letters home

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.

From Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum:

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:

The Morning Call: William R. Rapp Obituary

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.

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announcing the 13th annual tredyffrin historic house tour on september 23rd!

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Travel back in time … If you love history and architecture, you will not want to miss the much-anticipated 13th Annual Historic House Tour. The beautiful homes and gardens of seven historic homes featured on the 2017 Historic House Tour will be open from 12 Noon – 5 PM on Saturday, September 23 rain or shine.

Truthfully, I make absolutely NO secret of my delight and love of this September event put on by my dear friend Pattye Benson and the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust 

With regard to this tour, and I am a Patron Sponsor. I also photographed the houses on the tour for Pattye for a few years. This tour is quite exclusive, and it is a manageable number of houses and historic structures, so you can indeed see everything!

 Party for Preservation’ Preview Party ~ Sunday, September 17, 2017  6 – 9 PM

13th Annual Historic House Tour ~ Saturday, September 23,  2017 – Noon – 5 PM

CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR TICKETS TODAY!

 

The 2017 house tour features historic homes and gardens in Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships. As an added bonus, the Main Line Antiques Showis generously providing two tickets ($30 value) for its show on October 7 and 8, with each historic house tour ticket purchased. The only antiques show on Philadelphia’s Main Line, all proceeds benefit Surrey Services, which helps older adults to live with independence and dignity and to continue as active members of the community.

To celebrate historic preservation, the public is invited to attend Party for Preservation, the 13th Annual Historic House Tour Preview Party on Sunday, September 17, 6 PM – 9 PM  at the historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook.  An evening of fun with live music, food and drinks, join us to celebrate the homeowners and the homes featured on the tour and allow us to thank the generous individual and corporate sponsors who make the annual tour possible. Attendees will get a sneak preview of the beautiful homes featured on the 13th Annual Historic House Tour!

The annual historic house tour would not be possible without the generosity of individual and corporate sponsors.  Click 2017 House Tour Sponsor Packet for information about how you can be a sponsor and receive complimentary tickets to the house tour and the preview party.

This is a magical day always in Chester County and the preview party is a lot of fun!  I hope you join us!

small art

Small art is anything but. They are a little jewel boxes of works of art that you can tuck into small corners in your home. You can even tuck them into bookcases.

My friend Sherry Tillman, who is an artist and owns a store in Ardmore, PA called Past*Present*Future used to have an artist show hang in her store occasionally during First Friday Main Line events called a "Square Deal".

This "Square Deal" was a show that always intrigued me – it was a show of literally small art as in inches big that was affordable to everyone, and helped spread the principle of art in unexpected places and didn't intimidate people. Because that is the thing about art – it shouldn't intimidate people but it often does.

A lot of people when it comes to the art in their homes are hung up with names and value. To me it is more important to have something hanging that you love to look at, versus an actual monetary value.

Nothing is worth anything if it does not bring you pleasure when it comes to art. And beautiful art can be sourced from all sorts of places and doesn't have to cost a lot.

For example, one of my favorite pieces in my home has no real value and I found it quite literally on a trash pile before a home in Haverford, PA was demolished years ago near the Haverford School. It had meant something to the occupants of the home at one time, but it wasn't anything that would ever have resale value so after the property was sold the house with everything that was left inside of it was demolished. This one piece was left propped up with bags and bags and boxes of trash and I happened to see it walking my dogs. So I took it off the trash pile, and had it reframed.

Again, nothing valuable, I just like it.

And that is how I have chosen my art. Do I like it when I see it? Does it evoke emotion in me? Do I think it's pretty?

I have never forgotten those "Square Deal" art shows. They have made me mindful of the beauty of small pieces, so when I see ones that I love I don't pass them by.

Recently I found three very small pieces. Not expensive, in fact so inexpensive you might term them "cheap" yet there's nothing "cheap" about them.

These pieces are Chester County scenes and they are literally inches big. None of them are signed that I can determine, but I think they're beautiful.

I just tucked them into little spots around my house. And there they will hang, bringing me pleasure.

I have written before about how you can find art all over the place. You can find artists hanging art at local fairs and festivals. You can find art at garage and yard sales and even estate sales. You can pick art out of barns, and find it in thrift shops and consignment stores. The piece just above this paragraph is a little winter scene oil painting. I paid six dollars for it. It is about 3" x 5". Tiny and I love it.

You can also find reasonably priced art of lesser known artists at local galleries. It doesn't have to be expensive – the most basic of rules (again) is you just have to like it.

The only person you need to impress with your art choices is yourself. Art is a very personal thing – just ask any artist who creates. And don't forget as we grow as human beings, often or tastes will change or evolve. So you don't have to be wed to pieces. You can swap things out.

Twenty years ago I would've looked at people like they were crazy if someone mentioned to me how cool small art was. Today, I totally get it and appreciate it.

