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North East vs. Northeast Pennsylvania

By M Davies   /     Feb 27, 2018  /     Misc/Crap, NEPA  /     3 Comments

I got into a conversation with a cashier last night and it took me a good 20 or so minutes to realize we were on two completely different plains of existence.

The gentlemen in question saw that I was wearing my WQED hoodie and started talking to me about people he knew that worked here and how he got the chance to meet Mister Rogers and tour the studio. Unfortunately, Mister Rogers, the set and the show are well before my time at this station. I assume that most of his friends have retired, because the names did not sound familiar.

— Oh yeah, by the way, did I tell you I now work at WQED, “the Mister Rogers station”? More on that another time. —

Anyway, I told him I wish I had the opportunity to meet more people in Pittsburgh, but that I did have a few friends from my jobs here. He of course, wanted to know where I was from and I said “Northeast Pennsylvania.” I find that by saying this, it triggers some knee jerk reaction about Philadelphia. In this case, he said “North East Pennsylvania? OH YEAH! I’ve been to the wine festival up there.” (note the difference in spacing)

I know there are a ton of wine festivals in Northeast PA, but a wine drinker I am not, so I mentioned the only two I could think of off the top of my head. “Montage Mountain? Tunkhannock?” He looked at me like I grew another head.

“No, it’s by the train station,” he said. “There’s an Italian restaurant we ate at near the tracks that was really good.”

Me: “Oh? Maybe you were in Scranton or East Stroudsburg?”

Him: *another puzzled look* “It’s by Lake Erie.”

Me:  “Wait….what?”

He said “Well, you’re from up by Lake Erie, right? That’s where North East is.”



I told him I was NorthEASTERN Pennsylvania. “You know, by Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, the Poconos.” Another blank stare.

It took us a few more minutes of back and forth for us to figure out what the hell we were both talking about and then we had a good chuckle.

As it turns out, there is a small borough near Lake Erie, in Erie county, called “North East” and when you pair it with Pennsylvania it sounds like you’re referring to Northeastern, Pennsylvania (NEPA). These are two entirely different areas clear across the state from each other. I would have had no idea that this town even existed if it wasn’t for this awkward conversation. After I got a chance to sit down, relax, and boot up my computer last night, I googled North East, Pennsylvania. According to the borough’s website, the region is known for it’s fruit growing especially cherries and grapes. Welch Foods has a plant in North East and it is one of the area’s largest employers. There is an annual Cherry Festival in the summer and an annual Wine Country Harvest Festival in the fall — this must be the wine festival the cashier was referring to during our chat.

Taken from the North East Wiki

According to some other friends, there’s a rail museum (Lake Shore Railway Museum) and a hotel that’s on the National Register of Historic Places (Short’s Hotel). Additionally and equally confusing/hilarious, there’s a North East Fair, not to be confused with the Northeast Fair near Pittston.

Lesson learned! When you’re referring to Northeast PA on the western side of the state, it’s just easier to call it NEPA or give geographical reference points. Otherwise people will just assume you are from Erie.

The horror!

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Rock this Town (a photo blog)

By M Davies   /     Dec 12, 2017  /     Hobby-ish, NEPA  /     6 Comments

On a particularly rough morning recently, I was walking out to my car for work and saw something out of place. It caught the corner of my eye because it was a bright orange blob. My immediate thought was that someone next door forgot something while packing their car for the day and that I should go try to find the owner of whatever it was. Here’s what I found:


As luck would have it, it turned out to be a specifically placed painted rock which I discovered after picking it up and turning it over. I say it was a rough morning because I was on the verge of tears as I sitting in my car. It was just a really bad week all around. Seeing the cutely painted rock made my day a little bit brighter and more interesting.

I placed the rock in my purse and took it to work with me to research further. Once I got to work, I realized there was an entire group on Facebook dedicated to decorating basic rocks and hiding them in public places as a sort of hide and seek game. I was a member of a similar group for Luzerne county, but I didn’t realize that every community had their own group. This particular rock was painted by a person in the “Steel Valley Rocks” group. I decided to take a photo of the rock with a statue at work. I think you’ll recognize this famous bird.

At the end of the day, I collected my photos and wrote a thoughtful post on the Steel Valley Rocks page. The rules of the group are pretty straight forward…

Practice RAoKs – Random Acts of Kindness!  Paint a rock and place it where someone will find it. Bring joy and smiles to the finder!  Painting and finding rocks is for EVERYONE, not just children.  

Please post pictures of your painted rocks before you hide and when you find, or you can participate anonymously if you prefer. If you find a rock, you can choose to keep and replace or re-hide for someone else to find.  If you choose to keep a rock, you are encouraged to hide a new rock in its place.   If you find a painted rock from another group, either post on their page or please let us know in your post so we can share the FIND with that group! 

