The house in Mantua

One of my granddaughters was offered a job as the manager of a very famous burger restaurant. The only problem was that she lived in California, and the job was in a small town in Texas. So it was off to the new location, husband, son and daughter in tow.

Of course, the first thing she did, once settled, was invite everybody to come visit. While I’ve always wanted to see the Lone Star state, I don’t travel these days. Not even so far as Reno. These old bones just can’t handle planes, trains and any of the rest.

While I’ve visited and lived in an assortment of fine beautiful states, I’ve really only been to about half.

People who haven’t traveled often ask me where I would live if given plenty of available funds? Interesting question. There are lots of places that come to the top of the list, starting with Santa Barbara, Calif. Taking this city girl, who lived most of her life in or near Philly, and putting her in an apartment with a balcony that overlooked the city and beautiful blue Pacific was spellbinding.

My five sons and I often talk about our first Christmas in the west, watching the sailboats in the water as we stood beside a decorated tree. I remember saying something about not missing the snow, but of course I did. There aren’t many places on the east coast where I’d enjoy living. However, I wish before I’d left the east in 1964 I’d gone to see the New England states.

In the south, Alabama was not only humid; it was even hotter in the springtime than Pennsylvania. Then there was that little town in West Virginia where I spent a winter and spring enjoying the clean mountain air, but again you had to deal with the dreadful summer humidity. Living in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., right there on the Gulf of Mexico was wonderful. That’s if you could stand the unbelievably terrible influx of bugs.

In addition, there were the ever-present tropical rainstorms and heaven forbid, hurricanes. Visiting there yes, permanent residency, no! Moreover, something is always bothered me. It’s this unbelievable dislike some people from one state have for another state’s people. In New Jersey they dislike Pennsylvania residents, and those from Pennsylvania dislike people from “Jersey.” The one that’s local is some Nevada resident’s dislike of anybody or anything from California.

Where would we be if we couldn’t get wonderful produce from California? Prices would jump, or we’d do without and be hungry. I must agree though; I don’t want to be told how they do things “there.” However, my response is always the same. We’re all part of one big, beautiful, wonderful country and each and every state has it’s own charm.

Have you ever seen the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho?

While living there in a log cabin near Lowman, I listened to the Salmon River flowing behind my back door. Ever walked up and looked at the face of Mount Rushmore, or fished in the waters of the lakes up in the High Sierra Mountains? I’ll always remember my joy, and silly crying, at finally putting my feet into the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur near San Francisco.

Who can forget their first taste of sourdough bread, or eating fresh seafood at one San Francisco’s fine dockside restaurants? This too, is a valuable part of this beautiful country of ours. While I didn’t like Montgomery, Ala. weather, I’ll always remember the unbelievably beautiful scent outside their state’s courthouse. The air was filled with lovely fragrance from gardenias. Now there is one favorite place I’d enjoy calling home if possible.

Even for Pennsylvania born lady, it’s in a tiny house in Mantua, NJ, where, shortly after getting married, I met my late husband Van’s family for the first time in a little old house, in the little town was where he’d been born. Upstairs were three bedrooms and downstairs a nice big living room, a wonderful old kitchen and a bathroom his dad had added after they’d gotten tired of their “outhouse.”

Outside was a covered porch and a big side lawn filled with green grass and mature trees. His whole “gang” of relatives had come to meet me. We enjoyed a fantastic family barbecue. To this day I think of that little house in Mantua, N.J. as very special. Fallon, though, is also a very special place that I’ve learned to appreciate and call my “home.”

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at


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