thankful. grateful.

I am sitting in my kitchen waiting for my pumpkin pie to finish baking. The simple things, the traditions of Thanksgiving.

As I sit in my cozy kitchen I am also thinking about those less fortunate this Thanksgiving. In particular, the elderly who lost their homes and their memories in the devastating Barclay Friends fire almost a week ago in West Chester.

I am thankful and grateful for my friends,family, and neighbors . I am thankful and grateful more specifically for my husband and stepson. We have a happy home that makes me feel like I am the luckiest woman on the planet.

Thanksgiving has roots in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists shared a harvest feast with Wampanoag Indians. This autumn harvest festival is acknowledged today as the origins of our American Thanksgiving.

In 1863 during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln created in November the national holiday we know today. He proclaimed a national Thanksgiving holiday, and here we are!

A fun historical fact is Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday of November. But during the depression in 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to move the holiday up a week. Something about spurring retail sales. But public outcry caused Roosevelt to sign a bill into law in 1941 making Thanksgiving officially the last Thursday in November.

There are as many ways to make a Thanksgiving dinner as there are ways to set the table. The melting pot that is our country means there quite a lot of different nationalities and races putting their spin on Thanksgiving dinner. Every family has their own traditions.

As we come together tomorrow with either friends or family, remember those who came before us. Remember friends and family.

Say a prayer tomorrow on Thanksgiving for the United States of America. I do not feel the strife and anger from coast to coast is what the founding fathers or even those early Pilgrims had in mind.

We have a great country and the politicians who want to screw everything up be damned. We have a lot to be thankful for and we can’t allow them to define who we are. They work for us. And if they aren’t working for us, we replace them one election at a time. From the smallest Borough all the way to the White House.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be grateful for what you have, don’t expend negative energy coveting what you don’t have. Enjoy the day.

Thanks for stopping by.

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a new tale of ebenezer a.m.e. – an oral history

I have not written about the ruins of Ebenezer AME in a long time. But here we are on the eve of Thanksgiving and I have a wonderful story to share. It was sent to me by a former Chester County artist named Claude Bernardin who now lives in Bloomington, Indiana. He also knows my dear friend Catherine Quillman, the historian and artist who has helped me fill in the historical blanks on many an occasion.

Ebenezer AME in 1976 – photo was sent to me by Claude Bernardin who took it. This was from the side of Ebenezer that faces the mobile home park today.  None of us had seen this side until Al Terrell cleaned up the graveyard last fall.  

What I am about to post are the words of Mr. Bernardin, and the lovely green bottle and the photo of Ebenezer in 1976 are photos he sent to me. Oral histories like his are priceless. I wish my friend Al Terrell was alive to talk to Claude Bernardin!

From Claude Bernardin, his words (bold and italics):

Hiram Woodyard:

Died 12/20/1900 I believe. But certificate of death says 1/04/01.

 

He lived on an odd L shaped acre of land he was willed by Thomas Quay just below the corner of Conestoga Road and Bacton Hill Road. His parcel of land consisted ( I personally now believe… ) of a driveway easement that ran across Conestoga Road and up into the Church from the. Church rear.

His parcel of land would have been on the left side of Conestoga Road, after you turned right on Conestoga Road, heading downhill off Bacton Hill. You would first pass the old Peter Manning-smith Property ( pine trees ) a drive way and bridge on left.

Set of small woods separating the next larger Estate ( what we knew in the 1960’s and 1970’s as The Merith’s ).

That small stretch of woods used to be a long cart path heading up into the higher hills and woods between both Larger farms in the 1890’s.

Directly behind the white and green Meridith Victorian stucco farm house, back in the woods maybe 50 feet, along a little creek, on a hillside, over looking the Meriths, sits the stone foundation of an old One Room cabin. It had a small porch at one time over looking the stream and a circular well.

I grew up a stones throw away from it.

Today I think it belongs to whoever owns the Manning-Smith property and it is labeled a wild bird sanctuary.

Bobcat on Daniel P. Mannix farm, June 1971 – Claude Bernardin photo

My research suggests that this was the property of Hiram Woodyard. I dug antique bottles behind the foundation, by the big tree up stream, and even out in front of the ruins and down in that stream. That property clearly dates to 1880 – 1900.

