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“Mountainfolk Hospitality – Subtle Progression 1913 – 2013”
Gregory V. Boulware
Pocono - A "Stream Between Two Mountains."
The Pocono Mountains are a popular recreational destination for local and regional visitors. While the area has long been a popular tourist destination, many communities have seen a rise in population, especially in Coolbaugh Township and other communities within Monroe County. The region has a population of about 340,300, which is growing at a rapid pace, largely attributable to vacationers from Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey turning vacation homes into permanent residences. The region lacks a major population center, although there are municipalities such as Stroudsburg, East Stroudsburg, Mount Pocono, and the townships around them. Monroe County, where the population is 165,058, which is about half of the total population in the Poconos - located in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Poconos, located chiefly in Monroe and Pike counties (and parts of Wayne, Carbon, Luzerne, and Susquehanna counties), are an upland of the larger Allegheny Plateau. Forming a 2,400 square miles (6,200 km2) escarpment overlooking the Delaware Valley and Delaware Water Gap to the east, the mountains are bordered on the north by Lake Wallenpaupack, on the west by the Wyoming Valley, and to the south by the Lehigh Valley. The mountainous region is a defined area encompassing portions of Carbon, Monroe, Pike, and southern Wayne counties of Pennsylvania. In total, the Poconos encompasses over 2,500 square miles (6,500 km2). The Poconos are geologically part of the Allegheny Plateau, like the nearby Catskills. The Poconos' highest summit, Elk Hill’s North Knob, reaches 2,693 feet (821 m), while its lowest elevation is 350 feet (107 m) in Pike County.
The wooded hills and valleys of these beautiful mountains have long been a popular vacation area, with many communities having resort hotels with fishing, hunting, skiing, and other sports facilities.
The Delaware River flows through the Pocono Mountains and gives the region its name, from a Native American term roughly translating to "Stream between Two Mountains." The Lehigh and Lackawaxen Rivers also flow through the region, totaling about 170 miles (270 km) of waterways.
Today, seemingly, it’s not the name, it’s the face. The Indian culture in this beautiful mountainous region does little in the reflection for the indigenous souls of this un-obscure heritage. The Pocono’s have, in the past, reflected a spirited kinship between its inhabitants and arriving settlers. Today, the region has become diseased with the stain and stench of capitalism. It’s beautiful and serene routes of traverse, trails, hills, and valleys have all been corrupted with signs that display marketing and competitive targeting for the dollars and cents of all who come to visit, pass through, and/or settle.
“If You Know I Have A History, You Will Respect Me!”
A ‘Black Indian Woman,’ a student said that in 1968. William Katz wrote extensively about the history of ‘Black Indians’ from coast to coast in America. His books have endorsed and included stories and historic facts about Black Folk and Indian relationships.
“Citizens celebrate this country’s daring break from colonial rule, and rejoice in the plucky minutemen who challenged the British at Lexington and Concord. Black Indians made a contribution to the entire US society that deserves recognized consideration and inclusion.
For the earliest European colonists, the Americas were truly a land of opportunity. They came from a continent torn with religious strife. Kings, nobles, and merchants regularly dragged their people into land and sea wars. The plight of ordinary men and women was terrible. About two percent of the population owned ninety-five percent of the land. Common folk wallowed in poverty and want, without hope or security. They were forced into labor battalions or conscript armies. In a democracy, majority rules…are there truly more white folks in America than the combined number in folks of color?
Everywhere a rigid intolerance held sway. Europeans lived by a rural British slogan:
“He’s a stranger, hit him on the head!”
Europeans greeted the people of the Americas with hostility and a lust for profit.
In dealing with non-Christians, they saw little reason to observe common rules of ‘fair-play’ and rarely did. They tramped into the American wilderness with a Bible – (dictated and practiced according to their desires and needs) – a musket, and a diplomacy that knew no rules.
Black Indians, like other African Americans have been treated by writers of history as invisible – their contributions were denied or handed to others, i.e., ‘Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable,’ (son of ‘Sacajawea’ – The Lewis and Clark expeditions) was “The Founding Father of Chicago” – circa, 1779.
