When non-Pennsylvanians think of the Keystone State, they generally think of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Amish people - that's about it. As political strategist Jim Carville once described the state, "Between Paoli and Penn Hills, Pennsylvania is Alabama." Yup, he's pretty much on the money. Central Pennsylvania - that gaping chasm between the big cities in the east and west - is often called Pennsyltucky, and that's the place I call home. Sure, central PA may not have as much to offer as the cities, but for those of us who were born and raised here, we'll always have a soft spot for it. So, outsiders, what are some things you should know about your Pennsyltuckian friend? These few characteristics might help!
1. The Amish don't really strike us as strange
They're just our old-timey neighbors who we have to drive really slow behind and eventually attempt to pass.
2. We got a longer Thanksgiving break for 'Deer Days'
Even if they don't hunt, kids in central PA almost always have off the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving for the first two days of deer season. You could either get up at 5:00 AM and go shoot stuff in the woods, or you could sleep in - up to you.
3. We think absolutely nothing of hearing random gunshots.
Basically everyone and their grandma has a whole bunch of guns and likes to do some target practice from time to time.
4. Harrisburg is like the big city to us
That Capitol Building is pretty big, I tell ya what.
5. We know that these are the best damn chips in existence
They call it 'The Weekender,' but they're good enough to knock out by Friday night.
6. We don't share city people's fascination with deer
I mean, they're tasty and all, but they run out in front of our cars and eat they eat all the stuff in our gardens.
7. We have an almost irrational loyalty to Yuengling
The Ol' Stand-by, right outta Schuylkill County.
8. We're very touchy about our pronunciations
See that? That's pronounced "LANG-cuss-ter," not "LAN-cass-ter. That word up above, Schuylkill? "SKOO-kull." Punxsutawney is "PUNK-SA-taw-nee." And please, don't ever call Juniata "Juanita," or I will punch you right in the nose.
9. Some of our town names are just weird, though
Yeah, yeah, we know. We've also got Forty Fort, Rough-and-Ready, Mexico, Bird-in-Hand, Shartlesville, King of Prussia...
10. For us, Amish baked goods are LIFE
Shoo-fly pie, fasnachts, doughnuts, and whoopie pies for DAAAAAAAAAAAAYS.
11. The people back home are solidly divided between Philly and Pittsburgh sports teams
Great Aunt Shirl has a Stillers-themed room in her house with Terrible Towels everywhere, but Uncle Jim is constantly screaming "FLY, IGGLES, FLY" whenever the opportunity arises.
12. We all come together for our boys in Happy Valley though
13. Most of us have pretty long commutes because basically all the jobs are around Harrisburg
Seriously, the construction on 11/15 this year SUCKED.
14. Weather here can be a pain in the ass
Winters that can be either hellishly cold or sluggishly mild; springs and autumns that snow at dates that are just completely unreasonable; summers that are invariably roasting and humid. It's a good ol' time all year round in central PA.
15. We say some weird stuff
Okay, I'm guilty... In my mind though, a crick and a creek are distinct - a crick is much smaller than a creek. Anyway, besides that, we are very fond of referring to "you guys" as "youins." Not "youze guys" like out in Philly, not "yinz" like in Pittsburgh, but "youins." When we're all out of something - food, drinks, whatever - it's all. Just all. "The milk's all." When we clean up, we "red up." I can't really explain it, it's just how it is. I will say, my great aunt has some weird ones - she calls a baby cow a "hummy" and a beanie a "stripper cap."
Central PA definitely has its quirks, but like so many other folks, this place has been my home all my life. From State College to Lebanon, from DuBois to Hegins, from Chambersburg to Middleburg, from Thompsontown to Lewistown - Pennsyltucky's got awesome food, traditions, and places. If you're ever passing through, grab yourself a slice of shoo-fly pie - trust me, you're gonna love it.