Forty years. Seems inconceivable. And Shipley 1981 was several lifetimes ago for a lot of us. Yet here we are.
We have lost three members of our class far too young. Alison Sweet Zieff (2010), Amy Beth Rowan (2020), Pam Post (2021). I will admit I felt each loss rather acutely because these were all amazing women. My husband says we are at “that age”, my mother reminded me today that out of her tiny high school class (around 23) there are literally only of a couple of people still here, including her, so we are very fortunate. There were I believe 75 in our class on graduation day.
Some people have evaporated into their own lives and aren’t connected to any of us in the Class of 1981, but our class is still amazingly still connected, and connected to men and women in classes above us and below us.
Our commencement speaker was Vartan Gregorian. Yes, that amazing man was a friend and classmate Raffi’s father. Vartan Gregorian passed away earlier this month. Which made my friend Anthony (who has been my friend since grade school!) sending me a scan of our commencement program even more special and bittersweet.
One of the things we did excerpts from that I had forgotten at commencement was selections from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”. Damned if I can remember which parts (it’s huge and sprawling as a literary work), so here is a quote:
Song of Myself, 1 [I Celebrate myself] Walt Whitman – 1819-1892
I Celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy.
Morning Has Broken was in the program as well, so here is a video:
Again…FORTY years? I still remember us, the way we were. And I have enjoyed every time we have gotten together for reunions. We have always had fun. Our friends in the Class of 1980 lost their reunion to COVID19 last year, and our reunion this year will be virtual. Some can’t make it, some won’t do zoom. But a bunch of us will be together after a fashion, and after the year plus of COVID19, I think this is important.
I am not going to pretend I am connected to our entire class, I never was when we were in high school. Like any other school there were groups and cliques. I kind of floated in between a few, but didn’t truly belong to any one group or clique in particular…mostly because I liked people from many groups. And I have never liked cliques which is kind of amusing as I was in a sorority in college.
This post / article is kind of like a love letter to my classmates and a school I loved very much back then, but not necessarily all throughout my life when I haven’t agreed with directions the school has taken. But that’s life, right?
I am grateful for the years I had there, and for my friends whom I still hold dear to this day. I am sorry we all can’t be together this reunion in person, but we will be together as we are able this time, and in the future we will be together in person once again.
I close with a snippet of this amazing video released by classmate Robb Armstrong (Syndicated Cartoonist of “Jump Start”, author, motivational speaker, all around good guy). Robb’s mother Dorothy Armstrong, was Shipley’s first black trustee. Sadly Robb and his family lost Dorothy to a horrible cancer 5 months after our graduation.
I will close with lyrics to a song that was sung when we were graduating. Not on graduation day, but at another ceremony involving our class:
From “Fame”: I Sing the Body Electric (Songwriters: Dean Pitchford / Michael Gore)
I sing the body electric I celebrate the me yet come I toast to my own reunion When I become one with the sun And I’ll look back on Venus I’ll look back on Mars And I’ll burn with the fire Of ten million stars And in time and in time We will all be stars I sing the body electric I glory in the glow of rebirth Creating my own tomorrow When I shall embody the Earth And I’ll serenade Venus I’ll serenade Mars And I’ll burn with the fire Of ten million stars And in time and in time We will all be stars Yeah (ooh) Ooh, yeah Yeah, yeah We are the emperors now And we are Czars And in time and in time We will all be stars I sing the body electric I celebrate the me yet come I toast to my own reunion (My own reunion) When I become one with the sun And I’ll look back on Venus (back on Venus) I’ll look back on Mars (back on Mars) And I’ll burn with the fire (burn with the fire) Of ten million stars And in time and in time (and in time) And in time and in time (and in time) And in time and in time (and in time) We will all be stars
So can we all hope this means a beloved local landmark will be getting a second chance courtesy of Chef Robert Irvine? Can we breath a sigh of relief since we all saw that it was for sale? I remember when I saw the Keller Williams Commercial listing. I was sad. The Ship Inn long before I lived in Chester County was a familiar landmark when I was coming out here to see friends. Always a friendly looking and welcoming place on the outside…and inside.
So on April 20 they are welcoming diners for filming. We signed up. Do not know if they will pick us, but sure hope so. For me personally, it will be a signal of life returning to normal post COVID year from hell. And ironically, it was one of the last places we ate out at before COVID-19 hit.
Now a confession: I am one of the people who sent Restaurant Impossible an email about this restaurant. It was before COVID hit. I have no idea whose email got them to nibble, but I am sure I wasn’t the only one. I just always thought someone like Chef Robert Irvine would be good for them. I know it sounds crazy, but every time I have been there, I imagined how the place could look with freshening up and space reconfiguration. Especially with regard to the booths in the “grill room”. I just always found them uncomfortable. But I like the other tables and chairs, so I hope they keep them but maybe refresh the seat coverings.
The Ship Inn is an amazing historic resource along with being a lovely spot to eat. And the kitchen was never bad, but fresh eyes I am sure will help them too. So I am so hopeful that Restaurant Impossible is the shot in the arm that they need!
I signed up and will let you know if we are going! If chosen people have to get a COVID test before going. If fully vaccinated I am unsure how that works.