White folks in the Pocono area should be reveling in pride and joy of their diverse community and not the green of the dollar bill. All people should be reminded of who did what for the betterment of all – not the meager few who would promote superiority and separation. The forty-fourth president of these United States is, after all, the product of diversity or a racially blended culture. A golfing legend is another fine example of the common good – diversity. Barack Obama and Tiger Woods are simply two current bi-racial figures of US prominence. But, oh yes, they too face discrimination, separation, and hated by evil, envious, and villainous white folk. No one in these United States misunderstands the definition of the “One Drop Rule!”
Africans began arriving in 1502 by European slavers. The ship that brought the Hispaniola governor, Nicolas De Ovando, wrote Katz.
‘They sure as hell wanted their money – while not wanting their presence!’
A couple in their early sixties has been frequenting the Pocono Mountains for more than two decades. Racial disparity has always been noticed…while in many circumstances tolerated, ignored, or accepted. For the most part, the dollar factor ruled over many in the position of hospitality.
After a day of shooting eighteen holes of golf, the couple, married nearly forty years; with two adult sons and two beautiful grandbabies; decided to end the warm and sunny late afternoon with a cooling and refreshing pitcher of beer.
The mountain resort, of which they were housed, provided no such available refreshment. Having some knowledge of the many area shopping and entertainment spots in the Mount Pocono Region, they ventured out into the arena of the local mercantile in search of the thirst quenching liquid. The week-long vacation accommodation was located in the locale of ‘East Stroudsburg, Pa,’ just off route 209. There were not many taverns or beverage sit-down places available in the immediate vicinity. Upon the discovery in patches of blended old, new, and not so new buildings – the one available establishment availed itself to invite weary and not so weary travelers and patrons into its’ abode.
The inviting and invitationally large and plaquered cadence of the sign read:
Well, the contented couple pleasurably and enjoyably exhausted themselves with eighteen holes of golf. Albeit, ‘mini-golf.’ A senior couple (or individual) climbing up and down steep walk-ways, stairs, hills, creeks, rocks, grassy knolls, and other obstacles included in the fairway game fields, could very easily cause an older person to not complete the course while out in the beaming hot midday sun, let alone on a cool day. I mean, golf is golf, right?
The man and woman parked their vehicle and entered the white and green trimmed building founded with brick and mortar. The pub was a cute, quaint, table and chair setting with a small bar located in a semi-private corner of the building.
The establishment was catered by a couple of waitresses and a barmaid. It was a self-seating restaurant – a no-waiting for the maître d' or hostess to seat you. The couple decided to sit at the bar. Food was not being sought, only liquid refreshment. A cold mug or pitcher was not available, according to Sandy, the self- manufactured robot-like bar attendant. The woman sported hair of orange, red, blonde, and another streaking color that wasn’t quite identifiable. She also appeared to be of a senior age as well. The man seated with his wife, suspected she was a tad younger than her mid-sixties exterior. Not intending to get to far ahead with this picture, I’ve failed to mention the chilly ambient reception of the couple after the establishment threshold was crossed.
I did mention that it was warm outside, yes? It was a rather nice day for a mid-May Wednesday late afternoon in 2013. The air was cool inside. The joint was jostled and bustling with busy cordial conversations. That all died when this couple entered the establishment. The cool room transformed into the polar ice-cap, feeling like that of the frozen tundra. The instantaneous silence was quieter than quiet. The eyeballs of the patronizing patrons fell upon the newly entered senior-aged mini-golfers who happened to be Black and White. The man, a 6ft. tall and formidable appearing gentleman brandishing awareness armored with a presence that demanded a commandment for respect and attention. The woman, a beautiful and petite German-Scottish descendent with golden blonde hair highlighted with a natural redness that could be described as strawberry. Her eyes, large and bright while iridescently hazel with green highlights that change in color upon the donning of a differently colored attire; intelligent with a mastering effect that netted immediate attention, respect, and admiration.
