Day 5: June 8, 2015
Let's Do the Twist

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I was still digesting Circus Drive-In onion rings when I drove by Jennies Diner yesterday so stopping for dinner did not seem sensible. I did, however, roost just down the road so I could come back for breakfast. When I was last here, Jennie McElrath still owned the 1959 Silk City. There are hints on the internet that McElrath has opened another diner elsewhere but I'm not certain of that. Presumably she does have the model tractors and trailers that were displayed here and are now gone. Pictures of men and women in the military, many with connections to the truckers who frequent the place, are still here and, as shown by my bacon & eggs, the portions still risk oversized load citations.

The most recent issue of American Road Magazine featured lots of "Oldies and Goodies" including the oldest pretzel bakery in the country. When I read the article, I noted that it was in an area I get to now and then and figured I might actually visit someday. I didn't figure it would be so soon. I surprised myself just a little bit by recalling the article shortly after I'd checked into my motel in Lancaster. I remembered that the bakery was somewhere in the area but not its name. No problem there since typing "oldest pretzel bakery" into a search engine quickly provided a list with Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery at the top. It was even closer than I remembered so, when I left Jennie's, I headed directly to the town of Lititz, Pennsylvania, just a few miles north of Lancaster.

Julius Sturgis started his bakery here in 1861. Production long ago moved to larger and more modern facilities with the original location becoming something of a museum and company store. Tours are offered and, if today was any indication, well attended. As part of the tour, everyone is given training in how to twist a pretzel. Doesn't mine look good? OK, I cannot tell a lie -- successfully. The pictured pretzel was the handy work of the young lady to my left. My hands produced the tortured bit of dough shown here. Julius specialized in, perhaps even invented, hard pretzels. That's still what the company produces, in wide variety, under the name of Julius' grandson, Tom. The only pretzels currently made at the original location are soft pretzels made the old fashioned way and sold directly in the store. Current twisters don't quite match the 50 or so per minute that 10 cent per hour workers once managed but they're still pretty fast and smooth and fun to watch.

When I left the bakery, I punched "home" into the GPS and it told me I could be there abound 9:00. That sounded pretty good and it was still true and still sounded good when I passed through the cut in Sidling Hill near 3:00. The current time finally registered with me and, while reaching home at 9:00 was just fine, driving another six hours to get there wasn't. I started reconsidering and the rain I soon encountered washed away any thoughts of reaching home today. I ended the day in Fairmont, West Virginia.

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