Monday, August 31, 2015

COATESVILLE: Accordion and fiddle at an Irish music concert

Traditional Irish musicians Paddy O'Brien and Nathan Gourley.

We were lucky enough to see accordion player Paddy O'Brien and his protégé, fiddler Nathan Gourley, perform at the Coatesville Cultural Society on Sunday evening as part of the Coatesville Traditional Irish Music Series. The contrast between the two -- generation-wise and culturally -- is striking, but when it comes to the music the older gentleman from County Offaly, Ireland, and the younger one from Madison, Wisconsin, are completely in sync.
The concert was full of lively reels, jigs, hornpipes and even polkas (Paddy quipped that you have to be in good health to either dance or play Irish-style polkas). Paddy and Nathan preceded each selection they played with stories about the piece's history, where it came from, and who had popularized it. One hornpipe was called "The Drunken Sailor" -- or, as Paddy said he liked to call it, "The Inebriated Mariner."
One of the many pleasures of hearing live music is that unexpected things happen. Paddy was playing an emotional, dramatic solo piece about a soldier dying on the battlefield when the building's air conditioning kicked in with a rumble just as the music was swelling to a crescendo. Perfectly timed.
Thanks to Frank Dalton and Emily Fine of Embreeville who keep this music series going. About 30 people came out to hear Paddy and Nathan on Sunday night -- a very enthusiastic audience.

HOMEVILLE: An old Quaker meetinghouse opens its doors

On Sunday we attended silent worship at the 176-year-old Homeville Friends Meetinghouse, one of the now-inactive Quaker meetinghouses that opens its doors once a summer. The meetinghouse and its adjoining burial grounds sit along Route 896 in Upper Oxford Township, near the Lancaster County line, and the rural view looking west is stunning. In addition to motorcycles and trucks, we heard several Amish buggies passing by.
Homeville meeting is a simple, well-maintained building, with a pot-belly stove and wooden benches without cushions. It was a warm day, but the breeze through the open windows kept everyone comfortable. For me it's always a pleasure visiting these old meetinghouses and thinking about the generations who have sat on those same benches before me.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

PLANTATION FIELD: Pre-party for a big equestrian event

Wednesday evening was the annual BBQ pre-party for the big Plantation Field International Horse Trials coming up in September. This is always a marvelous picnic, for three reasons: the setting, the people and the food. From the top of Plantation Field, you can look completely around 360 degrees and see nothing but our beautiful countryside. You also get to see plenty of friends and neighbors, including lots of kids running around enjoying themselves. One woman at our table, a first-time visitor, didn't hesitate to introduce herself to everyone, and soon she and the woman next to her were deep in conversation about tack, or the price of orchard grass, or something equine-related.
Oh, and the food! Victory Brewing did the catering and served up BBQ pork, coleslaw, chicken, burgers and hotdogs, and salad, along with their popular beer and root beer on tap. And there were two tables full of desserts brought by the party-goers, including cookies, brownies, candy, and an amazing Hershey's chocolate cake. (A friend of mine enjoyed a good-sized slice and then walked home to work off the calories!)
Thanks to Katie Walker for throwing such a nice party, as always. And maybe I missed them, but there were NO speeches -- in my book, always a plus for an event.
The Three-Day Event at Plantation Field is September 18 through 20. It's a three-star event, which means it is a top-echelon competition that attracts major world-class riders. Dressage is Friday, show jumping is Saturday and cross-country is Sunday.
Plantation Field is along Route 82 west of Unionville in East and West Marlborough Townships; entry to the event is off Green Valley Road.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Another year starts at Patton Middle School

On Saturday night we had a family dinner at Giordano's in Kennett Square to wish the Young Relative well as he starts the 2015-16 year at Patton Middle School. It's a profound pleasure watching him grow into a kind, amusing, polite, and smart young man (and so handsome to boot). Even if he does run over his two-gigabyte data allowance each and every month.
Tilda: "TWO gigs? I only have one, and I never run over!"
YR: "Yes, but I have a social life."
Sitting next to him last night at dinner, I remembered an assignment he had years ago as a pupil at Hillendale Elementary. The kids had to complete a list of fill-in-the-blank sentences, one of which was "I like to eat..." The Young Relative's classmates all said things like "pizza" and "tacos." His response? "At the Half Moon."

