If you follow RW, you will be somewhat familiar by now with my little trip to Scranton a few weekends ago — and you may remember that I mentioned scrambling around that day trying to find area “wonders” before I ran out of precious daylight. I succeeded at a few . . . and almost failed spectacularly at this one.
Joe Palooka, a good-natured, but not very bright, heavyweight boxer was created by Wilkes-Barre native Ham Fisher. He was the hero of a comic strip that was first published in 1930 and later followed by comic books and a series of low budget films. During World War II, Joe Palooka (as a soldier) was used by the war effort to promote recruitment and hygiene amoungst America’s young men.
By the time that I started my drive up “Mt. Palooka”, it was fully dark. The immediate area is fairly rural and doesn’t have any light pollution. My directions were sketchy. Though rural, this section of the road is a four-lane divided highway with a concrete barrier … so if you miss the monument going up the mountain, you have to travel to the top and come back down again. And if you’re like me …. you’ll miss it twice and have to make the trip up and down the mountain not ONCE but FOUR times!
I barely caught the white stone in my peripheral vision when I passed it the fourth time. By the time I stopped, I was about 100 yards down the mountain past the stone and there was no way that I was going to keep going down the mountain, turn around, go back up, and come back down yet again! If I had been on my bike, I would have made a quick U-turn without going over the divider … but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do so quickly enough with my car. Though there weren’t many cars moving on either side of the mountain (I only saw maybe four or five other vehicles the entire time that I was stopped); the rise just before the stone is blind coming down and I was afraid a car or truck would pick just the moment that I would have had to drive in the wrong direction to come barrelling down the mountain at 65 or 70 mph. To make matters worse — and I hate to admit it — if I have to drive in reverse any longer than 12 feet; hilarity (and perhaps disaster) generally ensues.
So, I parked the car and walked back up the mountain to get the picture (sans flashlight … because the 2 flashlights that I own were back at home on my bike). When I got back to the monument, I could barely see my hand in front of my face let alone the stone so I just pointed the camera in the general direction several times with the camera’s flash on. It won’t win any awards, but I got it, damn-it!
If you visit in the daytime you’ll probably laugh your ass off at my inability to find Joe; but go in the dark and you’ll understand.
See that orange glow behind and to the left of the stone? I’m pretty sure that was the Jersey Devil, or Mothman, or the Blair Witch. But what boogeyman in his/her right mind would attack a good-natured, but not very bright (just like Joe!) roadside wonder-er?