Windber Coffeehouse Nights: August 23, 2018

My old computer finally died, so what follows is one of my first offerings via my spiffy new Dell laptop!

Thursday afternoon again meant a meeting of the Friends of the Windber Library to plan new fundraising efforts. The Library’s Board of Directors having asked us to report our activities to them and since I already do secretary/treasurer duties for the local writers group and the two-person nonprofit Syn Berns and I founded back in 2012, I volunteered to take notes. So it looks like I’ll be producing another set of Meeting Minutes for yet another not-for-profit outfit.

Anyway, from the library it was off to Windber’s delightfully spooky Grand Midway Hotel, where the weekly coffeehouse was about to open in a few minutes. Entrusting my backpack (with just-paid-for new computer) to another longtime regular, I walked the couple blocks up Graham Avenue to collect a tasty supper of Chinese takeout from the Windber Wok.

Syn being out of town on nonprofit ‘business’ (house- and pet-sitting so a single mother and 2 kids could visit extended family), I gave her a call and we chatted about our days as I marched down the street with my dinner.

I returned to find my possessions safely deposited in a booth (knew I could count on you, Ron) and the evening’s first film playing behind the coffee bar. It was a fun animated comedy/horror flick…


I settled down with my vegetables in brown sauce (with rice, of course), 2 egg rolls, the obligatory fortune cookie and the hot mug of coffee with sugar and hazelnut creamer I snared upon paying my $3 to enjoy the action as a much-put-upon mad scientist’s assistant tries monster-making for himself, creates the fun-loving giant Eva (who’s more interested in being an actor than crushing things) and ultimately saves the day with some help by her and a pair of weird sidekicks (Steve Buscemi as the smart-mouthed rabbit thing was a standout).

Meanwhile, Ron’s legion of pen and paper game enthusiasts began to trickle into the building. Once enough were assembled to begin their role playing Pathfinder game, the bunch of them (8 or 9 in total) retired to the dining room. There a big black table and high-backed, medieval-style chairs (all handmade by Blair Murphy and friends) for an evening of rollicking fantasy adventure.

The night’s second movie was Beowulf. Blair asked me to choose between this somewhat bizarre classic and (inexplicably the old Elvis chestnut Blue Hawaii). Dare anyone criticize my decision?beowulf

Actually, yes!

My selection induced groans of dismay from Amber and the granddaughter of Sandy (good to see ya, by the way, Sandy!). The young women explained they’d both seen it one (or maybe it was five) too many times in school.

If you wonder about the Elvis flick, Blair explained he’d never seen it but picked up a bargain bin DVD hoping it might fit the ocean theme of the Mermaid Room.

Our host also brought forth a free bowl of spicy munchies (sorry, I don’t know what they’re called). I enjoyed a couple handfuls of these with a bottle of  nicely chilled Brisk Iced Tea.

Meanwhile, other folks continued arriving. These included a couple who are basically touring the country, staying at various BnB establishments with their shy, but well-behaved and ultimately sweet dog (you’re a good girl, Sophie!). They’d rented the Shakespeare Room for the evening and seemed quite pleased with it (in contrast with a horrible AirBNB they stumbled into up in New England somewhere). They mentioned that they stay off super-highways as much as possible, finding the back roads and small towns along them far more interesting. Windber being, I must say, a case in point!

Blair was getting them settled in when a gentleman who’d been here once before arrived with his wife and a couple nervously interested teen daughters. I got tasked with taking them for a tour of the building. While staying out of the rooms currently occupied or still being renovated, they found the place as interesting as people typically do.

The dining room game-players scarcely noticed us as I pointed out the World’s Largest Tarot Card (painted on the ceiling) and the more-than-lifesize Angel of Death statue in the corner of the room. From there it was upstairs to the various themed rooms and, of course, that last flight of stairs leading to the viewing area where they saw the World’s Largest Ouija Board painted on the building’s flat roof. Like the tarot card, it’s a certified Guiness World’s Record.

By the end of the evening, I switched back to hot coffee (now with Almond Joy creamer) and, oddly found myself alone in the bar area (except when Blair wandered back in to show me the birthday gifts he’d bought for his about-to-be 2-year-old daughter). Thus the night’s final movie played out mostly just for me in over-the-top stylistic and violent fashion. Yes, it was….


This isn’t to say that everyone else had departed. Many had come and gone in the course of five hours, familiar faces and newbies alike. But the squad of fantasy heroes and villains in the dining room were still going strong, while my new four-legged friend and her human companions had retired to their artsy apartment for the evening.

It was a good evening and in its own way as strangely enchanting as I’ve spent at the Grand Midway.







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