Where’s Homer Simpson when you need him?  Yes….something that was so d’oh today I have to blog about it.

There I was, enjoying the quiet of a nice Chester County morning, sipping my French Press and the phone rang.  It was 9:54 a.m. and it was a cold call, sales call, solicitation call.

Now anyone who knows me, knows how much I hate solicitation calls.

So there was this guy on the phone.  Calling from Philly Direct on behalf of the Philadelphia Inquirer (215-682-2001) – a Google on them shows them to be a tele-pests and tele stalkers. ( Apparently I am also not the only person to find them very annoying.)

I say “hello,” and there is this male voice on the other end of the phone.  Blah blah blah calling on behalf of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  I can barely understand him his enunciation is so bad.  Ah yes, the  virtually unintelligible needs a translator  telemarketing call…my ultimate favorite.

I tell the guy I am going to stop him right there and I should be on the “Do Not Call” list because well I am on “Do Not Call Lists” and religiously reaffirm my “Do Not Call” status…and well they are not a charity. (Not that I have any love lost for charity telemarketers, because I don’t.)

So this guy actually then says to me “Uhhh that means you don’t want to hear about our special offers for the paper?”

REALLY?  Talk about d’oh.  Dumb and dumber has nothing on this guy.  Nothing.

I mean come on Philadelphia Inquirer!  REALLY?  So embarrassed for the Inky.  But hey, they are having groundhog day over editors in their next great new “local ownership”, so I guess this is to be expected?

The moral of this story is, NO I won’t be subscribing to the Inquirer for home delivery – tried that for a few years and they never got it right.  Besides, if you are going to call and hang up a million times and then call and interrupt a person’s Saturday morning and then not get it when you are told someone wants to be on the Do Not Call list for real, then well, not only is a body less than likely to want to subscribe…but you might just blogged about in the process…ya’ know? Free publicity of the reverse PR kind?

Philadelphia Inquirer, stop cold calling me.  Stop cold calling everyone.  Do us all a favor.

rambling on….

Today I became a 100% Chester County gal.  My move is complete.

Ready or not Chester County, I am now full-time.

Special shout out to Lower Merion ex-pat David Brown, now supervisor and landed gentry in West Vincent.  Too bad how that election worked out, Dave.  But the post card someone sent to me  sure cracked me up:

jesus delivers?

Door to door anything drives me bananas.  But within the culture of door to door, what I find the most offensive is door to door religion, or Jesus drive-bys.

Well ’tis the season in East Goshen and many other parts of Chester County.  But what is new for me here, versus where I have spent the rest of my life, is that what I used to see was annoying, but not as intrusive – the people parked on the public street and went door to door.  But here?  Here they drive up with a gaggle of God’s soldiers in a mini-van.

Today, first I got one set, then another.   First of all, it’s raining.  Second of all, it is incredibly intrusive.

So there they are at my door early this morning.  Said “no thank you” to the first crew.  Then came the second wave.  I will admit I wasn’t so nice to the second set.

When you say “no thank you” and you are all driving in the same freaking mini-van respect that.  Don’t send the second set who has someone who asks you if you are sure.

Yes I am sure.  I have my God.  And my God does not encourage me to foist my beliefs onto others door to door driving up people’s private driveways proselytizing. Jehovah’s WitnessesChristian Scientists and other various and assorted prosletory groups should not be able to just waltz on whatever private property takes their fancy under the guise of  religious solicitation.  I do not and never have approved of religious solicitation.  And these crews also seem to make people give back parts of their salaries to these “churches”, which of course might be one of the reasons why Jehovah’s Witnesses are the largest landlord in the Brooklyn Heights section of Brooklyn and have a crazy amount of real estate holdings.  It is cult – like to me. I mean is it normal to want to set one’s self on fire like a Jehovah’s Witness in Russia did recently?

I have my God and he doesn’t need replacing thank you very much.   I find these “visits” intrusive, not Godly.  I must not be the only one as I found a website of born-again Christians who are runaway former Christian Scientists.

And as for Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to Wikipedia:

Jehovah’s Witnesses are best known for their door-to-door preaching, distributing literature such as The Watchtower and Awake!, and refusing military service and blood transfusions. They consider use of the name Jehovah vital for proper worship. They reject Trinitarianism, inherent immortality of the soul, and hellfire, which they consider to be unscriptural doctrines. They do not observe Christmas, Easter, birthdays, or other holidays and customs they consider to have pagan origins incompatible with Christianity. Adherents commonly refer to their body of beliefs as “the truth” and consider themselves to be “in the truth”.[19] Jehovah’s Witnesses consider secular society to be morally corrupt and under the influence of Satan, and limit their social interaction with non-Witnesses.

