March 6, 2012

from the comments — dueling banjos edition

Amanda Mae Meyncke:

That day eludes me, the specifics of it. I find myself sleepy after a single glass of whiskey now, so I struggle to recall what strange elixirs and potions we whipped up and slung down for hour upon endless hour. A warm sort of hazy summer day. I remember wild tea vodka and orange juice, champagne and beers, sobering up slightly in the afternoon but not for long.

It literally seems impossible now, and I think it must have been a very very specific sort of order, some magical combination at a macrobiotic level that lead us like a guiding light. A gentle hand outstretched that never became a pounding hateful fist. I woke up ready to do it again. I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

Carole Corlew:

Cumberland is beautiful, in the mountains of western Maryland where it can be very cold even in May and early June. Of course “very cold” is subjective and some might not agree. Midwesterners, specifically.

I was living in Baltimore when I needed to visit a Cumberland newspaper editor. I called early that morning to check on conditions and the editor said, “The weather is great, come on up.” It started sleeting, then snowing as my car began the ascent. I was barely out of Alabama at that point and thought I surely would not survive.

We celebrated my survival with lunch at “the town’s best restaurant,” the bowling alley. It was quite good!


  1. salvo on March 6th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I drove through Cumberland once, and stopped for lunch in their frozen-in-the-1950s (sort of) pedestrianized downtown area. There were some great old vintage storefronts, some occupied, some not, but there was clearly an effort being made to regain some critical mass, with little shops, restaurants, etc.

    There were teenagers hanging around, couples, old folks strolling, and I was sort of sorry to be just passing through.

    Also, a few miles east of Cumberland on I-70 you pass through what has to be one of the skinniest contiguous parts of any state in then US—to your right as you’re heading east is West Virginia, to your left is Pennsylvania, and the highway is on Maryland soil.

  2. Sheila Ryan on March 6th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Amanda, you were adorable that Saturday evening last year. Rick, Danny, Amy, Andrew, you and me en route to the what-have-you, the all-you-dare-to-eat buffet. You drifted off occasionally, but you never went under. You perked up every now and again to respond to various comments. And you appeared completely with it at the buffet. And after.

  3. Sheila Ryan on March 6th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Can we eat at the bowling alley in Cumberland?

    Let’s go bowling.

  4. Erica Braverman on March 6th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I am a terrible bowler, but I will always go bowling when I have the chance.

    Also, this place looks beautiful! I’m excited for Cumberland.

  5. Carole Corlew on March 6th, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    It has been an age since I have been in Cumberland so I am not hopeful re the survival of that particular bowling alley restaurant.

    The cute thing about the visit was the newspaper editor had his wife join us for our “working lunch” at the bowling alley. Which of course reminds me of the oxymoron “working journalist.”

    But anyway, the Cumberland editor was quite a bit older than me. And Cumberland was/is a small town. You don’t hang out at the bowling alley with an unknown young thing with a pronounced southern accent, even one claiming to be “a bureau chief.” This is something I understood, being from podunk, AL. The editor and his wife were very charming and said I reminded them of their daughter. The trip was well worth my near death-plunge-from-mountain in the snow.

  6. Sheila Ryan on March 6th, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Looking forward to Cumberland.

  7. Garrett on March 6th, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Restaurants are seasonal in the town. Except, there are a few mainstays that persist, holding on to the owners’ will to live.

    An old steam engine still comes through town twice a day, too, carrying tourists to Frostburg and back. We’ll be seeing it blow its black smoke up from the porch of my parents’ house.

  8. Garrett on March 6th, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    And sadly my friend Piver and her husband have since moved to a smaller place nearby, but I would have loved to share their former residence with everyone – it was one of those converted downtown buildings I mentioned in my post.

    Piver is an amazing artist and her house was this amazing blend of Edward Scissorhands, neon, and ordered chaos. Half an old Ford made up a dining room table, a zebra-printed hospital gurney sat in the corner, shag carpeting lined the walls. It’s hard to describe. Look for the bright photos in this set. I wish I had more photos to share of her imagination.

  9. Sheila Ryan on March 7th, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Breakfast in Cumberland: If we’ll have the use of a kitchen, I’ve found a good recipe for maple and sage sausage.