It was late in December, the sky turned to snow All round the day was going down slow Night like a river beginning to flow I felt the beat of my mind go Drifting into time passages Years go falling in the fading light Time passages Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight Well I’m not the kind to live in the past The years run too short and the days too fast The things you lean on are the things that don’t last Well it’s just now and then my line gets cast into these Time passages There’s something back here that you left behind Oh time passages Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight Hear the echoes and feel yourself starting to turn Don’t know why you should feel That there’s something to learn It’s just a game that you play Well the picture is changing Now you’re part of a crowd They’re laughing at something And the music’s loud A girl comes towards you You once used to know You reach out your hand But you’re all alone, in these Time passages I know you’re in there, you’re just out of sight Time passages Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
Al Stewart. My husband and I both love his music. He is one of my earliest music memories. As in I liked to listen to him. My tastes were somewhat eclectic. I didn’t like the Doobie Brothers (and a friend’s cousin was a roadie in the 70s), and as sacrilegious as it sounds, I never got The Grateful Dead. I think the first time I heard Al Stewart was down at a friends house in Bethesda, Maryland. These two sisters who are still my pals had two older brothers, one of whom used to take us to Kemp Mill Records in Georgetown (Washington, DC). I loved that music store more than any other I was ever in. They always were playing the most fabulous music, and no disco biscuits need apply. Now to those in my peer group who were devotees of Plastic Fantastic and Mads Records, this will come as a surprise, but there was nothing better than Kemp Mill Records in my opinion.
So this morning I had an earworm when I woke up and it was Al Stewart’s Time Passages. Hence the post title. And how does it tie to this post that is most definitely a ramble? It just does.
We all have music that evokes memories. Al Stewart reminds me of first Kemp Mill Records along with The Little River Band. Later on, Al Stewart would remind me of The Point in Bryn Mawr. The Point was where the original Main Point was, and Al played there when I was too young to be allowed to go there. But I made up for lost time when The Point opened up in the same spot as the original Main Point.
The Point ran in Bryn Mawr circa 1998 to 2005. Al Stewart was there often and other musicians I loved like Shawn Mullins and Sophie B Hawkins. The original Main Point began circa 1964, and closed in 1981 the year I graduated high school.
So I have been thinking about time passages. This year is my 40th high school reunion from Shipley, and thanks to COVID-19 no reunion. I remember 1981. Back then, almost 57 just seemed so very far away, yet here we are.
I have a nice life. I am blessed and am where I am supposed to be, with the person whom I am supposed to be with. Added bonus? He knew and remembers my younger self. I think that makes me really lucky. And I know I am loved. I can’t say that about everyone I know.
The past year with COVID-19 has taken many of us on mental road trips. My stepfather, who is British by birth, remarked that over the past year he had many memories of his childhood in England, including World War II float to the surface. He said that he found it interesting that these memories are still intact and that we needed the quiet of life imposed upon us by a global pandemic to allow them to float back into our consciousness. It’s kind of true.
Life and time march on no matter how we try to stop it. I see women who look fabulous, but haven’t figured out those really short skirts and impossibly high heels they are still wearing in defiance of the aging process would be better suited to their nieces and daughters. They remind me of this woman I remember from the Main Line when I was in my 20s. She liked frog statues in her garden and had a killer figure….but she would wear pantyhose and hot pants and summer heels and sandals for summer shopping. Especially memorable? Her patriotic July 4th hot pants. It always made me feel a little sad that she wasn’t taking aging well. Now I guess she might have been approaching some point in her 40s back then. But every time I see one of my own contemporaries or slightly younger struggling with the aging process, I think of this woman.
A friend of mine turned 60 the other day. I can’t believe it. I remember when her son used to ride a scooter through our old neighborhood when he was a little guy. Now he’s a grown up, out of college, with his own life.
One of my closest friends oldest child just took his SATs. He totally rocked them. He smiles at me when I tell him I remember when he was hatched. But I do. I remember him so clearly as an infant. And another one of my close friends has her daughter graduating from college. Another kid I love and remember as a little girl. Now she is this beautiful young woman. Even my niece of whom I have these memories of her and her little fashion shows changing her outfits multiple times a day is now a college freshman.
Sometimes I just sit here and think about where time has gone and what it took for us all to get here. And I marvel. Another friend and I were facetiming recently and we were talking about remembering when our parents were the age we are now. And all of the stores we used to love to visit in Bryn Mawr when we were kids like Katy Did and that marvelous book store next to it. And all of the antiques stores and Eskil’s Clog Shop. And of course, wanting to be old enough to go to the Main Point without our parents freaking out.
The memories of a more innocent time. And a lot of them have resurfaced in the time of COVID-19. And just like my stepfather noted, the memories are still here, we just need quiet to visit them again.
Lots of memories of my late father. He’s been gone since 2005. But I have had all sorts of memories resurface. Like him helping a neighbor plant either azaleas or rhododendrons in a seersucker suit one time when he came home from work. Or running around the day of my sister’s wedding (which was held in my parents’ house) touching up paint because caterers and florists and whomever had marked a couple of walls. Or the little girl memories of going with him on a snowy December night to the rail yards in his red VW bug to get a Christmas tree. Or going shopping on 9th street (Italian Market) with him and visiting all the merchants he had been going to since he was a kid in some cases.
Other things I am remembering of late? Fabulous garden parties in amazing gardens in Philadelphia. I do not remember which non profits benefitted (Philadelphia Parks Alliance, PHS, or a garden club ?) from all of them but I remember how lovely they were. No artifice and beautiful gardens. I think one was at Ernesta Ballard’s house in Chestnut Hill. I remember Thatcher Longstreth’s wife Nancy was there. She was in wheelchair.
Other memories? Shipley Mini Term the spring of 1980. I did an internship in the City Representative’s Office in Philadelphia. My godfather was the late Dick Doran, and at that time he was the City Representative under Mayor Bill Green. Bill Green and Dick Doran knew my father from St. Joe’s Prep. When I was growing up they were around a lot. Dick Doran gave a wedding toast at my parents’ wedding. And I remember when Dick was Chief of Staff to Milton Schapp. I remember that in particular because my father was not a fan of Harrisburg, and I was really little and didn’t know where Harrisburg was.
Perhaps it was that internship while I was a junior in high school that made me interested in observing politics…but never having a desire to run for office. But I remember it was a fascinating time. Ed Rendell was the District Attorney. I remember Thatcher Longstreth taking me to meeting with him in CIty Hall, although he was not a City Councilman again until after I had graduated from high school. He was the nicest man.
