It looks like a painting. But it is real life. Taken a short time ago over in Westtown. I made my last trip probably to Pete’s Produce for the season. (They have the most fabulous pumpkins this year, but I digress.)
Heaven on earth is where we call home here in Chester County. Traveling through the scarred battle zone of raped land of the Sunoco Logistics Pipeline horror show to get to Pete’s really made an impression today.
We as residents need to do a better job advocating for Chester County herself. Election Day will be here in a blink. The power of your vote is one of the greatest ways to be heard. Those who are NOT stewards of the land need to GO.
We need more land preservation and land conservation and less development. We need to see what can be done to save what is left of our beautiful landscapes, including from the damn pipelines.
We have an agricultural and equine heritage that needs to be saved. We have waterways and woods and wildlife and even the humble honey bee depending on us.
We can’t just talk about it and we certainly can’t depend upon the Chester County Planning Commission. Pretty pie-graphs and surveys just take up space on a website. What are they doing, really? What are the Chester County Commissioners doing, really? Planned photo ops are good for politics, what do they actually do for all of us? The all like to say they are helping plan our future in Chester county but I ask again exactly whose futures are the planning? Mine, yours, or theirs and those who make lots of political contributions?
I was down on the Main Line a few times over the past few weeks. I realized once again how I truly now dislike where I used to call home. And it is not just the great pretenders to what now passes as the “social” scene. It’s the density, the roads, the overall frantic pace and congestion. I realized how I literally exhale when I start to feel the open sky, fields, and forest of Chester County every time I am coming home.
But we are at such risk of losing that. We are at serious risk of losing Chester County. From the history to the land, forests, fields, water (wells, streams, lakes, everything), to the old farm houses and barns to other historic structures — we have to act.
As my friend Mindy Rhodes has wisely said via M. Jankowski “If not you, then who?” and John Lewis “If not now, then when?”
Think about it. Start with who you vote for. And what you vote for.
I wrote about gossip in 2013. As I said then, there is within human nature the desire to gossip or chatter about others. Anyone who says they haven’t done it isn’t being honest with themselves.
I have met men who were terrible gossips, but truthfully it is an especially female weapon. It is used in my opinion most often to wound and hurt instead of the person really addressing what is wrong.
Why are women so cruel to each other? Some say it is a basic evolutionary drive of women that men don’t have. Some say it is low self-esteem. I think it is also that some people are just have nothing better to do.
What is it about human nature that makes some people relish the distress of others? And why would you do that to someone who has only shown you kindness in some cases?
Why is it in the human dynamic to be cruel to one and other?
Today I learned of a recent conversation involving me. It is the second one recently. I marvel at how people who have never met me or have maybe met me once or twice love to talk about me. I am not that fascinating and what boring, tiny lives they must lead. They want to know what makes me tick. Part of the answer? Not them.
My radar has always gone up when I meet people who are way too personal too fast, too helpful, are always telling everyone how helpful they are. These are the people that collect names of those they feel are socially helpful like kids collecting baseball cards….or savages and scalps (take your pick.) These are the people who take a million selfies and the selfies fall into three categories (a) a core group of those who exhibit slavish devotion (b) themselves wherever and (c) with people they really don’t know, but it’s good to be in a photo with them. These are the people who are, in the end, out for themselves.
I choose not to be around people like that. They are toxic and basically, they just use people until they have no more use. I want people who are shall we say of higher moral quality than that.
I have friends from every stage of my life. They come from grade school through to the present. My type of friend is loyal. Not phony. Not a friend recycler (the people who literally recycle their friends every few years.) I don’t want the friends who constantly play the “do you know” game, because I don’t really care. I know lots of people and so what?
I avoid social climbers. For example, they will never, ever in a month of Sundays get why you volunteer, truly. (HINT: it’s not so someone will take your “society” photo)
A few years before I left the Main Line I saw a new breed on the scene. I watched them as I like to observe. Pushy and obvious, labels don’t make the person even if you sport the labels. This new breed wasn’t even necessarily of the giant bank account. They just wanted to belong so very desperately, completely not getting that people smell that desperation and stroll past it.
I have been off the Main Line for many moons at this point and some of these types are still fascinated by me, or news of me and why? I’m just a person – and these are never people that are discussing me because I’m interesting, it’s because they are trying to stir malice with gossip. They don’t know me, but more importantly, I choose not to know them. They exist for people to know them or of them.
I also am the subject of bizarre gossip because I am a blogger. And in this case people who have literally never met me as in ever. They read what I write and decide based upon that who I must be. Again, people I choose not to know.
These acts of random gossip mean I will probably never want to have a conversation with you. I make my choices, and am for the most part not a follower. I never have been — truly it is nothing new. I was never a girl in a clique even in high school. The fact I joined a sorority in college was somewhat unusual. But I joined my sorority because the girls in it were fiercely independent and did not wear their starter pearls with t-shirts. (And they are still cool.)