The barmaid gathered her composure and made a clumsy attempt at being a cordial and welcoming professional. She offered the food menu which was declined. The beer thirst was addressed and settled upon with the cold glass and bottled beer which was placed on the bar in front of the freshly seated patrons. The bar attendant forced a remanufactured smile and began to speak again while placing the glasses and bottles of beer on the bar.
“We only have bottled beer in the brands displayed on the shelf,” said the barmaid. Two white men, one possibly in his late fifties to early sixties, the other, clearly in his mid to late sixties, genuinely displayed an annoyance with the couples’ entrance. While not seemingly appearing to look into the eyes of the Black man, they did attempt eye-contact with the white woman, as if to say, “How dare you come in here with that!”
“We don’t have cold mugs but we sure have cold glasses.”
The woman behind the bar robotically looked at the stern, albeit, stoic face of the Black man and said, “What’s your name? I’ll run you a tab.”
The man answered politely with his name while tossing a smirking glance at his wife. The mind meld of the two allowed a smile between them.
“What makes her think that we would continue to sit here in a room filled to the brim with bigoted ambiguity and egregious aggregation? A tab…who said we wanted more than what we’ve asked for? What made her assume that we would spend our hard earned dollars with people such as them?”
The couple was well aware of the importance of income and revenue sources to locals of any rural job starved community.
What is the price for being unnecessarily rude and obnoxious?
The dollar factor becomes an overwhelming factor and forcefully allows people to look past the racial boundaries…momentarily. The transaction did hold some similarities, however. The couple, wanting the beer while not wishing to venture into another ride, travel, and search – the biased separatists coveted their money as opposed to the despised physical presence of the bi-racial couple.
The wife inquired masterfully, about take-out beer. The husband chose the brand of the six-pack. The dual glass of beer was consumed quickly; in just a couple of sips and a gulp or two. The wife produced a credit card, bartering the transaction and exchange. The barmaid processed the payment after fetching the bottled six-pack. The receipt which bared the coding numbers and server’s name is signed and the couple prepared to make their exit.
The couple tossed insincere, sarcastic, and mocking cordialities in the direction of the sinister barmaid. She was mentally forced to respond to the wife because of the intended loud and boisterous “Have a good day.” The woman behind the bar appeared to fancy herself as ‘pleasing to the eye of gentlemen,’ did not respond to the husband’s previous ‘Thank you’ gesture. She merely grunted “Yeah…right,” in response to the exiting woman. The elder of the two men at the bar, walked outside. The man who walked outdoors was sitting on a bench in front of the restaurant. He was smoking a cigarette while watching the couple enter their car. He watched the car with the president’s name on the rear bumper. The ‘99%’ statement shared a space on the bumper with the cadence sticker ‘Save Medicare’ as well.
The husband hesitated just before leaving. He wanted to see what the woman behind the bar was going to do with the used beer glasses. He held vivid recollections of what white owned bars and restaurants did back in the day, when Black patrons drank from their glasses in the ‘East Falls’ section of ‘Philly.’ They did not wash them – they destroyed them! The gentleman only saw the glasses remain on the bar after the beer bottles had been disposed of. He chose not to wait any longer.
The husband said to the wife, “Do you suppose she was mad because we didn’t leave her a tip?” The bill came to about $13.00. She replied, “Why would we leave a tip – our patronage was not appreciated or deserved!” The husband smiled in agreement as they drove away.
‘They sure as hell wanted their money – but not their presence.’
“It all started with Columbus’ 1492 arrival and invasion, in the name of Christendom.” His son, Diego, served as governor of Hispaniola, an island of Spain in the Caribbean, a colony was started on the mainland of South Carolina.
Lucas Vasquez de Ayllion of Santo Domingo founded the Eastern South Carolina colony at the mouth of the ‘Pee Dee River’ in 1526, eight decades before ‘Jamestown.’ Many white folks like to believe in the ‘Mayflower’ landing with English-speaking Anglo-Saxons. Ayllion sent Captain Francisco Gordillo, in 1520, to locate a good landing site and to build a good and friendly relationship with the current local inhabitants. Instead, the captain teamed up with a slave hunter by the name of Pedro De Quexos. The two invaders captured seventy native Indians and brought them back to Santo Domingo as slaves.
