the garden bench

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I took this when I was taking my Tredyffrin photos the other day.  Don’t you just want to sit on this bench with a cup of coffee or a good book?

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deadly decision (updated 6/4/15)

 UPDATE 6/4/2015

No winners here. This young woman, now pregnant with another child has been sentenced to prison for the death she caused with the accident.  This is in published media reports, so it is public knowledge.  I hope this woman can get through this.  I still feel the same about her prior behavior, but there are no winners in this case. At least this time family members could be seen with her.

Here is the coverage:

Meredith Williams-Earle (in black and pink dress) leaving courtroom with her husband, Timothy Earle (left), and her attorney Christian Hoey. (Laura McCrystal/Staff)
 On the morning of Aug. 6, 2013, the Lower Merion mother took a prescription sedative, swigged champagne, and filled a plastic cup with whiskey as she headed out the door.

Then she strapped her 2-year-old son into his loosely fastened car seat in the back of her Toyota Prius and set out to drive him to day care. At Spring Mill Road and Morris Avenue in Bryn Mawr, Williams-Earle sped through a stop sign and slammed into a flower delivery van.

Its 72-year-old driver died at the scene.

Now pregnant with her third child, Williams-Earle, 32, sat sobbing Tuesday in Montgomery County Court, apologizing and pleading for mercy…Judge William R. Carpenter said the death of Winston Staats could not be overlooked. Turning aside her requests to be free before her baby is born, he sentenced Williams-Earle to nine to 23 months.

The sentence brought to an end a tragic case that even perplexed the jury….The jury convicted her of driving under the influence and reckless endangerment – including endangering her own child…..and deadlocked on vehicular homicide.  By pleading guilty Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter, she avoided a retrial.

FROM BEFORE:

meredith 3When Meredith Williams-Earle, a high school Latin teacher who lives in Bryn Mawr near Historic Harriton House, got into her car on August 6th, she was above the legal limit for alcohol and had Ativan (Lorazepam) in her system.  Not only that, but she had one of her children in the car.

What happened next, no one except her would know for sure, but media reports (based upon police reports) indicate mweshe blew threw a stop sign at Spring Mill Road and Morris Avenue and struck and killed an older man in a delivery van.   Main Line Media News reported she was going 42 miles per hour.

I know where those roads meet quite well.  I worked in one of the Tower Bridge Buildings in Conshohocken for a decade and that is how I traveled back and forth. I remember hearing about the accident on KYW News Radio in my car when I was buzzing around on August 6th and thinking “wow that sounds like it could be bad.” You see, initial radio reports were in the form of a traffic advisory, no mention of anything other than something like it being called a serious accident.

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I was also saddened to learn that not only was this 30 year old mother a meredith 2teacher, but a graduate of my alma mater The Shipley School as well (and no I have no clue who she is, and I do not believe she was even born when I graduated high school). So bright, a mom, lived in a nice area, so what went wrong? Because something did.

meredithI am asking because the media has been floating photos of her out on the Internet and well, there seems to have been a metamorphosis.  She went from being a pretty co-ed at UPenn and pretty young teacher to the mug shot above.  You don’t travel from point A to point C without a point B. (And I am sure some reader somewhere will roll up and give me grief about writing about this, unfortunately.)

Bryn Mawr woman charged with DUI in fatal crash that killed Conshohocken man

Published: Friday, August 30, 2013 By Linda Stein
lstein@mainlinemedianews.com

Meredith Williams-Earle, a high school Latin teacher who grew up in Bryn Mawr, was trembling as she sat next to her lawyers at a preliminary hearing Thursday related to an accident that took the life of a 72-year-old flower shop delivery driver.

Williams-Earle, 30, who teaches at Interboro High School, was driving a Toyota Prius with her 2-year-old son in a car seat when she allegedly ran a stop sign and struck a van at 10:28 a.m. on Aug. 6 at the corner of Spring Mill Road and Morris Avenue in the Bryn Mawr section of Lower Merion, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office……..Officers spoke to Williams-Earle at the scene and smelled alcohol. Her eyes were glassy and her speech slightly slurred, police said…..Later…Williams-Earle allegedly admitted to Officer John Kuvik that she had taken Ativan the night before and felt dizzy that morning, according to the criminal complaint. …..a friend told her that alcohol reverses the effect of that sedative so she had drunk some leftover Champagne, the complaint said….defense lawyer Joseph Hylan argued that his client had lived in Lower Merion her entire life, was a graduate of The Shipley School….She lives with her husband, mother and two young children, on the 700 block of Harriton Rd.

