Cookie Monster is crazy about chicken nuggets.
Pull out a map of the Abingtons (or search for one on Google), and stare at the outline of South Abington Township.
Don’t see it?
Tilt your head to the left.
Cookie Monster catching a chicken nugget in his mouth.
Someone recently asked me, “what exactly is ‘the Abingtons?’ Is there actually a town called Abington?”
“Here we go again,” I thought.
“About that…” I said, stepping up on my soapbox and launching into “the speech.”
I’ve written about it here before, but the topic bears repeating, because it continues to cause confusion in northeast Pennsylvania and beyond.
The first question, “what is the Abingtons?” seems simple enough, and if you want a straightforward answer, I suppose I could say it’s the municipalities included in the Abington Heights School District. But depending on who you talk to, that answer may not be exhaustive or satisfactory. Many also include small portions of Lackawanna Trail, Lakeland and even Tunkhannock Area school districts in their definitions of the Abingtons.
The second question, “is there a town in Pennsylvania called Abington?” is both simple and not-so. We have North, South and West (but no East) Abington townships. Waverly Township, however, was called “Abington Center” when it was founded by settlers from Connecticut in the late 18th century.
According to the municipality’s website, “In 1853, it was established as a borough within Pennsylvania; since there already was a place named ‘Abington’ located near Philadelphia, the town was renamed Waverly after Sir Walter Scott’s novel of the same name, popular at that time. The borough, located within Lackawanna County, gave up its charter in 1920, because of the high cost to upgrade its main street to a state highway, and became part of Abington Township. On November 2, 2010, township residents voted to change the township’s name from ‘Abington’ to ‘Waverly Township,’”
So yes, there was an Abington, Pennsylvania. And there still is, but it’s a different Abington, a township in Montgomery County.
At least once a week, The Abington Suburban receives news tips and press releases from well-meaning marketing managers and publicists from Montgomery County, and we have to tell them, “thanks, but you’re looking for the other Abington.”
For editorial purposes, The Abington Suburban sticks with Ransom, Newton, South Abington, Waverly, Glenburn, West Abington, La Plume, North Abington and Benton townships and Clarks Summit, Clarks Green and Dalton boroughs.
But back to the question of “what is the Abingtons?”
There are some people who don’t use the “Abingtons” label at all and just refer to the whole area as “Clarks Summit.” The whole area, that is, except Newton and Ransom Townships. They refer to those as “Newton-Ransom.”
Nothing makes me cringe more than when I ask people where they live and they say “Newton-Ransom,” to which I reply, “which one: Newton or Ransom?” and they say, “both.”
Two separate places. (Unless, of course, the municipal lines happen to run through your property.)
Or when someone is telling me a story that starts something like, “I was at the Sheetz in Clarks Summit, when...”
“Wait,” I say, interrupting him or her. “There’s a Sheetz in Clarks Summit? When did they build that?”
At this point, the person usually looks at me like I’m nuts.
“I know of the Sheetz in South Abington Township, but not in Clarks Summit,” I say.
Then comes the eye roll and the “whatever,” and he or she continues the story.
I lost track of how many times I had to explain that South Abington Township is not in Clarks Summit. They are next to each other.
Or that any given business on Northern Boulevard is in South Abington Township, not Clarks Summit.
Or that, despite their names, neither Clarks Summit University nor the Clarks Summit State Hospital are in Clarks Summit.
I had to verify the street address for the Ramada (which is in South Abington Township) a few weeks ago, and I found the inn’s Google listing is titled, “Ramada by Wyndham Clarks Summit Near Scranton.”
A lot of the confusion probably stems from the 18411 zip code shared by multiple municipalities. And from the way South Abington (Cookie Monster) wraps around Clarks Summit and Clarks Green (the inside of Cookie Monster’s mouth), with a small island (the chicken nugget) that anyone on the “South Abington mainland” can only reach by passing through Clarks Summit.
In light of all this, I can understand why people get mixed up about where they are in the Abingtons. But if one takes the time to study a map and see where all the municipal boundaries lie, he or she will find it’s not that complicated.
It’s easy as pie.
Or a chicken nugget.
Contact the writer:
firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9185, ext. 3492