This year Sunday magazine did a little bit more than just scratch the surface of Lancaster County to find interesting local stories. We dug deep below the Earth's crust with a former professor of geoscience to see how the region looked millions of years ago and then peered into the future (of 2019) with the editor of the Baer’s Almanac. In 2018, we also spoke with a falconer, a former Major League Baseball pitcher, a painter, a butcher, a baker and a documentary filmmaker and many more.
Here at Sunday, we tried some exciting storytelling formats. (We went digital this fall! And will be doing more with that soon.) For our Labor Day issue, we traveled across Lancaster County and shook hands (and photographed them) with workers for a closer look at how we use our hands to express ourselves, heal each other and feed one another. We also got to better acquainted with some people inside the LNP building as we said farewell to Richard Hertzler with a retrospective on his more than 40-year career photographing Lancaster County and went one-on-one with LNP sports reporter and "Inspirational Athletes" podcast host John Walk. There were many memorable and entertaining conversations.
We learned a lot from you. And it’s our privilege to get to go around Lancaster County and meet people making art, documenting history and moving the county forward. We're consistently amazed by the people of Lancaster County.
Here are just a few interviews from 2018. We’re looking forward to talking with you in 2019!
Off the air with Scott LaMar (January)
Early in 2018, we took a trip to WITF to sit down with Smart Talk host Scott LaMar to discuss some of Central PA’s biggest stories and how he approaches his interviews.
“I do write questions to myself, but I very rarely follow them, because I find it much more conversational. That first question starts the conversation off, then I’m following your lead as the guest," says LaMar. "In fact, I don’t call it an interview. When I contact someone to be on the air, I say, ‘Let’s just have a conversation.’”
Ally Rohland on unlocking creativity (February)
The Friendship Heart Gallery specializes in instructing artists with intellectual disabilities and autism in creating and selling art. Instructors and mentors guide the students down a path that unlocks a beautiful world that they might be unable to talk about otherwise. We spoke with gallery coordinator Ally Rohland.
“We’ve had people come to our program, who didn’t speak a whole lot when they first came, and we found that through art they’ve been able to speak more,” said Rohland, who is from Lancaster. “They’re speaking from their souls when they’re painting, but they sometimes start to verbalize more as well.”
Charlie Reddig recalls flying through the atomic bomb cloud at Hirsoshima (March)
This year we lost Charlie Reddig – a humble man with an incredible story. He was one of a handful of people to fly through the aftermath of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. Decades later, he recalls that day.
“The cloud was so dark with debris and everything in it sort of sparkled,” said Reddig of his flight through the rising cloud of Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945. “I imagine stuff was burning in there. First I saw the cloud — like a dark rain cloud in the air — and then my top turret gunner said, 'Look down.' I thought, 'What in the world is this?' I thought maybe it was an earthquake because big buildings were completely toppled and there were so many fires all over the place. … What amazed me most was that the railroad tracks were gone. What kind of energy does it take to melt down railroad tracks?”
Colette Stephens creates beautiful harmonies with her students (March)
In January, I had the chance to hear Colette Stephens direct the J. P. McCaskey High School student gospel choir during Crispus Attucks annual breakfast celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. The Crispus Attucks Community Center awarded Stephens the Essence of Humanity Award. The entire morning was full of uplift and inspiration, but a powerful moment occurred near the end of the program when the members of the McCaskey gospel choir took the stage. They made beautiful, harmonious and emotive music.
Later, I had a chance to talk to director Colette Stephens about creating harmony in her students lives.
“Inspiring others is what I aspire to do — to be there for my kids and to allow them to see that I’m more than just a music teacher. I’m a person who cares about them. I want to see them do well. My heart is in that place for them. At the end of the day, if I just saw them on the street, it’s not going to be about notes on a page," says Stephens. "I think I learned to not complain. Some of them, when they tell me some of the stuff they’re going through, it just silences me. It’s humbling. So I learn those kind of things from my kids. To be resilient, to persevere, to not worry about what’s going to happen the next day. Just take care of the day you’re in. And appreciate the gifts that we were given. Sometimes we focus on the bad so much that we can’t see the good that we have all around us.”