I decided to take the rock back with me on my weekly commute to Northeast PA and hide it somewhere there. Seeing it travel across the state may bring the original painter (probably a child) some joy. But where to hide it….where?

Then it hit me. I saw a news article earlier in the week that cracked me up unintentionally: 11/20/17 “Signs installed in W-B to help visitors navigate city” via the Citizens’ Voice Newspaper. If you’ll look closely, one of the signs photographed in the article is misspelled. I don’t know why, but for some reason the sight of this image brought me laughing to tears. Mostly because of its glaring error and that no one noticed it until after it was already up on a pole. See for yourself:

(Image Courtesy of the original CV article linked above)

Federal Courthose? What the shit? How does this even happen? I mean, it would have had to pass through several editors before making it to print, right? By the way, I’m talking about the officials that drafted the sign text, the sign designers, printer, and the folks who hung the sign — not those at the newspaper. Your taxpayer dollars hard at work, ladies and gentlemen.

Anyway, I decided that I needed to go and inspect this misspelled sign myself to make sure the CV wasn’t trolling us all with a photoshopped picture. This was going to be the place where I placed the rock. On Thanksgiving morning, my son and I ventured down to Wilkes-Barre in search of the sign. I figured it shouldn’t be too difficult to locate as I used the Franz Kline historic marker for a point of reference via the website. Of course, by finding this point of reference to the sign, I had to do a Google deep dive to find out more about Mr. Kline.

The gist of what I read was: Franz Kline a painter who was born in Wilkes-Barre. He was most famous for his black and white abstractions. His father committed suicide when he was just 7 years old. You can find most of his work by checking out Google images. However, if you’d like to read up more on Franz’s life, I recommend starting here: To me, this seemed like a perfect location to leave the rock. Franz Kline had done a lot of black and white paintings. I felt he needed some color and joy in his life, just like I did on the morning I found the painted rock.

The location of Franz’s sign was near River Commons on River St. between South and Northampton Streets, Wilkes-Barre. As you can imagine, there wasn’t much traffic on the roads on Thanksgiving morning, my son and I circled the block where the sign was located and had no trouble finding a parking spot on nearby Northhampton Street. We moved quickly because it was FRIGID that morning. In no time at all, we re-hid the rock.

Also, I must note, that in the weeks time it took me to get out and check out the misspelled Luzerne county visitor sign, it had been fixed. I was kind of disappointed. I guess it’s for the best. We don’t want any visitors coming in and poking fun at us for spelling errors.

At any rate, it was a fun adventure. Laughing at signs and learning about historic figures. I posted the end result of my story in the “Steel Valley Rocks” as well as “Luzerne County Rocks” groups on Facebook. As of yet, I haven’t seen anyone post that it was found, but I’m continuing to monitor for further developments. I think the leaves and snow may work against it, but it is pretty obviously colored and hard to miss. A little while after I posted about where I hid the rock, a school teacher from Plum came forward and said that it was her daughter who painted the rock and she was happy to follow its journey online. The rock was painted and first hid back in June.

So now it’s my turn to pay it forward. I’m trying to paint a rock to re-hide somewhere in the Pittsburgh area, location TBD. I’m having mixed results on the painting situation. An artist, I am not. I tried to kind of recreate the rock I found with mixed results:

It’s not great and it takes the paint forever to dry with multiple coats needed. I have to finish it up (maybe tonight) wait for it to dry (AGAIN) and then it will be ready to hide. I probably won’t get an opportunity to place it somewhere until next week. This is a process for sure.

If it even makes one person smile, I think it will be worth it.

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3 for 3

By M Davies   /     Apr 04, 2015  /     30 Day @Neilbytes Blogging Challenge, NEPA  /     3 Comments

And no, I’m not talking about my 3 day streak of blog posts….


It was a violent week to live in Wilkes-Barre.  There’s been three shootings in as many days.  According to the Citizens’ Voice, it’s been over 6 months since the last fatal shooting in the Diamond City.  In the last 36 hours:  an alleged accidental shooting occurred on South Street, a drive-by happened on South Main Street and a suspicious fatal shooting was discovered on Carey Ave.  The comment sections on most of the local media websites are typically a hot bed of troll activity for events such as this, but you’ve got to wonder if sometimes they make a good point…




I don’t think I could have said this better myself.


