Monday, April 08, 2013

Just because

Just because I wanted to eat somewhere different today--and just because the weather was perfect--I went out to the airport and took off, destination Cumberland, Maryland. What's there? I don't know. Frankly, that's why I went.

On the way there, I found this cool train tunnel on the CSX line. The other side of the ridge is Paw Paw, West Virginia.

Here's downtown Paw Paw. Didn't stop there because they have no airport.

I landed at Cumberland, MD (KCBE) and the gas truck was rolling up to see if I wanted gas before I even switched off. Since gas was almost a dollar a gallon cheaper here than at my airport, I said "Hell yeah...fill it up!"

$5.55 a gallon for 100LL. I took 20 gallons. My airport is charging $6.45 a gallon right now.

Then the nice airport guy loaned my a courtesy truck so I could go into town to get food. See the nice truck? Everyone was super friendly there.

Rolling into South Cumberland, I first hit Virginia Avenue. The area looked to be post-war wood-frame houses and it has clearly seen better days, but I was impressed by the fact that the vast majority of these places were kept up nicely and the yards were neat and well-maintained. There's pride there. This is real small-town Americana. I felt good just driving around that area for a bit, watching all of the senior citizens walking around or sitting on the benches in the park.

Then I got to downtown Cumberland itself, and my happy mood started to evaporate. The downtown area is nice in the way of so many other Main Street, USA downtowns, but many of the storefronts are vacant now.

I parked and took a walk, and the first group of people that I passed on the pedestrian mall caught my attention with their discussion. The guy was saying something about how when he got locked up for his felony Possession with Intent charge (he's apparently referring to possession of narcotics with intent to distribute), they made him angry with the way that they treated him at the jail. A woman in the group who was holding a toddler then replied, saying that when she got her last DUI, they treated her like crap there, too. I was tempted to let them know that it's freaking jail, not the Holiday Inn, but decided not to pick the fight since there were five of them there. I didn't even take their picture because a couple of them were glowering at me the whole time. Five thirty-somethings, just hanging out in the middle of what would be a workday for most people, complaining about the jail. Nice.

Then I went to this place, because a guy at the airport recommended it (and because it was the first open place that I passed).

The mushroom and potato burger was pretty darned good, as were the onion rings. I meant to do like Brigid does and take a picture of the food, but I forgot and ate it when it showed up. Meanwhile, the waitress in the place, a nice-looking young girl, was telling the only other customer in the place how she'd just gotten arrested for DUI this previous Friday night. She told him all about her field sobriety test and laughed about how badly she'd bombed it, and how nice the state trooper who arrested her was. I just shook my head and read my paper.

Here's the bank building across the street. Nice facade, eh? That was built back when buildings had character.

This sign on their door announced that this isn't exactly Mayberry any more.

There seemed to be a lot of people downtown on this day, and most all of them seemed to be able-bodied men and women who didn't appear to be, you know...working. But then again, most of them were sporting visible tattoos, facial piercings, goofy haircuts and/or garish dye jobs. Gee--I can't imagine why no employers are hiring these people. I was struck by the contrast between this area and Virginia Ave. in South Cumberland just two miles away. The nice old people who still maintain that neighborhood are the ones who likely built much of this town back in the day. Those are the people that won World War Two and saw us into the 50's and 60's. But nowadays, control is slipping away from people like that and falling to the sort of slack-jawed losers that I saw milling around everywhere downtown; people like this guy, sitting in front of a new-looking, expensive bicycle and drinking a soda pop as he shamelessly begged passers-by for money. He flipped me off right after I took this picture, too. Punk.

People like this kid wouldn't have made it five minutes back in 1950 before someone gave him a boot in the ass and threw him into a barber shop with a handful of job applications stuffed down his shirt. But this kid and so many like him...these morons are America's future. This is why we have our elections going to candidates who act the most like reality TV stars instead of leaders.

Back to the airport, I just wanted to get gone. I gave the truck keys back, paid for my fuel, and took off. Bye, Cumberland!

