Selling Books in Frackville, PA
I’m surprised by some things here in Schuylkill County. (Pronounced Skoo’gl. That was the first surprise.) The San Francisco steep hills are a surprise. This mountain girl wasn’t expecting that; and the architecture and the infrastructure feel like I’m visiting another country.
All the American flags on nearly every porch, say we’re in the USA. All the banners, pins and tee shirts proclaim how proud these citizens are to be living here. This county is the largest concentration of Lithuanians outside Lithuania. And they are proud to be Lithuanian-Americans.
I’m attending the 101st Lithuanian Days Festival, the longest continual ethnic festival in our country. The official Festival day is August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, so it’s always the weekend closest. I’m selling my book Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story.
As always, when I’m selling books I learn a lot and have a lot of fun. The food, music, dancing and graciousness of the hosts, make this learning experience exceptional. Sharing their history is a major part of the festival. I’m pleased my book tells the story of Lithuanian courage, how they never gave up.
Beginning with the first wave of immigrants prior to WWI, Lithuanians and other Eastern Europeans fled communism and found work in the coal mines and steel mills here in Schuylkill County, PA. They created unique ethnic neighborhoods with churches and schools. The Yeungling Brewery, the oldest brewery in the country, is nearby in Pottsville, as well as Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Polish and Irish Catholic Churches, and a Lutheran. The homes are modest bungalows, most only one room wide, but deep and some two stories. They are 12 ½ feet apart. Others are duplexes. Nearly all fly an American flag or two. Phone, cable and power lines, all above ground, zig zag across roads that show the ravages of hard winters.
The best part of the trip is noticing things like clothes drying on clotheslines, windows open, people sitting on porches with hand fans. I notice how quiet an early morning walk is with no air conditioner units humming in the neighborhoods. A walking mailman. I observe friendship and caring people and I see their piety. I listen to what they say and how they say it. I store these words and pictures to fill pages to transport readers to a different time and place.
I learned a new phrase this weekend. Ne porsa dok. It’s used at parting, like “so long,” or “take care.” It means don’t give up. This could be something writers could say when leaving their critique sessions: ne porsa dok. Don’t give up. It works for the Lithuanians.