When I do conference workshops, I introduce myself and then somehow attempt to connect to the audience. For instance, the people at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Conference know that one of my granddaughters is named after their weather girl and the people at the Cedarville Conference know that we lived there when we were first married.
But I connect to west/central PA in a unique way that happens no other place. Not only were many of my formative years spent there – I married a guy ninety miles down the road from where we lived. I can usually find someone (as I did this time) who has been to Fort Roberdeau and then I tell them how when I was a kid, I thought it was my own personal fort. Then I ask if they’ve visited the nearby farm house and then surprise them by saying my parents used to own that house.
One of the things we talked about this time is my accent. I basically learned to talk in the heart of Pennsylvania – where the Pennsylvania accent is about as strong as you can find it – but I also spent a good part of my childhood in the Chicago area. So my accent is a weird mixture of the two of them which gives certain family members (who supposedly love me dearly) an easy target for mockification. (Just made that word up.)
They love to hear me way the word warsh (instead of wash), but when I said it Saturday at the conference, they all said, “Warsh is the way you’re SUPPOSED to say it. That’s the way we all say it.”
One time I actually did have a linguist try to figure out what area of the country I was from. He couldn’t do it because I’m that combobulated mixture of the east and the midwest. (That, plus I learned to talk from my parents who were both from the New York City area.)
One guy told me to be proud that I speak Chicavania, so from now on that will be a buzzword in my life — and don’t mess with my Chicavania heritage!
Anyhow, we had a lot of fun with it.
The church where the conference was held wasn’t a huge church – medium sized, actually (but growing rapidly).
They had the children’s wing cleverly decorated. Downstairs the youth room was equally cool with an actual diner part with red stools, black and white tiles, booths, a soda glass cabinet, etc.
Here are just some of the murals they had on the wall. The Pet Shop, by the way, is the church nursery. The window of the firetruck actually looked over the large banquet/gym below.