Q: What are the three most important things about choosing a new home?

A: Location, location, location.

Why did we choose Warwick Woodlands? There are, after all, dozens of other retirement communities in Lancaster County, PA. In 2018, in fact, U.S. News & World Report ranked Lancaster County as the #1 retirement destination in the country. Here’s how the decision-making process evolved for us:

  • friends our age (early Baby Boomers) began to explore retirement communities — a decade or more earlier than their parents did

  • some of them put down deposits and then moved in

  • we visited several communities and deposited at two of them, one in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania

  • when our daughter’s family decided to move to Lancaster County, the balance tipped toward Pennsylvania

  • Warwick Woodlands had some distinct advantages over other good options.. First, Lititz was my hometown, a place that takes great pride in its thriving, creative, downtown. Warwick Woodlands is a quiet village of new houses and an apartment complex on the edge of downtown that features “walkability” with real destinations — pubs, bookstore, boutiques, restaurants, churches, and concerts. Free admission to my own alma mater Warwick high school events. And free membership in a terrific rec center. In addition, there is great “ride-ability” with two award-winning bike paths just a few blocks away. One of these paths is contiguous to one sister’s house and another to a second sister’s farm. I can bike to their houses, to the Farmer’s Market, and to the grocery store.

  • Then came an amazing opportunity. One carriage house at Warwick Woodlands opened up. And it happened to be next to good friends who had moved in six months earlier.

  • After one visit to view the available house, we signed the papers that brought us here in late May.

  • The last four months have been filled with a sense of adventure in which we enjoy both the new and the familiar, and making friends 

When I wrote about our visits to Aaron’s Books, I asked Lititz friends to recommend other places to visit and write about. The first recommendation was Bruno’s Hoagies: Where the Locals Eat.

Go down the steps to Greco's ice cream and up the steps to Bruno's Hoagies.

Go down the steps to Greco’s ice cream and up the steps to Bruno’s Hoagies. That’s my bike. 🙂

The emphasis on where the locals eat illustrates that this area attracts many tourists. They bolster the economy and the locals welcome them. Traffic on Broad St. and Main St. comes to a halt if pedestrians step out into the crosswalk, and friendly conversations arise naturally as locals explain how to feed the ducks in the park or where to find the best homemade pie.

Lots of visitors come to Lititz just to stock up on Wilbur Buds, the most popular product among the many, many chocolate items in the Wilbur Chocolate Retail Store. Triple-coated chocolate almonds and dark chocolate peanut butter cups might find their way into the basket also.

Not only do the chocolates of Wilbur Chocolate company come in clusters, but so do the neighboring eateries. Bruno’s, for example, is on the first floor of the building across the parking lot from The Wilbur Chocolate store. And below Bruno’s is Greco’s Italian Ices, which also features soft serve, and my favorite hand-dipped, homemade ice cream. This is a great place to end up after riding the Lititz-Ephrata rail trail when it is a little easier to justify the calories in a “child-size” (just right for septuagenarians) cone. The prices are great, so leave a generous tip for the high school students who work there.

I haven’t talked with the owners of these places yet, but it interests me to see that both of them feature foods influenced by Italian cuisine influences in the closest city, Philadelphia — hoagies and Italian ices. The urban areas of the whole state feature unique, Italian foods designed originally to keep laborers fortified for a full day of hard physical work. In Pittsburgh, it was Primanti brothers sandwiches with fries and coleslaw along with (Capicola) meat and melted Provolone cheese in a giant bun. In Philly (the preferred lingo here), the locals and tourists have hundreds of options for cheese steaks, but I have it on good local authority that Delassandro’s is the place to go. We had our first one when we went to see the immersive Van Gogh exhibition a few weeks ago. So good.

Oh yes, and did you notice that Bruno’s in Lititz sells hoagies. Not subs, hero, grinder, or any other type of sandwich. Hoagies. On real Italian rolls with fresh meats, cheeses, and oil and vinegar. The menu says “approved by Uncle Bruno.” I have to find out what that means. On any of these sandwiches, a half is MORE than plenty. Like your diet lighter? You can get veggie hoagies and salads there too.

The chocolate part of the three-point eatery cluster.

The chocolate part of the three-point eatery cluster.

Today is the kind of day E.E. Cummings must have been enjoying when he wrote:

i thank You, God, for most this amazing

day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees

and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything

which is natural which is infinite which is yes.