I judge people on their merit. If someone causes me to feel even minor aversion, it is usually with good reason.
We all were not put on earth to hang out with each other. It would be exhausting.
People gossip to feel superior. People gossip out of boredom. People gossip out of envy and an effort to belong.
Put your intellectual curiosity to better use…or better yet, address the subject of your cross examinations personally.
I had an appointment in Wayne so I stopped at Valley Forge Flowers, more specifically The Barn at Valley Forge Flowers.
I love Christmas and I noticed they were literally decking the halls so I had to go in and check things out. They have some fabulous Christmas ornaments and holiday hostess gifts if you are in the market for them.
Especially take note of the fabulous German ornaments in the section known as The Cottage at Valley Forge Flowers. And like a complete dork, that’s the one photo I neglected to snap!
Please note that my opinions are my own and I have not been compensated in any way or given preferential treatment for writing my little review of a fabulous shopping experience. I am just a happy customer!
Today, many of you will be bored. I’m not writing about anything exciting. I am writing about the everyday, the mundane. I am writing about dishes left in the sink overnight.
I think when you grow up you come from one of two camps: those who clean up the kitchen in it’s entirety at the end of every day, and those who leave things in the sink for the next day. I definitely grew up in the former category.
The photo above is not bad because trust me, I have come down some mornings to find both sinks filled to the brim with dishes, drowning in water that flops over to the counter because the water level is that high in the sink.
My sweet man will tell you I am obsessed about dishes in the sink. Maybe I am, maybe I am not. I think it all depends on what camp you were raised in – those who leave dishes in the sink overnight and those who do not.
I think sometimes however, I just have a crazy clean Italian gene. I love to cook, but I hate kitchen mess. Some people are perfectly comfortable with sinks full of dishes. Ask anyone in my house and they will tell you it quite literally makes me twitch. Maybe that’s because I did so much of the cleaning up of the kitchen growing up.
Growing up I was my mother’s favorite party help because she know if she told me to clean up the dishes I would. My sister would evaporate, literally. My parents would have the dinner party, and if we were around, we cleaned up. Or more specifically, me, because usually it was me.
It sort of became my de facto place during holiday meals – I would go into the kitchen to clean up because I knew I was going to have to, anyway. And it’s funny I still do the same things today as an adult in my own home. I love to cook, I love to have people over for dinner, but it’s like I twitch unless I clean up the kitchen.
What kitchen camp do you come from?
Thanks for stopping by, i’m going to go clean up my kitchen now 😂
Gretchen Carlson has been credited with cracking the secretive world of workplace sexual harassment thanks to her landmark case against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.
But she’s convinced the scathing allegations of assault and harassment leveled against Harvey Weinstein published by The New York Times and The New Yorker, and the tidal wave of women coming forward with similar stories in the last week and a half, is the real turning point.
“What we’re seeing happening now with the Harvey Weinstein revelations, to me this is the watershed moment,” she told USA TODAY. “This is the tipping point I’ve been working so hard for over the last 15 months. People are finally saying ‘enough.'”
A reporter friend of mine today asked the following as she was researching her story:
Does the #metoo make you feel more empowered? Do you think this is a here today/ gone tomorrow story?
Sexual Harassment is not new – does the fact it’s a Hollywood producer and accusers are stars give the issue more clarity- more weight that now is the time for discussion?
Sigh. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are not new. Just #metoo is new. It is still so hard for victims of either sexual harassment or sexual assault to report either. No matter what victims seem to get victimized again in the process. And that is total sad reality, isn’t it?
Also to consider are the women who cry wolf in these situations for whatever twisted motivation they might have. Yes, seriously, and I know of more than one instance over my lifetime. And for every person who cries wolf, that makes it all the harder for women who have been victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
So according to the media this #metoo has been a crazy trigger for women to talk about this. It’s truly all over social media, pick your platform.
What did I post on my own timeline?
It’s the truth. When I think of sexual assault and sexual harassment, I think of it in terms of which women do I know who hasn’t experienced some form of either. And we, the everyday women in this country, will still be here long after the bright lights of Hollywood have moved onto the next cause célèbre.
And let us not forget what President Trump and Betsy De Vos have cooked up for Title IX, shall we? Good little foot soldiers of the current “republic” I am sure are claiming “fake news” but is US New and World Report really “fake news”?
Here is what the US News and World Report said:
Title IX was originally enacted in 1972 to prevent discrimination in schools based on sex, but has since expanded to cover issues relating to sexual assault. No longer for just equality, it requires educational institutions that receive federal funding to have a procedure in place for handling complaints of sexual harassment, discrimination, and violence.