DSC00662Ativan and champagne are a heck of a combination.  And the drug is prescribed for anxiety, correct? So I have to ask in the pill happy nation in which we live, who was monitoring this young mom and for what? What she one of the millions of women detrimentally affected by depression after having children? Was something going on regarding the home front? This is a woman who doesn’t appear to have had many brushes with the law so to speak (although I did find record of a speeding ticket in Radnor Township in 2011.)

Also something that bothers me is she did the “perp walk” caught on camera alone.

Where is her familial support?  Wouldn’t you think a young mom like this would have had either her husband or mother there?   A friend? A grandparent, aunt, uncle, someone?  The media reports that she grew up in Bryn Mawr and lives in that house currently with her husband, mother, and little kids.

NBC10 Philadelphia: Teacher Charged in Deadly Drunk Driving Crash         

By     Lauren DiSanto    |  Friday, Aug 30, 2013  |  Updated 6:16 AM EDT

A Delaware County teacher is charged in a drunk driving crash that killed a 72-year-old Vietnam War veteran.

Meredith Williams-Earle, who teaches at the Interboro School District, was charged today with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence and recklessly endangering another person.

My initial reaction was to write a much more harsh post.  I have a huge problem with drinking and driving.   There are just too many tragedies.

But as I have read and seen the media coverage and read the comments left by people on websites with articles on this, the conclusion I come to in my opinion, is this is a woman in crisis. And these charges she is facing unless a county judge grants leniency is up to 3 years in jail.

My instincts (and I do not know her or even of her), is this is a person who would not survive jail.  And what good is justice if it creates more motherless children?

I have to think that this is a woman who needed help but no one was listening, or listening closely enough.  How do you live in a house with someone (again media reports other adults in her household, a husband and mother) and not know someone is in trouble or self-medicating?

Ativan is a high potency drug often used as a sedative. It is also  is used in the short-term treatment of anxiety and insomnia.  There could be any number of reasons she took it.  She could have been prescribed it or someone stupidly could have just given her some to take the edge off. We live in a nation of extreme pharmacology and well, pills are the new jellybean at times I think.

Sedatives are things I find both serious and scary.  If she was taking this drug for whatever reason she should not have been in a car, let alone left alone with the potential for pulling a Karen Ann Quinlan by mixing hard core prescription drugs with alcohol. And whomever this “friend” was who suggested she mix Ativan with champagne is a huge loser.   A friend is the person who says if you are dizzy let’s get you to a doctor, not have a drink and you can get in the car.

This young woman faces a boatload of charges (see docket sheet) –  two counts of homicide by vehicle, three DUI counts, recklessly endangering another person, reckless driving, careless driving, failure to stop at a stop sign, speeding and improperly restraining a child.

This is what you call a real tragedy, boys and girls. A 72 year old man not wearing a seatbelt and everything that was going on with Meredith Williams-Earle.

Meredith Williams-Earle is a woman in crisis.  I don’t know why no one has addressed whatever is obviously going on with her, but I wish they would.  I do not think she is just some run of the mill gal who likes to play with drugs and alcohol.  I believe, right or wrong, that she needs serious help. And support from her family.  Because if she had help and more familial support or even familial awareness I am not sure she would have been behind the wheel the fateful day of August 6th, are you? But I wasn’t there, I don’t know, and can only guess and opine…as can all of us except immediate family.

There are no winners here, only quite a few take away lessons of life. This story makes me sad.

now we learn our abc’s…and are judged?

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I just read an essay that I find thought-provoking today  by Kevin Williamson of the National Review Online.

Evict the Rich, White Liberals    By  Kevin Williamson

I’ve intentionally put off commenting on Allison Benedikt’s little essay (“If you send your kid to private school, you are a bad person”) in Slate, but I think I have come up with a policy option that would satisfy both Ms. Benedikt’s concerns and my own inclinations as well. She writes: “Everyone needs to be invested in our public schools in order for them to get better. Not just lip-service investment, or property tax investment, but real flesh-and-blood-offspring investment.”

This is true, but it is inadequate. In fact, almost everybody already is invested in our public schools — by most estimates, 90 percent or more of U.S. students attend public schools….Redistributing funds is not sufficient; we have to redistribute people.

What we obviously must do, therefore, is turn rich white liberals out of their homes.

Ideally, they would relocate to the very worst neighborhoods, where, applying the Benedikt  principle, they would do the most good. But I do not really care where they go, so long as they go.

This is not so radical an idea as it may seem. We seize investors’ capital in the name of the public good all the time.

I have to ask: if you live in an area where the public schools have  shall we say “issues” (West Chester Area School District or Coatesville Area School District or Phoenixville Area School District all come to mind ) or you just decide it’s your money and that is where you want your kid to go to school, I have to ask who the heck is Allison Benedikt to judge?