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A cabin emerges from under the vines

On Saturday morning, driving along one of my favorite back roads, I was delighted to notice that somebody is cleaning up and shoring up the old stone Boy Scout cabin. It has been in serious disrepair as long as I can remember, covered with vines and graffiti. Whoever is doing the work has made major progress in a short time.
A friend of mine recalls hiking from Unionville to the cabin for camping trips when he was a member of Troop 22 some 50 years ago. He was surprised to find that the cabin, which they called Primitive Hall, is actually much smaller than he remembers it.

Friday, August 28, 2015

STRODE'S MILL: Preserving the old pork-processing barn

If there's a Chester County historical preservation project going on, you can bet that my friend Linda Kaat is somehow involved. Her latest project is the restoration of Strode's Mill (the one with the scrapple sign) at the corner of Route 52 and Birmingham Road. She asked me to put in a plug for the fundraiser that the Friends of Strode's Mill is having on Saturday, September 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. The event will be held at Chesterdale Farm, 1046 Lenape Road, West Chester. The goal is to raise $20,000 "to cover the next phase of demolition and repair" of the old mill, and although there isn't a ticket to buy, there will be donation jars at the event.
The party will include Revolutionary War reenactors from the First Delaware Regiment, colonial music and dance, food and drink, and a silent auction (another chance to contribute to the cause!). 
Take a look at the Friends of Strode's Mill website, which gives lots of history about the property and possibilities for the future.

According to the site: "For 250 years, a single Quaker family built thriving businesses at this corner. The circa 1722 mill, across the street, ground corn, pressed cider, and turned trees into usable lumber. As the family prospered they added this pork-processing barn. Pork may not sound romantic, but Strode's became nationally known for its quality sausage and scrapple, produced with hogs grown on the surrounding farm. The date stone says 1875, but the foundation suggests an earlier barn stood here long before. We look forward to uncovering the full history as we preserve the site.
"The Strode's historic district includes a remarkably well-preserved collection of buildings. Unlike other important intersections in the area, it has retained its intimate character, with most of the original buildings still surrounding a rural crossroads. Restoring the barn will further stabilize the historic district and preserve this example of prosperous early industry for future generations."

NEWLIN: Annual party to support volunteers

Saturday, October 10, is the third annual "Thank our Volunteer Firefighters and EMS" party, hosted by the Newlin Township Fire and EMS Support Committee. This year the event will be held at the Natural Lands Trust’s Lenfest Center on Cannery Road. Proceeds benefit the volunteers who serve Newlin Township: the Po-Mar-Lin, West Bradford, and Modena Fire Companies. Tickets are $25 for adults, $12 for kids 12 and under. For tickets email or call 610-486-1141.
From 3 to 4 p.m. there will be guided walking tours of the Cheslen Preserve. At 4 the party will start. The BBQ dinner will be by Hood's. There will also be music, kids' activities, a raffle/auction, local beer and wine, and a display of fire company equipment.

JENNERSVILLE: Kennett Y members head west

Those of us who frequent the Kennett Y have had to venture elsewhere for our exercise fix this week because of the Kennett Y's "shutdown week" -- whoops, sorry, "enhancement week." I've headed to the Jennersville Y, but this is no great hardship because I visit both facilities regularly anyway. The folks at Jennersville kindly posted a sign in the lobby welcoming Kennett Y members and directing them to the fitness center (which is a bit of a trek down several hallways). I helped one guy find the water-bottle filler-upper -- yes, Jennersville has the same kind of dispenser that Kennett does, it's just a bit out of the way.
One Y friend said she especially liked the large whirlpool at Jennersville (Kennett doesn't have one). "Also, they have a really cool thing called the Synergy 360 in the fitness center. It is like a playground! It has battle ropes and TRX and other really FUN stuff! Easy to lose track of time, great way to socialize with others too."
A young Mom from the Kennett Y said, "Been to Jennersville almost every day this week, taken some classes, used the weight room, and the kids loved the change of routine. Shout out to Chris Feuda and her group ex team for running a good ship!" 
And this coming week, the situation will be reversed: Jennersville members will be coming to Kennett.

