The adventure below is the latest in a series sharing my quest to explore Pennsylvania by visiting each of the sixty-seven county seats and eating a hot dog while in town.
From 1986 to 1992 Andy Griffith portrayed a criminal defense lawyer in the TV series “Matlock”. Andy became a defense lawyer (Ben Matlock) after retiring as the sheriff of Mayberry. He had been studying law by correspondence for three years while keeping Mayberry safe from Don Knotts. Anyway, the point is that once he was a lawyer, Andy/Ben, became a regular at the hot dog-cart outside the courthouse. Ben often stopped on the way out of court to purchase his favorite meal, a cheap hot dog.
When I began this quest last fall I expected to be eating hot dogs from carts located at the foot of courthouse steps. Well, I had to venture down to Delaware County and the pleasant and calm community of Media to eat my first hot dog from a hot dog stand at a courthouse. This was a thrill for me which was made more special by the proprietor of the hot dog joint, Matt. His father began the business thirty-seven years ago with a push cart and Matt is continuing the traditions with a slightly larger wagon. Matt is an easy talker and shared much information about ‘the city’ with me. The streets are much safer in Media then they are in ‘the city.’ If you want to go to ‘the city’ you can take the train from Media. Living in Media is not like living in ‘the city’. Of course, Philadelphia (my next stop) is ‘the city’ Matt is talking about and he is correct that Media is not like ‘the city.’ My time with Matt was wonderful and he served up a great Dietz and Watson hot dog smothered in onions and relish as well. Thanks for being you, Matt. I hope everyone in the courthouse buys your hot dogs every day. (Matt is open twelve months of the year.)
Delaware County was created on September 26, 1789, from part of Chester County and named for the river that divides Pennsylvania from Delaware.
Because it is a pleasant and calm place Media has stayed under the radar of State and National news except for one moment in 1971. On March 8 of that year, the “Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI” raided an FBI “resident agency” in Media. They later released thousands of documents to major newspapers around the country. These documents revealed controversial and illegal FBI tactics, like the recruitment of Boy Scouts as informants, and confirmed for the first time the existence of COINTELPRO, an FBI program to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” dissident groups in the United States. Hmm! I wonder if the illegal fraternity I belonged to was on that list?
On this day Media was the pleasant and calm community Matt advertises and his directions took me to the train station without a hitch. My only difficulty was finding a parking space. I parked about four blocks away and walked to the station. I bought my ticket to ‘the city’ and my return ticket as well from the SEPTA employee behind the ticket window and waited for my train.
The train arrived and the few of us waiting boarded. I was surprised to learn that the car was a ‘quiet’ one. Agghh! How would I survive the trip? I did sneeze once and the guy in the seat behind me exclaimed, “Bless you!” And I replied, “Thank you.” I thought that was cool and since neither of us got arrested for talking I returned the favor about fifteen minutes later when he sneezed. I hope I didn’t give him something catchy! I hope we didn’t get added to the COINTELPRO list! At least I wasn’t being rude by eating a hot dog on the train.
The conductors were all business at each station stop and called out the name of the place as they opened the door and once after we stopped with the doors to all the cars open. Because there is a conductor in each car it got kind of funny hearing the station name echoed twice. It sounded like this; Morton, Morton, Morton. Only the name wasn’t clear like that. I had to look for the signs at the stations to understand where we were. Morton sounded more like; Modun, Modun, Modun. I don’t know what happened but after thirty minutes on the train I began to understand the announcements pretty well. Hmm!
Next stop ‘Jefsin Stasun’.
See you next time.