About a decade ago an old high school friend of mine sent me some newspaper article that may have appeared in the daily local news about that region, and it mentioned some information that led me to believe that that was his property. I have since lost that information. However while working for an auctioneer I was able to get my hands on in the old 1800s map book of Chester County. Within it it showed the land parcels of that particular area and it clearly showed that property with a Cabin and I think an out house. I also own the Catherine Quillman book on the history of the Conestoga Pike, and I believe there is more information pertainingto that property within it. Putting all this information together, I have now come to the conclusion that that must be his property, and that the bottles that I dug belonged to him.

Elwood’s greenhouse and tool shed. 1970s?
Claude Bernardin photo

The last time I attempted to dig in that area I tried to dig out the cabin foundation from inside. It was just too much work for my friend and I. But I believe that there are bottles and other things down inside there. One of the things that we found was an old bedframe. The problem is that the foundation walls are collapsing into itself.

The hill beyond the cabin and down to the stream is some of the hardest clay soil I have ever dug!! If anyone was to try to do any digging in the future I would suggest using pitchforks. There are glass bottles on that hillside under the dirt, there is all kinds of barbed wire in the old wire as well.

Directly behind the cabin and in the woods further up the hill is an odd formation of land man made. I have never been able to quite figure out what it is. It is perhaps either the foundations of an old barn, or it was a man made ice pond.

Elwood’s two room shack. Claude Bernardin submitted photo. All of these old photos in this post are from his personal collection.

 In other words a deliberate formation to collect rainwater and to collect blocks of ice in the winter, a common practice back in those early days. If you are standing between the cabin and that formation, off to your far left is the Manning Smith pond, where there used to be a stone Spring house. Off to your right back in the woods further up the hill there is the ruins of an old Spring house as well.

This of course would be where they would need the ice.

This is a brief listing of the bottles that were found at this site:

Kickapoo Indian Sagwa

Dr. Chamberlain’s diarrhea cure

Ball and patent fruit mason jars

Ka-tonka, the Great Indian Remedy.

Note: both katonka and kickapoo came from a local traveling Penna. snake oil salesman wagon show.

Beer bottles: hollmans of Phoenixville, pa.

J. Harley of West Chester, Pa. and an apple green Chas. Jolly Blob beer from Philadelphia.

Numerous unmarked clear whisky’ and medicines

Horlock malted milk

Heinz ketchup

Food product jars varying sizes

The Church:

First of all, my name is Claude Bernardin

I used to live at 425 Conestoga Road, east white land township.

My father: Charles, my mother : Elizabeth ( Betty )

They had 9 children.

We are all still alive.

In the 1960s I was between 5 to 12 years old. That neighborhood had a tremendous group of children of similar age. In fact at times we had little gangs.

We were quite adventurous, inventive, and curious. Many of us got to know every single character, and adult at that corner on a personal basis. We would do chores for them, many of us even took care of them in their old age. A specific legendary character that lived right at the crossroads in a two room hand built shack, was L with Michael. Mr. Michael was kind of a hobo subsistence farmer of legendary status in the community.

As I recall, the inside of the church was lined in cherry wood paneling the pews we’re still in it and what color cherry wood so was the podium.

He used to drive up and down Bacton Hill Road and Conestoga Road at all hours of the day but mostly at sunrise and the sunset on his silver gray Ford tractor to doing his bugle for all the kids to come running to say hello. He often left families with the gifts from the fields.

He was a welcome guest at our house, and in his very old age we took care of him and would bring dinner to him at his bedside. To us he was like our quirky uncle. I knew Elwood so closely that I can still hear the singsong high-pitched slangy twang of his voice. He actually talked in some sort of meter. He was a lovely man, who cared for his community.

As far as I know he never graduated from high school, and yet was one of the most intelligent man I ever knew. He read books all the time. He could recite hundreds of poems from memory, and often did while sitting on the edges of our beds to wake us up to come down and join him for breakfast.

He used to give us a ride up and down Conestoga Road and Bacton Hill.

