Saturday, April 25, 2015

MOTORCYCLES: "Oley Rollers" at a national meet near Reading

Over the years, you've gotten used to reading about Tilda's adventures at equestrian events, posh fundraising galas, and concerts and lectures of all stripes, but I can guarantee you that this is a new one. Bright and early on Saturday morning my favorite traveling buddy and I headed to Oley, northeast of Reading, to an antique motorcycle show and flea market: formally, the Perkiomen Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America's national meet.

I know very little about motorcycles, but I enjoyed the day immensely anyway. There were dozens of wonderful vintage motorcycles on display, in all states of repair, starting with some Indian motorcycles from the early 20th century.

We rendezvous-ed with a friend who restores old motorcycle magnetos (talk about a sub-specialty!) and he showed us his very handsome 1952 Moto Guzzi Falcone. Another pal said en route to the meet he was getting nostalgic while driving past all the places where his bikes had broken down over the years.
 I enjoyed seeing the evolution of the "Harley-Davidson" logos over the years.

The vendors at the flea market offered up an amazing assortment of parts, from coveted "new old stock" nuts and bolts and cotter pins, to rows of carburetors, to a yellow gas tank with the Welsh dragon painted on it, to an old gas pump that dispensed in pints. As the end of the show approached, the prices dropped accordingly. We saw one vendor who was asking $45 for a chromed piece. "Will you take $20?" asked the hopeful customer. "Yeah, OK," replied the dealer.

My favorite bike was a delivery motorcycle from the 1920s, with the garage's name and phone  number still legible on the back of the cart. The owner told me that a buddy of his, a plumber, found it while working in a woman's basement on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and when he expressed curiosity she kept bringing out more parts for it. On display at the meet the owner had an old black-and-white photograph of the garage, with the exact same bike sitting out front.
I also liked a 1946 police motorcycle, complete with siren. It would be just the thing for newly promoted East Marlborough Township Chief Robert Clarke, don't you think?

 The judges carefully scrutinized every fraction of an inch on the bikes that were entered in the competition, looking for authenticity.

The people-watching was top-notch, too. Almost everyone was wearing black leather of some sort, many with heavy-duty motorcycle pants. I heard several people speaking what I think was German. Naturally enough, the "locals" in the Reading Motorcycle Club showed up in force.

WILLISTOWN: A night out and an online auction

On Friday night I went to a splendid fundraiser for the local chapter of a national healthcare nonprofit that was held at the Radnor Hunt Club in Willistown.
I got to catch up with lots of friends and neighbors. I asked one friend what he is doing now that he has retired and found out that he has an unusual hobby: he creates those fiendishly difficult cryptic word puzzles. Who knew!
During the social hour I spotted one Kennett Square woman I particularly wanted to talk to, but being a popular, well-informed and delightful person she was constantly engaged in conversation, and unfortunately she slipped out right after dinner. "They should have stopped her at the door!" said another dismayed friend who was also looking for her.
The buffet dinner was wonderful: tomatoes with mozzarella and basil; hummus; couscous; chicken salad; pasta; and seafood risotto, with a lavish coffee bar and desserts afterward (including fancy chocolates from Éclat in West Chester). The servers and bartenders were pleasant and efficient, and the Radnor Hunt setting was charming, with all kinds of foxhunting memorabilia and prints and decades' worth of photos of Meets and former Masters.
As is routine as these galas, there was a silent auction, but this time with a twist that was a first for me: you entered your bids via your cellphone rather than on a piece of paper on a clipboard. (They had helpers to place your bids if you didn't have a phone.) While the president and CEO was giving her opening remarks, she was keeping an eye on her phone and made a point of publicly increasing her bids over her rivals a few times. One of my dinner companions had donated a selection of wines to the auction and had fun keeping track of how high the bidding was going.
I entered a raffle for, but did not win, a fabulous display of orchids in full, glorious bloom. I'm not sure I would have had room in my house for it, but they had a wonderful raffle salesperson, a charming high-school girl who came up to me and asked sweetly, "Do you like orchids?" Really, who is going to say no!
The highest seller of the night was a week's vacation at a five-star resort in Costa Rica, which sold for $4,500. The man who bought the trip at last year's auction gave it a glowing review before the bidding started, which may well have driven up the price.
Two VIP tickets to Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" in New York went for $3,300.

