Book Review: “area code 215: A Private Line in Bucks County”

Author: Teller, Walter. Area Code 215: A Private Line in Bucks County. Atheneum, 1962.

A favorite professor of mine, recently recommended this book to me, as a way to fully appreciate a particular era experienced in the long life of the historic Tavern I was researching. The Tavern thankfully, remains well seated on the banks of the Delaware River in Bucks County. And, has been witness to the evolution of the greater area we still enjoy today. The novel on the other hand, takes place in the late 1960’s. And, portrays what feels like, the calm before the storm, being the impending Point Pleasant, PA “Pump fight” of the 1980’s.

This easy to read novel, does one thing very well. It has the effect of relaxing you back in time as it is quite intimately “in-tune” with the day to day of local life in and around the River Towns. Beginning in January, the chapters move through the months of the year, expressing the newest signs of change each season brings. Almost immediately, Walter’s phrasing returned me to a very specific moment time and place in my own life. That is when I was first introduced to the majesty of the Delaware River.

On a very bitter cold night in the Winter of 1988, a dear friend and classmate at Spring Garden College Paul Hinderliter, drove me out to and along the River Road. We soon found ourselves standing on Lumberville’s footbridge halfway to Bull’s Island. At 2:00am, I remember looking out across the water. The air was as cold and still as I have ever felt and only the sounds of nature, were awake to be heard. Ever since, I find every way possible, to feel the River’s impact. But, never since, have I been able to relate so well to someone else’s memory of the same subject.

Although area code 215 is, on the surface, a story of friends living along the River, the natural surroundings are masterfully celebrated as more than the backdrop in their lives. It is truly a love letter to everything that people cherish about Bucks County. Most fascinatingly, throughout you will discover incredible bits of history that have occurred in the County. So much so, you too may need to pause in order to locate on a map, your next hiking destination!

As we watch the “backdrop” to many generation’s worth of precious memories had here destroyed in the name of progress, area code 215, I suggest is an enjoyable way to stroll back through beautiful Bucks County. More sweetly, may it return to you as it has for me, something felt forever, lost to time.