Zeroing in on the drive-by shooting at (“the club”) Club Envy.  When I first learned of the news of this shooting, I assumed that it happened in downtown Wilkes-Barre or around Public Square since that is where most of the clubs and drinking establishments are.  Nope.  It actually happened at the old “Outsiders” biker bar next to Main Hardware (home of “Christmasland”) on South Main Street.  If you follow the papers, “Outsiders” was a known trouble spot for years, constantly in trouble with the LCB for one thing or another.  It was shutdown after DJ Mo tragically lost his life in a similar incident in 2013, a year which netted 13 homicides in Wilkes-Barre.  You’d like to think that with a name and management change that the culture would also change, but yeahhhhh… not so much.


I’ve gone to the old “Outsiders” 3 times when I lived in the city.  Once with a friend, once with my husband, and once alone.  The (last) time I went alone was a liquid lunch after I lost my job at Frontier on October 31, 2007.  I did not run into trouble on any of these occasions.  Am I missing something?  Are people being specifically targeted?  What exactly is going on here?  The likely answer is that the incidents were drug or gang related.  Regardless, the violence and loss of life is stupid and senseless.


I hope the police get to the bottom of it before another incident occurs.

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Evidently Chickentown

By M Davies   /     Jul 25, 2014  /     Hilarity, NEPA  /     1 Comment

In the news this week, Northeast PA was rated as the most unhappy place to be in the United States.  I can’t help but to think it’s due to the restrictive rules of raising chickens in these here parts.  In writing this blog post, I found myself asking which came first the chicken or the outrage.



Have you ever eaten farm fresh chicken eggs? They’re delicious! Eggs in general are a great source of protein and vitamin D and when consumed in moderation do not pose a threat to your cholesterol, but rather help to keep your good cholesterol at a healthy level. Eggs are all-natural and provide one of the highest quality proteins of any food available.

Wouldn’t it be great to just pop on out to the coop and collect a few of these healthy little buggers from your very own chickens? Unfortunately, due to an ordinance that is in need of revision, Luzerne County residents don’t have that privilege. Urban and suburban areas in hundreds of cities allow backyard chickens as part of promoting healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Many see it as being along the same lines as backyard gardening. I say, let them have chickens!

Amber Williams

Wilkes-Barre Township

With the influx in the chicken population you can be darned certain that there will be fowl play.  Just ask the “Chicken Wing Bandit”.


Officers said they tried to speak with Cebula, but he appeared highly intoxicated and told them he was “the Chicken Wing Bandit,”

Officials speculate that allowing chickens to roam the streets will cause violent rioting among residents in the region….oh wait….IT’S ALREADY HAPPENING.  RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!


Scranton police arrested a man and woman Wednesday for fighting on a street corner, though the man implicated a chicken for causing his injuries.

Keep the bloody racket down, this is bloody chickentown.


That’s all I have to crow about for the moment.  Enough with the groans, there’s no need to be cocky.

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Fly to Jaboobia – A #NEPA Social Experiment

By M Davies   /     Jul 24, 2014  /     NEPA  /     0 Comment

A few weeks ago, I received an email message from a complete stranger asking for help finding the source of a “NEPA” saying.  I figured that I would be able to easily find the saying in the CoalSpeak Dictionary, but that wasn’t the case.  Really wanting to help out the guy, I turned to social media to (hopefully) find my answer.   Here’s the original email message:


Greetings from North Dakota!

My wife grew up in Wilkes-Barre (1956-1974).    When her mother felt flustered, she might say that she felt like she was going to “fly to Jaboobia” (spelling conjectural).

Over the years we’ve wondered where on earth that expression came from.  It didn’t seem likely that my wife’s mom would have invented it.  Was it perhaps from a movie?  Was it an expression used by other people in Wilkes-Barre?  (Mom lived all her life in Wilkes-Barre and rarely got farther away than neighboring communities.)

I wondered if you, or contacts whom you may have, know the origin of “I felt like I was going to fly to Jaboobia!” as an expression to use when it was all getting to be too much.


(Mr.) Dale Nelson Associate Professor of English Mayville (ND) State University

So what exactly does “fly to Jaboobia” mean?  To the Interwebs, Batman!




I posted the email message to the “You know you’re from NEPA (Wyoming Valley, Wilkes-Barre)when..” group on Facebook to see if anyone had the answer to Mr. Nelson’s question.  Much to my surprise, I received 10 likes and 31 comments to my posting! Here are some of the more popular ones…


Fly to Jaboobia (2)



Other variations that were offered up include:  zaboodie, lower japricka, zababoonie, Jaboobiland, and Jaboogy Beach.  It seems as though every family had a different variation of the word, but essentially they all translate to the same thing….a place far far away.   Although no one was quite sure of the exact origin, the most likely explanation was based on old radio showscomic strips, a location in Africa or a placeholder name.  This doesn’t exactly answer Mr. Nelson’s question, but it should get him started on the right path.


Did your Mom ever want to send you to a real or imaginary place far far away and if so, what did she call it?  Leave me a message in the comments!

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