I didn’t know what, exactly, I was going to find when I walked past the sign on the door that read “no bare feet.”
As it turns out, I didn’t have much time to think about it, either.
As soon as I sat down with my iPad for coffee at the Papertown Dairy Bar & Restaurant in Spring Grove Thursday morning, I was greeted by a 74-year-old man named Larry.
“Are you the reporter?” he asked.
He wouldn’t give a last name. He said everyone just calls him “Wheaties.”
Apparently, he, and the other diner patrons – mostly retirees who eat breakfast there five days a week – had read the newspaper blurb that ran earlier this week detailing my attempts at “mobile reporting,” setting up newsrooms at popular spots around York County.
Wheaties started coming to the Papertown four years ago, following the death of his wife on Christmas Eve. He said coming to the small Spring Grove eatery every morning gave him a community in which to grieve.
On Thursday, that same community welcomed, me, too, into their place – the kind of place that’s rare in 2011.
It’s the kind of place where you can sit down in a booth with someone you’ve never met.
So I did.
And that’s how I met Grover Cleveland McCoury, 81. He’s the older brother of Del McCoury, who was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame last month.
He was sitting next to Carl Lehr, 79, a Spring Grove farmer and grandfather of 12 who proudly displayed his driver’s license to me, poking fun at the street address.
“If you live on a farm 50-some years or more, they’ll name a lane after you,” he said.
The men called themselves the “3M table.” Topics of discussion: “money, medicine and marijuana,” Lehr said.
Later on, Sam Sutherland stopped by. He and Grover talked for an hour about bluegrass, throwing out names I hadn’t heard before, like Raymond Fairchild and Jimmy Martin.
Sutherland mentioned having met Elvis Presley. He invited me to come to a bluegrass jam session in Craley that happens every Thursday night.
I have a confession to make. I didn’t get much actual writing done at the Papertown.
I didn’t have time between talking motorcycles with Dave Deitz, a Jefferson resident and meeting Jeffrey Korkie from ReSource York, who said a board member told him to stop by and share some news.
I talked to Norma Zumbrum, whose family owns Wonder Memorials, a business that has been passed on for generations.
I talked to others, who stopped by to share story ideas about Glatfelter paper company.
I met Kyle Zirkle, 27, a former financial advisor who started SightScapes, a pond and garden shop in West Manchester Township. His wife, Leslie S. Arzt, just opened her own family law practice in York Township, and he wanted me to get the word out.
Despite the bad economy, they are thriving, Zirkle said.
Six cups of coffee later, I felt right at home in Spring Grove. It sure beat sitting at my desk.
I’m planning to do this every week to get better insight into the communities we cover.
My desk is your neighborhood. I’m open to suggestions. Where should I go next?
Reach me at email@example.com or 771-2062.