That was kind of a golden time in Philadelphia City Hall. Much like the era of Richardson Dilworth, who was not only a beloved Mayor of Philadelphia, but grandfather to one of my oldest childhood friends. However even with the golden time, there was political infighting and even a messenger in City Hall who believed in aliens, and yes had a few tinfoil hats.
Other memories that have floated up to the surface was of all things a plant sale my mother used to work on when I was little. The plant sale at The Hill Physick Keith House. They would stage the plants in the side walled garden that had a gate out to Cypress Street.
The Hill Physick Keith House holds a lot of memories. I remember playing quietly as a very little girl in the curtains in the room with the big desk and beautiful inkwell when my mother was a volunteer there. I actually have a pair of antique drapes that once hung in the house. I do not remember why they were removed, only that when I was little they were going to be thrown out, so my mother adopted them. For a while they hung in our house in Society Hill which had windows of a similar scale to those in the Hill Physick Keith House. Now they live in a blanket chest. I have no reason to keep them, but so many why as to not let them go.
So here we are, It’s 2021. My hair is turning gray and white but is still mostly brown. I gave up the idea of color when I was diagnosed with breast cancer almost 10 years ago. There is a link between hair dyes and breast cancer. So when I heard that I was done with the semi-permanent color I used to use back then. Now when I look in the mirror sometimes I see my father’s mother which kind of freaks me out that I can so clearly see her face in my face at times.
Soon I will be getting my second COVID-19 shot. But I still am keeping it close to home with the COVID-19 of it all. But it also means I can keep on gardening.
I will close with was this where my teenage, childhood, or young adult self though I would be? I am not really sure because after all, within this life we live, we actually live several lives as we go throughout our life. So yes, I definitely can’t answer that. I only know I am home and grateful for my life, and each stage of it.
This morning I woke up with the phrase good fences make good neighbors running loose in my brain. Why? Because of something that happened yesterday.
Yesterday by around 8 AM our neighborhood looked like a used car parking lot. A bunch of cars from outside the neighborhood kind of parked all around the giant mountains of snow left by the snow plows through no fault of their own. It has been cold so not much has melted, there has been a lot of snow, and no more places to put it. One of the vehicles, a white truck, was even blocking the edge of my driveway.
All this snow has shrunken our on street parking making everything more difficult. Even mail delivery.
The cars came from outside our neighborhood and across a major road. The cars came from a property that new people moved onto at some point in 2020 and literally built a giant garage on that seems bigger than the house when you drive by.
The house has a bigger and longer driveway with more space behind the house for parking than anyone in our neighborhood. And again, across a major road, so if I lived there I would not park in the neighborhood across the road because it’s like playing chicken to cross the big road, a state road, safely anyway.
These folks have a LOT of cars and seemingly just a lot parked on their property. But it’s their property, so just an observation. Of course it’s an observation I wouldn’t even think to make if they didn’t park multiple vehicles in a small neighborhood on a small road that was not really where they lived.
Since these people moved into the area they literally park a couple to a few vehicles on our street a great deal of the time. A little head scratching considering their driveway size, parking pad, and big old garage, but hey, they bought a property that has needed a boatload of work so ok, I get it, work trucks and equipment need room. And you want to be neighborly, right?
Their parking habits weren’t a problem until yesterday. Yesterday when they butted one vehicle literally on a neighbor’s bumper South Philly style and blocked the edge of our driveway. That and the mountains of snow made it an issue. Our houses are all the way at the end of the road so it was a little odd. Usually they take all the on street parking further up the road. And no one gave any of us the heads up they would be taking most of our on street parking at one end of the street. Which in winter weather is just nice to do right?
I actually didn’t say anything to the people. It was 8 AM or maybe earlier, I was in my nightgown and needed coffee. I figured I would have coffee and get dressed and then see what was up.
However, I didn’t do anything in the end because my one neighbor got in her car and drove to their house. She asked them nicely if they could move their cars. They were expecting someone that needed room to park and then there is USPS.
If you are parking too close to or blocking a mailbox around here they literally will not deliver the mail. I know because we had one of our vehicles out of the driveway a few days ago because the heating repair guy was coming to adjust something and needed room to get into driveway, etc. As they were leaving, the mail was coming and I was told although we were not blocking the mailbox it was close enough that if it happened again we wouldn’t get the mail delivered because they couldn’t easily pull up and pull out, they would have to back up.
The neighbor who went to talk to these people is literally the nicest person you will ever meet. She would give you the shirt off her back. Never mean, never rude, just lovely. The people in the car house were not exactly receptive to her. So she kind of said “ok” and left.
In the meantime I had dressed and was looking out the window again at the truck blocking the edge of my driveway. Agonizing over what to do. You see, no one wants to have to call the police on someone. Especially for something like this.
But I didn’t have to do anything in the end because next thing you know I see out the windows these guys walking down the road rather animatedly. I could not hear their conversation, but body language said “annoyed”.
These guys moved the cars. I was off the hook and didn’t have to deal with the fact that someone had parked blocking the edge of the driveway in weather that narrows everything.
But it still begged the question in today’s world of what to do. Do you try to be the nice neighbor and talk to them next time, or just call the police? I put it out there to my friends and some said just let police handle it, and some said bake them cookies and go talk to them.
Well by last evening I learned these people weren’t the people you baked cookies for or invited over for a cook out. These people called the police on my nice neighbor. Yes, the nicest woman on the planet and she was told not to talk to them, not to go to their house, and so on.