To repay his kindness, we did our chores for him around his property, including chopping wood for his woodstove. We rode with him to the old Kane form across from the trailer court, and would help fix up his hay wagons and the old barn.

To him I was always “Claudey”.

My brother is Richard, and Peter were the mechanics and engineers in our family, also sometimes brother guy. They would help Elwood and others in the region with all kinds of mechanical needs.

Back in the mid-1960s the church was abandoned. Two children that stood out in the neighborhood from the trailer park, Doug Buettner, and George Berry.

Slightly up the street towards the corner was Bruce McNaughton. Bruce was my brother Peter is my brothers closest childhood friend, also a character.

The old church was a wonderful place. Back then it still had a roof , a wooden floor, and altar, a podium, and even church pews.

The windows were huge, with deep inset windowsills and very large wooden shutters. The floor was beginning to show signs of wear, and rot.

If my memory serves me correctly there wasn’t one broken glass window. However the roof did have holes in it.

When you walked in the front door off BactonHill Road, to your far right against the wall in the corner, was a ladder that ran to the top of the wall, it was quite rickety back then. I climbed it on several occasions trying to reach the attic, but I was afraid of heights and so I never made it. But the church must have had in the attic that ran the entire ceiling.

I can actually remember one of the older children standing at the podium to court order to our meeting, a little bit like the dead-end gang in those James Cagney movies I think. 🙂

We loved that church, and we never told anybody that we would have meetings in there and just hang out in there. By the time I was heading into college in 1976, all those children had grown up and moved away or gone their separate ways.

I had become a much more brooding artist type, so it became one of my favorite places to go to for privacy. Every now and again I would run into a raccoon.

Unfortunately by 1980 I became so busy in my life and my career I never got back there until the place had fallen in.

It remains one of my fondest memories of my childhood. I always found peace of mind in that place. The interior paneling was beaded wood paneling color of mahogany, it ran just under the windowsills. There were louvered shutters inside. Windows on outside had heavy 1890’s era double hung shutters. And deep sills. There was an attic crawl space the height of the church roof rafters with a floor, that ran full length of the church. When one entered the church door off Bacton Hill Road. The ladder up to it, It was in the front right corner. I climbed it twice – it seemed very high up to young boys.

Today I am a very well-known artist of the Chester County, in 2010, I was featured in a Catherine Quillman book called the 100 artists of the Brandywine Valley. I have done many many many paintings of that entire area. But my greatest joy was knowing all those people, and growing up in that specific spot. All of us still say we were lucky to have grown up in that region. Between the woods, the streams, the wildlife, the history you just couldn’t have asked for a better place to grow up.

My brother Richard took much care and concern throughout the 1970’s to try and cut the grass. More than most. We just got busy with our own lives.

Back in the late 60s, 1966 – 1971 my brother Richard and I, Jeffrey Manning Smith, Doug Buettner, Bruce McNaughton, we all periodically would go over to the church and cut the lawn and try to keep the weeds back. None of us really knew any history about the place, may be a bit of information came from L with Michael. But mostly no one really understood what the place was, and who once used it.

But I can recall numerous occasions we would take the lawnmowers there and cut the grass and grass with the tombstones. On several occasions we picked up the tombstones and had the wedge them up because they would have fallen.

We were aware of some bad kids in the neighborhood that had done some damage to the markers. They were scolded and warned.

We love the place and did as much work as we could after school when we would come off the school bus at that corner.

But as we grew from teenagers into young adults we became far too busy with our own lives to keep up with it.

It was also at this time that the rain water washing off Bacton Hill had become so severe that it was starting to cause erosion down through the graveyard. I can recall on several occasions complaining to my mother about it and saying I wish we could get someone to do something about this. My brother Richard and I on several occasions went there with shovels and buckets and did whatever we could to fix it back up. I do recall several graves being eroded enough that one could see down into them.

There was a specific grave that got hit the hardest every year we would have to go and fix it up. That grave was behind the church down maybe 6 feet, down the hill and behind a couple large trees off to the left. On one occasion I recall actually seeing skeletal remains. My brother and I did everything we could to cover them up and to keep the place sacred.