Congregational disciplinary actions include disfellowshipping, their term for formal expulsion and shunning.[20] Members who formally leave are considered disassociated and are also shunned. Disfellowshipped and disassociated members may eventually be reinstated if they request it.

The religion’s position regarding conscientious objection to military service and refusal to salute national flags has brought it into conflict with some governments.

What do all of you think?  Do you think Jesus should deliver?  I have also noticed that much as was the case in the depression, the worse the economy gets, the more people who are turning to alternative and non-traditional religion and religious practices. Which in and of itself is very interesting, sociologically speaking.

At the end of the day, how you worship God is a personal thing.  I have friends who are many different religions.  We respect each others’ views and don’t foist personal beliefs on others. They don’t drive their mini vans full of Onward Christian Soldiers up the driveway, either.

According to a Google search, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are located at 1200 Phoenixville Pike in West Chester.  May they learn to stay in their own driveway and consider themselves disassociated or disfellowshipped from mine – ya know since I am one of those pagans who celebrate things like Christmas, anyway?

the barn! the barn! the barn is open this weekend!

The barn! The barn!

So….as you know I am having this love affair with a dusty old barn on Little Conestoga Road .

It’s not fancy, but it’s full of cool stuff.  People who collect match box and other little cars like slot cars should check it out, for example.

From stem to stern it is filled with almost everything you can think of.  You have to be willing to dig and if it is not a bright day, it can be a little dim inside (bring a pocket flash light!), but oh it’s so much fun.

And guess what?  The barn has a name after all.  It is the Smithfield Barn and today they sent me a little note:

Hello Everyone!!  Just wanted to let you all know that the barn will be open this Fri Sat and Sun from 10-4 Rain or Shine!!!  We have  lots of new items to check out!!  Come stop by and find a new treasure or two!
                                                 Smithfield Barn
                                       425 Little Conestoga Road


Go check out the barn.  Even if you don’t find a treasure, it’s FUN!!!



chester county comes to clover market

So I have this friend Janet Long who thought up this fabulous outdoor market in Ardmore, PA called Clover Market.  Like First Friday Main Line, it has bought new life and crazy amounts of foot traffic and visitors to what was a sort of sleepy Main Street town.

Eliver Designs

Clover Market is a hybrid cross between a high-end craft show, antiques and collectibles show, meets art show.  It is, in a word, fantastic!

Clover Market has a website, Facebook Page, and Pinterist Boards.  They also feature a lot of folks from Chester County.

Two of my favorites from yesterday? Cupcakes Gourmet and Eliver Design.  Elizabeth at Eliver Design has amazingly fair prices, fun stuff, and right now only does shows.  E-mail her at EECoast@gmail.comCupcakes Gourmet is from Frazer and they have awesome cupcakes! And they ship, so you can send their baked goods all over!!! Carlinos as well as A Taste of Olive  of West Chester and Ardmore was there too! (always have to give them a shout out!)

I am told   some Milk House folks were there, but I don’t know all the vendors there (yet, LOL!), so you’ll have to check.

See more photos of Clover Market HERE.

in the shadow of paoli hospital

In the shadow of Paoli Hospital, lying at its literal feet is a teeny neighborhood.  The neighborhood is an island unto itself, squashed between the shadow of the GIANT hospital complex and Route 30.

What is the deal with that neighborhood?  Is it something the hospital wishes would go away?  What was it once part of?

I am told that this little  village  in front of Paoli Hospital may have once housed quarry workers as did the one on Route 401 (only 1 house left there now) near the railroad crossing (now bike path).  A long time Chester County resident remembers in the 50’s, working class families living at both locations, and was told they worked at the quarry.  The quarry supposedly became the Rubino-Knickerbocker landfill (wasn’t that a super fund site?), then 202 purportedly went right through it.  The quarry, some say, was known as the L.K. Quarry, and the Knickerbocker Lime Co. where a lime kiln was operated. I guess the kiln/lime works was what the workers were needed for?

What do you know about this little village?  Was the reference to a fire that Knickerbocker Lime Co called in at the turn of the 20th century in the Malvern Fire Company history this neighborhood/village?

Now, I have found a couple of things talking about the quarries and landfill:

on TE History:


(see Page 16):

Plate 15—East Whiteland Township—of volume two of the 1963 Franklin Survey Property  Atlas of the Main Line shows that 154 acres in the quarry area are owned by Theodore S. A. Rubino and another 43 acres are owned by Rae Crowther. The former siding south to the Trenton Cut-Off is now shown as an unimproved road.