The police were super nice to my neighbor, and they had a responsibility to do their jobs, so that isn’t an issue. The issue is the not quite neighbors odd over-reaction to a simple, polite, and pleasant request from my neighbor. Not a next door neighbor obviously because they don’t actually live in our neighborhood, but an area neighbor from a neighborhood they use like a parking lot. My other issue? They did this to her in a fit of righteous indignation or whatever and they literally had blocked part of my driveway. That’s actually not ok.
So sadly now we know what kind of neighbors they are going to be. And I say sadly because literally everyone around here is so nice. From road to road, just nice people. Honestly coming from the Main Line which had changed so much by the time I moved to Chester County, it took me a while to get that neighbors are still nice.
And my neighbors especially? These are the people that in normal times we gather with and have cookouts with or just hang out. These are the people that taught me the lovely traditions of leaving each neighbor a small Christmas gift. These are the neighbors who will come running with jumper cables if your battery is dead. These are the people who gathered together to help when another neighbor had a house fire. These are the neighbors that will help you move tree debris in a storm. And all during COVID19 we have socially distanced outside but check on each other and say hello. These are the people you dream of having as neighbors. Good, solid, decent, caring, nice people.
So it’s really sad that these other people can’t see what nice people are about. Now we know. A Valentine would have been nicer. But there are some who don’t understand the golden rule of do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Try to be kind to one and other.
A preface: This post is a week old. WordPress has this oddity and flaw in its app of sometimes making you republish things although you already did. Such is the case here.
So former Chester County Commissioner and U.S. Congressman Ryan Costello blocked me on Twitter. I don’t really care but he behaved today in a manner so purely childish that I can’t believe he seriously wants people to take him seriously that he wants to run for Pat Toomey’s seat in the United States Senate.
I used to think he was a nice enough guy. I liked dealing with his congressional staff because he quite frankly inherited a lot of them from Jim Gerlach. I had dealt with them for years.
So today comes this Philadelphia Inquirer article on how he wants to run for U.S Senate. (And so does Lt. Gov. John Fetterman so please for the love of God, who else is running?)
So that is the article if you want to read it. Anyway the PA and Chesco Twitterverse started discussing this. One because of the shall we say haphazard way he decided not to run for re-election and then bailed on the Chester County GOP. Because truthfully he did. Not that I actually blamed him back then because they were rattlesnake material circa 2016 in my humble opinion. And 2016 was a Republican epiphany back then for many of us, myself included. The day Trump became the nominee was my last day as a Republican.
My initial comment when I saw the article was ummm no, we have already been to this movie.
📌Ryan Costello, a critic of President Trump who held the 6th District House seat before Houlahan, said “watching these protestors invade the Capitol reminded me of the left-wing protestors who would storm in and occupy my congressional office and harass my staff on a weekly basis. Politics has become an invitation for extremist behavior; to be rude, dangerous and disrespectful to our institutions and policy-makers.”📌
Ummm…leftist fringe? Some of these people are my friends.
I did say the following:
So Ryan Costello wants to run for US Senate? Here’s hoping he is out of his diapers before then, because this response out of him is better suited for sucking a binky and living on Parler.
Honestly, I am disappointed because I used to like him. And to color outside the lines in such a manner BEFORE he announces a legit run for office? He’s not exhibiting strength, he’s demonstrating immaturity at a minimum. There already are enough hate spewing windbags like this in Washington D.C.
They didn’t threaten anyone. They are hardworking people and he seemed to forget he worked for the people not the Chesco GOP or whatever. They did not feel they were being heard. And that is the worst feeling and one we as regular people feel all too often at the hands of our elected officials.
Not that Fetterman is a better choice for US Senate….I wouldn’t vote for him either at this point either and I have never liked Political Lurch.
📌The Daily Local News should stop promoting former Congressman Ryan Costello’s false comparisons between our area and dangerous events on national news. The violent, seditious terrorists we witnessed at the nation’s Capitol bear absolutely no resemblance, whatsoever, to the peaceful demonstrators exercising their democratic rights outside his district offices in 2017 and 2018.
The former Representative should consult the Daily Local’s own accounts of what transpired before leveling dangerously false comparisons. Costello claims that protestors “stormed his office and harassed staff weekly,” but most of the constituent rallies took place outdoors and far away from Costello’s office and staff.
The one occasion constituents entered Costello’s district office to stage a sit-in, the Daily Local’s own account describes them as “unobtrusive” to the staffers. When asked to move to another room, they complied. They ate pizza and sang Christmas carols, then left. That was it. No guns, violence, broken windows, Confederate flags, Nazi flags, or threats of any kind.
Ultimately, Costello’s commentary once again proves himself disconnected from reality and from the community he was once elected to serve. There was nothing remotely similar between the peaceful gatherings at/near Costello’s office and the riotous mob in DC. Peaceful assembly and requesting redress are protected rights of our citizenry.
Responsible journalism would not treat Costello’s conflation of the two as fact. Clarity is critical at this moment for our body politic, and readers deserve to be informed about what relevance an opinion has to the truth. The Daily Local does a disservice to its readers by reporting such egregious claims without basis of truth.
Luke Bauerlein, Exton; Phil Dague, Downingtown; Jane Palmer, Wyomissing; Beth Sweet, West Chester and Claire Witzleben, Wayne📌
These folks have a right to be upset. I guess so does Ryan Costello that we were discussing it. And what happened next wasn’t very “senatorial.”
Ryan Costello started addressing me on Twitter. He told me I didn’t know what I was talking about and did I remember when he stuck up for me once upon a time. And I did remember that, and part of the topic was his wife had gotten upset when people startled her on their street. I believe she was a pretty young mom at this point and probably not used to the public eye. Politicians sign up for this life, and their families really have little choice in the matter. And I felt at the time and probably would still today that people could have been nicer to her and more understanding. I took a walloping on social media for my opinion, and he stood up for me and I will always appreciate that.
However, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to speak my truth about how I feel about certain things. And calling people I know some thing akin to domestic terrorists for staging a sit in with pizza it’s not some thing that sits right with me. And it is a gross miss characterization of what I believe happened.
We went back-and-forth a while and then he sent me a private message and basically said that he thought I was talking to him in good faith and then he saw the comment about calling him Baby Ryan. And then he blocked me. I guess he just wanted the last word.
He did however say in one Tweet he didn’t care if screenshots were taken and shown that he stands by what he said. So Ryan? I do think you are acting like a baby or a toddler. I was also however communicating in good faith. I wish you could see how you are hurting yourself. Pennsylvania is a much different political climate than when you pulled your exit with drama, stage right. You need to get to know people all over again and their issues then, and issues now.
Here are the screenshots. Hopefully in some semblance of order. 2021 is certainly quite the year so far:
Our COVID19 existence in 2020 and now 2021 has been odd, strange, and different on so many levels. Interpersonal relationships especially.
We as human beings for the most part are social creatures , unless we were already self-avowed loners and hermits, or had taken a vow of silence. COVID19 has limited and removed and changed our ability to socialize. And redefined it strangely and some people have very odd boundary definitions too.
I am more of a homebody than not. So the staying home most of the time has only gotten to me intermittently. Or has it? I keep finding house projects. This week for example, I decided I had to oil and wax polish all the old wooden chairs. I like old wood chairs, so that was a bunch…before 8:30 AM one morning.
But one thing I have noticed is I have retreated in the communication of it all. I do miss seeing people and I get tired of talking on the phone. Video chatting helps, because it provides that visual connection humans need I think in interaction. We all texted a lot before COVID19, aren’t you tired of it now some days?
Another thing I have noticed is something I first noticed after 9/11: people looking up people they hadn’t been connected to for years and in some cases, never really were connected to – they were just blips on the radar of life. I had that happen to me a couple of times just after 9/11 happened, and I even looked a couple of people up I hadn’t talked to since way before I was no longer working in NYC. I figure there must be some human psychological response to either tragedy or widespread hardship or something- that literal need to check in.
That same thing seems to be happening now during the COVID19 of it all.
I was talking to one of my essentially life long besties last night. She called to tell me about someone who had reached out to her. Literally a name I had not heard since we were 19 years old. The older guy that tested a friendship decades ago, decided to message my friend.
A long rambling message about his life, family, what his wife did for a living. And he literally lives thousands of miles away. And no one has been in touch with him since he called her in college to say he was moving and leaving that day. At the time it was kind of like “Ok bye” and no one thought of him again.
I had to laugh. As a teenager, he was one of the first older guys that I met. Again, we were 19, and he wasn’t just older he was like almost out of his 20s. So in retrospect his attention was creepy, only I don’t think this guy made the radar of our mothers because he was such a short term blip.
I met him, thought he was cute. Like any other teenage girl time in memoriam, I wanted a good friend to check him out.
I introduced them at an outside summer event. It was a club lacrosse game. There used to be lots of those back then. College age and older. Kind of like league ice hockey which still went on, at least until COVID19 hit.
I could tell this guy thought my friend was cute. I didn’t think much of it. He used to call once in a while and we would hang out, but it wasn’t so much a “summer romance”. But while he was cultivating me as a mostly occasional hang out buddy, he was also cultivating my friend. I don’t think either of us knew at first because there was no social media and well, he wasn’t that important. He was more like a cute curiosity.
Then one day I went over to the house he was renting with a bunch of guys. To hang out. It was literally the afternoon, and I had been invited. When I got there, my girlfriend was there too. And the body language was unmistakable. I remember that I pretty much had nothing to say. I literally just left the house.
That feeling from that day I never forgot, although eventually we did forget about him. It was awful, like a punch in the stomach. The adult me knows he was a random sleazy older guy who shouldn’t have been hanging out with teenage girls. The adult me knows he was just playing us both, he probably thought he was something to be doing this at the time. My friend and I got past it because well, he wasn’t important and our friendship was. But it was not a pleasant teenage experience at the time.
So we had forgotten about him until he essentially went Facebook trolling to seek out my friend. I will admit that although I am certainly no beauty queen we checked him out, laughed, and said “ewww” and put him back in the tales of teenage years past where he belongs.
But these things are happening all over. People connecting or trying to connect with people from other lifetimes, who weren’t important back then, so other than way too idle curiosity, why?
I will also note that the time of COVID19 has in general made me reflect some on who I actually want on my Facebook and Instagram. I have quietly jettisoned some people. Mostly people who I realized were drowning in the deep end of the angry crazy posting of drivel and fake news. It’s not that their opinions were different than mine, it was truthfully the anger and vitriol of what they were posting had reached the point that it was stressful and uncomfortable. So it was buh byes time.
Perhaps when we look back on these years many years hence we will laugh at these people who were blips on the radar of life. At the end of the day it’s the whole reason, season, and lifetime as far as who is in our lives. Sometimes it makes for great stories, however.
I can’t take credit for that funny cartoon above as it is circling the Internet. But it is too perfect to ignore and just sums up this strange year we’ve survived.
Yes I thought about a week ago I had written my last post for 2020 and then things happened. I learned those who claim to be Christian and pious aren’t always pleasant on social media. And while I really appreciate the pastoral leadership at Covenant Presbyterian Churchsending me an email to acknowledge my concerns, well, some of us discovered that we got word for word as in yes verbatim the same email. That made me a little disappointed in them, but it also made me realize that they just don’t get it (or don’t want to.) I still hope they abandon the fakakta idea for a 12 foot high LED sign in front of a historically charming church on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer. (And isn’t fakata just the most perfect word to describe so many things in 2020?)
