We'll Leave the Tallow Candle on for Ya

Ephrata Cloister:
Home of the Wooden Pillow
Take Exit 286

...read the billboard. I was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike returning from a long weekend in Philly, and the monastery signage was among the road signs showcasing all the attractions roadside America had to offer...

Like Adult World Video Palace, with over 3,000 titles on both DVD and the glory of VHS...

Outlet shopping for discount $1,000 designer purses you can tote your microscopic dog around in...

And billboards, advertising the effectiveness of... billboard advertising.

But "Ephrata Cloister- Home of the Wooden Pillow"? By the time I realized just what it was I'd seen, it had vanished from view like it never was.

Now, a moment of research shows the Ephrata Cloister has become a museum operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Hence, the cheeky billboard marketing.

But for a moment there, I had visions of this cloister actively trying to raise a little extra funding by taking in guests who wanted to get away from it all-- really get away from it all-- at a cheap rate.

They could call it The Holy-Days Inn, maybe.

As I drove on, I found myself wondering how that wooden pillow would go down over a full weekend's stay. If, instead of the facing the world after a night on cotton-filled cushions, and a mattress covered in more protective plastic than a day care center cot, I'd have been experiencing the culture of Philadelphia and the sun-dappled beauty of Bucks County with a severely bruised head.

It's character-building, donchaknow.

Checking in? Just sign the illuminated manuscript in your very best calligraphy.

Instead of an ice bucket, each room would be equipped with a pick, and a basin, to chip your own. Instead of a phone, you'd have a "Silence is Golden" plaque over the bed. Looking for the bathroom? Why, a ceramic chamber pot is never more than an arm's length away.

And instead of an alarm clock, each room would be equipped with your own personal rooster, which you could conveniently set for the crack of dawn or... okay, well, just the crack of dawn.

Roosters only really have the one setting. It comes standard.

Looking for an extra blanket? Why not try the hair-shirt quilt, complete with hand-tied knots to ensure maximum discomfort? (This would have been great on my sunburn, I think.)

And picture this-- you'd be pretty much guaranteed a quiet stay.

Yes, in a world of whirlpool baths, plush casinos and elaborate massage, this could be a refreshing alternative to the usual pampering overkill. And it wouldn't actually be that different than when my college dorms ran hotel operations during the summer.

All the Ephrata folks need to do would be to get a celebrity to endorse it... I suggest Oprah.

And if it got trendy enough... gosh! All the Hollywood creme-de-la-creme would flock to experience it. There's just something so right, thinking of Paris Hilton checking into the "hottest" vacation experience and enjoying a night on a good old-fashioned wooden pillow.

Plus, that outlet mall with the designer purses is right down the road. She has to be in the market for a new dog carrier by now.

Yep, I can hear the radio ads now--- "Welcome to the Discomfort Inn... I'm Brother Cadfael and we'll leave the tallow candle on for ya."

..Hey, it could catch on.

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Jonny's Mommy said...

Richard Gere could be the spokesperson and talk about silent .. no one would even talk to you while your trying to sunbathe -- like some old woman talking about her arthritis. Wait...no sunbathing huh? Probably have to wear the garb of the place --- long, brown robe. There is one you won't steal eh?

Jenn Thorson said...

Jonny's Mommy- Heh, Richard Gere would be an excellent choice-- good idea! And yes, no sunbathing-- big hats, brown robes, sandals and gardening, I think would be some of the big outdoor activities.

Da Old Man said...

Holy-Days Inn. *snicker*
I've passed that area many times and never thought of those aspects. I always thought they were just trying to out-Amish the Amish. Sort of playing a game of one downsmanship.

Jenn Thorson said...

Da Old Man- You should've seen me trying to drive and write the name of the place down. It was too strange not to look up. You should check out their online gift shop! :) Need any wooden spoons?

Jay said...

Good grief ... I'd be crippled on a wooden pillow! I already take mine with me wherever I go! Hey - do you think I'd be allowed to bring it with me to Ephrata Cloister, or would it get confiscated at the door?

Oh well. I guess that's one way to stop the guests stealing stuff. Are the bathrobes wooden, too?


Jenn Thorson said...

Jay- I don't know precisely, but I'm not envisioning you in a tug of war with Brother Cadfael over it...

And it makes me laugh. :)

The bathrobes, I'd imagine, would be a rough brown wool or linen.