Good Life

What makes your life a good life?

Tom Knauff, glider pilot and owner of Ridge Soaring Gliderport, flies over the region in 2006.
Tom Knauff, glider pilot and owner of Ridge Soaring Gliderport, flies over the region in 2006. CDT photo

We asked readers to explain what their idea of a “good life” is. While many cited the Centre Region’s natural beauty, others described their enduring friendships, hunting and fishing opportunities and Penn State sports. The bottom line is that many people feel fortunate to be living in Happy Valley.

The geologic history of this region has evolved over time. What we see today are the remains of mountains much taller than the world’s highest mountains. Flying high above and observing the remarkable beauty of the region during the season’s changes, and flying alongside migrating birds from the unrestricted view of the glider’s clear canopy is a unique privilege few people get the chance to enjoy.

Thomas Knauff, Julian

What I like about living in Happy Valley is the people I’ve made friends with and the people I’ve encountered in my 78 years of living here.

My father started me fishing at about 4 years old, and I have been fortunate enough to be fishing for 74 years the beautiful streams and lakes in the area.

I started hunting in 1948 in the woods and valleys and shared many hunting seasons with friends at hunting camps.

I worked for the State College Area School District, where I met many friendly employees of the school district who became good friends. When I became a teacher in the Vo-Tech, I was fortunate to meet many students and teachers from all over Happy Valley.

Most of the rewards of living in Happy Valley are the wonderful people who live here and the wonderful natural resources and the beauty of the area.

Ralph Shope, State College

My street, East Irvin Avenue, is, hands down the best street in town. I first discovered this the day I moved here in January 1999. Shortly after I arrived, two neighbors stopped by, one with freshly baked brownies and another with mac and cheese. ...

For several decades, the women on the street have gathered for breakfast once a month, and each September all the neighbors get together for a block party. In recent years we’ve moved the party to neighborhood backyards, but that’s the only thing that’s really changed. We get together for movie nights, sing-alongs, Christmas Eve caroling or “just because.”

East Irvin Avenue is my favorite piece of Happy Valley.

Helen Dempsey, State College

Happy Valley has been our home for 18 years.

Happy Valley is a small town and rural community that provides an excellent university, entertainment venues, a variety of great restaurants, shopping, sports, outdoor activities and let’s not forget The Creamery and the Nittany Lion. We are ... a Penn State family of three generations — father, siblings and children. We bleed blue blood with Penn State pride.

While attending Penn State, we felt safe and at home in a community that provided a welcoming atmosphere, not like the hustle and bustle of our hometown city suburbs. This is our home to retire and enjoy the family ties, friendships, sense of community and the beauty of Mount Nittany and the many valleys of Centre County.

Melanie and David Cramer, Boalsburg

One of the things that I enjoy the most about Happy Valley is the natural beauty that permeates all around us.

We have several breathtaking views in Centre County such as the Jo Hays Vista at the summit of the Pine Grove Mills mountain; Penns View located between Poe Valley State Park and Poe Paddy; and of course the view of western Penns Valley that can be absorbed from atop Centre Hall mountain.

From Penns View, the world seems to lay in repose at my feet. The small town of Ingleby looks like a village underneath a Christmas tree, complete with the long silver ribbon of Penns Creek winding lazily below. ...

The other two mountain top vistas create fields and hamlets that stretch before your eyes like a large patchwork quilt.

Two other natural wonders are Penns and Woodard caves. Penn’s Cave is America’s only all-water cavern and Woodard Cave claims to be the largest cave in Pennsylvania.

Ruth C. Rudy, Centre Hall

Our family moved to State College in 1975 from western Pennsylvania. This was to be a “steppingstone” to other future locations — but, here we are, almost 40 years later. The schools are top notch and the economy is flourishing. We can attend “big time” concerts and sporting events without traveling three to four hours. Best of all is the abundance of low- or no-cost family activities in the area.