And if we’re going to talk about giant electronics signs that look like movie screens and giant TVs come to life, it is worth remarking that West Whiteland has a planning commission meeting next week where yet another one of these giant digital billboards is being proposed. Yes, January 5th. And I predict much like East Whiteland and their “settlement agreement” which will face East Whiteland with a Sophie’s choice of where to put signs residents don’t want. And then there is Upper Merion Township. They have their own giant digital billboards issues. Same billboard company and same solicitor as East Whiteland. There is still a petition circling for them if you agree with all of the residents who don’t want zoning changed in parks to accommodate billboards. And in West Whiteland what is with the other billboard related LLC very close by to the one being discussed January 5th?
Other things on the hit parade of 2020 include another year of unending issues with the pipelines. Energy Transfer, Sunoco Logistics, pick a name they spent another year making a mess, putting residents at risk. One of my late fall favorites? Was seeing photos on social media of workers’ trucks parked in fire lanes at local shopping centers like they were big important people that couldn’t park in a spot, and what’s up with that FU to the community?
As we head into 2021 there is a story out of Lower Merion that no one’s talking about. It’s about that property adjacent to Stonleigh that Lower Merion School District “acquired” for playing fields after they bought the property on Montgomery Avenue (what once was the Clothier Estate) for the new school. OK so everybody knew that the County Line Road property was going to become playing fields. That’s not news at this point. But what bears pondering is exactly how many hundreds of trees is the Lower Merion School District going to take down in the end for these fields? This is a sizable property and it has heritage trees doesn’t it? It’s over 10 acres isn’t it? So that is a big chunk of property to deforest isn’t it?
Now I’ve heard neighbors over there in both Lower Merion and Radnor Township are very concerned about the trees of it all because this road straddles both municipalities in spots. Lower Merion School District’s Superintendent should give a rat’s fanny about the environment as involves the future of his students, right? One thing I have always wondered about this set of projects both for the school and the playing field is how is this going to affect skinny hilly windy County Line Road and some of the surrounding small streets near these projects? And aren’t first responders a little far away from both of these new education locations? So what does that mean in the future? Once again I reiterate how glad I am no longer on the Main Line and feel for my many friends who are still there.
Other things I won’t miss in 2020 is the conflicting ways people treat each other online in the same communities. Maybe it was because so many people were home and they spent way too much time on social media, but I think people have spent a lot of 2020 being miserable to each other in as much as others also have tried to lift each other up. I can tell you personally I am closing out 2020 feeling completely less patient with people. It is something I am going to work on for 2021, but I’m telling you right now it might be a struggle at times.
So how about the mask of it all? I am not going to get into the argument that has been almost the totality of the year of what stays open and what closes due to COVID-19 (including schools), but I am going to comment about what crap it is I think the people complain they have to wear a mask. I live an immunocompromised life. Elderly relatives live immunocompromised lives. I know so many people at this point personally and indirectly from all over the place (as in just not this area) who have gotten COVID-19 in 2020. And these were all people who were careful and wore masks.
I also think it’s crap with regard to the people who can’t keep their kids at home who then turn into super-spreaders of coronavirus at all ages and stages of life. No one has liked feeling as confined as we all have during the year 2020. No one has liked how it has affected our economy, our personal psychology, our sense of freedom. It has been a difficult year emotionally for everyone. Some people feel so isolated and alone. Even those of us who live with our families can have different times during the year where they could pinpoint feelings of loneliness and isolation.
We close the year with vaccines….finally. That will start up all the anti-vaxxers I’m sure, but I would remind them gently that this is no ordinary virus. And we have already seen in the past few years what an uptick of measles and other childhood diseases has done across the country. All I’m saying is, people please try to keep it together so we can get out of these various stages of quarantine and get back to life. It won’t be life as we once knew it as we are forever changed by 2020, but hopefully we can get there.
Another thing I will be glad to see in the rearview mirror is the ugliness of politics in the United States of America during the calendar year 2020. We have a new president to look forward to and that serial narcissistic sociopath who’s been living in the White House the past few years? I guess he’s going to be Florida’s problem isn’t he? He has continued throughout the holidays (including today) to try to make his case for anarchy and civil war while he discusses his imaginary voter fraud and “rigged elections”. Dude doesn’t get it that he was FIRED by the American people. FIRED. Here’s hoping that America’s political parties get their crap together so we don’t come this close to a dictator ever again, especially the Republican Party because they ALLOWED this to happen.
2020 was also the time of no longer tolerating racial injustice in this country and great sadness and anger as a result from coast to coast. People came together in the midst of a global pandemic over it. We should all offer up a prayer for a peaceful 2021 and meaningful resolution to some of these weighty issues. We the people as in all the people deserve as much.
2020 was a year of personal sadness for me. I said goodbye to people I really didn’t want to say goodbye to. And they didn’t lose their lives to COVID-19, but because of COVID-19 you couldn’t see anyone to say goodbye to those who were dying.
Other friends of mine faced heath crises that had to have been extra stressful every time they had to go in and out of a hospital setting. I know the two skin cancer procedures I dealt with had me holding my breath in and out and through the COVID tests before each procedure.
Now 2020 wasn’t all bad. I got to garden a lot and work on restoring my old quilts and that makes me happy. Fortunately for me I am more of a homebody than not so I have gotten through not seeing a ton of anyone at all but I do miss my friends and my family. FaceTime and Zoom just isn’t the same, but I will say I am grateful for the technology because being able to see someone when you’re catching up is a wonderful thing.
In 2020 we saw extremes all year long. Exhausting extremes at times. But hey, you know what? We are still standing. And that’s a good thing. We can do this. We can survive and get past this. We can see 2021.
For most this year, it will be a quiet New Year’s Eve. For us, pretty normal as we generally stay in. I keep seeing reality TV stars like Sonja Morgan flitting across Twitter and Instagram asking what we’re wearing for New Year’s at home. Not sequins. But I live in Chester County so I don’t think it would be sequins ever…haven’t really seen any live sequins since I moved here.
