group of “seasoned” Northsiders: “Where did you go for vacations when you were a kid?”

Most of the responses were the same – Porchville.

One fellow said that he went to his pap’s’ cabin on the Connoquenessing Creek not far upstream from Harmony. In the ’50s, Zelienople and Harmony were vacation destination spots for many  Northside families.

The word “Cranberry” only was used in connection with turkey and Thanksgiving. What is now so close in time and space was to city kids an area at the edge of civilization.

A trip to the cabin on the creek was often the highpoint of the summer.

It gave us a few days away from the paper route and from the eye-burning chlorinated waters of Riverview Park swimming pool.

The creek had crayfish, salamanders, minnows, giant water spiders and, once in a while, a snake or two. It was as if we were in the Amazon Basin once we turned off the Perry Highway in the rural village of Wexford and headed through Mars and Evans City.

Our friends Chalie and Bobby Creese would invite a group of us to spend a few days at their family’s cabin each summer.

It was always an adventure, exploring the Little and Big Connoquenessing, swimming in the deeper holes of the creeks, going to dances at Hartman’s Deep Lake Fishing Resort and mostly just horsing about in those lazy summer days.

Recently I found a picture taken at one of those summer vacations at the creek.

Taken well over a half century ago, it shows a bunch of very happy Northside kids, eating Evans City corn before anyone knew it was such a specialty item.

In  those glory days of the ’50s, we were in another world far from the Northside, way out in the country. It was another world “far” from the routines of city life.

A few years ago, a friend and I drove up to watch at high school football game at Seneca Valley.

We left at 6:30 and were in our seats in less than an hour. On the way we passed went by the road to Chalie’s cabin then up and over the little creek to the football field.

The vacation cabins along the creek were gone. There were no more empty woods and no more dirt roads. We were at the northernmost edge of urban sprawl.

I imagine many of the hundreds of families now living in the “back country” of Cranberry probably have roots in the Northside.

Some probably drive into the city every day to work. It’s the same place, but a different time.

I was indeed happy to find the little picture reminding me of those differences of those simple “glory days” of summers long past.

 John Canning: Remembering Connoquenessing holidays