Mirror Image Farms works with nature (March)
Tyler and Joella Neff farm some land along the southern edge of their Bainbridge. There are cattle, hogs and chickens roaming the land. They run a community-supported agriculture (or CSA) program for meat and they supply restaurants such as Luca, Maison and The Pressroom Restaurant + Bar in Lancaster. They also supply meat to Cabalar Meat Co., a relatively new butcher shop on North Queen Street in Lancaster. While they don’t really like the term and aren’t interested in being certified as such, the Neffs are probably the most organic farmers you’ll meet.
“You can be an organic farmer and be a bad one,” says Tyler. “It’s more of an understanding of the principles of nature and how it’s designed to work in the first place.”
Cattle graze on the northern side of the property. The couple moves their fences daily so the animals get fresh pasture to feed on. As we walk and talk in the fields, a few pigs come up beside us seemingly calm and content.
“I think part of it is (that) we know we’ve given these animals the best life,” says Joella “And I say they have one bad day in their life.”
Here Tyler and Joella talk about the things people could do to give future generations the best chance on this planet:
Tyler: I don’t think a guy from Strasburg should come to me and buy food. I think he should buy from his local farmer. So find a farmer that you agree with and is doing a good job and support them.
Joella: It can be overwhelming, but (everyone) has purchasing power. Even though we don't have power over everything … we do have power over something.
Tyler: And what can be done with this type of farming is that it can heal the soil and the ecosystem. And farmers can do it. But they can't do it if they don't have people eating the product.
Amanda Kemp says the right things (May)
I met Amanda Kemp, author of “Say the Wrong Thing” – a collection of personal essays - at The Candy Factory in downtown Lancaster to talk about her art and life. For our Mother's Day issue, we discussed her experiences as a mother, a child and survivor of the New York City foster care system and how the word “mother” relates to her art. Here she talks about a letter her son wrote to her about police shooting unarmed black men.
Kemp: He wrote it when he was 16. I remember I was sitting here at The Candy Factory and I opened an email from him and I remember crying in the public space. I didn’t know the impact that police killings of unarmed black men and women was having on him. In this email, he said that sometimes he felt like he couldn’t control his body, that he didn’t know how not to fight, how not to get upset, (and) where to put that anger, where to put that energy. He wrote about running out of the cafeteria and going outside and pounding the ground in the rain and crying. I think the saddest part about it was that he was crying because he knew it wasn’t going to get better.
Jack Hubley on making friends with falcons (June)
Sunday magazine loves our feathered friends. So we jumped at the chance to join naturalist and falconer Jack Hubley to learn more about birds of prey at the Falconry Experience program at the Hotel Hershey.
We spoke with Hubley about man’s relationship with animals – specifically birds of prey. I asked Hubley to explain some more about the mysterious bond between hawk and human.
“The magic of falconry is that you can take a wild bird and catch him – and he’s scared to death of you – and within a month you can have it following you through the treetops. It shouldn’t work, but for some reason with a feathered dinosaur it does,” he says. “I can show you how it works, but I don’t know why.”
John Parrish on playing in the MLB and the LNP tournament (July)
John Parrish played in 183 Major League Baseball games. So it’s a bit surprising that some of his best baseball memories are of playing in the LNP Tournament (then known as the New Era Tournament) as a teenager on the Lancaster Township Royals.
“That was the tournament,” Parrish says. “That was the time of our lives. When you were playing under the lights at Kunkle Field (in Mount Joy) you made it. You did something special. That year we won was so much fun. The pile-up. I still remember it.”
Ephrata Fair Turns 100 (September)
This year marked the 100-year anniversary of the Ephrata Fair. The story of the 100 years of the Ephrata Fair is really a microcosmic story of a century of American history. It’s a story about a community coming together to celebrate itself, to sustain itself and to entertain itself. Local authors Larry Alexander and Phil Eisemann were the main contributors to the 256-page book called “100 Years of the Ephrata Fair: Honoring the Past and Celebrating the Future,” which tells the story of the Ephrata Fair with first-hand interviews, historical research and dozens of photos. We asked them to share some fair memories:
Larry: I remember watching the kids at the Key Club. The initiation was you got behind this canvas backdrop with a hole and they threw tomatoes at you. ... Every year they had guys there getting their faces splattered with tomatoes.
