Sunday, November 30, 2014

LIVE MUSIC: Celtic harp and Christmas music concerts

Two concerts are coming up in Unionville this Saturday evening, Dec. 6.
(1) Unionville native Gillian Grassie will be playing the Celtic harp at London Grove Friends Meeting. A potluck supper will be at 5:30 p.m. and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free; the concert is the final event in London Grove's year-long 300th anniversary celebration.
(2) The Brandywine Valley Chorale will be performing its holiday concert at 7:30 p.m. St. Michael Lutheran Church. "Accompanied by orchestra and organ, the choir’s centerpiece is the Bach “Magnificat”, a musical setting of the biblical canticle taken from the book of Luke. In addition, the chorale is premiering a new work, “Shepherd’s Song At Christmas.” Local artist David Bennett Thomas has taken the words of Langston Hughes’ writing and set them to an original score."  Tickets (adults, $15; students, $10) are available online at or at the door.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

RIP: Goodbye to Mrs. Swett, an Upland teacher

Carolyn Swett of Unionville, a longtime third- and fourth-grade teacher at Upland Country Day School, died on Nov. 20 at the age of 77. Her former students have been sharing fond memories of her and recalling her as a sweet person and a memorable teacher. I met Mrs. Swett only a few times but was always struck by her kindness and her smile. My condolences to her husband, Tom, and her family.
Her memorial service is at 11 a.m. Dec. 6, with visitation at 10:30 a.m., at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 122 E. Pine St., Georgetown, DE. 19947.

CLEANING: A product that lives up to its billing

This is going to sound like an infomercial, and for that I apologize, but my mother has discovered a truly great product. It's a microfiber cleaning cloth, and all you have to do is wet it, wring it out and then go to town on any kind of grime you have around the house, from kitchen grease to bathroom scum to windows, walls, and floors.
I don't like housecleaning, to put it mildly, but I am singing the praises of this product because:
(A) It really works. I have used it to clean stink bug stains on walls, stainless steel fixtures, my computer monitor and keyboard, the stovetop, storm windows and the (formerly) cruddy inside of my driver's-side car door (I often open the door by pushing on it with my foot).
(B) You don't need to use any smelly, itch-inducing chemicals, just plain water.
(C) You can throw it in the washer and reuse it.
The company that sells this cloth is called Streakfree Products in Baltimore. The U.S.-made cloths are six dollars each, and you can order online or by calling 1-877-373-3050.

PARADE: Light-hearted at Kennett's Christmas Parade

The Kennett Christmas parade (officially the "Holiday Light Parade") on Friday evening was a hoot. We loved seeing the fire trucks, tractors, balers, hay wagons, a propane truck, and work trucks festively decked out with lights, wreaths, inflatable snowmen and such as they drove east on State Street toward the middle of town. The contingent of giant pieces of equipment from the Hickses' Meadow Springs Farm was especially impressive. A lot of the drivers brought along their little kids, who beamed with delight as they waved at the crowd.
The lighted mushroom made a special appearance on a cart before its New Year's Eve drop, and to end the parade Lou Mandich chauffeured Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus into town in an antique car. We were amused to see a second Santa walking along the sidewalk escorted by two elves in green outfits, who were telling all and sundry about how difficult it was to keep Santa on schedule during the holiday season.
There was also a costumed contingent from KATS, the theatrical troupe that puts on the annual pantomime. (This year's show, “Comedy of Errors & Pirates,” will be January 23 and 24, 2015, at the Kennett High School auditorium.)
I've said it before: Kennett does parades really well.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

COFFEE: That is one expensive credit card

Is there something here I'm not understanding?
It seems that the coffeeshop chain Starbucks is selling, for $200, a "limited edition" "sterling silver" card preloaded with $50 in credit. "Just a few left!" reads the ad. "Head to a store and get it before it's gone!"
So let me get this straight: They actually expect consumers to pay $150 for the questionable privilege of possessing a coffee credit card in their wallet?
I have to say, I am really souring on Starbucks. First they remove the comfy chairs from their Longwood store. Then they send me mournful emails lamenting the fact that I have lost my "gold status" (a direct result of the lack of comfy chairs). And now they fill up my inbox with gimmicky come-ons like this!
Wawa, Foxy Loxy, and Philter, here I come.

