The Family Vault

Jericho Turnpike
2 min readNov 28, 2020
photo — Ezra Jeffrey-Comeau on Unsplash

Story 2 — A Cold Pocono Winter: Strange Bed-fellows

Not very long after the conclusion of the American Civil War, a young man named John (Jean) Meiser emigrated to the United States from the Alsace-Lorraine region of Germany. As was typical of so many European immigrants of that era, he arrived in New York, met a woman, got married and had a family, and a rather large one at that! They had nine daughters, all of whom lived to adulthood.

By the 1920’s, John had already suffered the death of his first wife, remarried, and the entire family further migrated to the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The daughters all went on to have families of their own. By 1926, the first of the daughters (Julia, John’s third born) passed at the age of 60. Several of the other daughters opened a tavern together, and developed a successful business. Eventually, two of John’s granddaughters took over the tavern.

In those years, the winters were especially vicious; temperatures in the mountains would remain below freezing for a month at a time without a thaw, and snows fell heavy, by the foot. The granddaughters, Julia (named for her deceased aunt) and Lettie (named for another aunt) lived upstairs above the tavern. The old building did a poor job of keeping out the winter, and the girls piled on the blankets in their best effort to stay warm as the slept.

During one of these bitter winters, Julia woke one morning and noticed an odd lump in the covers, bunched up in her underarm. She pulled at the blankets to dissolve the lump yet it remained. After tugging and shifting several times, she finally took hold of the “lump;” during the bitter cold night, the “lump” had sought shelter and warmth in Julia’s bed: a small brown bat! Strange bedfellows indeed!

Jericho Turnpike

Former Air Force staff sergeant, learning disabilities specialist, high school assistant principal, special education director, and husband. Gay dad of three.