In the 1972 episode of All in the Family called, “Edith’s Problem,” Jean Stapleton‘s character Edith Bunker was going through “the change” and her erratic behavior was grinding on her husband, the one and only Archie Bunker. In one scene, Archie wanted to take Edith on a trip to sunny Florida, when Edith yelled, “No, no, no! Not Florida! I want to go to Scranton.” Archie questions the crazy request and loudly proclaims, “…the only way you’re gettin’ me to go to Scranton is if some screwball hijacks the airplane!”
There were several references to Scranton throughout the run of All in the Family, as well as another of my favorites, Green Acres. Scranton has been a gem for writers going back to the days of vaudeville, where the venerable comedian Jack Benny would make a Scranton reference or two in his act and subsequently later on in his radio and television programs. Even today, Scranton is the laughing stock of sit-com land in the NBC show, The Office.
Having been born and raised in northeastern Pennsylvania, I can safely say the region doesn’t offer much in ways of amenities. You’re not going to click over to Expedia and book your next vacation to Scranton, unless you want to visit an old coal mine, some iron furnaces, a collection of old trains and have your picture taken next to the “Welcome to Scranton” sign when you enter the city to make your friends jealous when you get home.
If you plan on flying here, don’t expect anything non-stop unless you’re coming from Philadelphia, Newark, Charlotte or Chicago and want to spend an hour or so on a puddle jumper. The last time scheduled jet service on anything larger than a DC-9 touched down here was when US Airways was known as US Air and Eastern still had birds in the sky.
It came as no surprise, that Scranton has been ranked number 4 in the list of of 10 places “Not to Go in 2010” by Black Book Magazine. Obviously, this ranking isn’t going to make the 4pm, 5pm, 5:30pm, 6pm, 7pm, 7:30pm 10pm, and 11pm news on “the channel 16” tonight. (Yes, we have THAT many newscasts on one channel – and that’s just the evening casts.) I don’t think the Scranton Chamber of Commerce is going to highlight this achievement at their next board meeting and I doubt mayor Chris Doherty is going to tout it as a reason for him to be elected governor.
Scranton ranks up there with such other venerable locations such as Pakistan, Chernobyl, and Tiger Wood’s pants.
While we can’t do much to change how the rest of humanity views one of our fair NEPA cities, we should at least be happy we get some free publicity, even it it’s not the kind we want.