I had no idea the linkage of history between the church and the cabin off in the woods that I would go to to dig antique bottles. From 1970 to 1985, I spent much time campus seeing those hillsides, those woods and studying every inch of that as I could to preserve and try to find any artifacts and old bottles.

Behind the Meriths’ house and perhaps connected to woodyards cabin, I found another bottle dump. Out of that dump came many blob top beers, medicines, old jugs.

One of the bottles that made me laugh, was a mosquito bite cure, with a picture of a mosquito on it.

That area really hadn’t changed much in 100 years, as kids growing up there it could be awful at times with the mosquitoes!

Bottle I dug in stream probably used by Hiram Woodyard, dating 1895 -1889. Very rare color variant.

In my 30s, I was busy carrying on an art career, teaching art, and starting my own family. However I never forgot that place, and researched it when ever possible. One of my favorite places to research Montgomery and Chester County was the pottstown public library.

Back in the early 90s probably 1993 or 94 I checked out a book on the history of both counties.

It was a small book, and in fact now maybe it was two books I checked out. Hard for me to remember. Anyway within those books there was some documents written by soldiers in George Washington’s troops, I suppose taken from some sort of diary that they kept or reports giving back to the general.

In those reports, there was quite a lot of detailed information from soldiers in charge of their encampments. After the winter at Valley Forge, I suppose that Washington was still concerned with British troops. And so they needed to keep look out on the major roads, coming in and out of the area.

They wound up camping on that ridge, I truly believe that.

How very cool. So awesome to learn even more about the area. And this re-affirms my belief the area is history worth saving and preserving for future generations. He also tells me that the Lenape Indians used to camp near there as well. I think Al Terrell and Ann Christie would have loved to have learned about what Claude Bernardin has so generously shared with all of us!  I have been blessed to meet the most interesting and nice people because of Ebenezer.

It is my wish for Thanksgiving that the AME Church of today has an epiphany about this site and recognizes it’s importance and the wonderful people who have shown an interest and cared for the grounds over the years.  We are all but temporary stewards for the souls of Ebenezer, but I still want it to live on long after we have left.

Photo submitted by artist Claude Bernardin

barclay friends neighbors sent me photos

I was visiting a friend in Chester County Hospital today and remarkably, you can smell the smoke from the fire inside the hospital. It’s crazy. It was like someone had a fire in their fireplace.

I have friends who live in that part of West Chester and they have smoke infiltration in their homes. I am only publishing a couple of photos, but there but for the grace of God go all of us.

Other friends of ours (as in a couple of different families) had family members evacuated from Barclay Friends last night. Their family members are safe and sound elsewhere.

Another friend who has been on the scene texted that the fire was not completely out.

Neighbors of Barclay Friends are among the scores of unsung heroes who helped residents to safety. Some media outlets are saying not all are accounted for? (See this report from ABC News ):

Authorities struggled on Friday to account for the whereabouts of all the residents of a Pennsylvania senior living community after a massive blaze tore through their complex during the middle of the night, injuring nearly 30 and leading to a chaotic evacuation.

West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley said Friday afternoon that a few of the more than 130 residents of the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community, located west of Philadelphia, were unaccounted for following the huge fire.

“We’re hoping for the best obviously here,” said Norley, who put the number taken to area hospitals at 29.

Officials said fewer than 20 remained hospitalized and all were in good condition.

County emergency officials said there was the possibility someone could have died in the fire, which erupted late Thursday night. But a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which was on the scene, told an afternoon news conference that no relatives had reported any family members missing.

Some patients are at Chester County Hospital. These people have lost everything. Especially photos and memories. It’s devastating.

At West Chester nursing home fire, a heroic effort to evacuate residents
by Laura McCrystal, Justine McDaniel, Tricia L. Nadolny & Emerson I. Max, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

Flames Rip Through Chester County Senior Living Community Displacing 150 Residents and Staff, Hospitalizing 27-The senior residents of the facility were evacuated into the bitter cold, and while more than 20 people transported to hospitals, officials did not elaborate on any injuries
By NBC10 Staff

The ATF was on scene this afternoon as well, so that should help people get answers, right?

It has been a very long day in the Borough of West Chester. On the eve of Thanksgiving I am grateful for all those neighbors, fire fighters, and EMTs and police who responded to this. I am told by friends that we can always drop off food or snacks to these volunteer fire companies. These men and women do this day in and day out.

