Friday, May 18, 2018

Returning from “Our Lost Tohickon Valley”

September 10, 2010 10:07 pm by  
Filed under Life

FULLCOVERCYMK300dpiSIZEJULY7A year of research, interviews, and retracing the woodland walks of my childhood have resulted in seeing my name, for the first time, on the cover of a book. For all the journalistic bylines I’ve had in my life, there is something entirely different about acquiring the title of “author”.

“Our Lost Tohickon Valley” is a look inside the lives, families, homes, and farms of Upper Bucks County during the mid-Twentieth Century. Those halcyon days after World War II when the country was booming and the middle-class was growing.

For nearly twenty years there was a place tucked away at the base of Haycock Mountain in Upper Bucks County where no one locked their doors, where children disappeared for hours unsupervised, and where people earned respect through hard work and honesty.

Then the government came calling with their right of Eminent Domain. The result was shattered lives, lost legacies, and historic structures that met a watery grave.

Today, at Nockamixon State Park, families picnic and sail on what was once a place that, like the mystical Brigadoon, exists now only in our minds. Blu Arial view

As the book tour rolls out, my co-author, Marjorie Goldthorp Fulp and I look forward to sharing the many stories we have collected in the course of writing about “Our Lost Tohickon Valley”.

And we know of what we write; Margie and I both lost our family homes to the park.  This book has given us the chance to reclaim our memories…one last time. My thanks to the Haycock Historical Society for the opportunity.

Comments

8 Responses to “Returning from “Our Lost Tohickon Valley””
  1. Looking To Escape says:

    Maybe I’ll see you give a talk about your book on CSpan.
    .
    Town and cities that have met a watery grave are a subject that is not uncommon. The movie Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress is the story of a man whose past was buried under water because of the march of “progress”. His story had a twist, his now buried past was the Chinese Communist re-education camp that he was sentenced to.
    .
    Maybe homes buried under water serve to remind us in a forceful way we can never go back to what we were?
    .
    Pam, good luck on your book.

  2. Pamela Varkony says:

    Looking,

    If I ever make it on to CSpan related to this book, it will hopefully be to speak about the misused governmental power of “Eminent Domain”.

    And yes, this experience continuously reminds me that I can’t go home again, and neither can the country. The age of innocence captured in this book will never come again.

  3. Good Afternoon Pam, and Congrats on your successful book signing, Carol, my wife, dropped by while shopping, and a had real nice talk with Margie, reliving the old days down in Haycock (they went to school together in Quakertown)
    The Mcnight clan were just before you in school. “Pop, Pop” Mcnight(Grandfather) Un-Offically supervised the building of Lake (they couldn’t get rid of him HA!)
    Also, The officials had him pull the “switch” to flood the Valley.
    Good job on putting these wonderful (but sometimes sad) memories down in ink for future generations.
    Drop me a line when time permits Maybe we can get together some evening and you and Carol can talk, as we just live a few blocks from you.
    Sincerely,
    Paul Fiske

  4. Pamela says:

    Paul, nice to hear from you and to know that your wife is a Haycock/Quakertown girl. I’ve been surprised by the response to the book. Didn’t realize so many people would care or be connected to our old memories. The book signing at Wegman’s exceeded our best expectations. Many thanks to Carol for coming out.

  5. Pam, Correction to the last name listed: should read McKnight vice Mcnight.
    Carol grew up on a farm right next to Applebachsville with her two brothers Dennis and Ronald (Denny and Ronny)
    Keep in touch…..PJF

  6. Pamela Varkony says:

    Paul, I believe Carol’s brother Ronny came to our book signing at Sine’s in Quakertown. I wish Carol had introduced herself to me at Wegman’s. I must have signed her book without realizing who she was: It was so busy, there was little time to speak with anyone. Would love to get together sometime. Why don’t we take this conversation to private email…my address is Pamela@SpectrumGlobal.net.

  7. Ed Wentz says:

    I recently read about your book “Our Lost Tohickon Valley – Haycock Township, Bucks County – Pennsylvania” in a recent article in the Perkasie News Herald. I subsequently requested the book for my recent 72nd birthday from my daughter Beth Freed (wife of Gary) who reside in Perkasie, PA, which I received and read in a couple of days during the holidays.

    I did not personally know anyone who was affected by the “Lake” but I did recognize Wally Ketterer’s name shown on a few of the photographs; I purchased a Model A Huckster Wagon from him in the ’70s.

    My wife and I have lived in Oak Ridge, NC for 27-1/2 years; we are transplants from Hilltown Township, Bucks Co, where I served as a Hilltown Twp. Supervisor (1977 – 1983) and Hilltown Twp. Planning Commission. I was born in Sellersville and raised in Hilltown; my wife is from Hatfield, PA.

    I explored a good portion of Upper Bucks County area as a member of a land surveyor crew in the late ’50s and early ’60s so I knew the area well. We recall having driven our young family through the “valley” during the ’60s prior to the seizing of the land and destruction of the homes.

    When we moved back to eastern Hilltown Twp. (3/4 miles from Telford)in 1970 after a hiatus of 10 years living elsewhere, we were confronted with a similiar project. The PA Public Utilities Commission initiated a project to relocate the Reading Railroad out of the towns of Souderton and Telford and into Hilltown Twp., digging a tunnel and building a new train station on our newly acquired property and that of my mother who lived next door. We fought the project vociferously starting with Mr. Bloom, then Chairman of the PA Public Utility Commission (PA PUC) who advised us it was a valid project and would move forward. We never let it die and won in the end. However, it is one reason I became a member of the Hilltown Township Planning Commission and then asked to run for the Supervisor position.

    We benefitted by Lake Nockamixon having bought a small sailboat in the early ’70s and introduced our children to sailing on the lake. Having sailed most of the lake,I was always curious about the origin of the quarry on the west end; now I know. Thank you for the map included in the back of the book. I noticed there is no reference to the old Lake House Inn.

    My wife’s cousin Ruth and Roy Hagey lived at the base of Haycock Mt. which if my memory serves me correctly was located on Top Rock Rd. They lived there until about 10 years ago at which time they moved to a retirement community in Lebanon, PA.

    I personally love Bucks Co. stone farm houses; the loss of these homes distressed me. When we built our home in NC, we built a contemporary version of a Bucks County stone farm house.

    The next time we are in the area, I will carry your book with me and attempt to locate where your respective properties were located.

    Thanks again for the history.

    Ed Wentz

  8. Pamela says:

    Ed,

    Thank you so much for the lovely message. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. Congratulations on winning your fight in Hilltown Township. As I was working on “OLTV”, it occurred to me that those affected by the Nockamixon project never banded together: I don’t know why. Several people fought individual battles with the state, my father included, but there was never an organized regional effort. Perhaps the mindset about government was different back then. I was a teenager so not privy to many of the “adult” conversations and decisions. Welcome back “home”. Pam Feist Varkony

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