Monday, August 24, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A lovely summer afternoon at Primitive Hall

I would venture to suggest that there were no more surprised and delighted people in West Marlborough on Sunday than the organizers of the Charlie Zahm concert at Primitive Hall. I can say this because I was one of them.
We put out the word that Charlie and Tad Marks would be performing at 5 p.m., and the Hall -- the historic homestead of the Pennock family, built in 1738 -- would be open beforehand for tours. We really had no idea how many people would show up for an event on an end-of-summer Sunday afternoon.
Well, I arrived at 3 and found the first visitors were already waiting. I quickly donned my name tag and had the pleasure of showing people around and talking about the Hall's history until almost the moment the concert started.
Outside, guests were picnicking in the walnut grove. Some brought simple meals of sandwiches and potato chips; others prepared vats of gazpacho, brought a selection of beer and wine, and set up portable tables with little flower arrangements. La Michoacana did a roaring business selling their popsicles -- during intermission it seemed like everyone was eating one.
Charlie (on guitar) and Tad (on fiddle) performed a wonderful mix of Irish and Scottish songs, 1960s songs, and folk tunes, and even threw in "They Call the Wind Maria" from "Paint Your Wagon." Tad played the haunting "Ashokan Farewell" and joked about the mispronunciations he has heard, like "Shogun Farewell" and "Chokin' Farewell."
Looking back, I suppose that we shouldn't have been surprised that we had such an amazing turnout. Some of the visitors were attracted to the local history. A few community members told me they'd driven by the Hall for years and were thrilled to get a chance to look inside.  Others mainly came to hear the music -- Charlie has quite a local following. And still others came to socialize with their friends and neighbors in a beautiful spot on a beautiful afternoon.
"You should totally make this an annual thing," said one woman to me as I was leaving.
I think I can again speak for the Hall board when I say this: We are hugely grateful to all of you for coming out.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

QUAKERS: Colora Meetinghouse won't be open for worship

A few weeks ago I wrote that several historic Quaker meetinghouses in our area that are usually closed will be open for worship on upcoming Sundays. Unfortunately one of them on that list, Colora in Maryland, will not be open because a large tree fell on it a few weeks ago, causing serious damage. I'm told that the tree is being cleared, but it's a gradual process. It's a real shame to hear this, because that meeting was in excellent repair.
But you can still visit other old meetinghouses.
Old Kennett Meeting on Route 1 will be open at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 30.
Homeville Meetinghouse, 4904 Homeville Road, Cochranville, will be open for worship at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30. 
London Britain Meetinghouse, 1415 New London Road, Landenberg, will be open for worship each Sunday through Sept. 6 at 10:30 am.
Parkersville Meetinghouse, 1232 Parkersville Road, Kennett Square, will be open for worship at 2 p.m. Sunday Sept. 13. (A tree also fell on Parkersville's property, but unlike Colora it didn't hit the meetinghouse.)

MUSIC: Two fundraising concerts coming up in September


The concert series on Wednesday nights at Anson B. Nixon Park is over for the season, but there are two local shows coming up in September that I want to let you know about.
1. "Jam on the Brandywine" will be held at the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance (formerly the Brandywine Valley Association) on Route 842 east of Unionville from noon to 9 p.m., Saturday, September 12. The performers are Echoes, The Bullets, Kategory 5 (they did a standout show at Anson B. Nixon Park a few weeks ago), Montana Wildaxe, the Brad Newsom Band, Mystery Fyre, the Cameltones, Cameltoustic, Nancy Curry, Betty and the Bullet, and Steve Pepper. Tickets are $25 per person, $15 per person in advance (if you order online by Sept. 4), $10 per student with ID at gate only, and kids under 12 get in for free. Hickory House Catering will be the food vendor, and you can bring your own food in as well. Leashed dogs are welcome. Proceeds go to support the Alliance's watershed conservation and environmental education efforts.
2. Back at Anson B. Nixon Park, "Rock the Park" with Love Seed Mama Jump will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, September 27. Tickets are $10 (children under 12 free) and proceeds benefit the resforestation of the park with native oaks, maples and sycamores. There will be food trucks and Victory Brewing on draft.


WINDOWS 10: Trigger warning for Mac users

Have you upgraded to Microsoft Windows 10 from Windows 8? I kept getting a popup message on my computer screen, so I decided to take the plunge. I scheduled the upgrade for the end of a workday, saved my work and shut everything down. When I returned to the computer a few hours later, I logged in again and waited for the system to restart and update itself. A message about "this is taking longer than usual" gave me pause, but after a few minutes everything was good to go.
I noticed a few changes -- smaller "tiles," a different "start" screen, a much-improved Gmail screen, and a new "Microsoft Edge" browser if you want it -- but everything seems to work fine and nothing seems to have gotten lost in the upgrade.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Vintage base ball on a Saturday afternoon