By 1970 the quarry was inactive, had been flooded with water to create a natural lake, and was known as the Knickerbocker Sanitary Landfill.

Around 2000, Liberty Property Trust purchased a total of 60 acres—the 30-acre quarry and the surrounding area—from the estate of Samuel and Theodore Rubino for between $7 and $8 million.

Witness to a revolution Retired Chester County Judge Lawrence E. Wood chronicled a crusade that remade Chesco politics.

March 06, 2008|By Kathleen Brady Shea INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Rankled by pay-to-play politics, a “rambunctious bunch” of renegade Republicans revved into action in 1970, ultimately prompting reforms that would alter Chester County history.

Decades after the upstarts challenged the entrenched GOP’s balance of power, a former organizer has written a book chronicling the David and Goliath-style uprising.

Author Lawrence E. Wood, who retired from the Chester County Court bench in October 2006, said for years he and the late State Sen. Robert J. Thompson had discussed writing about their 10-year struggle to break the stranglehold of party boss Theodore S.A. Rubino, who was eventually jailed for extortion.

Theodore S.a. Rubino, Long A Power In Chesco

March 12, 1989|By Rich Henson, Inquirer Staff Writer Staff writer Mark Fazlollah

Theodore S. A. Rubino, 77, a self-made millionaire and the predominant power broker in Chester County Republican politics for two decades until he was convicted of extortion in 1977, died yesterday at Bryn Mawr Hospital. He had lived in Malvern.

Mr. Rubino, who entered politics as a Malvern Borough councilman in 1955, was chairman of the Chester County Republican Party for 12 years and chairman of the county commissioners for seven.

He rose to prominence at a time when county bosses could wield considerable power, said William Lamb, the current head of the county’s GOP…..

Although Mr. Rubino had held no official position in the county GOP since 1977, his tight reins on the county’s political patronage system can still be felt.

“You need only look around the courthouse today to see how many people’s careers Ted helped,” Lamb said, adding that for the last decade Mr. Rubino ”had been a friend and an adviser.” The county GOP considered him to be the party’s chairman emeritus, Lamb said.

Senior U.S. District Judge John B. Hannum, whom Mr. Rubino succeeded as county GOP chairman in 1964, said: “He was an exceptional man and a great friend. He had been sick a long time, though, and maybe this is a blessing.”….

The son of an Italian immigrant quarry worker, origins that helped him maintain an easy rapport with the county’s rank-and-file voters, Mr. Rubino considered himself an anomaly among the fox-hunting gentry who controlled the county before him.

“This is real WASP country,” he once said. “Somehow, I just never belonged.”

Despite never being fully accepted by the county’s Republican traditionalists, he did acquire power and wealth.

And controversy frequently followed him.

Through real estate speculation, his ownership of the Knickerbocker Landfill near Malvern and his association with a Paoli insurance firm, Mr. Rubino, a lifelong bachelor, was a millionaire by the early 1970s…..Mr. Rubino’s first public troubles began in 1970, when state officials reported that hazardous wastes had been dumped, apparently illegally, at the landfill he owned with his brother. Knickerbocker was closed for a week in 1971 but was not shut down permanently until 1979, despite efforts by local environmental groups to have it closed sooner…..

Public controversy also swirled over the state’s $1 million purchase of part of his landfill for a stretch of the Route 202 bypass.

Though the legal division of the state Department of Transportation cleared Mr. Rubino of any wrongdoing in the case, public outcry caused enough pressure that he decided not to seek re-election to his county commission post in 1975.

Still, he was re-elected that same year as party chairman without opposition.

Then, in 1977, Mr. Rubino pleaded guilty to having extorted $6,400 from architects who were awarded a $130,000 contract to convert a former West Chester hospital into a county government annex….

As part of Mr. Rubino’s plea agreement, prosecutors read into the record statements that the FBI had taken from businessmen and politicians who had dealt with Mr. Rubino. They indicated that he had established set prices for those doing business with the county, ranging from milk supplies to the leases on court offices. Some of the money went to the county GOP.

As vice president of the Huggler Insurance Agency of Paoli, Mr. Rubino also received commissions from county contracts that he personally directed to the agency.

lockwood mansion in photos…

So, I have this fascination with Chester County’s Lockwood Mansion (a/k/a Loch Aerie).   I happened to be at the Home Depot today after taking photos elsewhere, so armed with camera, I took some exterior shots.  I will note that in spite of the abandoned air of the property, a lot of the garden plantings are still there and quite pretty in the spring….

