As I said in the post prior to this, Odessa, Delaware is one of my favorite places. It is literally a jewel of a historic town, almost frozen in time.
I have written about Odessa, Delaware before. I really hadn’t been down there much since Covid, and I realized today how much I missed visiting this gem of a small town.
Located in New Castle County, Delaware, Odessa was founded in the 18th century as Cantwell’s Bridge, her name was changed in the 19th century after the Ukrainian port city of the same name.
Odessa is a National Registry District, home to a National Historic Landmark as well as two National Parks Service Network to Freedom sites.
Odessa like Lewes was settled initially by the Dutch in the 1600s. (Lewes is another favorite place of mine, and it’s a bit larger and busier than Odessa.)
When Odessa was a first settled by the Dutch in the 1660’s (to be more precise), they adopted the Indian name for the area, “Apequinemy”. The Dutch settled here in Odessa because it’s proximity to the Appoquinimink River which flows to Delaware Bay, making it ideal to them for trading. I have been told this was once the shortest route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Chesapeake Bay before the construction of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
This was an area inhabited by Lenni Lenape Native Americans before European settlement. The Dutch weren’t actually in this area for very long before the English assumed control of the area. Then land was granted to a Captain Edmund Cantwell, the first Sheriff of New Castle County, under the government of a person we are familiar with, William Penn. By the 1730s there was a town and Edmund’s son, Sir Richard Cantwell, built a toll bridge and toll house and the town of “Cantwell’s Bridge” was born.
For the next century plus, this was a thriving little port town shipping grain and other things (like peaches.) It was a bustling small town…until 1855 and the arrival of the railroad around Middletown, and bypassed Odessa. Like many other towns that thrived on rivers and canals (think Frick’s Lock in East Coventry Township, Chester County), the railroad did a number on the economy of “Cantwell’s Bridge.”
Cantwell’s Bridge was name changed to Odessa around 1855. It had something to do with hoping that the name change would remind people of the flourishing port of Odessa in the Ukraine and the same thing would happen in Odessa, Delaware.
Now the Odessa area was also known historically for the nearby peach orchards. Odessa remained historically a very active port until the late 19th century when a peach blight ruined crops, one of their larger exports. My research indicates that between the peach virus blight and the railroads Odessa almost died as a town.
However, where a lot of similar little towns have died, Odessa has lived on. It is a great collection of houses and architecture spending 200 years, truthfully. Colonial, mid-Georgian, Federal and Victorian architecture. Another fun fact about Odessa, is there used to be a steamboat that operated out of it from the latter part of the 19th century, up until the early parts of the 20th century, ending I think somewhere around World War I.
A lot of people wouldn’t like Odessa because it’s literally a sleepy historic town. That’s why I personally think it’s so wonderful.
There are different things that go on in Odessa throughout the year. A historic Odessa Brewfest in September (this year September 10th) , lovely Christmas holiday events, tours for all seasons. July 15 – 17th features an event I am interested in called Christmas in July. It’s a special holiday sale in the Christmas Resale Shop in the Collins-Sharp House.
We belong to the Historic Odessa Foundation , and anyone can belong. It’s a remarkable little town and makes a fun little day trip. There are also little bed-and-breakfasts in the area so it also makes a nice we can get away. But if you’re looking for lots of bells and whistles, this isn’t it. Unless of course historic preservation is one of your favorite bells and whistles. This isn’t Disney or Six Flags (thank goodness.)
Enjoy the photos from my ramble and thanks for stopping by.
Today I went back to Historic Yellow Springs. First up was the herb sale in the big field held by the Philadelphia Unit of the Herb Society of America.
The herb sale had not been held since before COVID19 invaded our lives. The sale was a rousing success and they basically had sold out but just a little after 11 AM! The tables were picked clean like locusts had descended upon the field!
After putting my plants in the car, I went onto the Yellow Springs Art Show. I had also not been there since before COVID19. The show was glorious, but some of the artists’ pricing were eyebrow raising.
One of the things I noticed the most was how alive the village was today. That doesn’t happen often enough. The Historic Yellow Springs Executive Director did not seem to be around and I was there for a few hours. I do not wish to be critical of the woman, but today was the kind of day that you get opportune moments. You never know where your next donation is going to come from and two seconds of conversation with visitors to the village means people come back to the village. I also know of people who have wanted to volunteer that somehow are never chosen to volunteer. And I’m not referring to myself because they don’t want a mouthy blogger volunteering there, and I know that.
For this amazing and living and breathing piece of history to remain viable into the future they have to be less insular. Their volunteers are amazing and helpful and nice, but the people that actually run the show (board and others) need to be more visible.
While I was walking the village today I thought of an event that Meg Veno does at Life’s Patina. As part of Life’s Patina’s holiday events she does a German Market. It’s hugely popular as most German Markets during the holidays are. So I got to thinking since Life’s Patina/Meg Veno has breathed new life into the Jenny Lind House, and is nearing completion of an extensive and expensive restoration (and boy do I hope West Pikeland and Historic Yellow Springs are appreciative, don’t you?), why not pick you one of THE most creative brains in all of Chester County and take full advantage of the fabulousness coming to an amazing historic village?
