Friday, July 30, 2010

Another passing

Valerie Ledyard left our area in the 1990s but I am sure many around here still remember her; I know I do. She died in Honolulu on July 21.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Changing his spots. Not.

Scene: Neighbor's back yard, littered with the remains of two large locust trees splintered from Sunday's storm.
Dramatis personae: Your blogger. Neighbor (Life-Long Farmer).
Your blogger: "I really wish you wouldn't use the chain saw by yourself. I worry."
Neighbor: "If I died, they'll all say at the memorial service, he died doing what he loved."
Blogger: "Well, that's true, we would. But I still don't want you using the chain saw by yourself."


Diana Volcheck, who died this past week, was a sweet woman with whom I had the pleasure of working at the Unionville Community Fair. She was quiet and self-effacing, always pleasant but with an old-fashioned sense of reserve; as the British would say, she kept herself to herself.
She was too ill to work at last year's fair -- breast cancer, poor thing -- and we missed her. We sent her flowers, and I'm told she was delighted at how lovely they were.
May she enjoy a restful afterlife.


A "tennis mom" reports that construction at Unionville High School is proceeding apace. She says every week it seems she has to find a new route into the campus, avoiding cones, barriers, heavy equipment and piles of girders!


We appreciate the nice smooth paving job they did on the lane behind the post office and new fire house. Before, it was rutted, rocky and either dusty or muddy. Although you did feel virtuous obeying the one-way arrows and taking the long way back out to Route 82 (instead of sneaking out from the post office lot), you pretty much had to go straight from there to the car wash.
We also noticed that behind the fire house there's a large red contraption, sort of like the trailer part of a tractor-trailer, that is a fire training simulator. I'm sure our dedicated Po-Mar-Lin folks will have fun with that!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


To all the generous souls who offered amenities to this blogger while the electric power was out on Sunday and Monday. After much hard work from the PECO tree-clearing guys, the power came back on at 2:30 p.m., to my Immeasurable Relief.

Kennett is Kool

Just did a double-take driving through Kennett. There's a new store at Union and State, a boutique called "Frolic." Except that's not what the sandwich-board sign outside looked like; I thought it said "Erotic."
My first thought was, poor David Miller. Two bad cops, a crooked borough employee and now a sex shop in town.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A familiar name!

We just picked up the August issue of "Main Line Today" and were delighted to read an article by our friend Cathy Quillman, a writer who lives in West Chester but might as well be a Unionville resident, the amount of time she spends here at art galleries and the polo field. Cathy wrote about the grieving process and offered some sensible, practical advice to those who have lost a loved one.
Cathy, who specializes in writing about the arts, has a new book coming out in September, "100 Artists of the Brandywine Valley." We saw a mockup of the cover and it looks absolutely beautiful.


Had an excellent lunch at this place the other day with a friend! Really wonderful sushi. Very good service. It's in that new-ish shopping center tucked away east of the Wal-Mart.

On the bright side...

In this extreme heat, clothes on the line sure do dry quickly!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Right place

What a lot of localized storms we've had this summer!
Usually this blogger and neighbors are the first to lose power. Not this year: our neighbors in more populous areas to the north -- Exton, Uwchlan -- and their trees have gotten absolutely clobbered during the storms, while we get naught but refreshing downpours and breezes. The most recent storm the other night hit "downtown" Unionville and knocked downed some trees along Route 82 toward the Kennels, but there was no damage here. Unless you count a sodden hammock pillow.

America at Work

Spend five minutes filling up at the gas station in Chatham and you can watch a whole parade of the economy going by on busy Route 41: motor homes heading south, dump trucks on their way to the landfill in London Grove, petroleum tankers, tractor-trailers carrying fruit and produce, bottled water delivery trucks, a truck from "Angelo's Soccer Corner," fancy cars and cars that sound like they're not going to make it to Avondale....It's the whole spectrum, right in front of you.


Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Harold Brubaker has done such a great job covering the Tony Young story that I hesistate to raise just one objection in today's story: I would've liked more detail on the actual court proceedings rather than what type of suit and tie Tony wore.
According to the Inquirer, Judge Juan Sanchez will be passing sentence in October. Small world! He used to sit on the Chester County bench.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Arbor non-vitae

The sycamore on on the west side of Kennett Borough Hall (the former Smaltz House) looks moribund. Attention, Street Tree Commission! Maybe Kennett needs an Urban Forester like West Chester's Denise Kesterson.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Harp-player Gillian Grassie of Unionville is traveling through Russia this summer, teaching English with the help of folk music and, from what it sounds like, being an all-around excellent ambassador for America and Western culture. Here's her fascinating blog:
Thanks to her Mom, Babette Jenny, for the tip.

Wild party

On a recent sweltering Saturday afternoon we drove past a large party to which we weren't invited. Balloons on the mailbox, rows of cars lined up in a pasture. We Googled the Cochranville address and found that it's the home of a fellow who (a) donates a significant amount of money to U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts and (b) has a corner-office management position with a local bank.
But I suppose it could've been just a pool party and family BBQ.

Newlin emergencies

Newlin Township is creating a system to contact residents via e-mail in case of local emergencies. Send your e-mail address to Township Secretary Gail Abel at, subject line “Emergency e-mail list”.
According to the township's June newsletter, this comes in response to "the recent escape of a resident from the VisionQuest facility and subsequent break-in and police chase. The man was captured and sent to a more secure facility."
This isn't the first time that inmates have broken out of this facility, which is located at the former Embreeville State Hospital. From the May newsletter: "Vision Quest had two escapees last Saturday. They allegedly, but unsuccessfully, tried to steal a car from Embreeville Mill."
The township also plans to send out alerts about "flooding, road closures and snow emergencies."
Who wouldn't sign up for that?

Friday, July 16, 2010


We spent a few hours at Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett yesterday evening and we feel considerably more cheerful about the future of our diverse country. Grade-school kids were kicking around a soccer ball, undeterred by the heat; in the next field some uniformed guys in their 20s were doing the same at what looked like a semi-pro level. Toddlers were playing on the jungle gym. Folks we used to call hippies were languidly playing Frisbee games. Soaking-wet guys were jogging along the trail. And our family was enjoying a pizza from Floga Bistro in the pavilion.
No matter was their race or age, people smiled at each other. They put their trash in the trash can. It just -- worked.

To Let

What's going to happen to the former Acme shopping center on the west side of Kennett? The Acme and the Taqueria Moroleon moved out and remain vacant, leaving only Big Lots and a few small stores in a giant sea of asphalt. How does the proposed NVF-site development hope to attract commercial tenants if this already existing shopping center can't?
Then again, I'm not a highly paid marketing person, what do I know.

Hi Ed!

We saw Newlin resident Ed Brown of Maresfield Farm lunching at The Whip today. What a charming, urbane, friendly fellow he is! Among Ed's real-estate development projects: The Waterworks in Philadelphia.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Country rodent vs. city rodent

Your blogger is on the mailing list for a way-out New Age retreat center in Rhinebeck, NY, and was amused to receive an e-mail showing visitors sharing their lunch with groundhogs on the patio. The earnest campers -- who I can only assume are from some large metropolis -- were enthralled at this evidence of harmony between nature and humans.
Let them move to Chester County and have groundhogs destroy their lawn and landscaping. They would quickly learn the ways in which we show groundhogs love -- namely, shotguns and traps.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who knew?

Soybean oil is what the township road crew uses to keep dust down on our gravel roads.

Thanks, Obama!

