Monday, February 16, 2009

Portrait: Rural Southern Pennsylvania

We just moved to Pennsylvania from Northern California about 8 months ago. We had lived in rural Northwestern Pennsylvania as kids, and kind of assumed it’d be similar.

My husband got a decent job, and I’m really thankful that he’s still working since they’ve been cutting hundreds of jobs here, and back home at one point around Christmas every male in my family was laid off. But living as we do on the main highway between 2 major Pennsylvania cities, we’ve been seeing an effect form the economy.

Earlier this week 4 guys robbed the gas station here on the corner. They beat up both cashiers and stole the money and lotto tickets. You’ve got to be desperate for money to STEAL lottery tickets and hope you win. The cashiers are alright, but it really shook our little town up. By the way these guys look (we’re not as ethnically diverse as I’d like), I assume they drove all the way out here from one of the more urban areas to rob our gas station. Maybe theirs was out of cash?

Maybe it burned down. There has been a huge increase in fires out here. An arsonist in the next town had set 23 or 24 fires since New Year’s; people’s barns are burning down “mysteriously”. Some of this is bound to be criminal activity for the sake of criminal activity. But I firmly believe part of it is an effort to collect insurance money to pay off other debts.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by the increase in criminal activity, but it IS a surprise in such a rural town. When we moved here I never thought I’d be concerned about home invasion, arson, or robbery. I was thinking something more along the lines of cows getting out of their fence and tromping our yard, or maybe squirrels…I don’t know…but it wasn’t this.

Rural (Southern) Pennsylvania