The law was reshaped during the Obama administration in an effort to improve how colleges handle sexual assaults, but DeVos told The Associated Press the system “is not working right and well for anyone.”
So when I posted #MeToo did I mean me too?
For me, it was literally decades ago. No one at this point needs the gory details. It accomplishes nothing. It happened and that was bad enough.
For years I denied to myself what happened and alternately blamed myself for what happened.
As I grew up from this thing I experienced, I came in contact with other women who themselves had been victims of either sexual harassment or sexual assault and in many cases were then victimized by the system. I also knew of women who cried wolf and almost tanked the lives of men who had not been sexual predators.
I did not talk about it, I did not tell anyone when it actually happened.
Eventually because a light bulb went off in my head, I did deal with it. I finally accepted what happened was not my fault, and quite honestly I worked through it with a therapist. I knew if I did not I would become as screwed up as many women I had encountered who never did anything about it even just for their sanity.
But sociologically speaking, it’s still kind of a dirty little secret isn’t it? This is a topic that makes people uncomfortable, yet it happened every single day. We are now as women told to speak up, but if you are just a regular person what happens? Do people magically descend from the ceiling with flaming swords to defend your honor?
It’s hard enough to go to anyone and talk about this, but still today, doesn’t it seem nearly impossible to get action taken? We’ve all read the horror stories of when rape victims take things to court. And with sexual harassment in the workplace as a woman you get to lose lots and lots of sleep over taking action, or sucking it up and moving on so you don’t taint your career with reporting something, don’t you?
Why are the victims victimized twice?
There are women I know who will never, ever get over what happened to them. And that is even with people supporting them and encouraging them to at least get therapy. And it has screwed with their lives incredibly.
Yes, we need to stand up and say #MeToo but we need to persist so the every day non-Hollywood girls and women are helped. We need to remember the ordinary women who stand in the shadows waiting for help. The women who get so lost inside their own heads on this that it affects their lives, their children’s lives, truly the lives of everyone who cares about them.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment are as old as time. We all need to do better.
Thanks for stopping by.
My post yesterday letters home has sparked interest in Chester County genealogy buffs and thanks to Tina S. of West Chester, we have some pieces to the puzzle of my soldier letter writer, William Rapp of New Tripoli, Lehigh Couny PA.
But before then a note: I got them from a friend who purchased them at auction.
Tina first messaged me when she found more on William’s mother, Florence. This is what she said:
Hi. I have found that Florence divorced her husband and raised her son herself before 1940. …lHer parents were John A Kuntz 1854-1938 and Mary Alice Rex 1858-1945.
Florence must have been one plucky lady. Divorce for women at that time was extraordinarily difficult.
Here is her obituary:
She was a teacher, and obviously a very independent lady for her time. She lived with her son until her passing at 92. She was a teacher for 43 years!
Tina is looking for relatives we can contact. Much like Finding Your Roots on PBS. What Tina has learned via Ancestry.com is no one seems to be looking for William. Perhaps his descendants and relatives did not know he existed? Only more research will tell.
Tina discovered an article written about William in 2006 in the Morning Call.
April 30, 2006|By Frank Whelan Of The Morning Call
There is a house on the edge of New Tripoli out on Decatur Road about a stone’s throw from the 19th century brick Ebenezer UCC church. A simple white shingled little place, it began its life as a log cabin. There is history here and that is my beat. They call me the house detective.
On a certain bright April morning I found myself bouncing west with the home’s owner, Jayson Boushell, 28 year old real estate guy who works with his wife, Jessica, at Countrywide Home Loans.
As the country opens up before us Boushell is telling me about the house and the unique fellow who lives there.
His name is William Rapp, and it is his story about the house I had come to hear. Although he has purchased the house, Boushell says that it was part of the agreement that Rapp would live there as long as he wanted to.
History is made rich by the people who occupy the buildings, so I was pleased for the opportunity to learn about Rapp’s life while he was an occupant of the house.
We pull up to the house and Rapp is there to greet us. He is 83 and does not get around as much as he use to. But his mind is sharp.
Rapp has lived here almost all of his life, at least since the early 1930s, in this old building. Most of that time was spent living with his mother, a school teacher who once taught him in a one room schoolhouse….Rapp had been in the service in World War II in both Europe and Asia, crossing the Rhine and waiting for that invasion of Japan that never to happened. He went to Muhlenberg College, later got a degree in industrial engineering and worked at Bethlehem Steel…..
William’s father’s name was Louis Rapp. He is a bit of a mystery.
Tina through her genealogy research discovered Louis Rapp (William’s father) was born in 1888 but was living with an Aunt & Uncle in 1900 at age 15 in Brooklyn, NY and in 1910 he is with a different family member of his mother’s. He is 22 and still in Brooklyn.
Tina is looking for 1920 to see what turns up.