On Saturday I finally got a chance to watch the Mohican Base Ball Club of Kennett Square in action. It was a hugely entertaining afternoon. The members of this team, who play without baseball gloves using old-fashioned rules, won both games in the double-header against the Eclipse Base Ball Club of Elkton. The Mohicans, who are now 13-1 on the season, will take on Fairplays BBC of Talbot County, Maryland, at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30. 
The Mohicans, who wear old-fashioned white uniforms with red socks and caps, play in a beautiful setting at the northwest corner of Newark and Upland Roads here in West Marlborough. A corn field marks the far edge of the outfield. There's no high-tech modern ballpark gimmickry here: the players' bench is actually a log, the scorekeeper writes the score in chalk, and after the game the players line up for a gentlemanly salute. And the pace of the game is remarkably speedy: as soon as the catcher tosses the ball back to the pitcher, he throws it again.
Bring a folding chair and watch "base ball" (yes, two words) as it used to be played. You'll see some pretty amazing athletes.

Friday, August 21, 2015

FIGURES OF SPEECH: Food similes are what's on the menu

I take a fairly intense double class at the Y that starts at 5:50 p.m. and ends at about 7:30. If you eat dinner before class, you're going to be uncomfortable. But you're going to get increasingly hungry as class progresses.
It didn't help that tonight our instructor kept making references to food.
After three sets of grueling lunges: "Here comes the icing on the cake!"
Doing overhead presses: "Hold your plate flat, like your dinner's on it!"
Toward the end of class: "You got this, team! Piece of cake! . . . Why do I keep talking about cake?"
She claimed it was accidental -- but of course she would say that, wouldn't she.

ROADSIDES: Dead vegetation along the highways

A reader said she has noticed brown swathes of dead trees, shrubs, and plants along the roadsides, particularly Routes 1, 52, and 926, and wonders what is going on.
"Is this PennDot spraying chemicals as part of road maintenance? During the day? (when we travel to work and breathe it in through our car vents?)" she asks. "We drove to Lancaster this weekend and all along route 1 there is a band of dead brown trees, shrubs, weeds; also along developments and watersheds (Elk Creek water preservation) which concerns me."
I've noticed these dead patches, too, but assumed they were due to road salt. Perhaps someone has a better answer to her concerns.

THIRD THURSDAY: Could this event be extended into the autumn?

My friend Diana cornered me at the Y this evening and asked me to inform the Kennett Square powers-that-be that the Third Thursday summer season needs to be extended. She, along with many others, loves these events in downtown Kennett Square, where local restaurants serve dinner out in the middle of State Street. The August event, alas, was cancelled because of rain. Diana points out that it's still warm enough to eat outside through October, and she is sure a crowd would still attend.

CANNABIS: They didn't get to reap what they sowed

Several residents of East and West Marlborough were concerned about the low-flying helicopters and airplanes circling over their farms repeatedly this past week. It was the state police taking part in their annual late-summer ritual of looking for marijuana plants growing in the middle of cornfields. From what I hear, they had quite a successful haul, netting some giant plants worthy of a "High Times" centerfold.

CAUGHT IN A TRAP: Is relocating groundhogs a questionable practice?

Concerned reader Barbara B. wrote to me in reference to last week's piece about the groundhogs that are tunneling under tombstones at Unionville Cemetery; I said in my story that the cemetery president has been trapping and relocating the troublesome creatures. 
She told me that the Pennsylvania Game Commission actually discourages people from relocating groundhogs because they could be infected with rabies, could damage crops, and could dig holes that "are extremely hazardous to unsuspecting humans and horses."
Her news surprised me: in my experience, trapping and then driving groundhogs to a distant location is a very common practice.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Boy Scouts honor black Civil War veterans

What a great job the Boy Scouts of Troop 153 did cleaning up the neglected African Methodist Episcopal cemetery on Route 842 here in West Marlborough. Restoring the graveyard was Will Horstmann's Eagle Scout project, and this past Sunday he and several other troop members put the finishing touches on the job.
The project had its genesis by pure chance. Will's father, Steve Horstmann, was foxhunting with the Cheshire hunt and saw a fox go to ground on the overgrown property. Steve said he saw what looked like a tombstone and asked a fellow foxhunter if it was a pet cemetery. No, said his colleague; I think it's a human cemetery.
Steve did some research, learned that some black Civil War veterans were buried there and felt strongly that something should be done to honor them: "It was a disgrace," he said.
Coincidentally, Will was looking for an Eagle Scout project, so they embarked on the lengthy process of tracing the ownership of the property and getting permission to do the cleanup work.
Several Scouts helped Will this past week with the actual physical work, clearing the weeds, grapevines, poison ivy and fallen trees and debris. One boy suffered several bee stings, which meant a quick trip to the ER at Jennersville (he learned that he is in fact allergic to bee stings. Good to know!).
I happened to drive by the site on Sunday when the boys were installing black metal fencing, putting up a sign and placing American flags on the veterans' grave. To wrap things up, they bowed their heads and recited the Lord's Prayer, and the leaders said a few words honoring the long-dead veterans.
Good job, men.
Will Horstmann at the historic African-American cemetery in West Marlborough, which he and his fellow Boy Scouts cleaned up for his Eagle Scout project.

