It'S 'HOME' NOW . . . AND NO REGRETS

POSTMARK: BRODBECKS, PA.

October 04, 1992|By WAYNE HARDIN

Pickup trucks are favored in this part of the country, in southern York County, Pa., around Brodbecks.

They help in negotiating the many hills and twisting roads, not to mention increasing your hauling potential in a region where farms abound and a lot of the landscape is vertical and granite.

Charlie Smith has a 1986 Ford. He has lived here about 20 years. This summer, he renovated and restored an old farmhouse on Allison Mill Road, the second house around here he has bought to restore. His pickup truck was his bedroom during renovation.

After his divorce, he had lived in a Loveton Farms town house in northern Baltimore County but couldn't wait to come back "home" to a place where "the land is part of the culture," where people stay because that's where they want to be. In real life, he is an English teacher at Hereford High School, a half-hour south into Maryland.

Mr. Smith downshifted the pickup and turned onto a narrow lane. He stopped at the Little Ponderosa, Richard and Marian Little's 40 acres in a valley on "R. D. 1 Brodbecks." "When we first came here in 1961, this was a dirt road," said Mrs. Little. "I didn't see anybody but the milkman and mailman."

In April, she took color pictures of the last days of the dirt road. In some shots, her husband, 71, is walking Brandy, their Irish setter. Now, the lane has been widened, taking trees, and much of it paved.

Back in the pickup, Mr. Smith drove through the woods, made some left turns and a right and another left into the village along state Route 216.

He had traveled through areas luxuriantly green, full of valleys, hollows, tree-covered ridges, hilltops that offer some amazing views. Except for what is known as the village along state Route 216, much of Brodbecks (make the first syllable rhyme with road or toad) outwardly seems little changed.

A Rand McNally Atlas says Brodbecks has 200 people. Nobody can quite figure that. The village would be many less; the area many more. It lies a mile west of Glenville, seven miles east of Hanover and five miles from the Maryland line. A branch of Codorus Creek runs through it, barely visible from the road, winding through fields of small yellow flowers and high grass, near the CSX railroad tracks. A roofless burned-out brick building, its center stairs leading to the sky, languishes in weeds the other side of the tracks. Some think it once was a hotel. Gordon Snyder, 71, owner of a nearby feed and grain store, said he lived there and it was an apartment house.

A native Baltimorean, Mr. Smith, 49, arrived ahead of an invasion of Marylanders. However, Brodbecks still is years behind more accessible Shrewsbury, near Interstate 83, called Baltivania or Yorktimore because of the transplants.

Macletta Berwager, secretary of Manheim Township (much of Brodbecks), said "80 percent of new homes built and lots sold are to Marylanders."

Mr. Smith turned off state Route 216 onto Smoketown Road, passing Jerry and Inez Fenster's Stone Mill at the turn. Stone Mill is at the eastern edge of the village, once called Green Ridge but re-named for the Brodbecks, a prominent area family.

The Fensters came up in 1977, selling his home in Catonsville and her home in Columbia, buying together 10 acres and a thick-walled 1790 granite building that once had been a paper mill. They restored it, added to it, and it's now gallery, shop and home. The building backs up into a granite hill that seems to join the house. The inside, a blend of what was and what works, includes his inlaid-tile tables, her hand-thrown pottery and many one-of-a-kind not-inexpensive items like that $975 wood and metal bird cage with pedestal.

Mr. Fenster quit work as a Westinghouse engineer to come to Brodbecks. No regrets. "The quality of life is good," he said.

Across from Stone Mill, Jeff Toot, 35, a Hanover resident until six years ago, stood by his goldfish pond, a half-acre in the lawn of his 1908 house. Lily pads filled each end.

Two Japanese Koi, one bright orange, the other a white and orange pinto, swam near the surface of the clear greenish water. "They get about 20 inches long," he said.

Charlie Smith headed the Ford back to his seven acres. A sleeping bag bounced in the bed of the pickup, which has a cap.

"Some locals resent the Marylanders coming up here," he said. "A number of them have money and can pay more for the old places. On the other hand, the people selling are getting more for their property. I think Marylanders have been a boost for the economy."

Mr. Smith's frame farmhouse cuts into a hillside. A meadow colored with the purply pink blooms of crown vetch stretched toward another hill and, behind the barn, a little creek meandered along, the way little creeks seem to do.

"These people up here have a real affinity for the land," Mr. Smith

said. "A piece of land becomes a part of you."

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