Phil: I’ll add to that. In 1958, I was a member of the Key Club and we were anxious for money to go to the Pittsburgh Key Club convention. A friend and I came up with that idea. So I got to be the first person to stand behind that sign and I was pelted with tomatoes for my 20 minutes and then I went home. I lived right across the street, but by the time I got home I was covered in hives from head to foot. I didn’t realize then that I was allergic to tomatoes.
Richard Hertzler on a career in photography Lancaster County (October)
Sunday went through some changes this year. We went digital and took our print publication from a weekly print edition to a monthly print edition. Our first monthly print edition came out in October and was bittersweet as we dedicated a good portion of its pages to saying farewell to beloved LNP photographer Richard Hertzler – who retired in 2018 after four decades in the newspaper business. Here he talks about his feelings surrounding his retirement:
"This is bittersweet because this is what I do and I love it. How do you just stop? Even though I’m going to retire, I’m not going to be able to drive anywhere without looking like I’ve done for my whole life. Looking and scanning for pictures. You can’t take that out of me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop thinking about a certain kind of angle or lighting. My job is a very cool job. You get to play with expensive camera equipment. Every day was a new sheet of paper. Every day was a new picture. I couldn’t wait to get in here in the morning."
Kim Smith on making time for painting (October)
You want to be an artist but you just don’t have time, right? Don’t tell that to Kim Smith. The owner of TCG Designs for 27 years – and mother of three – wakes up every morning at 5:30 a.m., completes a small painting and posts it to Instagram while you’re hitting the snooze button for the third time.
“If you really love doing something, you really should find some time – even only a half an hour to sit and sketch. Just do it every day. Get in the habit of doing it because then your mind is always thinking about it. If people feel like they’re in a slump or need to get inspired, you don’t have to do anything but have a piece of paper and a pencil and 10 minutes. That’s really all it takes. Don’t ever think about it too much. Just dive in and do it. When you put too much thought into it then you put too much pressure on yourself and you lose the magic. Keeping the magic of what you love to do helps to nourish it.”
Derek Dienner on documenting his disease (November)
When Derek Dienner was 32 he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He could’ve lost hope, but he didn’t. Instead he made a movie.
“The Day I Became Alive” is a short documentary film co-directed by Allen Clements and Aaron Dienner and produced by MAKE films that follows Derek through 209 days of chemotherapy as he attempts to make sense of his diagnosis and wrap his head around his new life with cancer. The film shows Dienner, exhausted from chemo, talking to the camera in the half-light of his bedroom, being wheeled through the halls of a hospital, surrounded by his family and friends – and never losing hope. Here he talks about creating a documentary about his experience.
I just thought if there’s a young person that was diagnosed with colon cancer or any kind of cancer and they find my story at one o’clock in the morning and they watch my documentary, hopefully they can be encouraged that people can walk through it. Or if people are up at one in the morning with digestive issues, and they’re Googling symptoms of colon cancer, and they find my video and then they go get it checked because they don’t want to mess around with it – then it would’ve been worth it. That’s the goal.
One on one with "Inspirational Athletes" podcast host John Walk (December)
There are 100 episodes of “Inspirational Athletes” and 99 of them feature local athletic figures who tell their stories about overcoming personal struggles – on and off the field. There have been many memorable moments and lots of inspirational conversations. But during the 100th and final episode of the podcast, audiences get to hear one of the most inspirational stories. That is Walk’s own story. He’s had his share of hardships and came out the other side with a new look at life.
“There are a lot of pieces of advice guests have given me and I’ve applied some of them. I forget who said it, but 'Life is unfair.' Nothing is ever going to be fair. I’m not telling my story for sympathy but to show that we all have things that are hard in this world. Tragedies strip you down to reveal who you are. You could either go down that dark path – I certainly did. It smacked me in the face like, 'OK, do you really believe in God?' Because now times are tough and you’re questioning him and you’re questioning his ways, so are you really faithful in the darkest of times?"