This may be more considerably more than a stone's throw from the Po-Mar-Lin Fire House -- but what on earth is going on at Jackson and Fernwood Roads in Londonderry Township? Acres of trees have been removed, there's huge yellow construction equipment sitting around, and it looks like much earth moving has been going on. The rumor we hear is that the landowner, a polo player, received some government stimulus money to relocate a stream bed on his property. Quite an undertaking!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tough cookies

A jockey was in the waiting room at the Fitchett Chiropractic Center the other day, filling out the little slip where you describe your pain. She seemed unable to quantify her pain and just said, "I hurt all over." Dr. Jenna came out, took one look at her and said, "Oh my." When a jockey actually admits that he or she hurts, you know it's BAD.
As in this piece by Kathy McKenna about jockey Jody Petty:

Maybe next time

Three East Marlborough residents recently travelled to NYC to audition for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" but -- alas -- to no avail. That tells you how tough the questions were, as all three are masters of trivia. Sample questions concerned the breed of dog that Queen Elizabeth II has, and the three items that the little Muppet girl on "Sesame Street" went to the store to buy.

Ventral side up?

What happened to the plans for a health center at Newark/Line Roads? There was a sign there, and the site was cleared, and then a sort of gateway was built -- but nothing since. Rumor has it that the site was up for sheriff's sale but I never heard any follow-up.


What a nice-looking website!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Problems of the heart

Unionville resident JoAnn Slack, assistant professor of cardiology and ultrasound at New Bolton, is quoted in this recent piece about equine heart problems from "Thoroughbred Times." Way to go, Jo!


We saw Nancy Mohr of Sevynmor Farm recently and are glad to see she's recovering from last fall's stroke. The energy that woman still displays is phenomenal, at an age when she has every right to just take it easy on her patio.

Dr. Fabulian

A hot topic of discussion is the recent charges of indecent sexual assault filed against Dr. Peter Fabulian, a Kennett Square physician specializing in Lyme disease. Two female patients claim he got a little too familiar with them during exams. Lyme is a scourge around here, and some of his patients remain staunch supporters, saying he literally saved their lives. Others, though, claim this kind of misbehavior has been going on for years in his office. The diametrically opposed comments expressed in this week's "Kennett Paper" are typical.

The Trackless Trail

I hope all of the new residents to our area are aware that the Underground Railroad flourished around here in the 19th century. Mary L. Dugan of Marlboro Village, a local historian and retired Unionville English teacher, was one of the founders of the Kennett Underground Railroad Center, which runs tours to various local sites where slaves on the run from the South were given shelter by brave abolitionists. Here's the website for more information:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Green living

Wondering what's going on in Springdell?
Richard Hayne has purchased greenhouses, as befits the owner of Terrain (formerly Styer's Nursery), and is having them shipped in and installed just to the west of what used to be Tony Young's mansion.


I like the new-ish brushed-metal signs at New Bolton. They're practical, providing clear directions to visitors and delivery-people, as well as being low-key, attractive, classy, modern and impressive. I imagine that's the look they were shooting for.


RIP, "Cookie" Brown.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

So much better than on-hold music!

The website of Peter Weygandt's Unionville-based wine-importing company ( warns that the proprietors may be traveling, so a response to queries may be slow:
"The modern world sometime gets a bit crazy. Wine is, or should be, a link to a more peaceful era. Try a bottle of our wine for comfort while you wait for a reply."

Meetings set

Follow-up on that West Marlborough Township meeting:
Public hearing on the proposed Comprehensive Plan changes in the wake of the Historical Commission report will be held at 7 p.m. July 26. Vote will be taken in a special Saturday meeting (to meet the grant deadline) at 6:30 July 30; I'm assuming that's p.m. but could just as well be a.m.

Burton's and Fragale's

What a charming guy! Melissa Dribben wrote this sweet piece in The Inquirer about Frank William Salemno, an 88-year-old Chestnut Hill barber. One of the clients Ms. Dribben interviewed regrets that there are fewer and fewer "old-time" barbers like Mr. Salemno these days.
Not in Kennett, home of two of those "old-time" barbershops (and lots of well-groomed men and boys).