FOXHUNTERS: A big crowd for the Thanksgiving Hunt

This morning was the Thanksgiving Hunt Meet at the Kennels in Unionville, and dozens of carloads of folks braved the cold to enjoy the traditional pageantry of the horses and hounds.
For us spectators, it was glorious to see the snow-covered fields and to feel the warm sun. For the riders, it wasn't such a great day; Master of Foxhounds Mike Ledyard, in his welcoming speech, used the word "challenging" to describe the footing. It was fun to watch Ivan Dowling and Stephanie Boyer leading the eager hounds out from their kennels to start the day's sport.
I had a great time seeing friends and neighbors from so many circles. I'll single out two for their headgear: spectator Ron Fenstemacher in a turkey hat and foxhunter Richard Buchanan in a traditional black top hat (he changed into a helmet for the hunt).
There was also some serious tailgating going on. As I was walking through the rows of cars, I was offered Dunkin Donuts coffee, a Bloody Mary with celery sticks, Champagne (in glass flutes!), mulled cider and hot chocolate laced with vodka.
Most of the spectators were well wrapped up, although I did see one hardy kid in shorts throwing snowballs. And apparently not everyone expected they'd be walking through snow: I had to laugh when I heard one shivering young woman protest, "This is like the tundra!"

KIDS AND DOGS: An encounter with a helpful little boy

A Kennett Square Facebook friend reports that she and a friend were shopping for fleece material at the fabric store the other day.
"I told the lady I was with, here is another shade of brown.Here comes this little curly-haired tyke about 4 or 5 years old, grabbed that bolt of material, wrestled it off the shelf and clumsily handed it to me. He was so proud of what he did.
"I told him that material was perfect and it was going to be used to make my doggie a blanket for Christmas.
"I also told his mother how proud she should be of her son. I hope he never changes.
So many children are not taught to help or to even respect the elderly. I wish I would have gotten his name. I just wanted to share something good for a change."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

JENNERSVILLE: Traffic improvements at Route 796

Curious motorists like me are wondering what the final configuration will be of the Route 796 exit off the Route 1 bypass. A new medical center, Penn Medicine Southern Chester County, is being constructed at the intersection, and as part of the approval the developer was required to make road improvements. The exit ramp off Route 1, the entire length of which backs up during the evening rush hour, has been widened and is now divided into two lanes, one marked for right turns only. And given the orange construction barrels on the site, it looks as if the short stretch of Route 796 between the bypass and Woodview Road is going to be widened, and a concrete base was installed that could hold a traffic signal.
More will doubtless be revealed. The medical center is slated to open in the summer of 2015.
Farther down the Route 1 bypass, residents are objecting to a giant digital billboard proposed to be built near the Route 10 exit in Lower Oxford Township. There's already an online petition asking the township supervisors not to rewrite the township's zoning ordinance to permit the installation of this sign, which would be even bigger than the one on Route 202 (Concord Pike) south of Route 1.

CAROLS: A merry noise at local Quaker meetinghouses

Three local Quaker meetings are hosting community carol sings: Bradford Meeting at 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 21; Marlborough Meeting at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21; and New West Grove Meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 22.
Bradford Meeting is on Strasburg Road in Marshallton; Marlborough Meeting is at the intersection of Marlboro and Marlboro Springs Road in East Marlborough Township; and New West Grove Meeting is at 609 West State Road in West Grove (this is NOT the main meetinghouse in the town of West Grove).

