I don’t know about you, but in my neck of the woods (I live a bit outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) there aren’t too many towns that look like towns. Mine sure doesn’t, though I suspect it did up until 70 or 80 years ago. Today it’s a mess, a hodgepodge of neighborhoods interspersed with shopping centers galore. And of those towns that do look like towns, few have thick roots going back many years. Which is one reason why I’m pleased that the borough of Doylestown, Pennsylvania lies a mere 15 miles from my abode.
Doylestown, large in size and containing a high percentage of structures erected between the mid-1800s and the early-1900s, somehow combines stateliness, quaintness and chicness casually and seamlessly. I find it to be a swell place to hang out in and to stroll around, and have been doing just that pretty regularly for decades. I dig its well-kept houses, its arthouse cinema and museums, its record store (Siren Records), its bookstores, its big collection of eateries. On a recent Monday I spent two hours on the streets and alleys, and within a few shops, of this estimable hamlet. I had a specific purpose in mind, one I hoped would result in a photographic essay for Yeah, Another Blogger. Hallelujah, my hopes have been realized!
I arrived in Doylestown at 11:00 AM under skies glowing happily in blue and white. The temperature was 50°F (10°C), quite pleasant, though not warm enough for me to wander without my winter coat. You better believe that I, an old f*cker, chill easily. Anyway, with my trusty phone’s camera at the ready, I immediately began checking out the town’s windows, as windows were to be the stars of the hoped-for story. Windows? You bet. I’m into themed walks and have reported upon any number of them for this publication. Now and then, for instance, I’ve gone in search of well-decorated motor vehicles (click here to read my latest opus about the subject). That’s the way I roll, wobbly as it may be.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that I saw any Doylestown windows with design elements that completely knocked my socks off. However, a number came close. For example, there was no denying the power of the tall, narrow windows, pointing skyward, that adorn the Doylestown Presbyterian Church. Some of them depict Biblical scenes. In retrospect, I’d have loved to view them from inside the church too, but the idea didn’t occur to little ol’ me at the time.
And I was taken with the asymmetrical positioning of the windows on a lovely mustard-colored home. Unbalanced though it may seem at first glance, to my eye the arrangement makes perfect sense. It demonstrates how components big and small can work together in harmony when the will is there. The nations of Planet Earth have yet to learn this lesson fully.
The coolest thing about windows is that they usually are reflective, and many were showing off their talents in that regard. Reflections often blow my mind, as they are real and not real simultaneously — real in the sense that they do exist, and not real because they are weightless representations, often distorted, of the physical world. In any event, I couldn’t get enough of the reflections proudly displayed in the windows of the Bucks County Administration Building, a sharp red car parked on State Street, and the Doylestown Inn.
Very cool, too, was a window I photographed while inside Siren Records, where I browsed through a box of used CDs (I bought five of them). As ordinary as the window itself is — billions upon billions of its type populate the world — the scenes surrounding it and seen through it grabbed me. The window, delighted to be trimmed in yellow and to be adjacent to a wide array of colors, provided a shimmering, kaleidoscopic view of the outside world, courtesy of a sun that glared as if there were no tomorrow.
Well, the time to leave Doylestown has arrived. But I’ve still got windows on my mind, and I’m also ready to be rocked. So, I’ll end this story with one of the best windows-centric recordings I know of. The song, written by the late Tony Joe White, is titled Steamy Windows, and has been recorded by several artists, including Tony Joe. Tina Turner more than did the tune justice, releasing a bluesy, full-steam-ahead version in 1989 that is strong enough to shatter glass. Go, Tina, go!