Stuart and I will be heading out soon on our bikes and plan to enjoy our location fully. When I come back, I hope to hear from you about YOUR location. I have learned from living in more than eleven places that each location has its beauties and that our deepest attachments are to the people living there. When we travel, we love getting the insider scoop from the locals. So what’s your scoop on your place? Curious minds want to know.

My scoop is going to be Cappuccino chip today. Unless they have lemon. Then I’ll have a hard time deciding. . .









Shirley Showalter


  1. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on October 1, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    So good that you and Stuart can get your exercise and fresh air riding your bikes! I never learned to ride bike (that story is included in my memoir) and Hardy does not feel steady enough to use his, but I go for daily walks.
    Hardy and I know a little bit about your neck of the woods. A number of years ago the daughter of care group friends of ours (Analie Mathies) got married there and we attended her wedding. I remembered that a distant relative (Nick Kampen) had gone there from Winnipeg to work for MCC. He met a Mennonite girl there and they got married and lived in Lititz, so we went to look him up without announcing ourselves. They were not at home so we sat on their expansive front porch for a while, left them a note and returned to our hosts. They have a large beautiful family, and Nick taught his children Low German. They dressed in Old Order style and also spoke the dialect. Unfortunately, Nick passed away of cancer in his early sixties and we never had the opportunity to visit them again.

    • Shirley Showalter on October 3, 2021 at 2:45 pm

      Bikes are great ways to get around and get exercise at the same time, but I admit to feeling a little less safe on mine than I did as a fearless child. I am glad you got to visit Lititz and had a connection to a family here. Sorry for the reason you haven’t returned.

      Daily walks are on our agendas too, Elfrieda. The great poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Thoreau, and Emerson found walking very stimulating not only to a healthy body but also to the mind, imagination, and spirit. I’m sure you and Hardy do too.

  2. Melodie on October 2, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    Since you left the beautiful mountain-laced Shenandoah Valley so recently, I don’t have to tell you the treasures that are here. 🙂 One literal scoop I’ll share is Grammie’s Ice Cream stand down near Dayton–we love that ice cream even better than Klines which is so big here. Grammie’s is rich with dozens of flavor choices every day, and cheaper than Klines. One Large scoop for each of us is plenty. And it is far enough away from where we live that we can’t visit it every day, it is a treat once or twice a month. I do envy your access to so many ways to use your bike! Way to go. It is so dangerous around here with narrow roads and curves and hills and traffic that I don’t really use mine.

    • Shirley Showalter on October 3, 2021 at 2:50 pm

      Melodie, yes, we will have the imprint of the mountains and valley on our hearts forever and can easily envision the places you mention. I think Grecos and Grammie’s have a lot in common. Yes to your description of the biking in Harrisonburg. We didn’t venture out very often when we lived there unless we were driving the bikes to special trails. Have a rail trail so close is a major blessing. We recently rode with a friend from H-burg who brings her bike on a rack when she comes here.

      • Judith on October 8, 2021 at 10:43 am

        And what a wonderful ride it was, Shirley! A perfect day…. worth venturing “up” I81. You and Stuart are the commensurate tour guides with a mile by mile account of history along with the Judith V book recommendation. I have many, many fond memories of childhood visits to Lititz that occasionally, if we could cajole my mother, included a warm soft pretzel from the Lititz Pretzel House: https://juliussturgis.com/.

        I didn’t get my usual ride past my father’s home place on Twin Brook Road in Rothsville so I’ll be headed your way again. In the meantime, I’m pedaling the quiet roads of Shenandoah and Bath counties. Location, location, location!

        • Shirley Showalter on October 8, 2021 at 1:39 pm

          Judith, thank you for showing up here and reminding us of that lovely day we spent together on the trail. We’ve been back several times since then and want to get as many rides in as possible before the weather turns too cold. Doesn’t look like that will be soon.

          And warm soft pretzels! We treated all the grandchildren to them when they took the Julius Sturgis tour, which they loved. Then we found a chain restaurant called Philly Pretzels Factory, originating in Philly 20 years ago and now spread throughout central PA and beyond.

          Next time you can be the tour leader. I’d love to see your dad’s “home place.”

  3. Laurie Buchanan on October 4, 2021 at 9:49 am

    Shirley — I’d have a hard time choosing between Cappuccino chip and lemon, too! Your neck of the woods is beautiful. Ours is, too — especially when seen via walks and bicycle rides. My favorite part of living here is the proximity to everything that interests us, especially walks along the Boise River. And walks to a myriad of restaurants in historic downtown. And walking to the capitol. And walking to…

    • Shirley Showalter on October 4, 2021 at 3:04 pm

      I love your “walking my muse” posts and often marvel at the natural beauty surrounding you there in Boise, Laurie. Walkability is such a blessing. A good way to get the exercise we need while accomplishing something else on our “to do” or “to be” lists. We also can walk to doctor and dentist offices easily.