Now here is an excerpt of her “manifesto” (which is really just a bitch-fest):

If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person

A manifesto.

By |Posted     Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, at 5:50 AM

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve…..(Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn’t be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)…So, how would this work exactly? It’s simple! Everyone needs to be invested in our public schools in order for them to get better. Not just lip-service investment, or property tax investment, but real flesh-and-blood-offspring investment……I went K–12 to a terrible public school. My high school didn’t offer AP classes, and in four years, I only had to read one book. There wasn’t even soccer. This is not a humblebrag!

If parents decide instead of public school to send their kids to charter school which do their best to emulate private schools, is Allison Benedikt going to chastise those parents too? (And interestingly enough if you want to look at Chester County school districts, while West Chester Area School District  has a fairly large seepage rate  to charter schools yet neighboring Great Valley School District has literally an amazingly low number like under a dozen kids  in charter schools what does THAT say about some school districts?)

I mean is it just me or are we suffering the angst and pity party of one on the part of this writer Allison Benedikt because she can’t get over the fact she had to go to public school? Waaaaaaaaahhhhh!

Except for three years where my parents decided to try out the purportedly fabulous public schools of Lower Merion Township, I am a pure product of private school.  I am also extremely unapologetic about it.  St. Peter’s for elementary school in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia and then Upper School at Shipley in Bryn Mawr.

I am one of those people that as a kid I thrived in a smaller school setting.  I thank my lucky stars every day that my parents made sacrifices so we could attend private school.  Today they might not have been able to afford it, private school is so ridiculous in price.  I will be honest: I hated Welsh Valley Junior High School. It  was a pit.  It still is today.

I still remember my first day as a public school kid in Lower Merion Township – we had moved to Gladwyne from Society Hill (we later moved to Haverford) and that summer before 7th grade was bittersweet.  I missed my friends in Society Hill but I was loving the then (certainly not now as it is so over-developed)  country feel of Gladwyne with Mr. Gwinn and all his horses across the street.  I had made some tentative friendships in the neighborhood, but nothing much beyond neighborhood games of kick the can and whatnot.

1970s candiesOn first day attending Welsh Valley Junior High School (and I was terrified by this HUGE school after being at a small day private day school), this pinch faced blonde (she grew up to be pinch faced too) whose mother had let her buy Candies (they first came out in the mid-1970s, remember?) and had not checked her with the crimping iron (remember the days of zig-zaggy looking hair?) walks up to me not to say “hi” but to look me up and down, sniff and utter her most obnoxious comment (she thought) “oh look a city girl.” You see, I had not been spawned with these girls, so I was too different to ever fit their cookie cutter image.  But I have never been able to walk in Candies (nor did I want to own them) , so it is all good I suppose.

Welsh Valley was like the suburban version of the Jets and The Sharks, only there were more groups.  There were cliques and groups based on where you lived in the township, there were cliques based on simple economics, cliques based on religion, cliques based on race, cliques based on sports.  And then there was just everyone else who didn’t fit in a particular clique.

Eventually I made friends, and I have to this day kept some of the friends I made, but I hated Welsh Valley.  So when my parents said at the end of 9th grade that I could go to Shipley where my best friend Anna went to school, I jumped at the chance.  And incidentally, to be able to catch up with the level of education at private schools, I had to take summer school that summer – apparently the Lower Merion School District was lacking in some areas.

At Shipley I found a home and myself.  Smaller classes, kids more to my liking and fewer vicious girl cliques.

Allison Benedikt would have you hate your parents if they sent you to private school. She would have you hate your neighbors and friends for choosing anything other than public school.  She wants the world to be some sort of reverse fresh air fund. Now while entitled to her opinion, again, I think she should just be honest with herself if not the audience she writes for.

I also feel that I was not put on earth to be a crusader for public schools.  Public school systems are about politics and the economics of government waste as much as anything else, so unless you are willing to go whole hog and reform the politics and economics, nothing will every really change. It is just a vicious cycle.

Allison Benedikt is pissed off she did not go to private school. That seems to be her hair shirt.  That is not my problem, nor yours.  Don’t measure and judge people by where they send their kids to school, public or private. Don’t judge the kids by that, either.  It is the quality of the person that counts.  After all, we all come from somewhere.  Variety makes the world go round.

helping preserve chester county history

DSC_0217I am pleased to report to my readers that I once again have taken the pre-event photos for Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s Historic House Tour.

The event is in it’s 9th year and there are some VERY cool houses on the tour this year. The houses date from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century.    Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online.  The tour is Saturday, September 28, 2013 Noon – 5 PM.

This tour is the week before Chester County Day, so you can do both!!!

This is a really sweet house tour and I for one got some garden ideas just doing the pre-event photos!

To learn more about the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, please visit their website.