In 2006, a book was published that uses some familiar Nazareth landmarks as plot devices.
In The Cross Over, a middle-grade novel by Scott Morro, four children seek shelter from a storm in Nazareth’s legendary Indian Tower, only to have it mysteriously transport the bewildered kids back in time to the Nazareth of the mid-1700s.
Trapped in the Colonial era, the children befriend a girl named Sarah, who recently lost her friend Beata to smallpox. Sarah takes the kids to the Whitefield House, where they stay for three days while their new friend also falls ill.
Morro, who was born and raised in Nazareth, explained his inspiration for the story: “We’d gone to the Holy Family Cemetery to put flowers down for Father’s Day for my grandfather. My youngest son asked me what the Indian Tower was.
“We walked over there and I told him what I knew. The more we stood there, the more I looked at the monument… I noticed the names ‘Sarah’ and ‘Beata,’ and that they died a few days within each other.”
Those two names are of historical relevance to those who are familiar with the monument’s history -- of the 67 names on the monument, only Sarah and Beata lack last names. They do, however, have a second word inscribed beside their names: Indian.
“[The story] unraveled in my head, like watching a movie… from a 4-year-old boy, asking a simple question, everything else just kind of fell into place,” Morro said.
He began researching the Indian Tower, starting with what he could find online, then turning to The Memorial Library of Nazareth and Vicinity. From there he went to the Whitefield House -- just across the street -- where the curator at the time allowed him to copy pages of a girl’s diary that dated back to the same period he was setting his story.
The diary helped fill in specific gaps about the Colonial lifestyle, particularly of the children, before the American Revolution.
“The whole process took between eight and 10 months,” Morro said.
In years past, proceeds from The Cross Over were donated to the Moravian Historical Society and used to help restore the Indian Tower, part of which included repainting it with graffiti-resistant paint.
(Note: If Morro's book is purchased through the historical society's website, all proceeds will benefit the society. Visit www.moravianhistoricalsociety.org to purchase The Cross Over.)
“I grew up in Nazareth. That’s my hometown. The Indian Tower should be a place you can see history,” said Morro, who now lives in Bethlehem. “It should continue to be a place that’s cool and respected. Not graffitied with stupid words and phrases.”
In return, the historical society awarded him a plaque and a few photos of the Indian Tower from historical periods.
The Cross Over, which is part time-travel story, part ghost story and part historical account, is one of four books penned by Morro:
- Last Ups is based on his childhood experiences with his brother who had epilepsy;
- Danni’s Gift is a picture book that was illustrated by his wife, Lisa Morro, and written to deal with the loss of grandparents;
- What’s Brewing in Boston? is his latest novel, a second time-travel story about two boys who go back in time to the Boston Tea Party.
When not writing, Morro teaches sixth-grade reading at DeFranco Middle School in the Bangor Area School District, and has for 17 years now.