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Breezewood Postscript: Family Ties

Our tagline is "Every road tells a story", and our recent feature on Breezewood attempts to tell its story.  But there is more - at least on a personal level.

While doing my research - I decided to look into the history of the Gateway Travel Plaza - which was the first travel/road related business to open in Breezewood back in 1941.  When I read that the Gateway Inn (predecessor to the Travel Plaza) was owned and opened by a Merle and Marion Snyder, I took interest.  My maternal grandmother's side of the family trace to the Snyder family out of Saxton.  A small town of 700 or so people 20 miles or so to the north of Breezewood.   Could I have distant relatives that pretty much started Breezewood?

So thanks to facebook - I was able to ask my mom's cousin and also my great aunt if we were related to the Snyder's that started the Gateway Inn.  Alas, I am not.  However, where one lead comes to a dead end - another one appears.

In talking to my cousin and aunt, I learned that we have distant Snyder's buried in a cemetery located near the Quality Inn.  And our family did have a storied connection to Breezewood, the Penn Aire Motel.

Old post card of the Penn Aire Motel

The Penn Aire Motel sat on the western edge of the strip beyond the left turn onto Interstate 70 and up the hill from where the former PA 126 headed south towards Maryland.  It sat on the north side of US 30 across from the Village (now Budget Inn) and Wiltshire Motels.

The Penn Aire Motel was run by distant relatives of mine - Jeannette and Mickey McFarland.  To the best of my knowledge, the motel opened sometime in the 1950s.  Relatives of mine traveling from Ohio to Saxton for family reunion's would stay at the Penn Aire.  

The Penn Aire was part of the Superior Courts Motel referral chain.  Vintage postcards show the four leaf clover that was the referral chain's logo.  The referral chain ended in 1979.  The motel had 33 rooms, a private pool, color tv's, and many of the preferred amenities of the time.

It appears that the motel changed hands in 1982 to Elanor and Richard Bradfield and may have changed hands a number of times.  The motel would remain in operation to about 2008 - and as of 2019 it still stands an abandoned relic to travel days past.  It appears that the grounds were the site of an outdoor Flea Market at some point over the last five years.  The property was sold at auction in February 2019

At this point, this is all I know, but it's a starting point and something I over time will explore
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The Penn Aire was one of over a dozen motor courts in what was known as "The Town of Motels"

The Penn Aire Motel wasn't all I learned as a result of the Breezewood article.  In addition, I learned of how my family would pick up visiting family traveling by bus at the Midway Service Plazas.  Relatives that would travel by bus from Pittsburgh and Ohio would leave the bus at the Midway South Service Plaza.  They would then walk under the tunnel underneath the turnpike to the North Midway Service Plaza to ride back to Saxton with family.  Family in Saxton would get on the Turnpike at Breezewood - wait at North Midway - and then exit the Turnpike in Bedford en route back to Saxton.

In the unincorporated Bedford County of Clearville, there is what is known as the "Frame" church.  The small church and accompanying cemetery also have family ties.  What is unique about this church is that it only has services over Memorial Day weekend.  When I have the chance, I hope to visit this church and maybe learn more.

I think that is what I have grown to like the most in the hobby - how one little town or place can lead to so many stories and opportunities to learn more whether it is general history or in this case family history.

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