Beyond the Byline: NEPA isn’t LA, but it certainly comes close

By Melanie Mizenko - [email protected] | December 9th, 2016 6:33 pm

Whenever I go anywhere, most especially New York City, my heart hurts for a few days following, because man, I really want to live there. The sights, the sounds, the hustle and bustle — it just gets me going.

Truthfully though, when I went to Los Angeles in January, I didn’t want to get on the plane to come home. I also didn’t want to return to Hanover Township after visiting the beautiful Berkshires in Massachusetts in the summer. I yearn to live in a region with plenty of history, celebrities, things to do or all of the above.

What I have found in each places I visit is that something is very different in each city, ranging from outdoor activities to trendy art cultures. But realistically, Northeastern Pennsylvania is chock full of those and more fun facts if you take the time to learn about them.

Take one of my favorite movies, for example — John Ford’s adaption of “How Green Was My Valley.” The movie features Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara and Roddy McDowall. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including best picture, beating out “Citizen Kane.” But in 1941, the movie had a premiere in Wilkes-Barre.

In the 1930s and ’40s, when stage shows toured several cities before going to Broadway, the rumor went “if you can make it in Wilkes-Barre, you can make it anywhere.”

I’ve spent a lot of time in Ashley because my Babci and Pop live there. And it just so happens “The Professor” from “Gilligan’s Island” (Russell Johnson) lived on Main Street.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Northeastern Pennsylvania fame which came from Bing Crosby classic “Miracle of the Bells.” The movie is based on Russell Janney’s book of the same name. It told the life story of Olga Treskoff, an aspiring local actress and native of Newport Township.

We live so close to so many places. It’s a three-and-a-half-hour trip to New York City, two hours to Philadelphia and five hours to Washington, D.C.

When I was in California, I met up with Sarah — a friend and University of Southern California student — for lunch on the campus of USC. Since Sarah had lived in Los Angeles her whole life, I asked what she did for fun.

I wondered if she stalked celebrities? Maybe she went to the Roxy Club or Bardot to listen to her favorite DJ? Could she possibly even go shopping on Rodeo Drive?

Her answer shocked me. She shook her head and said, “We do what you do — go to the bank, take my dog for a walk, go to a local theater production of some show.” She said she had bills to pay, wanted food to eat and a roof over her head, which meant she and her family didn’t have time to do tourist attractions.

Just like we go to Knoebel’s on a free day, they go to Knott’s Berry Farm. And just because they get to hike in the Beverly Hills doesn’t mean we can’t go for a hike on the Delaware and Lehigh Trails.

When I’m home, I feel lazy. I binge watch Netflix, spend time going to the closest dive bar or keep myself cloistered within my group of friends. There is no spark to get me out and about to see the sights and sounds of Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas.

While we won’t find an art installation of illuminated hammocks on Public Square, like NYC’ers find on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, we do have Koziar’s Christmas Village in Bernville, about 90 minutes away, or a barrage of haunted houses to visit in October.

The frequent saying between my friends and me is there is nothing to do in our great part of the Keystone State. But, as I have found, anywhere you live is boring if you let it be. No matter the location, anywhere is closeted and constrained if you allow it.

It’s not Northeastern Pennsylvania that sucks, it’s us.

Beyond the Byline Melanie Mizenko the Byline Melanie Mizenko

By Melanie Mizenko

[email protected]

Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko.