Seeing more, tasting more of Hagerstown

May 14, 2006|by KATE COLEMAN

I grew up near the New Jersey shore, just 20 minutes north of the Asbury Park boardwalk Bruce Springsteen sings about.

I've lived in Washington County for more than 30 years, and although I might sometimes slip back and say "cawffee" or "dawg," this place has felt like home for a long time.

Sure, I miss the ocean, but I've come to need the mountain vistas and green fields of this region.

Despite my long residence, I've never really availed myself of everything this area offers.

Friends and neighbors Lisa and Chuck, who moved here more than 10 years after I did, have been working on getting me out to some Hagerstown establishments they can't believe I've never experienced.

For example, I was pulling weeds in my front yard on a pretty summer evening a couple of years ago, and they stopped to chat as they strolled through the neighborhood.


They were going out to eat - Creekside Inn or Stadium Tavern - and invited me to join them.

"I've never been to either place," I said.

"Get your jacket," Chuck said with a grin.

We drove to Creekside and took seats at the bar on the large open-air deck. We each ordered a beer and chatted for a while in the pleasant twilight.

Lisa suggested we order some food.

"No," Chuck said firmly. "We're taking Kate to the Stadium Tavern."

He was determined to give me the full local treatment.

At the Stadium Tavern, we took advantage of the lovely evening and got a table on the deck. My burger was delicious; I had a great time.

More recently, I had a great time again.

My daughter, Maggie, and I decided to celebrate her graduate school admission with a visit to Krumpe's Do-nut Shop. It's open from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Lisa and Chuck not only agreed to come along for the ride, they provided it and with flair. The night was crisp and bright when they arrived - in Lisa's red convertible with the top down. The seats were heated, and there were blankets and cups of decaffeinated tea.

We cruised through town, and Lisa smoothly maneuvered the narrow alleys of the South End neighborhood where the Krumpe family has held doughnut court for nearly 60 years. Although I had never been there, my nose told me we were close.

There were a few cars and about a dozen people in line at the window counter of what used to be the garage behind the Krumpe home at 912 Maryland Ave.

Lisa introduced me to Max Krumpe, named for his grandfather and family business founder. As we struggled to choose from the many varieties, Maggie and I couldn't believe how fast this fourth-generation doughnut maker twisted a whole tray of dough loops.

We settled on a box of glazed doughnut holes and an assortment of a dozen jelly, glazed, chocolate and cream-filled doughnuts.

For the record, we ate more than we should have that night, but a full box froze well and made it to my Mom's in New Jersey that weekend.

They were good but didn't compare to the sweet, warm, fresh delights we got right off the baker's racks on that early spring evening.

Also missing was the ambience of the back-alley institution: There was a young father, one hand holding a gallon of milk, the other steadying his young son perched on the edge of the counter, sampling the sweetness of a doughnut and a hometown tradition.

I'll go back for more - atmosphere as well as doughnuts.

But I doubt if a return trip will come close to my first.

That visit was taken over the top when I thought I spotted another Hagerstown legend - "Shorty" Cosgrove, the undisputed king of The Daily Mail's "weird vegetable" feature, walking away from Krumpe's window as I arrived.

A quintessential Hagerstown experience.

Kate Coleman writes a monthly Lifestyle column for The Herald-Mail.

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