This past weekend we made our way to Eckley Miners’ Village to set up a display of our archaeology project at the annual Patch Town Day festival. Eager to discuss our work, patch town history, and anthracite labor history and archaeology, we loaded the table with a 1930s image of Pardeesville, a couple historic maps, and two shadow boxes of artifacts from our recent archaeological work. We had many interested visitors stop by the booth, and over the course of our two days there, we even got to do a little exploring of the festival and town ourselves.
The public listened to what we had to say about our archaeology and many were willing to share their own experiences and family histories from the anthracite region. We spoke about ethnic divisions, company housing and shanty towns, as well as gardens and foodways. We also had the pleasure of meeting the grandson of our favorite cookie provider, Anne from Pardeesville. But, after spending a good portion of the day at our own booth, a couple of us took the opportunity to check out what else was going on at Patch Town Day.
As we meandered through the town we met a lovely couple selling homespun yarn made of Merino wool as well as candles and hand-knitted scarves. In an enclosure next to their stand were two goats, an adult and an adolescent, both happily munching on straw. We stopped for a moment to admire and pet them while asking the couple to tell us more about their farm. Later, as we made our way to the food stands, drawn by the enticing scent of pierogis and halupki, we stopped to talk with a volunteer interpreting the role of a farmer. He told us all about his garden, filled with tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, and zucchini, as well as assorted spices and herbs. He then directed us to a period kitchen where his wife was serving homemade pickles and pickled beets made with 19th century equipment. After we ate our fill, we returned to our booth where we continued to enjoy more conversations with passersby.
At 4:30 PM, we packed up our stand and headed down the road to listen to a live band that played until the close of the event. One by one, members of our crew trickled home, leaving only a few of us still listening to the band. It was during this time, while the last of our group was still enjoying the music, that a very nice guy walked over and introduced himself as Vincent. Offering us beverages, we joined him at his table where we met his girlfriend, Maria. After chatting for quite some time, Maria offered to take us exploring around the outskirts of Eckley, including the old cemetery, the very next day. We readily accepted her invitation, and eagerly awaited the following day’s journey.