Saturday, November 22, 2014

ESCAPE: Paying to be "Trapped in a Room with a Zombie"

I am always the last to hear about trends, so perhaps "Trapped in a Room With a Zombie" will not be news to you. A Unionville mother and her daughter were telling me about it at breakfast on Friday, and as best I can figure out it's a sort of audience-participation murder-mystery event for the video-game crowd.
After you buy your ticket, you and a group of strangers are escorted into a room where an actor dressed as a zombie is chained to a wall (now there's a resume builder).
You have an hour to escape, and to do so you must solve cascading puzzles and riddles that allow you to unlock padlocks, open safes, locate keys and such.
I asked for an example and my friend recalled that there was a piece of cloth with holes in it that, held over a sheet of numbers, highlighted the ones that formed a lock's combination. In another case, a rebus showed a web plus a hand stirring something -- which meant the next clue could be found in the Webster's Dictionary!
(Thankfully, there are staffers on hand to offer assistance for the less clever.)
Meanwhile, every five minutes the zombie's chains grow by a link, allowing him to get closer to the participants' brains and doubtless increasing their motivation to escape.
My friends did this in California, and obviously they managed to escape, but they say there's also one of these events in Philadelphia. What a fun birthday party it would be for the right person!

LUNCH: Chicken salad sandwiches at the "Quaker Fare"

We just had a tasty meal at the Kennett Friends Meeting's "Quaker Fare" luncheon. Their chicken salad is always the best, and the cranberry salad, mushroom soup, and apple crisp were excellent too. They seemed to have a good turnout--we recognized several Quakers from Kennett and London Grove, including Pat Horrocks, Jessie Cocks, Betsy Walker and Jean Tennant-- and as we walked in we were greeted by our pal Lars Farmer, who did a great job of publicizing the event.

GRATITUDE: A shout-out to my wonderful readers

With the approach of Thanksgiving, I want to express my gratitude to my readers and to my family, friends, neighbors, gym mates, Facebook friends, and total strangers who contribute "Tilda items" to this column, willingly or not. I try really hard to feature in "Unionville in the News" as many different circles of our community as I can, and I absolutely couldn't do it without your help.
I also greatly appreciate all your nice comments about the column over the years (I started writing it in 2007). As you can probably tell, I have a lot of fun with it.

LOCKDOWN: Bomb threats disrupt the day at school

I overheard some local schoolgirls talking the other day about the bomb threats at their school (they didn't say which). The threats seem to have become frequent, so much so that the girls seemed completely unfazed about the situation. Their main concern seemed to how the lockdowns and searches wreak havoc with their classes and their lunch.
I suppose it's the equivalent of the "duck-and-cover" atomic bomb drills they had in schools during the Cold War, but there was nothing like that in my generation.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

THE LOOK: And yet I can't help wondering, what does she look like?

In recent days two women, on meeting me and learning that I write this column, have said that I didn't look the way they thought I would.
One said she thought I would be heavier, given the number of times I write about going out for meals and taking advantage of the food at parties and fundraisers. She's quite right, of course, but I also reminded her how often I write about my exercise classes!
Another woman told me she thought I'd be tall and blonde. I didn't get a chance to ask her what about my column made her think that, although no doubt there are a lot of tall, blonde (and skinny) women in Unionville.
For those of you who don't know me, I am not tall; in fact, the Young Relative points out regularly that he is now taller than I am even without his shoes on, and doubtless he will soon be towering over me.
As for the blonde part: those streaks in my hairdo were definitely not put there by nature.

SPORTS: Pickleball is a hit at the Kennett Y

What is pickleball?
It's a game along the lines of tennis, played with oversized Ping Pong paddles. Three doubles matches were being played in the gymnasium at the Kennett YMCA the other day while I was walking around the track, and it looks like a great deal of fun. I spotted my gym friend Rita and her husband Felix welcoming players of all skill levels to the game.
I noticed that the game has an unusual scoring system, not the love-15-30-40 of tennis but a three-digit score, 9-1-2 for instance. I looked it up when I got home and found that the third digit denotes whether the server is the first or second server for his or her side.
The gymnasium is reserved for pickleball on Tuesdays and Thursdays at mid-day; check the schedule.

