Two Introverts Walk Into A Press Release

Now I’m not entirely positive if one could call my mother and I true introverts. It’s more like if we’re in unfamiliar territory, we spend a good deal of time figuring out where we’re supposed to be, what our plans are, and so forth. Such was the case in the post titled “Two Introverts Walk Into A Conference.” In that instance, it was an event for my mother and a local nonprofit we both volunteer with.

Don’t get me wrong – we’ve both attended things like job fairs, large concerts, open-air festivals and events at our city’s convention center. But these? These are totally different, specific events. For my mom, she was on a mission at the conference as a member of the board of directors for the nonprofit. And this time? Well, I was personally invited to my first ever event due to a recent blog post titled “Seven Sites About Pennsylvania.”

I’m here, in Philadelphia, and I’m still not convinced this is really happening. My brother-in-law’s invited to things. My dad, my sister, my mom. Not me. So yeah, I was in complete shock when the unexpected invitation popped in my inbox the week the post went live.

Before we get any deeper in to today’s post, here’s a little history of my love affair with, well, history. My dad had a career with the United States Air Force. Because of that, we got to travel a lot if he had to go to specific air bases for training. When I was eight we got to go to Germany for New Year’s. When I was in my early teens we got to go to Disney World during the day while he trained on flight simulators. And later, when I was in my 20s, we got to witness a rocket launch from NASA as my brother-in-law presided over it in prayer as the chaplain representative (also from the USAF).

As you can see, I’m not used to being the one at the center of attention. Of course, this event isn’t all about me. Why would it be? I’m honored to have been invited at all. And what better place than Penn Museum?

Even though I got to visit places like the Black Hills of South Dakota, or Gettysburg or a NASA rocket launch, I never truly appreciated experiences like that until I began a deep dive into history for my first ever novel WIP back in 2016. I know I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg with all my research, especially with my current 2021 WIP. But that’s why I love learning the things I was never taught in school.

So all that is why I’m absolutely floored to be invited to something such as this, and my it’s my birthday week, no less! Now, enough about the background of all this. Let’s get on with the week’s adventures in Pennsylvania.

Day One – Travel to and Stay in King of Prussia

It’s funny. Some people love traveling across their state and others fall into the not-so-much category. The latter prefers staying right where they are and never visit Erie, Autumn Leaves or State Collage. While I prefer sticking closer to home these days, Philly’s less than a five hour drive so we thought, why not?

The museum’s invite allowed me a plus one. Naturally, I invited my mother. Because the journey to Philly isn’t as long for us as, say, a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee is, we were able to leave around lunchtime instead of early morning.

Day Two: Part One – Press Release Event at Penn Museum

Opening Day Information

• Saturday, September 25, 2021
• Pop-up talks begin at 11:00 AM
Please reserve timed tickets in advance
• Adult: $18, Seniors: $16, Children: $13
• Veterans, teachers, ACCESS card holders, children 5 & under, & Penn Museum members are free

Location Information

The Penn Museum is located across the street from Franklin Field: 3260 South St.

Please note there is construction,
so allot yourself plenty of time.

Museum Cafe with light fare available.

The Stories We Wear opens to the public on Saturday, Sept. 25th

Organized into five themes, The Stories We Wear explores dressing for:

Work and Play: Illustrated by a full Philadelphia Eagles uniform loaned to the Museum by former linebacker Connor Barwin and the outfit worn by chaski runners as they delivered important messages in the mountains of Peru during the Inka Empire

Battle: includes the armor of Samurai warriors from Japan, with a sword dating back to 1603, along with Kiribati weapons from the 1800s

Ceremony: features the traditional wedding attire of a Hopi bride (c. 1900) and the headdress of a Buddhist priest from 16th century Nepal

Performance: highlights a stunning satin opera robe from China during the Qing Dynasty (19th century); a velvet gown (c. 1938) worn by Marian Anderson; a theatrical ensemble from Thweeney Todd worn by 2018 Drag Queen of the Year Eric Jaffe, and a James Galanos cocktail dress inspired by Marilyn Monroe