In the light

Retired U-CF teacher and school board member Karen Halstead has written a wonderful story on some of the many historic Quaker meetinghouses in our area -- Colora, Penns Grove, London Britain, Parkersville, Homeville and Old Kennett. She also gives precise driving directions to each so you can visit. Her story is in "The Friendly News" newsletter, which you can read at

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Girl meets horse

"The Greening of Whitney Brown" is an upcoming family movie backed by Unionville's own Ed Fitts (chairman/CEO of Dopaco [Downingtown Paper Co]). Stars Brooke Shields, Aidan Quinn and Kris Kristofferson and the young Sammi Hanratty and some beautiful Gypsy Vanner horses. Fitts and his partner, Sue Rathbone, are executive producers.
It's in post-production and should be released in 2011. Already has its own Facebook page! Can't wait!


Hugh Lofting Timber Framing has moved its shop from Willowdale to Mill Road in Kennett Square (south of the bypass and Line Road, not the unpaved part of Mill Road). They do amazing work. Website has a cool video.


We ran into Sharon Parker (not literally) at an event recently and were, as always, so impressed with her seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm. Here's a school district superintendent who wears so many hats, juggles so many balls, deals with such unfair criticism -- and is still out there kneeling down to talk to an elementary-school kid. She's a great ambassador for our school district.
And look at this website! A wealth of information.
We were involved in an interesting discussion the other day about whether the district should drastically cut its sports programs. The proponent argued that the cost savings could be amazing, and given the plethora of youth programs run by the Y, the URA and such (and the huge crowds they attract), kids would certainly not lack options for exercise, competition, team-building skills, etc.

Shell of its former self

Take a drive past the late Mrs. Bird's place on Route 842. The new owners, Russell and Donnan Jones, have stripped it down to an absolute shell, just the brick walls (but oh, what memories those walls hold). It'll be interesting to see what miracles Archer & Buchanan will perform in the coming months!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Bolton

Great story from "The Hunt" magazine about the new James M. Moran, Jr. Critical Care Center at New Bolton. Lots of photos of local people.

HOT meeting

We hear that tonight's West Marlborough township meeting is going to be HOT in more ways than one. There's going to be further discussion of the proposed historical preservation changes to the zoning ordinance; this has proven to be a divisive issue that inexplicably has gotten absolutely no press. I mean, how often do you have members of an historical commission admitting, at a public meeting, that they are embarrassed to be associated with the committee? Yet that's just what Helen Martin and Nancy Truitt did last time.
They, and some citizens, believe the changes will diminish homeowners' property rights. But other members of the group, including architect Richard Buchanan, and at least two of the three township supervisors say the changes will strengthen the township defenses against developers and reduce PennDOT's ability to widen country roads. Mark Myers (retired Xerox executive, head of Chesco Historical Society board) is chairing the embattled group.
There are reasonable people on both sides of this one.
Also at the meeting there will probably be more on The Whip's ongoing, and ongoing, and ongoing parking problems. And possibly more on a mushroom grower's fascinating solar power proposal.
Bring a palm-leaf fan in case you or the person next to you swoons in the heat. 7 p.m.

Monday, July 5, 2010


This is quite an impressive gift! Unionville resident Lockwood Rush donated an important portrait of his colonial ancestor Benjamin Rush to Dickinson College, which Dr. Rush founded.
For more on Locke Rush, who is a fascinating man of many talents:

Welcome Jesse!

Congratulations to Unionville High School alumna (and Wall of Fame honoree) Chris Barber, who is celebrating the birth of her second grandson.

Just amazing

Is Runnymede the most beautifully kept farm in the county, or what? Everytime I drive by (this past week, during haying), I'm just astonished. Well done to the Youngs, all the hard-working employees and of course the visionary Mrs. W!

Not a traffic circle

I confess: I was a naysayer at first, but I really enjoy the roundabout.
And now, if Pocopson and PennDOT can get the design details worked out, one is going to be built on Route 52 near the prison and county home. Yay! Another reason to look forward to going to Simon Pearce for lunch.