FIRE: Historic home gutted, tenants displaced

What a shame about the 1884 Chalfant House! The mansion, at 220 North Union Street in Kennett Square, went up in flames on Wednesday afternoon. Known for its imposing "upside-down chimneys," the house was designed by noted Philadelphia architect Frank Furness and built for Kennett businessman William Chalfant.
Fortunately no one was seriously hurt in the fire, and the four tenants (the house was divided into apartments) and their pets all escaped. A GoFundMe website (220 N .Union Street Fire Relief Fund) has been set up to help the victims, who lost all of their belongings. (I've contributed and I hope you will, too.)
Multiple local fire companies, including Longwood, Kennett, Po-Mar-Lin, Avondale, Oxford and Hockessin, were on the scene; in addition to the flames and smoke, these hardy firefighters had to cope with the strong winds and sub-freezing temperatures.
Two news helicopters were flying overhead, and people who live near the scene (including Kennett Square mayor Matt Fetick) posted their dramatic photos on social media.
As soon as I heard about the fire I turned to my copy of "Greetings from Kennett Square" by local historians Joe Lordi and Dolores Rowe. They describe the Queen Anne-style house as "magnificent" and say that the top-heavy chimneys "are thought to resemble early locomotive smoke stacks."
The house was an important work by Furness, who also designed the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts on North Broad Street in Philadelphia, the old library at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wilmington train station.
I'm told that the house once was a funeral home, and there was still a crematorium in the basement. The house was on many summer walking tours of the borough and was slated to be on this year's candlelight tour as well.

PENNOCKS: Quakerism and the Pennocks in Chester County

West Marlborough resident Mark Myers gave a fascinating talk at Primitive Hall on Wednesday night about the Pennocks (Joseph Pennock built the Hall in 1738) and Quaker life in eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century Pennsylvania. Mark lives in a house built by one of the Pennocks, serves on the Hall's board of trustees and has done a great deal of research on the family.
He started his talk-- held in the candlelit grand center hall--on an amusing note by asking for a show of hands: How many audience members were Pennock descendents? Several people raised their hands.
"OK," he said. "That helps me decide what I'm NOT going to talk about."
Mark discussed the basics of Quakerism like temperance and pacifism and how they shaped the lives of the Pennocks and other colonists: one Pennock was "eldered" for getting drunk at Darby Meeting, and others relinquished their roles in government rather than vote for military action.
Mark talked about Quakers during the Battle of the Brandywine (basically, neither the Americans nor the British trusted them), the Hicksite/Orthodox schism, and the differing Quaker perspectives on slavery. He also showed slides of suburban Philadelphia buildings that Joseph Pennock would have known, including the Chester courthouse, and photos of a half-dozen more recent Pennock descendants, including baseball great Herb Pennock.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

KENNETT: Lunch and an art sale at two N. Union St. churches

Artist Patsy Keller alerted me to an "Artisan Fair" that the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Kennett Square will be holding from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 22. In addition to Patsy's fused glass (both art glass & jewelry), there will be works by a dozen other artists, including Hattie Weselyk's silver jewelry, Carol Apicella's mosaic mirrors, and Ray Parisi's photographs. Part of the proceeds will support the church’s outreach programs.
Also on Saturday, Nov. 22, and just a block away, is Kennett Friends Meeting's "Quaker Fare" luncheon to benefit the American Friends Service Committee. For $10 ($5 for kids) you get a chicken salad sandwich, mushroom soup, cranberry salad and other goodies. It runs from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

RESALE: Goodwill store is opening on November 28 next to Lowe's

A new Goodwill resale store and donation center is opening at 7 a.m. Nov. 28 next to the Lowe's home-improvement store in Avondale. The sign is already up, and the store is already full of clothes hung on racks, arranged by color. Some of my budget-minded friends are excited to have a Goodwill store so close. As for me, I'm more likely to drop off stuff I don't wear anymore -- which makes me happy, too.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

AUTOMATIC: A machine that splits logs for you

Just in time for wood-stove season, a video has been going around on social media showing an amazing, high-powered machine that splits logs for you. All you do is feed the log in and it comes out split as neatly as a cut-into-eighths apple.
After watching this machine in action, a friend of mine (and a new wood-stove owner) informed his wife that to get his hands on one of these, he would sell both her and the dogs.
But another friend was less impressed: "Let me know when they market one that actually stacks the wood!"