In my final reflection of 2020, I will freely admit that if we are honest with ourselves, 2020 taught us all things about ourselves and others. Some good things, some unflattering things. It’s all about human nature.
As we bid adieu to 2020 for sure it won’t be a fond, lingering goodbye. It will be an enough already move along nothing more to see here kind of goodbye.
Pope Francis said something this afternoon which has stayed with me: “We thank Good for the good things that have taken place during the pandemic, for the many people who, without making noise, have tried to make the weight of this trial more bearable.”
Ahh the ghosts and spirits of Christmas past. Never more poignant or important or even pronounced than Christmas 2020 in the age of COVID-19. I have been thinking about these people a lot recently.
Today my brother in law is gone 10 years. Taken by a cruel, swift moving cancer at 49. December 22, 2010 he died from peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the abdominal lining. He was a great brother in law. He was also just one of the nicest and kindest people. Seriously. Not just saying that because he is gone. He was a good guy. The last thing he ever said to me was in a brief e-mail a few days before he died. “Save me some Christmas cookies.” The day he died I was home from work and I was baking. Only time I ever burned Christmas cookies.
My father. Gone 15 years in November. You feel him at Christmas. Like my late brother-in law, he loved Christmas. But he was more controlling than me about putting up Christmas decorations. Yes, I know where I get that trait from. So many memories of him at Christmas.
A friend of the family named Dee. She’s been gone a year. She loved Christmas too. She was always so enthusiastic about Christmas and her house in Rosemont was a Christmas wonderland during the holidays. Beautiful decorations and the best Christmas parties. She was the first of my parents’ friends to really treat me like an adult on my own and I would get my own invitation to things, not just one through my parents. Dee had a great laugh too, and her eyes would twinkle when she was laughing.
Christmases long ago. I remember wandering around Bryn Mawr with one of my best friends Christmas shopping when it still felt like a village, and not a hospital town. Back when both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue by the hospital was lined with street trees and wonderful old houses, most with gracious front porches. Today it’s oversized and unattractive townhouses, and hospital buildings and a parking garage.
When we would walk around Bryn Mawr as kids we would check out Katy Did. And there was an awesome bookstore next door, and Mr. Fish the jeweler was in the basement storefront. And don’t forget Parvin’s Pharmacy. Along Lancaster Avenue there was an amazing toy store, antique stores, and even an Eskil’s Clog Shop for a few years. And Walter’s Swiss Pastry where my mother always bought a Bûche De Noël.
Christmases longer ago were in the city. Memories of going as a very little girl with my father in his red VW Bug (that was their car) down to the snow covered rail yards to get a Christmas tree. He would lash it to the roof and we would wind our way back home. We had 12 foot ceilings so we had a TALL tree. This is why in part that my grown up Christmas tree has mercury glass VW Bug ornaments with little trees on top.
Christmas when I was little also mean trips to 9th Street – i.e. the Italian Market. Cappuccio’s Meats to get the Christmas roast. Harry the butcher always had a smile on his face. Then over to places like DiBruno Brothers for special Christmas Cheeses and pickled things. Christmas on 9th Street is an awesome Christmas memory.
I also remember Christmas shopping in the city when we were little. Cute little stores near Head House Square (the “Shambles”). Christmas displays at Lit Brothers, Gimbels, and Strawbridge & Clothier. The light display and organ at John Wanamaker’s and special Christmas Lunch in the Crystal Tea Room that made even little girls feel grown up and quite special. Seeing the displays of all the ladies holiday finery at Bonwit Teller and the Blum Store.
And the Christmas concert at St. Peter’s School. We had these white robes and would wind our way into the church next door to the school. And there was a Christmas Book Fair that was so wonderful. It was there as a little girl I would get to see my favorite children’s author, Marguerite De Angeli. Thee Hannah and Henner’s Lydia plus many other books. I still have them. She was a friend of the mother of the headmistress and/or her companion’s mother. I still remember these events distinctly. They were magical and full of holiday spirit and political correctness didn’t get in the way.
Just like when I was older and we were at Shipley. There were the Shipley Christmas Shops. During our era my mother and her friends and other parents made it amazing. The event wasn’t relegated to the gym where the parents of today don’t deign to speak to most of the alumni and just clump together like girls at a middle school dance. The Shipley Christmas Shops back then were often held in old houses and mansions. I am not sure that all of those places even still exist. The little shops and displays back then were festive and holiday wonderful. Treats, decorations for your home, beautiful woolens and all sorts of Christmas gifts to buy. Again, before the era of political correctness. This year there was shopping online. I will admit I bought nothing. I wanted to support my alma mater but there was nothing I wanted. It was like the magic was gone.
And we can’t talk about Christmas without talking about Christmas parties hosted by my mother’s friends Susi and Babette. They are German by birth and they both put on Christmas parties that will never be matched. Probably because in part they cooked as well or better than Julia Child. Yes, seriously. And I still wonder if Martha Stewart got decorating ideas for Christmas from them somehow? (No not seriously, they are just that amazing.)
It seems Christmas 2020 more than any other time in my memory that I hear these echoes of Christmases past.
No family is perfect and no Christmas is ever perfect, but I miss knowing we will all be together. And as we have all aged, it is not like we have had every Christmas together, but this year because of COVID-19 it feels more pronounced.
And this is where I struggle. 2020 has also been a year of loss and not just to the dreaded virus. Cancers, old age, other things. We’ve lost friends, old neighbors, friends of parents, people we knew in our communities.
People have lost jobs, taken salary cuts, shuttered small businesses open for decades. Other friends are trying desperately to keep their small businesses afloat – stores, restaurants, bakeries. And it has gotten to a point where I can’t say I know of any family that hasn’t been touched by COVID-19 in some way. And by touched I don’t necessarily mean getting the virus. COVID-19 in 2020 is like a giant Pac Man gobbling up little Pac Men. It oozes into every corner of our lives.
