My Visit Home – Somerset, Pennsylvania USA

A few days ago I returned to Ljubljana, Slovenia from a visit to the USA and my hometown, Somerset in Pennsylvania. Although several meaningful things happened during this journey, my adventures to Somerset were nostalgic and I easily lost track of time.

A Somerset County Farm

I am presently helping with the planning for a reunion weekend of my high school class. This event is a special one as it marks the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation. Even though my travel involves quite a distance traversing six time zones, it is worth it to me to contribute to the event and help make it memorable. Meanwhile, my journey reminds me of the time growing from childhood into being the person I am today.


My physical journey by car on the Pennsylvania Turnpike brought back memories of ROTC summer camp near Harrisburg, playing in a Little League tournament game at Nanty Glo, my dad honking the car’s horn going through tunnels with great names like Tuscarora and Kittatinny, and driving past Everett where someone painted their football goal posts orange and black (Somerset school colors) prior to a game back in the day.  The Pennsylvania Turnpike even has a song written about it (here)!

My Mother’s Home in Hooversville, PA

However, on arriving in Somerset, the beautiful county courthouse, with its dome patterned after St. Paul’s in London, catches your eye and I knew I was home. Although I was there specifically to work on the reunion, I took some time for a drive to Stoystown.

My mom grew up in nearby Hooversville in a very modest house that is now abandoned and in need of repair attention. Close to Hooversville is Hollsopple which is named for my mom’s great, great-grandfather. Her family lineage goes back to some of the earliest settlers in the area.

But as I stopped to take photos of the house, the sweet, fragrant air there brought back childhood memories like walking on chilly, misty mornings over a creek, through the woods and a pasture to the barn. Senses in such a place are many especially the smell of freshly cut straw, the cawing of crows, or seeing steam rising from warm cow poop.

My Somerset, PA Home

While out and about I stopped by the house were I was raised. It is so small! It has but one bathroom and I know I share the experience with many friends of juggling everyone using one toilet in a house.  Doing so became a form of dance… often because you needed to go immediately!


One of the highlights of this visit was waking early as fog was lifting and seeing the beauty of this pastoral place. The beauty of the area and the respect for the surroundings is protected by the people living there. These are hard-working generous people where I grew up. They opened their hearts and homes to strangers… families seeking closure on 9/11… when Flight 93 smashed into the earth near my hometown.

As I work with fellow classmates on the reunion, I know my feelings are like all others yearning to return to friends and the fond memories we share like heavy snowstorms and beautiful autumn foliage (often in that order). How fortunate that many stayed in the area and how fortunate those, like myself, can return with an appreciation of the area and people who make my hometown special.

12 thoughts on “My Visit Home – Somerset, Pennsylvania USA”

  1. Barry, thank you for this story of memories. Your blogs are all very interesting and informative but there is truly something to be said about the story behind our hometown of Somerset, PA. My immediate family and I have all moved away from this little town in the Western PA mountains but boy the memories that coming flooding back upon this reading. Thank you again for your blogs and sharing your adventures from around the world. Looking forward to seeing and visiting with you and many of our ’68 high school classmates in the fall of 2018. Blessings and continued safe travels. John Strandquest

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful tribute to Somerset County. Enjoying your blogs about your travels. I moved away from Somerset at age 16 and go back occasionally but I always get the feeling of “home” when I am there.. Such beautiful country. Thanks for sharing Barry.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a heart warming story Barry, I have not lived in Somerset since 1988, but when I go back I feel very much the same. Still having family there means I will keep going back, it will always be home. Now that our home place has sold,it will feel different, that Legacy has come to an end after 58 yrs. Keep writing about your adventures. Safe travels always

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was interesting, Barry. I can relate to your feelings of returning to sites that were so comman to us 50 yrs. ago. I was in Holsopple last week and I was reading about the “Holsopple” family that founded it. Little did I know you were a direct descendent!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice hearing from you, Barry. I’m searching for some of your writings. You certainly have gotten around! We hope your plans for the reunion work out well. Rev. Jay Christner


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