Grandes Dames

There's a story on the new Communidad Hispana building in Kennett at Betty Moran and Alice Moorhead chaired the campaign committee.
This reminds me of a conversation I had about all of the Unionville Grandes Dames who have left us recently: Mrs. Ledyard, Mrs. Hannum, Mrs. Bird, Mrs. Lofting...

Sir John

Linda Dougherty has a nice piece on the history of the Thouron estate, now owned and being renovated by Richard Hayne, in her "Pennsylvania Thoroughbred" blog:

Unionville Fair

Dates for this year's Fair (the 86th!) are Oct. 1, 2 and 3. Mark your calendar.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Receivership activities

We beg to differ with the letter-writer in last month's "Horse of Delaware Valley" who said he was sick to death of hearing about Tony Young. And we suspect that most locals disagree with him, too: there's no better way to get a conversation started than "So what do you hear, is Richard Hayne going to tear the place down, or what?"
So for those of you who are interested, here's a lengthy report from the Court-Appointed Receiver about how the wheels of justice have been turning:


Though M. Night's new movie "The Last Airbender" is getting thoroughly panned, we'll all go see it just because it was filmed around here. Just like we went to see "The Village" and "The Happening," both of which were wretched.
Still, it was kind of exciting last summer seeing all the film equipment and vans and lights parked in the staging area at Unionville Elementary.

Dr. Ost

Dr. Mary-Anne Ost has opened a second office, 200 Old Forge Lane in Kennett Square (off Route 1, just east of Bayard Road), in addition to her Jennersville Hospital office. 610-388-8500. Dr. Ost is a terrific and kind doctor and an all-around good human being, as well as being a competitive side-saddle rider!

Remember her?

Wow. Here's an item about the late Diana Reeve (sculptor Clayton Bright's aunt) from the society page of a 1945 newspaper.,5457334
Trainer/jockey/spiritual seeker Chip Miller reminisces about Miss Reeve in his blog, Snufleupagus:

Keepin' it real

The Daily Local News has a story on municipal buildings, contrasting West Marlborough's utilitarian garage/meeting hall/office/polling place in Doe Run with the likes of West Whiteland's grandiose structure in Exton (ick). The reporter interviewed longtime West Marlborough supervisor Hugh Lofting and shot this video.


Looks like Houyhnhnm Farm (Nina Burnaford and Jeff Seder) along Route 82 had some trees ripped in half with prejudice during the extremely localized June 24 thunderstorm.

A pittance!

Lydia Willits Bartholomew of Plumstead Farm is having a spot of bother with the Feds. Seems her National Bank of Malvern broke a few rules regarding loans, and seven of the directors were fined $5,000 each. Her response? "I believe that the insignificant dollar amount of the civil money penalty speaks for itself."
Here's the link:

Walnut Green

Realtor Brett Jones has Walnut Green, his family's farm, up for sale for $3.75 million. The senior Jones, Russell, and his wife Donnan have moved to Betty Bird's former farm just a few miles to the east.
Here's the listing:

Catherine's open for breakfast and lunch!

See hours and menus at
Parking is in the back.

It's a Small World

The interesting Tony Young/Whip connection was in The Philadelphia Inquirer's business page on Saturday, June 26. Here's the link:
Mentioned in this story are Whip investors Michael and Billie Bailkin, who live on Route 842 (Upland Rd) just west of U-ville. Here is a story about their home, Fox Hill Farm, from the guy who designed it, architect Richard Buchanan of Mercer Hill Farm. More than coincidentally, there's a piece early on in the book about Tony's house, too ("Springdell Residence").
The Chester County Press' gadfly columnist "Uncle Irv" (Irv Lieberman) has a story about Tony in the June 30 edition in which he refers to The Whip as "a West Marlborough horsey set watering hole." Here's the link:

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