by Michael Alpiner
It seems New Hope has grown up with me, but I know that’s not true. It evolved long before I did, and will continue to morph, so much so that my children will revisit it with their families, and it will be an altogether different place.
The first time I experienced New Hope, Pennsylvania, I was nine, but I returned many times over the years at different stages of my life. At first, it was a way to show off my own little travel jewel nestled in rural Bucks County. One trip when I was single might have included a stay at a romantic Victorian bed & breakfast, while later, as a husband and father, I chose a discount motel where my own father taught us the joy of economical travel.
In either case, certain shops have become mainstays for my New Hope excursions. Love Saves the Day is a retro-style store selling vintage dresses, celebrity memorabilia, gag gifts, Elvis statuettes, old magazines, and everything in between. To quell my sudden sweet tooth, I visit Moo Hope Ice Cream, which carries such unique flavors as Coffee Grinds, Moosetracks, and Joey Bag of Donuts. In my more Goth moods, I pay a call on Gypsy Heaven, a white magic novelty store where most patrons come away with patchouli oil rather than eye of newt. I skip McDonalds, and choose instead El Taco Loco, with emphasis on the “Loco.”
The stores of New Hope morphed as quickly as did its patrons (or vice versa). Once a haven for antique shop enthusiasts, New Hope has become an all-inclusive canvas for the colors and textures from all walks of life. It is as likely to shoulder past a family carrying souvenirs, as it is to smell the worn leather of a biker dude who brushes past you to rev up his Harley. New Hope, a thoroughly welcoming and non-judgmental town, has always attracted the Bohemian artist as well as those of the LGBT community.
Daylight turns to dusk, and I enjoy drinks and live music at John and Peter’s, a casual spot where I can sample a local brew, and hear talented musicians en route to their dreams.
It seems New Hope has grown up with me, but I know that’s not true. It evolved long before I did, and will continue to morph, so much so that my children will revisit it with their families, and it will be an altogether different place. What stays the same, however, is that feeling that when a town opens ups its geographic arms, one cannot help but to feel like he/she owns a small portion of it.