Tuesday, December 10, 2013


  • Harrisburg gives in and will let Centralia fade away, leaving the last residents in peace. Too late for John Lokitis, whom the movie The Town That Was was about. He and another relatively younger man were forced to move. Good for the few remaining people. I went there in 2004 and it was safe. The fire is under the southern hill next to the Catholic and Orthodox cemeteries; Lokitis lived next to that. Stay off the hill and you’re fine. As one former resident has explained, Centralia was never a cute picture-postcard village but a tight-knit, kind of rough mining town that’s their much-missed home. The Ukrainian Catholic church, St. Mary’s, is still on the northern hill. St. Clair to the south has some kind of Catholic or Orthodox church every few blocks.
  • Trouble With Angels building no longer Catholic and to be sold to developers. The Lindenwold Castle, a century-old mansion that’s a replica of Windsor Castle, where the golden-era movie was filmed. I didn’t know until now that it’s close by, in Ambler. Another epitaph for the American church shooting itself in the foot with the council. As of last spring the institution was no longer Catholic, having been sold to a secular company; the order still owned the property. How’s that “renewal” working out? The movie was typical for the time, a sign in America that Catholics had arrived and almost had their moment. A PR gift to the church (imagine having that now) that actually says very little about the faith (sometimes that’s fine), just like Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s. Filmmaker Ida Lupino was fascinated by the all-female community. The sequel, which I’ve never seen all the way through, was a predictable, disappointing celebration of the Sixties, exactly what undid such communities.


  1. My Grandmother was born in Centralia, though has spent most of her life in Philly.
    I remember watching the sequel to the Trouble with Angels one night, and my mom told me that some of it was filmed nearby ( At Dorney Park ). I thought the movie was okay, but yes it seemed to be a big cliche of so much that as gone wrong with the church .

  2. I saw parts of the sequel on Youtube. The ending, when the nuns emerge from the building with new modified habits, elicited a rueful chuckle. The beginning of the end.


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