Rule: highlighting a Cocle chief’s burial regalia (c. 750-1000 CE) from modern day Panama, and an intricately beaded 1964 Hubert de Givenchy gown worn by Grace Kelly, Serene High Princess Grace of Monaco

This exhibit, two years in the making, strives to combine the style and fashion of the past with that of what we wear today. Explore everything from the ancient to the mid 1900s with a morning or afternoon tour. Dr. Christopher Woods, the Williams Director at the Penn Museum, puts it best this way:

“Museum work is about telling stories, and the timeless stories behind what we wear are fascinating. The Stories We Wear opens up another way to make anthropology and archaeology accessible to all: through style and fashion.”

• Doctor Christopher Woods •

The Opening Day celebration for The Stories We Wear includes pop-up talks with curators, make-and-take art activities, live performances, and a “meet and greet” with former Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin. As a part of its Opening Day, the Penn Museum is hosting a clothing drive to benefit Project HOME and The Wardrobe.

I would like to take a moment and thank Jill DiSanto for extending the invitation, as well as curators Lauren Ristvet, Sarah Linn and Jane Hickman for all their time and hard work. I was proud to represent the Southwestern end of the State with my plus one.

If you would like to participate in The Stories We Wear, but can’t make it to the museum between Saturday, September 25th and Sunday, June 12, 2022, the curators invite you to share on social media precious jewelry you wear, or important tattoos. Use the hashtag #StoriesWeWear and @PennMuseum and you’ll be included in the interactive section of the exhibit.

Day Two: Part Two – A Visit to Hersheypark’s Chocolate World and Road Trip to Altoona

Naturally, I had to include some chocolate in this journey. How could I not when the sweet treat is in the site’s name? Hersheypark was only forty-five minutes off our originally planned route to Altoona, so a stop for something chocolate was in order.

The fun part about this leg of the trip is I haven’t been to Hersheypark in twenty years. As I turn 36 on Monday, I still find it insane how much time has actually passed since I was a high school student. Stepping into Chocolate World was a rather surreal moment as not much had changed in those twenty years. A testament to the candy’s and company’s popularity.

History is all around us. We just need to open our eyes enough to see it, even with our own lives. Just as my love for history dates back to childhood, so does my love for chocolate. If you ever need a reason to drive, the gorgeous curves of PA 422 should be enough to satisfy that craving – after a lazy, laid back visit to Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Day Three – A Visit to the World Famous Horseshoe Curve in Altoona

This morning we rounded out our excursion across Pennsylvania with a stop at the World Famous Horseshoe Curve in railroad town Altoona. I’ve featured the curve several times on this blog as a place I’d like to visit and it finally happened! I can check that off my Pennsylvania Bucket List.

The great thing about trains is they appeal to everyone, from the very young to the well-seasoned travelers. My mother and I trekked the stairs around 10:30 AM – the funicular was down for repairs – and we arrived just in time to witness one of the longest trains my mother had ever seen on the Curve. At first listen we weren’t sure if what we were hearing was, in fact, a train coming our way. But, due to the curve and grading of the curve, trains must apply their brakes for most of the journey around the curve. According to my mother,

“A true Redman would count the cars, but this is too long!”

• my mother •

If you’re a history lover like me, might I suggest paying any of these three fantastic locations a visit this weekend? Or, at least, some time in the near future?

  • The Stories We Wear at The Penn Museum in Philadelphia, from Saturday, September 25, 2021 to Sunday, June 12, 2022
  • Chocolate World, located in Hershey, PA for some sweet treats
  • The World Famous Horseshoe Curve in Altoona, PA for some amazing train sights

Whew! What a whirlwind of a week. Not only was I finally able to to travel more for history and this site, but I was able to share these experiences with my mother. So, no matter what you wear, I hope to see you around the Commonwealth!

Leigh A. Hartman
Leigh A. Hartman

I read far too many books for my own good. I like Pennsylvania history a little too much. I don’t know what I’m doing with this writing thing, but here I am!

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Budding #historian. Writer of #adventures and #sciencefantasy. Lover of mushrooms and libraries. Fan of #chocolate, #books and Pennsylvania history.

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