Friday, November 14, 2014

COURTS: Why top-notch defense lawyers earn the big bucks

A friend was called to jury duty in West Chester this week and was seated on a criminal case involving a man accused of writing a large number, a very large number indeed, of prescriptions for narcotic painkillers. My friend takes his civic duty seriously and was determined to be impartial, so he listened carefully to the opening arguments.
After the prosecutor spoke, my friend was convinced the guy was guilty.
Then the defense attorney got up, and he spoke without notes, conjuring up folksy imagery about his grandmother's pancakes and painting his client as a warm-hearted soul who just had his clients' best interests at heart. Sure, he conducts business a little differently -- the cash payments, the lack of an office staff -- but look how loyal his patients are! (The pancakes, it seems, were a metaphor for the fact that there are two sides to every story. You probably shouldn't analyze that one too closely.)
Then the first witness was called. He made reference to a previous arrest of the defendant, and the proceedings came screeching to a halt as the judge declared a mistrial.
My friend came home and promptly started doing research on the Internet. He rarely curses, but he let a few choice words fly when he came across the dozens of articles about this guy's years-long involvement with the law and realized how he had almost been swayed by the defense lawyer's smooth talk. He even recognized a photo of a man who had been sitting at the prosecutor's table -- a federal DEA agent.
A reporter friend of mine who wrote many of the stories about this guy said one of the highlights was when she discovered a defamation suit he filed against some of his med-school professors who dared to suggest that perhaps medicine wasn't the best career choice for him. (He lost the lawsuit.)

CENSORSHIP: Let's give 'em something to talk about

Hey, it was time for a new controversy.
The gossip-filled election season is over.
Owners of horse farms in Newlin are, however grudgingly, applying for and receiving special exceptions to comply with the highly unpopular new ordinance.
And then along comes "Nineteen Minutes." In short, one parent wanted the best-selling book by Jodi Picoult to be banned from the Kennett High School library because she felt it was inappropriate. The book is about a school shooting and bullying and contains some graphic language and violence.
The school board rejected her request by a 7-1 vote, the lone dissenter being the minister of a Kennett fundamentalist church.
There was an absolutely spot-on editorial in last week's Kennett Paper, hoping that a censorship issue like this never again raises its ugly head. The editorial writer quoted school board member Rudy Alfonso, a Navy veteran: "Banning this book, to me, would almost be like turning my back on all those hundred of thousands of American veterans, men and women, who died to allow us to keep those freedoms and not to have censorship. I see this attempt to ban this book as if we live in Nazi Germany."
There's a world of difference between finding something troubling and wanting to ban it. Speaking of Nazi Germany, I find books and websites by Holocaust deniers disturbing. I find violent, misogynistic song lyrics disturbing (and all too common). I find our culture's worship of celebrities disturbing.
But banning them? Not only is it impractical in today's world, where kids are two jumps ahead of us technology-wise, but surely it would be better to use these troubling books as valuable teaching moments.
For instance, instead of banning Holocaust deniers, let's make sure kids study the Holocaust. Have them read first-person accounts by the prisoners and the solders who liberated them. Then they'll have a frame of reference to debunk the hateful deniers.
Yes, I swallowed hard when I saw The Young Relative reading "Of Mice and Men" in the sixth grade. Part of me wanted him to stay in that sunny world of suburban childhood innocence, with Legos and "Star Wars" and "Plants vs. Zombies."
But he's a young man now. And I well remember the empowering sense of pride I felt when, at his age, I was trusted enough and considered mature enough to read what in those days passed for edgy books: "Catcher in the Rye," "The Godfather," "The Magus," "Manchild in the Promised Land."
And all of them were right there in our school library.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SIGNS: Drawing your attention to a village and a war hero

I've noticed three new signs in the past few weeks.
The first two I don't even need to tell you about because I know you've seen them (unless you are a certain pair of snowbirds who are basking in a warmer climate): the handsome "Historic Unionville Village" signs on Route 82 on either edge of town.. As one wag (OK, me) quipped, "Like you really need a sign to tell you you're in Unionville?" The East Lynn Grange was the organization that installed the signs.
The second is a blue-and-yellow historic marker that we spotted on the way back from our adventure at the Oxford Wal-Mart on Saturday. The marker is on the north side of Route 926, east of Route 10, and it commemorates Villa Nova, a one-room schoolhouse that operated in Upper Oxford from 1866 to 1954. Vietnam War hero Robert A. Davis, son of Viola "Polly" S. Brown-Davis, was a pupil there; he died in combat in 1966 while shielding his comrades. The sign was just recently dedicated by his family.