EAST MARLBOROUGH: Lot clean-up makes a great improvement

A reader wrote to me saying how delighted she was about the huge clean-up project that's being done on the property at the corner of Walnut and East Locust Lane, across the street from the edge of the golf course. The yard was formerly densely overgrown, with a lot of downed trees and debris, and it looks like some hard-working people with serious landscaping equipment have been removing absolutely all of it.
"Everyone I talk to is so appreciative to see that lot get cleaned up!" said my reader.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: An outdoor wedding at Rokeby Hollow

This heartwarming item is courtesy of Don Silknitter, a retired Unionville schoolteacher who lives here in a lovely historic mill on the Buck Run here in West Marlborough. I'll let him tell it:
"Last Sunday two strangers pulled into the driveway. One of them got out of the truck and knocked on our door. He introduced himself and had a question for me. Could he get married in my front yard on Saturday? To his surprise I said, "SURE."
"Today, Saturday has arrived. Around 6 this evening he and his bride were married at Rokeby Hollow."
Don reports that his wife, Joanie, decorated the gazebo where the couple pledged their troth and even "made up small bags of rice, which I'm sure the field mice will eat."

STOP MEANS STOP: 5-0 on patrol along Route 926

The other afternoon I noticed that the police were sitting in the driveway at London Grove Friends Meeting watching for stop-sign violators. It seems to be one of their favorite spots: I was surprised to learn how many of my pals "fessed up" to having been stopped for running the stop signs there.
Apparently the violation carries a hefty fine. And you just KNOW that a friend or neighbor is going to be driving by while you're sitting there with a police cruiser behind you. Your photo will be on Facebook before you get home.
Another friend reports that the police have also been monitoring the four-way stop signs at the awful intersection of Routes 841 and 926. Don't even think about doing a "rolling stop" through there.
I was southbound on the Route 1 bypass at about 8 p.m. Friday evening, between Route 82 and Newark Road, and when a motorcyclist absolutely flew by me. I can't even estimate how fast he (I assume it was a "he") was going because it was mere seconds before he disappeared from view. I thought about calling the police, but I figured he was already to the Maryland line by then.

GAS PUMP: A reminder to redeem your gas points

What with constant deadlines and general summer busy-ness, I've been forgetting to use my Giant gas points the past few months, and I'm guessing that maybe some of you have, too. So use them up! They expire at the end of each month, and the gas station gets crowded the last few days with consumers eager to cash in their points. I cashed in my forty cents a gallon on Sunday morning.
And while I pumping my gas at the shopping center in New Garden I noticed that the frozen yogurt place, Opayo, has gone out of business. There's a for-rent sign on the vacant store, and the contents were auctioned off in March.

KENNETT SQUARE: "A real celebration" to end the concert season

The final summer concert at Anson B. Nixon Park in  Kennett was a wonderful, memorable evening: the tribute band SOS performed the greatest hits of the rock group Chicago, like "Saturday in the Park," "25 or 6 to Four," "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", "Old Days," "Mongonucleosis," "Questions 67 and 68," "Beginnings"... the list goes on. They even did everybody's slow-dance favorite, "Color My World," filling the gravel space in front of the stage with romantic couples.
The (large) part of my brain that stores old song lyrics kicked in as if I'd heard the songs just yesterday. I listened to Chicago by the hour when I was in junior high and high school. My "Chicago Transit Authority" double album was so well used that you could see the outline of the records through the sleeve.

Some of the songs that SOS played touched on the turbulent times of the early 1970s: riots, assassinations, hippies, challenging "The Establishment" and hearing news accounts about Vietnam War casualties from the other side of the world. It was more than a little poignant that 40 years later, there I was sitting there in the park surrounded by friend, enjoying delicious Vietnamese pork sandwiches from Portabello's restaurant (the mushroom mac-and-cheese was great, too, but carried no nostalgic associations).
Huge thanks to the organizers and sponsors of this concert series. And finally, for the first time all summer, the guest emcee pronounced "Maffei Landscape Design" correctly when acknowledging the sponsors. I guess it helped that the emcee was Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick, and Dan Maffei is a member of borough council!
I know this is going to sound dreadfully corny, but the summer concerts reflect a genuine sense of community. Walking around at intermission (usually on my way to get ice cream), we'd see friendly people from so many circles in our lives, all there just to hear the music and hang out. It gives me hope for small-town America.  