I know we have to keep looking forward for that light that is at the end of the tunnel. But it’s hard some days. No getting around it.
Other things missing from Christmas this year? Things like the Orpheus Christmas Concert. They had a virtual concert last evening . Here is the video I found for 2020 that they are nice enough to share with the world:
2020 is the Christmas that families get together on Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas Movies. The same for Christmas concerts. And who will go to midnight mass this year? It’s like 2020 is even testing our general and not just family-specific Christmas traditions, isn’t it?
Yes, even I am a little sad about all of this.
But then we all have to close our eyes and take a deep breath. Being together apart I thin is just harder for Christmas, but we have to hold the course and remember next year will be better.
Celebrate the Christmases past and pay them homage. But remember we will have more holidays ahead of us if we just stay home and take care.
I think this may be my last post before Christmas, and possibly for 2020. It just depends if the spirit moves me. And how.
Be safe out there. Wishing you all Christmas blessings even while we are all together….apart.
What are your Christmas traditions? Are you keeping them in the year of COVID-19?
We’re trying . Santas came out today and outside lights went up. When my husband went out to buy an additional strand he discovered another 2020 shortage: Christmas lights. A friend of mine said today she thinks people are trying light up the darkness of 2020. Kind of a beautiful thought if you think about it.
People are baking up a storm. I have not started baking yet. In a few days I will. I haven’t decided what I am baking yet.
Christmas cards have started to arrive. I have ours…. but I have to actually address and mail them. That procrastination has nothing to do with 2020, I do this every year. I just have to sit down and carve out the time. That and will the cards reach everyone since the post office seems more than a little problematic right now.
I have been talking with people and getting ready for Christmas is happening in fits and spurts. We start and then we pause. 2020 is a year like no other thanks to politics and COVID-19.
For me personally? As much as I love Christmas it has been hard some days because you put up some decorations and then you realize no one is really coming over. But it’s Christmas, so you still do it because it is a simple good and pretty thing to celebrate in a year when there often has not been much that was good or pretty.
Another tradition at this time of year I am keeping? Neighbor gifts.
When we first bought the house, we didn’t actually live here the first Christmas. We were updating appliances and putting in new heating and air conditioning and things like that. So we kept “visiting” and around this time that year, and little presents started to appear. We didn’t know what to make of it, until a new neighbor explained the tradition of leaving every neighbor a little Christmas treat.
I love this tradition and today I filled my little bags with treats! I am not sure when I will deliver them but thy sure look cute!!
Keep your traditions! And I wonder if we get snow this week, will we have a white Christmas? It’s feels like forever since we had a snowy Christmas !
Today I realized I needed help finding my Christmas mojo. The past couple of days I felt it slipping away. This morning I fell smack dab into a case of the Christmas Crankies.
Yesterday my mother texted me to tell me they weren’t coming for Christmas. The COVID19 of it all. Ok I get that. It was the fact that the queen of proper communication texted me and signed off on her text with her first name, not mother.
Umm yes, even my own relationship with my mother is complicated. Life isn’t a Hallmark Movie and she’s not Donna Reed meets Carol Brady and never will be. Sigh.
Last evening I made a male approved dinner. Scratch macaroni and cheese and chicken cutlets….only the son of it all blew me off for video games and got dinner at 11:30 PM. Right or wrong I am sick as F of video games and it hurt my feelings.
Recently my good growing up friend Tiger died. And another good friend’s husband is gravely ill.
On a cheery dysfunctional social media site known as Facebook, I help run a gifting group. The nail files and pitchforks came out when I had to discuss something from a group administrator perspective.
I really am tired of the pack mentality or mob mentality for lack of a better description. If you aren’t part of their immediate circle or the least bit different in thought process you are a badd, baddd person. Never mind that some of them spent hours messaging one of my moderators who had nothing to do at all with what I said. It made me have several oh bitch please moments today with the mob mommies, which is contrary to my wanting to have Christmas season feelings.
And then there were the people who made up bad fake reviews on the business of friends. That is a special kind of mean. Not nice.
Politics. Done with the election and the giant orange baby throwing temper tantrums in the White House as he tweets from the john. Dude…it’s over…moonie-like followers, it’s over. One guy won, your guy lost. By all means, leave for the Island of Misfit Toys via Mar a Tacky, just shut up already.
Also impeding my Christmas mojo is the apparent inability to use the word Christmas. People, people every year, really? We celebrate and name every other holiday, so why not Christmas? I don’t want to say Happy Holidays and I do say Merry Christmas. The political correctness police need to give it a rest already.
And the COVID19 numbers are rising. High school kids and college kids are half being responsible and half not so much….just like all the so-called adults. Someone came to my house yesterday wearing a mask with his nose hanging out. All I could do was stare at the nose and be grateful they were OUTSIDE.
Wear your damn mask and wear it correctly. That way eventually when there is a vaccine we can all eventually stop feeling walled up by our own four walls, yes? And the vaccine? How will they really control distribution or will it be pay to play?
2020 is a hard slog, OK? Today it got to me. Just got to me. I can’t pretend to be Sister Mary Sunshine all of the time.
I miss seeing my friends and family. We all stay home so we CAN see each other again. But when?
The bah humbugs threatened to rise to the top, so I had to take assertive action. Very assertive action. It was Santa time. And at 56, no I am not going to visit a Santa and give him my Christmas wishes. I had to get out a Santa.
I bought out the big Santa. He always puts a smile on my face. Bought him from a yard sale group a few years ago. I feel MUCH better now and will find my inner decorating elf tomorrow.
Thanks for letting me gretz.
22 days until Christmas! Decorate! Bake! (Whine when necessary.)