Enjoy the photos!  Click HERE for photo slide show.


well, when you hire what coatesville ejects, what do you expect phoenixville?

So the other day I wrote a post about Phoenixville and their governmental quest for a Platinum-clad multi-million dollar borough hall.

And today as I am reading an article in Phoenixville Patch, a name literally leapt off the page: Phoenixville Borough manager Jean Krack .  As in former Coatesville Redevelopment Authority head and  acting city manager then City Manager of Coatesville Jean Krack.

Lordy how do these old Coatesville people keep getting jobs?  I started to pay attention to Coatesville years ago when under Paul Janssen they tried to sieze the farm of my friends Dick and Nancy Saha via eminent domain for private gain. (Don’t remember? See Save Our Farm’s website.)

Now I thought it was bad enough when Radnor in the midst of the Bashore drama thought about bringing in Paul Janssen in 2010 as a then temporary township manager.

So if my memory serves, didn’t Jean Krack fill in as acting city manager of Coatesville when Paul Janssen went buh bye?  First they hailed him as the second coming of something or another, and then wasn’t their some fuzzy math about some $7 million borrowed from some sort of trust fund to keep Coatesville going circa 2005? And then there was some sort of blame game in Coatesville in the first few months of 2006? And then on March 14, 2006 the Times Herald reported under Ann Pickering that Jean Krack was fired as Coatesville’s City Manager? And then he turns up again in Phoenixville in 2008?

OMG it all makes sense now.  When will people stop hiring people Coatesville gets rid of??? I mean let’s get real, for years can it be said that Jean Krack talks a good game but doesn’t quite have the follow-thru in the end?  He is good at spending money, however. Haven’t taxes gone up under Krack? Wasn’t it reported in The Phoenix at the end of 2011 that taxes were going up 19%? And the year before that didn’t the Phoenix report a 24% increase?

(Oh and as a Phoenixville aside don’t forget about those condos that did not sell.  They get auctioned off on April 15th as per the Mercury.)

Now part of the discussion surrounding this new Phoenixville Borough Hall isn’t just the cost but the stormwater/flooding concerns.  Remember the thing in the Inquirer in September about water stuff?

Sleep in not in the forecast for borough officials in Phoenixville, which is braced for more flooding and steamed over inaccurate rumors about its water supply.

“We have not had this level of water in recorded history,” said Borough Manager Jean Krack. He said residents who have never had water in their basements before do now, and some trees have toppled because the ground holding them is so saturated. The Schuylkill is expected to continue rising after dark, but Krack said the borough is as prepared as it can be. “We’ve got a great emergency crew,” he said. “When you have a creek (French) going east and west, and a river (Schuylkill) going north and south, you have to take this sort of thing seriously.”

So they are taking this all so seriously now that they are moving forward with the Phoenixville Pagoda? Nice.

So back to Phoenixville in the news.  Here’s a little article from 2008  I found amusing on a couple of different levels:

Planners: Limit public comments?

Published: Saturday, August 16, 2008

PHOENIXVILLE — The relationship between Borough Council and its Planning Commission has been tested — and testy — over the last months, marked by multiple divergences of opinion and procedural snares.

But Borough Manager E. Jean Krack came before the Planning Commission Thursday evening with initial proposals for organizational reform.

“There’s a relationship that’s a little fractured,” Krack acknowledged. “If you allow me to participate as a conduit” between agencies, he said, “I may be able to foster the symbiotic relationship that should occur between bodies. “I was seven years in that role” in Coatesville, he said, “and I was able to shortcut a lot of things” because of it.

“There are some ideas I want to put on the table,” Krack said. He was concerned first with “my responsibility to the budget,” ….”The Municipal Planning Code requires open meetings but does not require public participation. The governing body [Council] is required to have public participation, not you.”
The issue, he said, was efficiency of public decision-making. “You all are here to do a job; I want to get you involved in what you need to, not what you don’t. With the exception of the magnitude of issues like the Master Plan, French Creek, you may want to limit public participation.

How very West Vincent of him, or maybe this was another place West Vincent looked for inspiration on the public comment debate? It doesn’t really matter – what matters is in my opinion government officials who seek to limit public comment are immediately suspect for that alone.  Of course in this case, I am amused by his touting his tour of duty in Coatesville since in the end they fired him as per all media reports, right?