POND TOUR: Just a few signs remain

Last week I wrote an item about how signs advertising the July 25-26 Brandywine Pond Tour were still cluttering up our roadsides. Since the article appeared, I'm glad to say, they've been disappearing. Not that I'm claiming the article had anything to do with it, of course: that would be a classic post hoc fallacy in logic. (Hey, I still remember my expensive liberal-arts education!)
But my sharp-eyed readers report that there are still Pond Tour signs at the Dilworthtown intersection; at Lenape and Birmingham Roads (by Strodes Mill); and at Guernsey Road and Old Baltimore Pike in West Grove. Let me know if you see any more in your travels.

Friday, August 14, 2015

METEORS: Sometimes parenting ideas fall from Heaven

Being a parent requires creativity and thinking on your feet, and a young Mom I know displayed both with impeccable style the other day. She told me that her daughter wanted to eat at Wendy's. It didn't fit in with the day's plans, so the Mom replied, without missing a beat, "We can't. It's closed. Meteor shower."
This made perfect sense to her daughter, who is a smart little girl: better to close the restaurant than to risk having customers get hit by meteors!
Right, agreed her mother with a completely straight face. Although it was very unlikely to happen, better to play it safe.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

UNIONVILLE: Flag thieves and groundhogs at the cemetery

Elsewhere in this column, you can read about the wonderful cemetery cleanup done by some Boy Scouts this past week. Now here's the exact opposite story: for the second time in recent weeks, flags have been stolen from veterans' graves at the Unionville Cemetery.
Norman Diem, president of the Unionville Cemetery Association, said the thieves have been pulling the wooden staffs out of their metal holders that indicate which war the veteran served in. They then remove the stapled-on flag and stuff the staffs down a nearby hole.
He said about 20 flags have been taken, all from the oldest part of the cemetery (the first burial was in 1847).
He said he hopes the thieves are just bored teens but worries that the situation could worsen.
"My fear is they might push the stones over," he said.
Mr. Diem, a veteran himself, said he is troubled by the lack of respect shown for the dead.
He said he will continue to replace the stolen flags, which are donated by the American Legion.
Mr. Diem said he has contacted the East Marlborough Township police as well as the cemetery lot holders. He is also asking residents to help him keep an eye on the graveyard by glancing over when they drive by or stop in at the post office.
"They can always call me if they see something," he said (610-444-1376).
In addition to the flag thieves, the other vandals at the cemetery have been groundhogs, which have been tunneling deeply under some of the stones, putting the monuments at risk for toppling over. Mr. Diem said he has caught two groundhogs so far ("one big, one small") in a trap and has relocated
Civil War veteran William Sheward, who died in 1865, has had his resting spot disturbed by both the flag thieves and the groundhogs. In this photo you can see the metal GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) marker, minus the flag, on the right side of his tombstone, along with the bare staff. And the groundhogs have tunneled completely under the stone.


Monday, August 10, 2015

MARRIAGE: Celebrating a very long and happy partnership

Happy 62nd anniversary to the Senior Tally-hos. Our family is all over the place this summer, on land and in the air, in different states and even continents, but four of us managed to get together for a delicious dinner on Sunday night, and of course we raised a glass in honor of the happy couple. May they have many more years together!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

BACK TO SCHOOL: Part of today's college experience

It's mid-August, and the stores are full of back-to-school products. In addition to notebooks, paper and highlighters, apparently K-cups and video games are also necessities for today's student. "What's brewing on campus" proclaimed a sign for an $89 Keurig coffee machine; "Get Your Gaming Cards for Back to Campus," read a sign with a display full of Google Play cards. In my college days we drank instant coffee and played backgammon, no "gaming cards" required.