      I ended up getting neither of those ice cream flavors. The family who owns the business was on vacation. Oh well, something to look forward to on the next walk!

  4. Marlene Kropf on October 4, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    I’m enjoying your reflections on a move to a new (old) location. Your adventurous, curious spirit will open many doors for understanding your chosen place and also for initiating new relationships. To respond to your question, I’ve delighted in discovering what Port Townsend offers (where we’ve now lived for 9 years): world-class cider, the sweetest Dungeness crabs, superb hiking trails (we do have to drive a couple miles to get to our favorite trail), fine libraries and bookstores, retirees who’ve moved here after living many adventures elsewhere (such as the woman down the street who has twice sailed around the world in her own boat with an all-women crew), a hearty local tradition of a cappella singing, churches filled with people who want to be there — and much more. May your spirit of discovery continue to keep you buoyant and engaged!

    • Shirley Showalter on October 4, 2021 at 3:14 pm

      Wow, Marlene. Nine years! I remember our visit to the Pacific Northwest in 2014. And I have loved reading your own essays as you were making the transition. It takes courage and imagination to uproot and make almost all new friends in a new place just at the time when other people are settling into retirement where they were planted. I think I read about those women sailors. Are these two the ones who live in your town? https://www.thedailybeast.com/this-lesbian-couple-sailed-oceans-to-be-together-their-epic-journey-is-far-from-over

      Now that your house is finished, and we could have a book tour on the horizon, maybe we’ll get to visit. . .

      • Marlene Kropf on October 6, 2021 at 11:39 pm

        Not the same couple as the one living near us, but what an interesting story! You’re welcome to come visit again!

  5. Pat Swartzendruber on October 4, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    Hi Shirley, speaking of food…what does Miriam Toews mean when she said Mennonite recipes call for ammonia in her NYT By the Book, interview published, yesterday? I must look up the title, “The Mennonite Treasury” a cookbook she received from her Aunt Mary, but has not read. “For Mennonites,” she reports, “it’s second in importance only to the Bible.” I have never heard of it…nor have I ever seen a recipe calling for ammonia. Is she referring back to “Listen Up, Girls” another book she references from Aunt Mary? Purity, above all else? Not so subtle criticism of Mennonite culture?

    Culinary options, in my mind, influence the quality of locations where I have lived…so grateful to the foodies in every locale! Maybe I just proved her point!

    • Shirley Showalter on October 5, 2021 at 2:16 pm

      Ammonia?? I am as puzzled as you are, Pat.

      True mystery solved with the help of Google. http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2009/09/peppermint-cookies.html Check out this recipe and the discussion of baking ammonia. I challenge you to locate some of this magic ingredient. Those cookies look good. Obviously, we “Old” Mennonites are not fully informed about GC Mennonite cookery. Thanks for taking time to comment. You have now added to my culinary and geographical knowledge.

    • Ruth Zimmerman on October 6, 2021 at 3:51 pm

      Ammonia bicarbonate was \still is used in baking by old order cooks . My mother-in-law baked a sugar cookie called Hartshorn cookie using it. Smelled awful when baking but made a super flakey light cookie. They were almost dinner plate size and she decorated them beautifully. I was told it was an old recipe and that many bakeries back in the day used this ammonia as a rising agent. I only ever made them once when daughter Krista wanted to try. And we had to order the ammonia bicarb on line. Not available otherwise.

      • Shirley Showalter on October 6, 2021 at 4:15 pm

        Oh thank you, Ruth. Isn’t it interesting that old order and Russian Mennonites both keep this tradition alive? Perhaps it goes all the way back to Germany, Switzerland, or Holland or to all three of these places of origin.Now I’m curious whether you got your money’s worth from that online purchase. Do you still bake Hartshorn cookies?

        • Ruth Zimmerman on October 6, 2021 at 5:37 pm

          No, last and only time was about 11 years ago when we and Krista and Richard both lived in Hyattsville area! It is too much effort. Both Earl’s mom and his aunt and then cousin who were known for making them have all died. I am sure it continues in some extended family. They were really delicious. I wonder what other recipes are around that used it. Ancestors on Earl’s side came from Bern Switzerland.

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