But I digress.  My whole point is Phoenixville hired one of the managers that Coatesville fired.

Now I know Jean Krack like most municipal talking heads would like to take credit for all of the renaissance which has occurred in Phoenixville, but I think a lot of credit needs to go to the small business owners and residents themselves.

But back to Krack and his quest for a Platinum-clad Phoenixville Pagoda – check out the latest coverage in Phoenixville Patch:

New Borough Hall Causes Heated Discussion/Several council members express concerns over accessibility and office layout.  ByAlyson D’Alessandro  Email the author  5:45 am

Tuesday’s Phoenixville Borough Council meeting was punctuated by some serious discussion on the design of the new borough hall at 351 Bridge Street.

The subject was opened for debate because council needed to act to approve or deny the building’s Historical and Architectural Review Board (HARB) application. The issues also came up during committee reports, where it was mentioned during the infrastructure committee report….The motion before council was to hold a public meeting and open house, with renderings of the new building, in order to further discuss the project.

Council president Richard Kirkner and Council member Dana Dugan both expressed dismay……

Mayo gave an example of the layout of West Chester’s borough building. “You have to go up or down stairs to get to the offices, and not only that you have to cross a very busy street just to get there,” she said.

“With all due respect, this isn’t West Chester,” Dugan countered…..Borough manager Jean Krack said that in the most recent plan, that side of the building now has two windows….

“The interior is built on workflow, and to have people on different floors is wrong. This was built around working as a team,” Krack said.

Krack expressed concern that the council had set a finite budget amount for the building and that six thousand square feet had already been cut from the plans in order to stay within that budget.

“If we change anything, it will be several hundred thousand dollars [in cost],” Krack said…..Krack also said that holding another public meeting would push back the schedule of the building ….

Seems to me that Krack seems a little desperate to get this building shoved through?  That in and of itself is enough to make residents want to hit pause in my humble opinion.  I also think that Phoenixville needs to remember that the residents are the taxpayers and they in essence pay the Borough Manager’s salary.

I will say again I do not understand how Phoenixville’s Borough Manager and council people can justify the expense of this new borough hall in this economy. It was reported mid March by the Phoenixville Patch that they were considering cutting the police force. I don’t know about you, but if I lived in Phoenixville I would rather have the right sized police force, the necessary services, repaired roads (Phoenixville has lots of missing street signs and a lot of pot holes) versus a ginormous municipal building in an area they say floods.   Also at that meeting, Patch reported concerns from residents over a couple of development plans. (and don’t forget  that auction of  condos April 15th as per the Mercury.)

Well maybe it’s just me, but the design of this building isn’t much better than the giant Acme Market being built on Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr.  But what do I know?  I am just a mere mortal and a female….now see if I was in Phoenixville I would talk to the folks in Radnor who inherited the mess of THAT too super-sized municipal building.  I am pretty sure they seem to think NOW that they built too large a temple of excess there too a few years ago.

No one wants a butt ugly municipal building.  But there should be a common sense approach as to what can really be afforded and a happy medium between a quonset hut and something along the lines of the Taj Mahal.

Now is not the time to build the Taj Mahal.  It’s a shame they can’t do an adaptive reuse of an existing building – or even part of that old steel site now being developed. (in that case, wouldn’t it have made an interesting argument to see what the developer who is doing the steel site development would have been willing to do?)  But again, I am but a mere mortal and a female on the outside looking in.


circling back to french creek state park.

Well according to media reports like the Pottstown Mercury, the fire is STILL burning. 619 acres now:

(Updated at 11:50 a.m. April 12) UNION TWP. — Firefighters are still working to extinguish the wildfire burning in parts of French Creek State Park and Hopewell Furnace national park.

 According to information from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, breakout fires caused by embers from the fire containment zone flying into dead treetops located “just outside the control line” have caused the area affected by the fire to reach 619 acres.

“Crews working on making a secure control line yesterday were faced with embers igniting fuels outside the containment lines. These embers originated from dead trees just outside the control line. Flying embers, in many cases, have lodged in the dead tree tops hours before becoming visible to fire crew personnel,” read a press release from the DCNR

Now I had read somewhere yesterday about a couple of hikers needing to be rescued. Lordy, if the place is on fire, and you aren’t a first responder helping with that, why wander into a danger zone?  Makes no sense to me.

WFMZ Channel 69 also has good coverage of this.  The photos in this post are courtesy of my friend Richard Simons who was up at a campground a few miles away. He did not wander aimlessly into the fire zone – his photos were taken from a fair distance away.