HIBERNIA: Musicians and music-lovers at the Old Fiddlers' Picnic

The 87th Old Fiddlers' Picnic at Hibernia Park on August 8 provided us with a wonderful, daylong adventure. Musicians of all ages and experience levels brought their fiddles, guitars, dobros, mandolins, and other instruments along and jammed together informally in the woods. Groups performed 20-minute sets on the main stage at Fiddlers Field. And we non-musicians who just like old-time music set up our chairs and soaked up the atmosphere of the perfect August day. It was a remarkably wholesome, welcoming and diverse crowd, with Amish families, toddlers, motorcyclists, hipsters, hippies, gray-haired folks, and dogs large and small.
The food vendors were excellent, and we made frequent trips to them for sandwiches, lemonade, popsicles and soft pretzels. Swarmbustin' Honey from West Marlborough had a tent, and Lou Mandich from Unionville's Last Chance Garage brought his antique Packard to the old-car display (Lou was sitting next to his car with Ruth Thompson and her son, Larry, from Newlin Township).
We rode a tractor-driven cart to the Hibernia Mansion with the intent of taking a guided tour, but because the tours didn't start for another hour, we decided to do some park exploration. We saw the children's fishing pond (reserved for young anglers), hiked up to the large earthen dam that contains Chambers Lake, envied the boaters out on the 90-acre lake, visited the campground area and eventually -- following the sound of the music through the woods -- found our way back to Scout Field and then Fiddlers Field.
After relaxing for a bit, we checked out the "beginners jam" at one of the pavilions, where kind old-timers welcomed neophytes. Their entertaining version of "Crawdad Hole" stuck in our heads the rest of the day.

Friday, August 7, 2015

HISTORY: Cathy Quillman teaches you about old Kennett

The catalog for the fall session of Chester County Night School arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and I see that my dear friend Cathy Quillman, a writer and historian, is teaching a class on 19th-century Kennett Square at Patton Middle School. She will lecture on Sept. 22 and 29 and then will lead a tour through town on Oct. 6. She is also teaching another course about early transportation in Chester County.

QUAKERS: Happy 300th anniversary to New Garden Meeting

New Garden Friends Meeting will be celebrating its 300th birthday at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19. "Please join us as we remember New Garden's past and Quakerism today," reads the invitation. The Quaker meetinghouse and burial ground is on Newark Road a mile south of Toughkenamon.

CONCERTS: The summer music series draws to a close

This Wednesday, Aug. 12, marks the final free concert of the summer at Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square. This week's show will be by SOS, a Chicago tribute band. On Aug. 5 the Bullbuckers brought ska and reggae music to the park in a wonderful show that had families, little kids, hula-hoopers and couples dancing in front of the stage.
The big question for the final show is this: Will the announcer pronounce the name of concert sponsor "Maffei Landscape Design" correctly? No one has yet.
On Sunday, Sept. 27, from 4 to 7 p.m. there's going to be a fundraiser to benefit reforestation of the park with native oaks, maples and sycamores. Love Seed Mama Jump will perform and food trucks will be on site. Tickets are $10, with kids under 12 free.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

LITTER: Time to take down the Pond Tour signs, please

I hope the Brandywine Valley Water Garden Tour on July 25 and 26 was a success -- and perhaps its organizers could now remove the dozens of "Pond Tour" signs they put up along the roadsides throughout our area? I saw one sign that had been chopped up by a mower at Route 926 and 41. There are many signs at the entrance and exit ramps on the Route 1 bypass, at Newark Road, Route 841 (at least three), and Route 796. And there were two of them along Route 82, one across from Triple Fresh and the other at the Strasburg Road intersection.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Zoning changes and zoning permits

It was another quiet summer meeting of the West Marlborough Township supervisors the evening of August 4.
The supervisors held a brief hearing for and approved updates to the township's zoning ordinance. Supervisors' chairman Bill Wylie said the changes would make the township's code consistent with both the regional regulations created by West Marlborough, East Marlborough and Newlin townships (the Unionville Area Regional Comprehensive Plan) and new state regulations.
Mr. Wylie said he was pleased by the cooperation shown by the three townships in coordinating their regulations to the benefit of all: "There was a high degree of agreement," he said.
Zoning officer Al Giannantonio reported that township resident Derek Strine applied for five zoning permits for work at his Bartram Road farm: a landscaping wall, a run-in shed, a farm shop, windmills and a storage building. Permission is pending for all of them. Because he didn't obtain the permits before doing the work, he will have to pay double the usual fee to the township.
Conrad Somers also applied for zoning permission to add onto a building on his Mosquito Lane property. Permission for that addition is also pending.
In his July report, police officer Robert Clarke said he worked 40 hours and issued seven speeding tickets, one ticket for a stop-sign violation, two parking tickets, and five warnings.