Our family has grown up here and their families are doing the same! State College is truly a small-town environment with big-city advantages — it is our utopia.

Barb Loviscky, State College

My favorite moments are the drum roll and march on by the Penn State Blue Band on game day. Of course, I stay and hope for a good performance and a win by the football game, but nothing fills me with more Penn State pride than the entrance onto the field of the Penn State Blue Band.

Dave Flick, State College

My husband and I transplanted ourselves to Bellefonte 36 years ago, just after we married under the gazebo in Talleyrand Park. I believe we were one of the first (if not the first) couple to get official permission to wed in the park. Back then, Talleyrand was much smaller, its gazebo with wooden gingerbread trim was the only structure.

The park is now beautifully landscaped. ... The park, an active gathering place for neighbors and friends, boasts the farmers’ markets, the Bellefonte Arts and Crafts Fair, weekly summer Sunday evening concerts and the annual Jazz in the Park. It’s a place to laze, read, jog, walk, watch the water, hear laughter and generally find some peace.

As the area around Bellefonte has grown, the farsighted and careful preservation of BHCA has grown Talleyrand and maintained the charm of the downtown historical district. Bellefonte is full of lovely shops, great architecture and friendly people. But it is Talleyrand, its gazebo marking the beginning of our 36-year (still going) marital journey, that holds the special place in my heart.

Judy Henry, Bellefonte

I’ve been working in State College as a hair stylist since I was a 20-year-old, the same age as most Penn State students. I’m now 60, and the students are still 20. What do I love about Happy Valley? Eternal youth.

Kelly Ceglar, State College

I love the State College Area High School Marching Band.

For me there is nothing better than spending a clear fall evening in the stands at Memorial Field. The magic begins when we hear the drum major’s whistle, curing the drum line to begin the opening cadence and march down the ramp. From narrow rows of four, the band marches into position across the width of the field, then plays the fight song, “Anchors Aweigh.” The crowd sings along for our national anthem, and the seniors and alums belt out the State High Alma Mater to compensate for those who don’t know the words.

Margaret Higgins, State College

I was employed by Penn State from 1968 to 1971. I met my husband, Mac, while he was a student at PSU and a member of Navy ROTC. We married in May of 1971 and our travel adventures began. We relocated 25 times in 43 years, the most recent and last one, a move back to Central Pennsylvania.

After 43 years of traveling the country, it seems ironic that the place we seem to enjoy the most is where our adventure began. The best places and the best people are back home in Happy Valley. Spending time with family, getting reacquainted with old friends, making new friends near our home in Bellefonte has been invigorating and fun. We are very happy to be back.

Joann (Cingel) McKenzie, Bellefonte

I grew up in the kind of place where I knew all of my neighbors and had to report home when the streetlights came on. I often felt like I had a whole community of loving adults that were looking out for my welfare and truly cared about me. I thought those days ended with my childhood.

Moving to Garner Street in 2002 was the single best decision that I made as a single parent. My children and I were suddenly immersed in the same kind of community that I had experienced growing up. “Merging” meals with our neighbors when we simply needed company, love and a way to stretch our menu options became a tradition. Impromptu visits, supplementary hugs and the exchange of gardening tools or last minute ingredients became the norm. ....

My children are independent now, but the sense of community that raised them remains. Their first intention while home on a visit is often to walk across the street to visit the neighbors. They love sharing their new lives with old friends who still really care about them.

We struck gold on Garner Street and we know it. We can never be thankful enough.

Susan Marshall, State College

My husband and I moved here 4 years ago from the Harrisburg/Hershey area. We love State College for its

• Outdoor beauty

• University culture and events

• Big Ten sports events

• Friendly and generous residents

• Lack of big-city traffic and noise

One of our favorite places is Fisherman’s Paradise, an ideal place for us to practice our fly-fishing, bicycle down the trail, bird-watch the eagle’s nest or picnic. It’s a microcosm of all the good things about the area. We enjoy every visit there.

Catherine Alloway, Port Matilda