WARM MILK: In search of used horse blankets

Our friends at Bailey's Dairy of Pocopson Meadow Farm have put out the following request:
"Attention Equine friends: We are looking for used horse blankets for this winter. While most cows are extremely hardy and can handle the freezing cold temps, we have a few older girls that deserve to be spoiled. The blankets do not need to be clean or in great shape [or waterproof]. You can drop them off at the farm store. Thanks!"
Baily's is at 1821 Lenape Unionville Road. And it is well worth a visit even if you don't have a blanket to donate.

THE SEASON: Like you have nothing else to do in December

Three things to put on your December calendar:
1. The Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, December 6, at the Martin's Tavern park in downtown Marshallton. It is sponsored by Friends of Martin's Tavern. a group dedicated to preserving the town's historical structures.
2. On Saturday, December 6, Unionville native Gillian Grassie will perform on her Celtic harp at London Grove Friends Monthly Meeting. A potluck supper at 5:30 (all are welcome, just bring a dish to share) will precede the concert, which starts at 7:30. This is the final event in London Grove's year-long 300th-birthday celebration.
3. Elliot Engel will speak at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 14, at Kennett Friends Meeting. His topic: "How the publication  of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in 1843 changed forever the way we celebrate Christmas. Using biography, anecdotes, analysis, and LARGE doses of humor, Professor Engel brings back to life both the wild popularity of this most famous Christmas story and the marketing genius of its remarkable author. The profits of his book-signing sales will go to a children’s hospital founded by Charles Dickens himself in 1852." The free program is sponsored by the Hadley Fund, which has brought this entertaining lecturer to town several times. He has such a following, in fact, that one of my readers wants the event moved to a larger venue!

SPECIAL OLYMPICS: Kennett youth wins Valor Award

Congratulations and a high-five to James Sarno of Kennett Square, who won the Valor Award at the recent Pennsylvania Special Olympics Fall Festival in Villanova. His plaque reads: "Award of Valor: Strength, Spirit, Sportsmanship."
His justifiably proud mother, Regina, posted dozens of photos of James participating in the tournament with his WCU Rammies team and winning his award.  "Hope Facebook does not explode with Special Olympic photos," she wrote wryly (but with joy in her heart) on her page.

Monday, November 10, 2014

BACON: Choice is always a good thing

Clearly I am traveling in the wrong circles. A friend attended a fund-raising buffet breakfast in Kennett this weekend and was impressed that he could select from TWO kinds of bacon: one chewy and one crunchy.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: Some tough young athletes

I was picking up pizza the other night and noticed the pleasant young woman at the counter had her wrist taped up. I asked her what happened, and she said another player had crashed into her as she was going up for a layup in a basketball game that morning. She had fallen and hit both her head and her wrist. And then her coach, fearing she might have a concussion, wouldn't let her take her free throws! (Another player did, and made one of them.)
I had to admire this latest example of the resilience of youth. There she was, not only hard at work but telling the story with a smile!
Speaking of high-school sports: I want to offer a belated "Hail Unionville" to the UHS girls field hockey team for winning the district championship. They beat Central Bucks South 3-1 to take the title, with goals by Logan Perkins, Erin Matson and Annie McDonough. Well done!