Tina also through her genealogy research has NOT found the divorce of William’s parents Florence and Louis Rapp yet but they were together in 1923.
Florence then reportedly gets ill in January 1928 through April 1929. It says an attack of jaundice. We don’t see him with her after that time in 1923.
In 1930 Louis Rapp is living in Philadelphia- or Chester Pa (not sure). The WWII registration says he’s staying in Washington DC in 1942.
Louis , like the son he seems to have abandoned, also apparently signs up for WWII. Were they in Washington DC and surrounding area at the same time we wonder?
Stay tuned! I will also post more when I get through more of the letters! Initial research indicates that family members may have the surname Rex, and some quite possibly either live or used to live in Chester County.
Sometimes I am inexplicably drawn to things. That happened today when I bought a pack of letters a son wrote to his mother throughout World War II.
His name was William Rapp. The letters are from him to his mother. Her name was Florence Rapp and she lived in New Tripoli Lehigh County.
The letters start in November of 1942 when he is at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland.
The first letter I read he is telling his mother about a Veronica Lake movie he saw called “I Married a Witch”. That made me smile because I remember watching it as a little girl on the black-and-white television in my parents’ breakfast room – I loved that movie!
I have not read all the letters yet, although I have sat here obsessively reading them since I got home a little while ago.
The letters progress from being hand written on stationary to War Department V-Mail Service letters.
The V-Mail letters are like photo copies of the original letters and shrunk and mailed in tiny envelopes.
V-Mail or Victory mail, was a valuable tool for the military during World War II. The process, which originated in England, was the microfilming of specially designed letter sheets. Instead of using valuable cargo space to ship whole letters overseas, microfilmed copies were sent in their stead and then “blown up” at an overseas destination before being delivered to military personnel
I never knew about this mail process until I bought these letters￼. It’s fascinating.
William, or Billy as he sometimes signs his letters, is a prolific writer. And the letters stretch well into 1945. They go from London to France to I’m not sure where – I will learn that as I finish reading the letters.
But in these letters the soldier writes home to his mom, we learn about life in wartime Europe although I daresay it seems he sanitized the conditions somewhat to spare her feelings and keep her from worrying.
He speaks about seeing a play in London with, and a vacation pass of sorts where he went on a trip to Scotland.
We have a glimpse into a soldier’s life in France during World War II when he speaks about learning to sleep in a sleeping bag on the ground covered with pine needles.
One letter that really got to me so far was writing to his mother after he learned his grandmother had died.
Another letter, I learned he had been at Muhlenberg before war broke out.
I found his obituary. He passed away in 2007:
William R. Rapp, 85, of New Tripoli, passed away on Tuesday, September 11 in his home, where he enjoyed gardening and chess. Born in Allentown, he was a son of the late Louis and Florence M. (Kuntz) Rapp. He was a 1938 graduate of Slatington High School with honors, fourth in his class and a member of the National Honor Society. Graduating with senior honors from Muhlenberg College in 1942, he was admitted to the A.S.T.P. at Ft. Bragg, N.C., and subsequently attended the Georgia Institute of Technology for one year studying mathematics and engineering. Bill served active military duty overseas in both the European and Pacific theaters of War during World War II in the Army attaining the rank of T/4 with the 3186 Signal Service Battalion. He attained a military specialty in that capacity although he saw no combat in the Pacific because the war ended before he reached Manila, Philippines.
Once he returned to the Lehigh Valley, Bill was employed by PP&L for four years being given a special training program. He was a commercial representative in Lancaster County and wrote ad copy. He was employed by Bethlehem Steel Corp. for 26 years dividing his time between industrial engineering and computer science. He was a member of Chapter 77 of the Industrial Engineering Society while employed as an industrial engineer. In computer science, he wrote FORTRAN programs for mainframes, principally I.B.M. Bill also wrote several in-house papers for Bethlehem Steel for maintenance, and also for providing for the combination mill at Saucon Mills as well as multiple machine interference factors.
He owns a copyright in a development of Ellipse Odyssey written in basic language of an Apple Computer. He was a member of New Life Evangelical Lutheran Church, New Tripoli. Survivors: There are no immediate survivors.
Services: Graveside services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, September 14, Ebenezer Cemetery, New Tripoli. No calling hours. Arrangements by Keller Funeral Homes, New Tripoli. Contributions: To be made to the church, c/o the funeral home, P.O. Box 75, New Tripoli, PA 18066.
Published in Morning Call on Sept. 12, 2007
And now I, a perfect stranger, have some of his letters home. I don’t know their journey on their way to reach me since the obituary states he died without survivors. I’m not sure that he ever married.
There are so few of the greatest generation left. And when we speak about honoring veterans, these are the small stories we should remember. The stories of good men who throughout our history, have fought for our freedoms.
Thanks for stopping by.