It was the first European act on what is now US soil – making slaves of FREE MEN and WOMEN. When he began ordering the Africans to begin building homes, he launched Black Slavery in the United States.”
You know…based on Indian history and the membership of the Algonquin Confederacy, wouldn’t it be prudent to focus our recognition and homage be given to the Delaware Indian Nation in the Pocono Mountains as opposed to who’s hotel, paint ball, of ski resort is better than who’s?
What about the disparaging superior and separatist attitudes of the capitalistic merchants and their servants of deception? Should they not be brought out and into the light of true goodliness, acceptance, respect, and fair play?
“The Delaware, a.k.a. ‘Lenape / Lenni’ (“True or Real Men”), a major member of the Algonquin occupied confederacy from Cape Hen Iopen to Long Island, center of the Delaware River Basin, were/are the most important tribal nation on the Atlantic coast. They occupied most of New Jersey, Delaware, and Eastern Pennsylvania. They were called “Grandfathers” by other eastern Algonkian, especially the ‘Nanticoke,’ ‘Shawnee,’’Munsee,’ and the ‘Mahican,’ who claim to be their descendents.
The peaceful, civilized confederation stands symbolic of the many Indian cultures. The Delaware Chiefs, or Sagamares, ruled through persuasion rather than force. The Medicine man, or Shaman, had considerable influence. Everyday life flowed between primitive agriculture, hunting, and preoccupation with the spirit world. They knew the ‘Great Being’ was/is the owner of the Earth. Wampum was not merely shell money, but possessed a sacred significance. In the Algonkian language, there are different plural forms for animated and inanimate nouns. Wampum was always animate… It was called the “White String,” “Old Dark String,” or “Indian Stones.”
What is the difference in the spiritual significance of Wampum and “IN GOD WE TRUST” green and metal American money worshiping by Americans of yesterday and today?
How many of us have heard the opposite for the possession of money – any kind of money?
Life was rather dreamlike. It held no sharp demarcation between the real and the spirituality of existence. Mountain life for the Indian entertained no political of military ambitions. They held no distain or hatred for people or travelers who looked different than them. They simply drifted along, slowly and inevitably, to their destiny at hands of the whites.
The vacationing couple did identify the offending establishment on rte. 209,in East Stroudsburg, PA. They warn kind spirited people of the atmosphere within ‘The Landmark Café.’ There are many circulars, pamphlets, and newspapers in and throughout the Pocono Mountains. They always tend to display ‘well-to-do people’ who are not of color. The photos of books, espousing the advent of ‘Bushkill Falls’ depict figures of the 1900’s straw hat wearing – Gatsby looking individuals in suspenders and long pants hawking their hot dog and ice cream carts, taxis, buses, and bicycles. The only Indians seen are statues, figurines, and photo arrays.
Should one think that this is or could possibly be a slanderous report - think again… The establishment was providing a public service that was erroneous. The restaurant was represented by a selfish, greedy, and rude employee that could not properly serve the public. Her rude and unacceptable demeanor and behavior was biased and mean-spirited. There is no place for personal opinions or positions while serving the public at large.
Did we people of color (Blacks, Native Indians, Puerto Ricans, Asians, Hindus, etc.) exist in this world of mountainfolk life? Maybe some Stroudsburg folks hold a different opinion other than that of their white counterparts.
“If Europeans came from nations, so too did ‘People of Color!’ Dark People ignored the boundaries drawn by Europeans – especially in their move from one country to another in search of Liberty, Justice, and/or a Better Life!”
Til next time…
‘Pocono Mountain Literature’
‘Black Indians, A Hidden Treasure,’ William Loren Katz
‘A Pocket Guide to Native Americans,’ Westhorp and Collins
‘Indian America, A Geography of North American Indians, Marian Wallace Ney – Libby Lambert