Gary Abdullah Jr. was born in the shadow of Beaver Stadium, went to State High, and married his childhood crush who lived down the street … but he never intended to stay in Happy Valley. Today, he will tell you that he has made Happy Valley his place — and it’s his life’s work to make it a place for everyone. Because in his words, “Happy Valley isn’t happy for everyone.” And he wants to change that.
When Tanya Campbell was a little girl, her grandmother walked her dogs on Charcoal Flats, a trail in Shingletown. Tanya, her mother, and her daughter also enjoyed hiking along this same trail. The trail, just past Pine Grove Mills near the small town of Shingletown, is known for its series of four charcoal flats — large, circular flat areas where logs would be piled and allowed to smolder to create and one that was used to make iron ore. Or, in the words of little girl Tanya, it’s a place that is “rocky and awesome.”
R. Thomas Berner is co-author of “We Had Ink in Our Blood,” a retrospective on newspapers in Central Pennsylvania, but to be fair, he carries a good bit of Pennsylvania dirt in those veins too. He can trace his Pennsylvania roots back to 1733, and his Happy Valley ties to college days in 1968. After a stint in New Mexico, he says he and his wife moved back, gladly. Here’s why.