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Here and There: Reading Pennsylvania's Working Landscapes

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Here and There
    Book Description:

    The global economy threatens the uniqueness of places, people, and experience. In Here and There Bill Conlogue tests the assumption that literature and local places matter less and less in a world that economists describe as “flat,” politicians believe has “globalized,” and social scientists imagine as a “global village.” Each chapter begins at home, journeys elsewhere, and returns to the author’s native and chosen region, northeastern Pennsylvania. Through the prisms of literature and history, the book explores tensions and conflicts within the region, tensions and conflicts created by national and global demand for the area’s resources: fertile farmland, forest products, anthracite coal, and college-educated young people. Making connections between local and global environmental issues, Here and There uses the Pennsylvania watersheds of urban Lackawanna and rural Lackawaxen to highlight the importance of understanding and protecting the places we call home.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-06244-0
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Figures and Maps
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface: Homework
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Maps
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Introduction: Orientation
    (pp. 1-20)

    InHere and ThereI challenge the assumption that literature and local places matter less and less in a world that economists describe as “flat,” politicians insist has “globalized,” and social scientists imagine as a “village.” Through the prisms of literature and history, I explore tensions and conflicts within northeastern Pennsylvania, tensions and conflicts created by national and global demand for the region’s resources: farmland, forest products, anthracite coal, and college-educated young people. Powerful ways of knowing, history and literature tell stories of people in time and place; they are not simply dates or fictions. The project pivots on the...

  8. 1 Working Watersheds
    (pp. 21-43)

    At the same time that my neighbors and I are learning new words—J1s, muds, and fracking, for example—we confront new acronyms such as MCF, MER, PIG.¹ And the terms, the terms keep coming. I discover that to drill on air is to sink a bare bit through the water table. A Christmas tree, I hear, is a collection of pipes on a well top. Someone mentions that horizontal drilling has revolutionized oil and gas production, and an expert reminds me that “all energy requires water; water requires energy.”² Even as I struggle to sort words and terms, big...

  9. 2 Merwin and Mining
    (pp. 44-62)

    I first read “The Drunk in the Furnace” in an English class at the University of Scranton. The instructor led us through a close reading and then asked if anyone knew where the poem was set. No one did. “Here, in Scranton,” he said. Most people in class were out-of-staters, mainly from New Jersey and Long Island, so they knew nothing about the furnaces. I didn’t know much about them either, I confess, beyond their location. It never occurred to me—or anyone else, I imagine—to visit them, despite the fact that the furnaces were no more than a...

  10. 3 Fixing Fence
    (pp. 63-85)

    April meant fixing fence, which meant walking the line between us and others. Some afternoons, it’d be warm, a spring heat; other days, cool breezes blew. In the woods where the tractor couldn’t go, we’d carry posts and wire, hammers and staples. Echoes of the sledgehammer driving posts and nail hammers striking staples mingled with the buzz of flies and the caw of crows. All around us, in every direction, lay silent, overgrown farms, evidence of a worn-thin land.

    We’d come upon places where whole sections were down, barbed wire twisted, the fence posts snapped; sometimes we’d find a tree...

  11. 4 Barn Razing
    (pp. 86-107)

    Pinned to the bulletin board in my mother’s kitchen is a photograph of my father with his mother, Katherine; his father, Walter; and his sister, Rita. My grandfather relaxes in a wicker chair in the front yard, my grandmother standing behind him, her left hand on the backrest. My aunt, who was probably ten at the time, leans against the chair, to my grandfather’s right. To his left stands my father, six, maybe seven. It’s summertime, and he’s wearing short pants and a white shirt, his cock-eyed stance betraying a vague fear. A picture of kingly contentment, my grandfather—I...

  12. 5 Other Places
    (pp. 108-137)

    Early on the first day of school in 1906, Bertha Conlogue, three months graduated from Pleasant Mount High School, left the house to walk the mile to Stone School #7, where she would begin her first day as a teacher.¹ The walk was an easy one: step a hundred yards down the hill, swing left onto Baxter Road, turn right at the end, and walk two hundred yards along the Bethany Turnpike to the one-room school. Focused on getting there—she had to open the place, light the stove, and, well, worry—she didn’t notice what she knew: that each...

  13. 6 Rendering the Mounds of Home
    (pp. 138-174)

    In the fall of 2004, a Lackawanna County judge complained to courthouse custodians that he couldn’t stand the smell in his office. Following up on the complaint, a maintenance man opened a drop ceiling in the small bathroom attached to the judge’s workspace. For his trouble, the worker got a face full of pigeon shit. Further investigation revealed that pigeons had been roosting for decades in a courthouse turret, their dung piling to a depth of two feet, amounting to about twenty tons.¹ A few days later, workers searching for more waste discovered another mound of droppings above the bathroom...

  14. Coda: Watersheds in Play
    (pp. 175-186)

    In 1972, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania officially committed itself to conceiving of the natural world as more than a commercial and industrial resource. As a result of increased national awareness of environmental issues, which led to the first Earth Day in 1970, Pennsylvania amended its constitution to include respect for the nonhuman environment. Article 1, section 27, of the Pennsylvania Constitution states, “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 187-204)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 205-220)
  17. Index
    (pp. 221-230)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-231)