Sunday, October 19, 2014

FAREWELL: Service for Marcus Macaluso

Just a reminder that the memorial service for Marcus Macaluso will be at London Grove Friends Meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. Marcus died on Oct. 3. I'm told a large crowd is expected because he had so many friends and loved ones in the community.

LONDON GROVE: Faith, practice, tradition and a chicken dinner

London Grove Friends Meeting's 300th birthday party on Saturday was a highlight of the season for me. The chicken dinner by Hood's BBQ was delicious, as were the home-made pies for dessert. The slide show of weddings under the Penn Oak, roast beef suppers and Christmas pageants from years gone by was wonderful. I missed my neighbor Charlie Brosius's burial ground tour but I heard it was fascinating.
My favorite part of the celebration by far was the fellowship. It was so great to see so many friends (or should that be "Friends"?): Barb Pusey, Elinor Thomforde, Betsy Walker, Peg Jones, Anna Myers, Margaret Walton, the Mooberrys, Pat Horrocks, the Newbolds, Dawn Thompson, the Brosiuses, Edyie Joines and Ron Fenstermacher, Ellen Marsden, Karen Halstead, Georgia Delaney, Kelli Trice, Rebecca Mitchell, Eddie Paschall, Ruth Thompson and Leona Provinski, Cintra Murray, Grace Pfeifer, Cathy Quillman, Jill Benjamin and John Hodges, Lou Mandich, the Ciganeks . . . As my date said in amazement, "Every five seconds people were coming up to us!"
I could go on and on -- but I'll stop and just say thank you so much to Sandy Reber and everyone else who worked so hard to pull off this event.

DOWNWIND: Sending best wishes to Caryl Huffaker!

Best wishes to my friend and fellow columnist Caryl Huffaker. Caryl has been writing her "Downwind" column for as long as I've been reading "The Kennett Paper," and that's been more than 25 years. In last week's column she reported that she was at Chester County Hospital with two infections, and was being kept in isolation -- what a dreadful fate for such a gregarious soul!

THE LAURELS: The covered bridges are open again

What a beautiful autumn day it was for the reopening of the covered bridges in the Laurels, the Brandywine Conservancy's nature preserve off Route 82 near Doe Run. The bridges, used by many hikers and equestrians, had been shut for months so that critical structural repairs could be made.
Speaking at Saturday afternoon's ceremony at the Mary Ann Pyle Bridge over the Buck Run were Virginia Logan and "Frolic" Weymouth from the Conservancy, Amy McKenna of the Buck & Doe Trust, and D. D. Matz, representing the Robert J. Kleberg Jr. & Helen C. Kleberg Foundation (the Klebergs owned the King Ranch).They all thanked the donors who contributed to the project.
Among the "country casual" Unionville crowd I was happy to see the McClungs (human and canine), Janet and Tom Kenny, Georgie and Walter Stapleton, Richard Buchanan, Beth Harpham, Pat Branum, Nancy and John Mohr and their daughter Margot, Ed and Susan Brown, Liz and Jack Bailey, and Charlotte and Frank Reilly.
The event organizers had us enter the Laurels via the Fairview Road gate rather than the usual Apple Grove Road entrance. I'd never driven into the preserve that way before, and the views were stunning.
Mary Ann Pyle was an ancestor of one of my neighbors (he has a picture of her in his living room), and he told me the workers named the bridge in her honor because she kept them well supplied with beverages. Her hospitality continued at Saturday's event with the amazing vegetables, olives, cheeses, dips and other appetizers provided by the caterer, Jamie Minnick, who is based at the New Bolton Center ( More than one guest told me the food was the best they'd ever seen at such an event and urged me to head straight for the food table -- and these were buffet-hardened cocktail-party veterans! Needless to say, I did -- and in penance refused the golf-cart ride back to the parking area.

ST. MICHAEL: Bernie would have loved this service

I'm sure you've all sat through dull speeches at memorial services that offer little but bland, generic platitudes.
That was totally not the case at the unforgettable service for the late Bernie Langer on Saturday morning at St. Michael Lutheran Church. (Bernie, who lived in Springdell, West Marlborough Township, died Sept. 24 at age 78.) The Rev. Frederick DeRasmo Jr. donned a blue hard hat while speaking, a nod to Bernie's extremely active role on the church's building committee. "Pastor Rick" had us alternately laughing and reaching for our tissues as he recounted just a few of his experiences, good and bad, over the past two decades with Bernie, who was, in his words, "a character."
Andrea Loveland, who worked for Bernie and his wife, recalled accompanying Bernie and his beloved dog, Alfie, to the Jack Russell races recently; the dogs, she remembered, were not the only ones barking at her. And Gordon Rowe, who brought his adorable newborn daughter to the service, spoke fondly of the life-changing times he spent in idyllic "Langerland" along the banks of the Doe Run.
The music -- traditional hymns and Bach -- was beautiful and entirely appropriate to Bernie's tastes.
The standing-room-only service was a perfect sendoff for a man who will be missed by so many people.

PINK FLOYD: Everything under the sun is in tune

A Baby Boomer-age friend reported that earlier in the day she had been listening to Pink Floyd's 1973 classic album "Dark Side of the Moon" -- but for some reason she was feeling discombobulated rather than soothed; her head was "filled with dark forebodings." Eventually she realized why: her device was playing it in "shuffle" mode rather than straight through, the way it should be played and the way she was used to hearing it -- like all of us who grew up in the 1970s. After dozens of listenings, you sensed without thinking when the screaming lady was going to start screaming, and you knew to turn down the volume before the alarm bells blasted out your headphones.
"Dark Side of the Moon" was a soundtrack to our adolescent years, the backdrop to many enjoyable moments, and it just doesn't sound the same broken up into individual tracks. Then again, it was still great listening, even when the car's eight-track tape player would click over to the next track in the middle of a song.

Friday, October 17, 2014

SMALL WORLD: Where everybody knows your name -- or something

I often refer to living on "the island of Unionville," which means that the odds are really good you're going to know almost everyone you run into at Hood's, the post office or the food store. In fact, it feels odd and disorienting if you don't.
So the other day a non-Unionville friend was telling me about an instructor at the Jennersville Y who teaches a very good (read: tough and no-nonsense) class. She mentioned her first name, and I asked, "Oh. Do I know her?"
She gave me a strange look and said, "How on earth would I know?"
Now, if she were a Unionville resident, she would have said, "Yes, of course" and would have elaborated by telling me something about her family, her hobbies, her friends, where she lived, or her personal life. That would have provided enough of a clue for sure, something along the lines of "Oh, right, YES! She was the woman at the Hunt Cup that really cold year who wore that hat with a stuffed opossum on it!" or "She lives next door to the farm that used to have that hobbit-hole mailbox, until it kept getting smashed."
I had further proof of this just yesterday, when a woman recognized me at a church service. I had been a Christmas tour hostess at her home a few years back and she remembered me because I had graduated from the same central Pennsylvania college her son was just entering. Talk about a good memory!