Experiment with small art. And always remember you can source local art probably more inexpensively wherever you live then the fake art canvases you will find at stores like Home Goods or TJ Maxx.

When you find yourself a piece of local art it ties you to where you are from no matter where you move in the course of your life. Small art is portable. And to me the other thing that is important to me is someone actually took the time to create it, it just wasn't an image transferred in a factory onto a canvas.

One of the great things about living in Chester County is the fact that there is a thriving arts scene. You can find beautiful quality pieces hanging in local galleries and shops, festivals, fairs, and so on. And one of the things I love is the abundance of small pieces out there that you can buy to experiment with.

Small art. It's a good thing 😊

Thanks for stopping by.

chester county history seen through…postcards

I was hunting for a Chester County book on eBay recently and came across by accident some really cool old postcards about Chester County.

No, I did not buy any, these are just screen shots. But these little postcards are like snapshots of our county’s history! I think it’s pretty cool so I decided to post some of them. Long before a text message and selfies on social media, we had post cards.

I have a couple of friends who actually send postcards to friends and family still today when they travel. They are as still as fun to receive today as when I was a child.

Postcards and handwritten letters are almost obsolete in today’s world. I think that is a shame indeed.  

Anyway, I hope you enjoy looking at these old postcards!


converse auctions

I was going to antiques shows before I could spell “antique”. It was something in particular my late father loved to do, and for years my mother was a volunteer for the Philadelphia Antiques Show, and even I volunteered for a couple of years in the 90s.

Antiques shows and sales and auctions are just things I love. Even if most of the time I am just looking and not buying.

Many many years ago before there was a Public Storage at 55 Lancaster Ave. in Malvern, there was a local auction house – Josie Narcisi Auctions. I remember they used to run ads for “absolute auctions every Friday!”

Anyway I first bid at an auction at Josie Narcisi’s. When I was much younger (as in still living with my parents) my elderly neighbor and his housekeeper took me to my first auction. My neighbor was a real and serious collector of beautiful antiques and taught me how to bid at my first auction.  I still remember what it was I bid on – it was a box a lot of mixed items for $25.

Today it was like coming full circle when I went to pick up a small porcelain box I won in an auction at Converse Auctions….at 57 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern.

Converse Auctions is the business of Todd Converse, whose father is Gordon Converse of Antiques Roadshow fame.

I stumbled across the notice for the recent online auction somehow – Facebook maybe – and decided to register.

I never in a million years thought I would win anything because most of everything that was in the auction was out of my price range. But there was one little tea caddy box that I thought was lovely so I bid on it and for $60 it became mine. That is the fun thing about auctions: you just never know.

Anyway it was a totally fun experience, and for those looking for places to consign better antique items, they accept consignments for future auctions!  And every Tuesday they offer free appraisals during   business hours – just contact them for details.

Find Converse on the web at http://www.converseauctions.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ConverseAuctions

And while we are talking shows and auctions one of my favorite shows is coming up – The Chester County Antiques Show!

The Chester County Historical Society (CCHS) is widely respected as one of the Commonwealth’s premier history museums and educational centers, playing an important role in history education, cultural diversity and economic impact for the Southeastern Pennsylvania region. In its 35th year, the Chester County Antiques Show is CCHS’s largest community and fundraising event.

Chaired by Francis “Fran” B. Jacobs II. and Chuck & June Piola, the show will be held from April 7-9, 2017 at the Phelps School. The Phelps School in Malvern is a unique facility which features accessibility, spaciousness, and natural light that will create the perfect setting for the vendors and all of their antique items.

The theme of this year’s event is Botany. The show attracts visitors and collectors every year to view its variety of items and furniture. We invite you to support the 35th annual show by becoming a sponsor of this one-of-a-kind Chester County tradition.

Friday, April 7 – Preview Party – 5pm early admission ($200 per person)
6pm regular admission ($140 per person)
Saturday, April 8 – General Admission from 10am to 6pm – $15.00 per person (Lectures included)
Sunday, April 9 – General Admission from 11am – 5pm – $15.00 per person. Children 10 and under FREE.

ccas

psssst? want to hear a secret?

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My friend Janet just broke the news and I had to share.  Clover Market is coming to Kennett Square in the Spring of 2017!  I think I may actually know something coming to Kennett before my dear friend and fellow blogtress Tilda Tally-Ho.

So you might not have ever heard of Clover Market, but trust me those who seek vintage, antiques, local art and high end curated crafts and handmade jewelry….Clover is a gem.

I have been a Clover Market fan since it started in the spring of 2010.  As a matter of fact I was one of  the many people who went to meeting after meeting in Lower Merion Township until Janet got approved.

Opening day for the very first Clover Market in April 2010 was a smash!  (And yes that is Miss Patti La Belle with Janet – my photo)

So Clover has been a hit ever since.  2017 will be Bryn Mawr, Kennett, Collingswood NJ, and Chestnut Hill. Chester County save the date!

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