by Ted Taylor
Times Chronicle / Glenside News / Huntingdon Valley Globe
Reprinted with permission
I remember staying in tourist homes as a kid. My dad’s Philadelphia-based company also had an office in Ottawa, Canada, and in the summertime we’d drive up there, stop at Niagara Falls and spend a few nights along the way in tourist homes.
Tourist homes were just that. A home that the owners opened up for tourists to stay in as they traveled America’s highways. In most of them you and the family shared the same bathroom, the breakfast table, and other amenities. And then as the country’s super highways replaced the nation’s labyrinth of back roads, so, too, did motels replace tourist homes.
But now the same concept lives again. They are called bed and breakfasts (hip people call them B&Bs), and my wife and I just experienced a wonderful one in a town that I never heard of, five miles from my alma mater, Millersville University.
Last year when my 40th reunion beckoned, we called the alumni office and they provided us with a list of nearby motels. The one we ended up in was, to be kind, dreadful. It was a “name” hotel, but it last saw new furniture, I’d guess, during the JFK administration. Not only was it threadbare, it was dirty. We stayed there for a night and vowed never to do that again. So, that did it for my wife. She told me that if we were going to homecoming this year we’d be staying at a B&B or we’d be driving up and back the same day.
And so we discovered Jamie and Steve Shane’s Apple Bin Inn on Willow Street Pike in, of all places, Willow Street, PA. I had gone to college five miles from there and never heard of the town of Willow Street. And when I found their inn on the Internet and contacted them in early September they said that there was but one room left – the Gala Suite (of course all of their rooms are named for apple varieties). I said that I’d take it.
What a great decision. The inn was built in 1865 on what is now Route 272 North and it has also functioned as a general store in its historic past. But now it is a B&B and it has five guest suites – each unique and with a character of its own.
Steve and Jamie had just taken over ownership of the Apple Bin Inn in September . They were both engineers and both had had it with the corporate world. Being logical thinkers they decided on owning and operating a B&B and then searched the East Coast for “the place”. Their search brought them to Lancaster County and the Apple Bin Inn.
Of course it was fully booked for the weekend and we felt as if we were home the minute we walked through the door. Steve, Jamie, their son Dylan, and cat Jessie, made you feel welcome immediately.
The breakfasts they served both days were culinary delights, and the conversations with our fellow boarders built an air of warmth that made us all reluctant to depart – with goodies baked by Jamie – on Sunday morning.
There were Simon and Mandy from London, England, retired school teachers Bob and Linda from the Outer Banks and two couples – a tax collector and borough secretary – from a nearby New Jersey town. But for that weekend we were all like family. Oh yes, all the bedroom doors had keys and no one used them. It was that kind of place.
Homecoming was fun, as usual. Millersville lost the football game, but hosted a lot of great events – including the granddaddy of all homecoming parades.
And, yes, we’ll go to homecoming next year… and, yes, I’ve already booked the Gala Suite in advance. We can’t wait to go back!
A footnote to Ted’s 2003 article: As of 2014, Ted and Cindy Taylor have stayed with us for 12 consecutive years, and we look forward to many more! Once a friend, always a friend at the Apple Bin Inn! Steve & Jamie Shane