Generations of school children from Berks and surrounding counties have gone on field trips to see Roadside America at Shartlesville, Pennsylvania. It is a miniature village and railway created by Laurence Gieringer that covers 8,000 square feet. The village was first displayed to the public in 1935 and placed in the current building in 1953. The current display is beautifully maintained; exactly the way Mr. Gieringer left it when he passed away in 1963. It is operated today by his granddaughter and her family.
Unfortunately, the building has aged and is in need of a new roof. The business generates enough income to support itself but not enough to pay for a new roof. If the funds are not found, it may be forced to close.
All of our children went to Roadside America on school trips and I thought Grayson should not miss the experience. So I took him to see it today. He was very impressed! I told him we're going to see some trains and when we walked in he said, "Wow!"
He was fascinated with the trains until he discovered the buttons that make the display interactive. Then he went from button to button, pushing them to see what would happen. Some made trains and trolleys run, turned windmills, rang bells, moved wheels, ran elevators, and all kinds of interesting things.
We circled the display three times before the night show began. Then we sat on benches at the back of the room while the "sun" went down and all the lights in the little buildings turned on. After a period of darkness and stars (while an airplane circled the center), morning came and we returned to daylight. Grayson loved the night show. We circled the display for the fourth time and then he decided he was ready to go. We were there at least an hour or more.
It was lunch time when we left and I decided we should top off our field trip with ice cream. So we stopped at a dairy store and got cones. When we got out of the car Grayson said, "Mommy says I must eat my hot food first." But grandmas operate by different rules so I told him we're going to do it backwards today and have our ice cream first. Grandma Privileges!
Being a chocoholic, Grayson didn't consider anything other than chocolate and I had raspberry. But you can guess what happened. By the time he had eaten his cone he didn't need hot food when we got home.
I enjoyed watching him as much as he enjoyed pushing all the buttons. I can remember things that happened when I was four. Did we make a memory today that will stay with him all his life? I hope so. It's moments, not things that usually make the longest-lasting memories.