Friday, April 24, 2015

WEST GROVE: Heightening awareness through movements

This past Wednesday evening we learned a little bit about the philosophy of G. I. Gurdjieff as part of West Grove Quaker Meeting's series of lectures on different faith traditions.
The three speakers, all longtime students of Gurdjieff's teachings, explained different aspects of his beliefs, one of which is that we humans tend to operate on automatic pilot and need to become more conscious of our existence. (How ironic that I was knitting during the presentation -- talk about a "mindless" action!)
One of the ways Gurdjieff suggested waking ourselves up is by engaging in a series of dance-like movements.
Would we like to try one? the speaker asked.
We all stood up, and he demonstrated some simple arm movements, done while the feet are tapping out a sort of shuffle. Another one of speakers went to the piano and started playing a slow, cadence-like tune to accompany the movements, which we all performed in unison.
It was definitely my kind of lecture format.

KENNETT Y: What an inspiring sight

Today at the YMCA I saw an older gentleman working out on an exercise bike while hooked up to one of those little portable oxygen tanks. Talk about dedication! I was seriously impressed.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

MEMORIAL DAY: The Grand Marshals of the Kennett Memorial Day Parade

The Grand Marshals for this year's Kennett Square Memorial Day parade have been named, and they are World War II veterans Michael B. Pratola, Jr., Fred Patrola, Sr., and Robert Hopkins, Sr.
The parade will be held on Monday, May 25, starting at 10 a.m. It kicks off at Kennett High School, travels up South Union Street, turns right at Cypress Street, then left on Broad Street, right on East State Street, turns right onto North Union Street, and ends at Union Cemetery with a special memorial ceremony. (It's a truly great parade.)
Bill Taylor, the parade's organizer, was kind enough to send me the following biographies and photos of the grand marshals:
Michael Pratola, Jr. was drafted in July 1944 and sent to Alabama for basic training. As part of the Fifth Army Infantry, he was shipped to Italy. Patrola, Jr. moved to the Special MP to guard Naples Harbor. At Naples Harbor he operated a 75-ton floating crane at the Harbor Craft Company, where he supervised the work of 12 Army veterans and 14 Italian civilians. He was discharged in August 1946.


In 1947, Fred Patrola, Sr. served with the Central HQ group in Tokyo, Japan. He served as a custodian during the War Crime Trials in a building referred to as the “West Point of Japan.” At that time, General MacArthur was in Tokyo, as well as lawyers from around the world.

Robert Hopkins, Sr. joined the US Marine Corps in 1944, completing his basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. He was stationed in Guam, then sent to Chichi-jima to guard Japanese war crime criminals. Hopkins escorted the war criminals by ship to Guam and continued to guard them as they faced trial for their crimes. He was honorably discharged in 1946.


ON THE ROAD: As always, consider the source

On this gorgeous Saturday morning I checked my Facebook page before getting started with my editing work and saw that a friend just posted: "It's time to ride!" I had to think which of my categories of friends she is in: Did she mean riding a bike? a horse? an indoor bike at the gym? Ah, no, none of the above: she's one of my motorcycle-enthusiast pals. She and her husband are probably miles away on their Harleys by now.

IN THE CHAIR: Not your everyday oral surgery story

Perhaps you read the sad story of the Berwyn dentist who was arrested and charged with lots of narcotics violations last week. One woman commented online that her son had been at the office to get his wisdom teeth removed when the DEA raided the place. My thought was: What a great story that wisdom-tooth youth is going to have! All his peers will have the same old routine stories about ice packs and stitches, blah blah blah, and he has the DEA bursting in.