Have a good night, all.

prayers for barclay friends

Most of us in Chester County woke up to those devastating news. Barclay Friends in the Borough of West Chester went up in flames as many of us, myself included, were sleeping. I have a friend whose mom was there, thank goodness she is now home and safe with her family. There are many, many displaced seniors as a result.

It is the eve of Thanksgiving and I think we must be grateful for the absolutely amazing first responders we have in Chester County. Firefighters, EMTs, police, and so on. I am not one to toss around the word blessed lightly, but we are so blessed with these heroic individuals because this could have been so much worse without their expertise and valor.

Daily Local : At least 20 injured, 100 flee into night as fire roars through West Chester senior living center (Photos)

Prayers go to the families with displaced seniors and the staff of Barclay Friends . I am happy to post legitimate fundraising efforts one Barclay Friends gets this sorted out to where they can do that. I am also happy to post efforts of groups who will be collecting clothing and other basics for these seniors. And if someone is planning to get Thanksgiving dinner to these displaced seniors.

These senior citizens could be anyone’s family members, and at least one is a family member of a friend.

I will admit I am so terrified at how fast Barclay Friends went up in flames. All media reports this morning indicate fire investigation is already beginning.

Also, and VERY important: you will note my photos come from social media. I am not going anywhere near that scene and neither should any curiosity seeker. Let the professionals do their jobs and stay out of the area in the Borough of West Chester.

Prayers up on this.

heaven on earth is home

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.

perversion

From Radnor Democrats Public Facebook Page. It had as a caption “Radnor Democrats
June 11, 2016 at 4:41pm · We always say that the Radnor Democrats have a big, diverse tent and to “join the Party.” Well, today, at the Wayne Music Festival, the Radnor Democrats LITERALLY have a big tent!”

Where to begin? Let’s start at the bitter end of September when news broke that there had been a not-local (as in NOT Radnor PD) law enforcement raid had occurred in Radnor Township.  The target? Phil Ahr, newly minted as of this summer President of the Radnor Board of Commissioners. 

News has swirled when he missed the regular meeting shortly after the raid and  then and this past Monday, some commissioners had wanted Ahr to resign. But the Democrat commissioners (Nagle, Higgins, Schaeffer) blocked the efforts.  I will admit that while they were speaking the truth about guilty until proven innocent, BUT this is the second scandal to rock Radnor Democrats with a Board of Commissioners president given the fact that in June former Commissioner and Board of Commissioners President Bill Spingler was found guilty by a Delaware County jury  of “indecent assault on a person with a mental disability.” (His 100+ year old former mother-in-law.) Ironically, Mr. Spingler is to be sentenced or something tomorrow a lot of newscasters in Philadelphia were stating today after Phil Ahr turned himself in to police.

See NBC10 Philadelphia’s reporter Deanna Durante’s 6PM report on Mr. Ahr goes to court. Also see a pretty comprehensive article by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Main Line Media News.

It’s child porn and lots of it.  It’s horrible. Truly horrible. Almost inconceivable.

Earlier this evening, Radnor Township itself held a press conference.  I contacted the township and they provided me with what they had handed out except for the PDF of the court docket – I found that myself. Today was the preliminary arraignment. 

Anyway, here it is and I will warn you it is truly disturbing:

 

 

So back to the three commissioners in Radnor who blocked a motion to have Ahr resign. Earlier this evening, they fell back behind the cloak of the Home Rule Charter of Radnor Township.  So while they perhaps could not have made Ahr resign as of Monday, given the scandal their township and political party has endured in recent months, shouldn’t they have convinced him to resign?  Or how about perhaps they should have NOT played politics at all and lived up to their oaths of office and convinced him to resign because they are supposed to look out for the best interests of the residents?

Once again, deeply troubling times for a township where I have many close friends….including those with children.

I am going to say, however, that no matter what your opinion is here, please allow law enforcement and those in the legal system do their jobs here.  Please respect the terribly difficult jobs they have, especially with this case.  Also respect the residents of Radnor Township who have to deal with this, especially the residents of Ward 7, Garrett Hill. Garrett Hill is a tight knit community that is suffering greatly.  And pray for Phil Ahr’s family.  He has now given them a terrible burden they will carry always.