ELECTION NIGHT: Interesting results in the local townships

Once you're a reporter, following election results gets into your blood. In the old days we'd stay up until the last returns came in from the county or the specially extended deadline arrived (whichever came first).
It's much easier these days: starting at 10 p.m. I was glued to my tablet, checking the county's excellent election returns website to see which precincts had submitted their results and how the county-wide totals were looking.
As it turned out, the voters in East Marlborough's South and West precincts picked all the winners: Democrat Tom Wolf, Republican Joe Pitts and Republican Chris Ross.
Here are the local township results:
East Marlborough South (Missionary Baptist Church on Bayard Road): Wolf beat Tom Corbett 52% to 47%; Pitts 54%, Ross 61%. Turnout was 46%.
East Marlborough West (the township building): Wolf 51%, Pitts 56%, Ross 60%. Turnout was 49%.
East Marlborough East (Patton Middle School): Corbett 54%, Pitts 60%, Ross 64%. Turnout was 55%.
West Marlborough: Voters here in my township split their tickets, going for Ross and Wolf. Republican Pitts and Democrat Houghton tied at 139 votes each. Turnout was 47%.
Newlin: Voters went straight Republican, backing Tom Corbett, Pat Meehan, and Chris Ross. Turnout was 60% (good on ye, Newlin!).
Pocopson Corbett beat Wolf by only six votes; Republicans Meehan and Stephen Barrar won. Turnout was 46%.   
In the always left-leaning Pennsbury North 1 precinct (Crosslands): 68% of the voters cast a straight-party Democrat vote. Wolf, 62%, Houghton, 68%, Whitney Hoffman beat Barrar with 68% of the votes. Turnout was a commendable 70%.
In contrast, in the Pennsbury North 2 precinct (Chadds Ford Elementary), 69% of voters cast a straight-party Republican vote. Corbett, 56%, Meehan, 68%, Barrar, 65%.Turnhout was 50%.
Pennsbury South 1 (the township building): Corbett 53%, Meehan 60%, Barrar, 57%. Turnout was 49%.
Pennsbury South 2 (Hillendale Elementary): Corbett 54%, Meehan 65%, Barrar 59%. Turnout was 52%.
In New Garden Township, the Bayard Taylor Library's referendum seeking dedicated library funding was once again defeated, 55% to 45%. My theory is that it's not so much a vote against the library, it's just that so many New Garden residents work and shop in Delaware, they are simply less focused on Kennett Square.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NEW BOLTON: An indoor arena for evaluating horses

On Nov. 4 New Bolton Center showed off its Ilona English Equine Performance Evaluation Facility as part of a lecture on equine sports medicine.
The 80-by-120-foot indoor arena, built by King Construction, is spectacular. Large windows line its two long sides, allowing tons of natural light in.
Top-level event rider Ryan Wood, on Powell, walked, trotted and cantered around the ring and went over a few jumps to demonstrate how quiet the MC Ecotrack footing is (it's a blend of wax-coated sand, fibers and rubber).
Ilona English, breeder and owner of Summit Sporthorses and Sportponies in Ringoes, NJ, was the major donor for the facility. She was on hand for the talk (in fact, she owns Powell) and said a few words about how important it was to have an evaluation facility like this where vets can put a horse through its paces no matter what the weather. According to New Bolton's website: "This world-class indoor arena provides the perfect environment for clinicians to conduct in-depth evaluations of horses for medical and performance issues, most commonly lameness."
The lecture was given by Elizabeth Davidson, an associate professor of sports medicine, and Liz Arbittier, staff veterinarian in the section of equine field service. It's always interesting to hear these articulate experts speak and to see their videos and images, especially when they present case studies and explain what steps they took to diagnose and treat their patient.

TEXTING: Before there was texting there were telegrams

I love texting. It's a concise and efficient means of communication. No, of course it doesn't replace conversation and actual face-to-face time spent together, but for "Running 5 mins late" or "Can you pick up pizza" or "Radio 2 is playing 1979 greatest hits," nothing compares.
Of course, there is nothing new under the sun. Emily Post's etiquette book, circa 1937, noted that, for identical reasons, telegrams were quickly replacing written or phoned invitations:
"Telephoning a message and fifty names to the telegraph office takes at most five minutes, whereas calling each of the fifty numbers (including busy signals and messages left for those not at home, and enforced conversation with those who talk for half an hour) would take anywhere from twice to ten times as long."