MUNSTERS: Sounds of the Sixties updated

I was startled to hear on the radio the instantly recognizable theme song to the 1960s sitcom "The Munsters." And then I heard it again. What's going on? It seems the band Fall Out Boy is using the theme to add a jaunty touch to their new song "Uma Thurman." Talk about cultural references: even the name Fall Out Boy comes from a character on "The Simpsons."
I was never much of a Munsters fan myself; I much preferred Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Lurch and Thing to the residents of Mockingbird Lane.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

HIBERNIA: Lots of old-time music at the Old Fiddlers' Picnic

This Saturday, Aug. 8, is the 87th annual Old Fiddler's Picnic at Hibernia County Park. You don't have to be a fan of old-time music to enjoy this venerable Chester County tradition. Musicians of all ages and skill levels get together to jam in the woods while groups -- some formed on the spot -- perform on the stage throughout the day.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is $5 per car, with no admission fee. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Rain date is Sunday, Aug. 9.

LYCORIS: A highlight of the late summer garden

It's a great summer for the lovely pink Lycoris flowers here. One of their nicknames is "surprise lily" because their two-foot-high flower stalks, with no visible leaves, seem to just show up in early August. Not only are they spreading in clumps here, but they're also sprouting in places in my garden far removed from where I've seen them before -- like, on the opposite side of the house! I wonder if perhaps squirrels have been moving the bulbs around?

CCHS: Goodbye to Rob Lukens, historical society president

Rob Lukens, president of the Chester County Historical Society, died at home on Aug. 1, two years after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. He leaves behind his wife and two children. I think Rob was as well known and liked in civic, business, educational, philanthropic and artistic circles throughout the county as he was in the museum field. He will be greatly missed.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

TICKETS: Slowing down traffic through Unionville

I heard from three different people that the East Marlborough police were out in force this past week stopping speeders in Unionville.
"I think Clarkie got writer's cramp," quipped one observer (referring, of course, to East Marlborough police chief Robert Clarke).
Just a reminder that the speed limit is 30 mph through Unionville on Route 82 and 25 mph along Wollaston Road. And slow down for pedestrians crossing the road at Hood's BBQ and the URA ball fields.

YMCA: Gym shutdown weeks have been scheduled

Those of us who are YMCA regulars know that the Y branches close down for a week each summer to install new equipment and clean and refurbish the heavily used facilities. Fortunately the powers that be stagger the shutdown weeks so we can visit other branches. The Kennett Y will be closed from Aug. 24 to 30, reopening on Monday, Aug. 31. The Jennersville Y will be closed from Aug. 30 through Sept. 7, reopening on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

CLOUD REUNION: A local family's tradition continues

On Saturday afternoon I attended the 133rd annual reunion of the Cloud family at Veterans' Pavilion in the East Goshen Township Park. What a wonderful family tradition to maintain in these transitory days! There was a lavish spread of picnic food; I've noticed that the Clouds like to eat. I got there 45 minutes after the official start time and the macaroni and cheese was already gone.
Cloud athletes were tossing footballs, Frisbees and boomerangs in the field next to the pavilion, and Cloud kids (one in a Cloud Phillies jersey) whacked at a Minion piñata strung up from a tree branch (poor Stuart did not survive very long).
A brief business meeting followed the meal. The secretary, an older gentleman, read the minutes out loud, including a report about the Cloud Reunion Facebook page.
"Apparently it did not receive many hits," he read, then looked up and said, "Whatever that means." The same slate of officers agreed to serve for another year, and there was some discussion of where genealogy data, documents, photos and family contact information should be kept.
The guy sitting at the picnic table behind me had the perfect answer: "Why not store it in the cloud?"

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A summer afternoon with Charlie Zahm

Local favorite balladeer Charlie Zahm will be performing an outdoor concert on Sunday, Aug. 23, at Primitive Hall, the historic homestead of the Pennock family. Everyone is welcome. The house, built in 1738, will be open to the public for tours starting at 3 p.m., and Charlie will play at 5 p.m. You are welcome to bring a blanket, chairs and a picnic supper. There will be local products and dessert for sale (including La Michoacana ice cream!). The grounds will be open until 8 p.m. Visitors should be sure to look up and admire the Hall's newly installed (but historically accurate) cedar-shake roof.
The show is free but the suggested contribution is $20 per car.
The Hall is on Route 841, between Routes 926 and 842.
(Full disclosure: Tilda has the honor of serving on the Hall's board of directors.)

Charlie Zahm will be performing at Primitive Hall Aug. 23.