Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

A Tough Week In The Old Stomping Grounds

I still try to keep up on current events back in my hometown and surrounding areas.  It is always such a surreal feeling whenever I get to go back to Pennsylvania, because now I call Florida my home.  And the changes I see, are not subtle at all.  There is no adjustment to the changes in the sceneries whether it be a new giant strip mall, or a new pizzeria that has opened.  But then again, some things never change.

But over the last week, some very sad news, some very tragic news has been dealt to my hometown area.  And undoubtedly, both events will have an impact on me, not just the next time I visit the area again, but as you will see in the second part of this story, the effect on any parent will be immediate.

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First, the area lost an old local favorite eatery to a fire.  The Buckeye Tavern which existed in a building that was well over 300 years old according to reports in the local newspaper, The Morning Call was destroyed by a fire during the dinner hours.  The tavern has had many names over the years, and my first experience in this building was back when it was called “The Macungie Hotel”.  My mother used to take my sister and I there.  My dad and I enjoyed my first “legal” beer there.  Admittedly, I enjoyed it much more as an adult, eating there several times, and often times, accompanying other friends and family to the restaurant.  The prices, the service, and the food were more than enough reason to come back again, and again.

The last time that I ate at the Buckeye Eye Tavern, was last year, and I was still a resident of Pennsylvania.  I was visiting my father, and a friend was with me, visiting him as well.  We stopped at the Buckeye for dinner afterwards.

The restaurant was completely destroyed and the video that I have seen of the fire, is indeed tragic.  I am hopeful that the owner is successful in rebuilding this wonderful place to eat.

But the next story is just completely tragic.

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Two young girls, age 11 crossing the street are hit by a car.  One died, the other is clinging to life as of last report I heard from back home.  I want to be delicate with this portion about the post, because I do not want this to be about blame, as much as I want it to be about awareness, and prevention.

I know the exact location of this tragedy quite well.  I grew up in the town.  My favorite ice cream snack stand was on one corner of the intersection, on another corner, the barber shop I got my hair cut.  The ice cream stand, I had to cross the street for two corners, while the barber shop, only one.  And on the corner from where I began, was where I picked up my morning newspaper route for early morning delivery when I was a teenager.

The street itself is quite busy, much busier than when I was a child, but the speed limit has always remained the same, and as long as it is followed, it should not be an issue.  I remember a childhood friend suffering minor injuries on that same street back in the early 1970’s after being hit by a car.

Again, this is not going to be about blame.  I know nothing about the driver, though reports in the Morning Call said that no charges were pending, and that it appeared he was not in the wrong.

But I know, from the years I lived in that area, and surrounding areas, the dangers of children just “appearing” from between cars out of nowhere.  In school, the same school that these two children attended, I remember being taught to “look both ways, and then back again” before crossing the street.  It was a strategy that I used to teach my own children how to cross the street.

This was a horrible tragedy for the families, the driver, the school, and the community.

At best we can only hope, that from this, as parents, we emphasize the importance of looking before crossing the streets.  As drivers, we really do need to be hyper-aware for the unexpected.

But there is a false sense of security with crossing the street these days, actually two.  And again, this has nothing to do with the accident itself, but rather, preventing an accident by making the following poor decision.  In most states, cars must stop for people crossing in crosswalks, you know, those white hash lines that go from one corner across the street to the other.  Somehow, we believe that all cars are going to magically stop, just because those white lines are there.  As parents, we have to make sure that while we want our children to cross at lights, or stop signs, those white hash marks are no guarantee that cars will stop.  And you can see this in major cities as well like Manhattan.  As long as the traffic signal is the white stick figure, we are supposed to be safe crossing the street.  The only guarantee to not being hit by a car, is to not cross into its path.

The final comment I want to make on crossing the streets however, is an observation.  And again, this has nothing to do with this particular tragedy, but rather trying to prevent one from occurring.  On numerous occasions, I have come across young children and teenagers, who not only do not cross at intersections where it is more likely to be safe, but feel have some sense of invincibility, bravado, cockiness about them, and are bold enough to believe they can “make you stop” your car for them simply by walking directly into the path.  And often times, they look right at you as your are driving toward them, as if challenging you, that you will stop for them.  This goes beyond not paying attention to crossing, this is about attitude, and some day, for someone it will be a deadly attitude.

As parents, we need to not only teach our children when they are young about the proper and safe way to cross the street, but we have to emphasize it again and again.  Remember, I am talking about preventing a tragedy, not pointing blame at this one.

My heart goes out to everyone impacted by this tragedy.  I know when I go back to my old hometown, as I pass by that intersection, because I lived one block from there, my heart will feel sorry.

And yes, even from miles away, I have been emphasizing being safe crossing the streets to my daughters.

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