PEACH BOTTOM: An auction of troughs and millstones

I saw an ad for a Lancaster County auction of an "eclectic collection" of sandstone water troughs and millstones and immediately put in on my schedule.
Do I need a water trough or a millstone?
I do not.
Do I have room for a water trough or a millstone?
Not at all, but it looked fascinating anyway.
So I drove west to the town of Peach Bottom in Fulton Township, passing lots of Amish farms and some great roadside-market signs: "Free Turnips," "Eyeglass Frames and Garlic" and "Guinea Pigs and BBQ Pork Roasts."
The merchandise at the preview didn't disappoint. Garden designers were eyeing the picturesque old water troughs, the antique cast iron and stone urns, the garden statuary, and the lengths of decorative cast iron fencing. One guy was striding along the display of millstones, pausing for a split second to measure the diameter of each and then barking the dimensions into his cellphone. There were big slabs of stone that had been used as steps and curbing in nearby Port Deposit, Maryland.
I checked out the prices the day after the auction and one of the big-ticket items was an ornate urn with three herons at its base that, according to the label, might have come from a DuPont estate. It sold for $3,800.
My question was this: How were the people going to get their purchases home? These were not pieces you could pick up, wrap in an army blanket and put in your trunk. There must have been an army of forklifts springing into action after the final gavel banged down.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Updated zoning ordinance on the way

The West Marlborough supervisors had a quick meeting on Nov. 3.
With the concurrence of the township's planning commission, the board asked township engineer Harry Roth to update its zoning ordinance with new language about riparian buffers, forestry uses, and broadband telecommunications to comply with state guidelines. The township will hold off on updating its floodplain regulations, however.
Zoning officer Al Giannantonio said he approved a permit for a pole barn in the 700 block of Spencer Road and a permit for a two-car garage that Ron Towber wants to build in Springdell.
There was no police report from Officer Robert Clarke and no report from building inspector Eddie Caudill, who had been in the hospital.
Supervisor Hugh Lofting reported that the township road crew has been working on getting the township's new truck ready for winter. The township bought the 2006 truck from West Goshen Township and is going to sell its 1993 dump truck.
A resident who lives along Route 926 thanked the supervisors for prodding the bank that owns a foreclosed Sportsman's Lane house to clean up the property. She said reported at previous meetings that the weeds and vines were trespassing onto her property.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Jake Chalfin becomes a supervisor

Congratulations to Jake Chalfin, the newest member of the West Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors.
Jake will fill out the term of Josh Taylor, who resigned because his new job in Lexington, Kentucky, will keep him out of town much of the time. He will join supervisors Bill Wylie and Hugh Lofting.
Jake, who lives in Springdell, was promoted from the township's planning commission and, in fact, had just chaired his first planning commission meeting on Nov. 3 before the supervisors announced his new position. Jeb took over as chairman when Jeb Hannum moved to Virginia this summer.

Monday, November 3, 2014

UNIONVILLE: A windy day at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup

How windy was it at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup on Sunday afternoon?
Well, suffice it to say that a set of porta-potties blew over (fortunately with no one inside). Some fellows from Hickman Sanitation showed up, and they were quickly uprighted.
Hearing the wind howling around that morning at home, I thought we'd freeze and it would be a short day. Just the opposite: The bright sun kept us warm and we had a great time socializing with lots of friends and neighbors.
For the big Hunt Cup race itself we witnessed an amazing finish: we were standing right at the final jump and all six competitors crossed it simultaneously, then dashed to the finish line. Arcadia Stables' Delta Park, trained by Jack Fisher with Sean McDermott up, was the winner. (He placed second in the 2013 race.)
The only blot on the day was in the first race, when a horse collapsed while going over a fence and died instantly, I found out later of a heart aneurysm. It was tough to watch: his jockey got up immediately and raced back to him, but there was nothing anyone could do.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

PANCAKES: A good breakfast with the Masons

You've seen the signs and banners. You've said to yourself, "I've got to go to that one of these days."
Next time the pancake breakfast cooked by the Brothers of Kennett Masonic Lodge 475 rolls around, definitely listen to that voice.
The pancakes were really excellent. My breakfast-mate and I devoured four each, plus sausage, coffee and orange juice. It was well worth going out in the cold and rain, and the hearty meal gave us a good full stomach, fortified for the day's errands.