Here’s a question for all of you: should local elected officials have to submit to comprehensive background checks including criminal in order to hold elected office?

Thanks for stopping by.

path and price of freedom

I sit and reminisce once in a while.  What a long, strange trip it has been. This life we live has highs and lows, ups and downs, triumphs and sorrows.

We all lead ordinary lives and eventually something hits us and just doesn’t sit right. Then you become active where you live.  It is somewhat of a NIMBY prospect (Not in My Backyard) because you often do not realize how wrong something is until it is happening in your own backyard.

Trust me; it is far easier to just be a sheeple in your community accepting at face value verbatim whatever local politicians and power brokers tell us must be so. (You know the theory of they say it is so , so it must be so?)

Some assert that it is far easier to just vote the way you are “told” — and yes, volunteering in local elections many moons ago I literally heard someone say that as they walked an elderly person into a polling place say “Now you just vote the way we told you to.”  That very memory is one of the things that always makes me tell people to vote in all elections, including local .

You don’t realize that our vote is such a powerful voice.  Check out the candidates…and also whenever able check out who supports them financially as that always tells an interesting tale.

If you are in a group trying to enact change, never, ever back a candidate for political office when they come calling.  Ask them to take YOUR position, i.e. what are they willing to do for you? Don’t be used by politicians. They are public servants, they work for us.  That also means that anyone at any time should be able to speak to an elected official.  If they as politicians, do not have time for everyone, replace them with those who do have time. Keep replacing until you get the ones you want representing you.

I have never had the desire to run for elected office.  I don’t have the long-term stomach for the games and the inevitable deal making.  Politics however will always fascinate me and repulse me. It makes for interesting people watching, that is for sure.

I have, however, had the privilege to know some amazing elected officials in my life from the most local of levels to Harrisburg to Washington D.C.  Like me, like you, they are just people.   I have no hero worship, just appreciation for some of them because they do care and they do work darn hard to make a difference.

We live in a dangerous and somewhat crazy political climate right now.  As Americans, we have watched in horror as people have shot up schools, Congressmen on ball fields, random people in malls and movie theaters.  A week ago today we all awoke to the news that Las Vegas was the scene of a massacre engineered by a mad man.  All those poor people were doing was listening to music at a concert.

Yeah, we need to have a conversation about gun control, but NO ONE can do that CALMLY in this country.  All people and officials on both sides of the issue do is SCREAM at each other.

We live in a crazy political climate and most of what we hear out of a sitting United States President appears on Twitter.  In my opinion , as an American citizen,  I not only find the behavior embarrassing that we even have a Tweeter in Chief, but somewhat removed from everyday reality.

Along with friends I have fought eminent domain for private gain.  It was a whirlwind and we fought all the way down to Washington, D.C. alongside folks like ordinary people from Long Branch, NJ , Cramer Hill Camden NJ, Coatesville Pa (Saha Farm), and Suzette Kelo of New London, CT (as in the U.S. Supreme Court Case.)

Another time, other friends and I found ourselves the recipients of a congressional commendation for a specific volunteerism campaign we had initiated and completed.

I have done what I have done because I believe in community and a sense of greater good; because it was the right thing to do.

Along the way I have grown less idealistic and naïve.  Sadly, I can be jaded now.  But as you age and watch how bloody cruel and duplicitous human beings can be to one and other, you change.  But you have to remember the good in people, as hard as that is at times.

I am just a person.  I was not born with other than an immigrant pedigree.  Italian, Irish, and Pennsylvania German.   To me that makes me a quintessential Pennsylvanian.

I believe in our Constitution and the freedoms our founding fathers fought and bled and died for.  Yes, the same values and freedoms that subsequent generations of Americans have fought and marched and bled and died for. It seems as Americans that we have been perpetually fighting for our rights and freedoms.  But is that not the very nature of preserving and enhancing freedom?

As an American born in the birthplace of American rights and freedoms, I believe in the First Amendment.

Be independent-minded in life.   You will be glad of it.