Great people at that airport, but those ridges to the east are a mite tall for my tastes. Gotta watch those going in and coming out.

Here's one of the C&O Canal locks where the canal steers away from the Potomac River for a spell.

I flew back via the Potomac Airpark at Hancock, MD (W35), but forgot to take any pictures, which was just as well, because the thermals were making it pretty turbulent. Then it was back into my own pace, and none too soon, as the winds were picking up and a direct crosswind was gusting to 14 knots. But I got down without bending any sheet metal and put the plane up. Then it was back to the Lair, where someone was waiting on me.

I'm thinking that someone wants to go to the dog park. Be back later.


  1. Sadly welfare has corrupted quite a few people and made it just so easy to do nothing (and we are paying the tab for that.)

    Now those who are truly maimed, paralyzed, have severe mental problems, etc... I am happy for us to take care of them (it IS the Christian thing to do.) But way way to many can work.

    As St. Paul said... "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat".

    And that is the truth of the whole matter! Welfare is destroying people left and right by making them lazy.

  2. Well done commentary on our sad state of affairs in this country/world. Will we ever have a Margaret Thacker???

  3. Yes, I spent the better part of a week in Cumberland 20-something years ago, back when I worked for Uncle Sam.

    Piecing together what the locals told me, the American Celanese plant in Amcelle was a major employer, but the plant was padlocked in the early 1980's, a few years before my arrival. They made, among other things, a synthetic substitute for silk. A high school classmate of mine later told me that his father, who was in the women's hosiery business, had frequent occasion to go to Cumberland to talk with the Celanese people.

    I am informed that once the American Celanese plant went under, so did the better part of the economy of Cumberland.

    When I was there I took a drive out to Amcelle and saw the American Celanese plant. By that time, the padlocks were superfluous becase just about every window in the facade was smashed.

    My own official business was at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, West Virginia. They maintain a P.O. Box address in Cumberland so that government travelers can get paid the Maryland per diem rate instead of the West Virginia rate.

    Actually, the depressed economy was not a total negative for me. The guys from my office were all directing one another to some out-of-the-way motel up the Potomac river, which was removed from anything resembling civilization. When I went into downtown Cumberland the first afternoon, I learned that the Holiday Inn there would give a government employee with a travel order a king bed room for the government per diem rate. Not only was the hotel near some nightlife and shopping, but it had a bigger and better room than the fleabag motel.

    Anyway, the old American Celanese plant has been torn down, an a state prison has sprung up in its place.

    Thanks for the memory, Murph!

  4. @ Expat. Owl: Unless I miss my guess, Cumberland's biggest employer these days is CSX railroad. They have a HUGE yard and shop there and it's got to provide boo-coo jobs.

  5. Good points Murph, and your observations pretty much spell doom for that town... I'm betting the bars do a booming business and not much else is open...

  6. Read your blog with must interest. I was born and raised in Cumberland and cannot refute anything you have said. During the 50's and 60's, the city had a soul and as stated, most worked at Celanese, KS Tire and Rubber, PPG and the B&O Railroad. Downtown was vibrant and alive. Today, your observations are spot on. It is my opinion that unions killed Cumberland and Allegany County. Strikes and labor unrest negated any advantage corporations had in being here. As you observed, we aren't exactly in the thick of things. Midway between Pittsburgh and Baltimore/Washington, businesses tend to gravitate to population/disposable income areas and that is NOT our fair city any longer. HunterDouglas, Western maryland Health Systems and CXS are the prime employers. Interestingly, our city and county planners all tout the minimum wages that the citizens will work for here as a lure for them to set up here. Yep, we're better'n moving to Mexico!

    1. Don, it's a shame what Cumberland, like many cities, has become. Walking around, you can still see what it used to be like once. Sadly the ones who built it and made it thrive are gone now, and today's generation just doesn't seem to have what it takes to keep it going, much less improve on it. I hope that you'll keep coming back to the blog.