No witches to be found on Burkittsville trip

August 11, 1999

I took a side trip to Burkittsville this week just to see for myself what all the fuss was about. I'd heard the people there were rude, arrogant, cynical and suspicious of strangers.

In short, it sounded like my kind of town.

But it was a disappointment. First, I had trouble finding it; I kept looking for the sign saying "Welcome to Historic Burkittsville," or short of that "If You Were The Blair Witch You'd Be Home Now," but to no avail.

Finally I recognized the place by its post office and got out of the car. The first fellow who drove past me - I'm not kidding - smiled and waved.

This certainly wasn't off to a good start. Next, a young lady with a couple of children said hi from across the street. And I had a very pleasant chat with a man named Chuck who started the conversation by asking, eyes twinkling, if I'd found the witch.


Finally I returned to my car and left in disgust. If you're in the market for a crusty, surly town, I recommend you save your gas money and look someplace besides Burkittsville. Talk about blatant false advertising.

Ever since Parris Khan's dictatorial Mandatory Water Conservation and Rat Out Your Neighbor Act of 1999, I've been trying to conserve, and it's a good thing too, because apparently you and I are the only people to whom the water conservation rules apply.

The city is still washing its streets; the highway department, a reader says, is still watering its flowers; the Redskins are watering their players (hoping that will make them grow); the Orioles and golfers are watering their grass and businesses can water anything they want, provided they bring the state a note from home.

In fact, the only people who are not exempt from the regulations are we people who don't use much water in the first place. The rules are bizarre. As I understand it, you can't "top off" your existing pool but you can build a new pool right next to your old pool and fill it to the gills.

They want you to use "gray water" on your flowers, but if anybody saw me getting into the shower with a bucket, I'm afraid people would talk.

A friend of mine said she got a little confused and topped off her pool with gray water and - well, at least she says it keeps the neighbor kids away.

A couple of interesting items came in the mail this week, one being a clip from the Scranton Times. The headline was "Classic Old Barn Razed by Mistake; Bulldozer crew demolishes 18th-century bank barn - supervisors want a new one found and moved to the demolition site."

According to the story, the developer maintained a bulldozer crew didn't mean to bash the barn: "Beazer Homes of Trenton, N.J., offered to rebuild a replica of the barn using wood salvaged from the rubble, but the furious Newton Township supervisors say the company must find a barn of about the same age in southeastern Pennsylvania and move it to the site."

Isn't that great? If we had commissioners like that, I bet developers would be a lot less likely to tear down an old house due to "honest mistakes" or "clerical errors." And industrial foundations would make sure they weren't being duped by a big corporation before destroying historically significant property.

But there could be a win-win in all this. If we look hard enough, I'm sure Washington County could provide an 18th century bank barn that would fit the bill for Beazer Homes. They would be welcome to the preciously historic barn, since we would only tear it down anyway, eventually.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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