What am I talking about? It’s simple: when I was walking the village today and I did it a couple of times first with plants and then going to the art show and buying some art it occurred to me that this life that was in the village today is so important for her survival. And I thought as I stood in front of the Jenny Lind house about how much I enjoy what Meg does every holiday season. And I thought that Yellow Springs should really pick her brain about doing a German Christmas village THERE.
Historic Yellow Springs is extra lovely on the outside during the holidays, so why not capitalize on new blood and fresh energy? Today in my mind’s eye I could see a German Christmas village up and down Yellow Springs Village. Christmas carolers and musicians strolling back-and-forth, a cart selling warm chestnuts and brown paper sacks, a vendor selling gingerbread fresh from the oven, and more. Couldn’t you just see someone with a beautiful little booth outside selling hand-painted German Christmas ornaments and nutcrackers ? It would literally be SO perfect!
I mean I don’t know why their Special Events Director, Executive Director, and board haven’t thought of any of these things. I know they don’t want the village to look like Disneyland, but I’m talking about things that are old-fashioned, historically appropriate,wholesome,pretty, and fun.
Other ideas? Bring back an updated version of the fall antiques show. There are enough dealers and high-end crafts people in Chester County that do such fine work including right in the studios of Yellow Springs that you could do this no problem. Why not make it a version of not what it was, but more of a blend of high-end crafts and art as well as antiques and collectibles?
Other things would be more children’s events like hayrides through the fall and pumpkin carving. Maybe a Halloween parade with old-fashioned Halloween games for kids?
There are more than enough garden clubs in Chester County so why not ask them to do their plant sales all on one weekend in the spring or early summer in the village? Or invite garden groups to do plant swaps in the village?
The possibilities are endless for this beautiful piece of Chester County history. But they need to extend themselves so people know they’re there a little more.
And all of these events should have membership tables with people asking are you a member of Historic Yellow Springs? Would you like to be a member of Historic Yellow Springs?
Today I was also treated to the clop clop of horses hooves as riders rode through the village. There is just something so nice about that sound.
Just my thoughts. If you can catch the art show before it closes at the end of this weekend, I highly recommend it.
After writing about Radnor earlier this week with regard to Ardrossan area and Radnor farmer, I didn’t expect to write another post so soon. I am in the extended area at this point, so except for a couple of things here and there, it’s not my jam. Before I get into the meat of the post, vis-à-vis the post I wrote the other day about the Radnor farmer and the chemicals he uses on the fields, you have to think about the wildlife at the Willows. Here are photos I have taken over the years of some of the wildlife, and the sign about doing things in an environmentally friendly way that used to be posted at the Willows but I don’t know if it still is.
I have always loved the Willows, the architect Charles Barton Keen was a very dear friend’s grandfather and I have run across the occasional Zantzinger family member as an adult. They are one of the families which called the Willows home. Originally the house was called Rose Garland. Something that has always bothered me, is the house is referred to as a “mansion“ and it was never designed as a mansion. It was a moderately sized country house. Also Radnor Township likes to speak about how they “acquired“ the “mansion” in 1975. They neglect to tell everyone that they exercised eminent domain to “acquire“ the house.
Sometimes I wonder if the bad mojo that started at Radnor Township‘s ownership of the Willows has followed it into the present from the past. But I also think a lot of what has been wrong with the Willows is the fault of Radnor Township. It always used to be a venue for events and weddings. But in my humble opinion, the township kind of ran the Willows into the ground via benign neglect, and then eventually the Willows closed. Then there were all the years of who’s going to take over the Willows, who’s going to submit an RFP to run the Willows, what are they going to do with the Willows?
And I think there was a lot of benign neglect until this new nonprofit came in and kind of turned it around. At different points there was stuff done to the property that was wonderful. Like when there was the group the Friends of the Willows Cottage who did an amazing restoration on the cottage that now sits empty and rotting again. The fabulous era of the Willows Cottage was circa 2010. During that year I actually went to a few different parties there including an amazing summer solstice party which are the next photos I am sharing. I took and own the photos.
So when the Willows started being restored again this time around, I was so hopeful. I didn’t think it could be done honestly. The expense is enormous. But people love the house. And what has been happening so far is amazing. But I have to ask if Radnor Township and/or the Willows Park Preserve non-profit need to update or add a security system? Why am I asking ? See next screenshot.
This is rather sad as well as disturbing. After reading the article in Patch about this, a couple of things about the Willows occurred to me. I seem to remember the back in the day as in years and years ago they had a locked room in the basement for liquor and that’s where stuff would get locked away after parties or before parties, so why wasn’t liquor locked up in a municipal owned historic building?
The other thing is obviously they must not have a security system or security cameras because if they had either would they have discovered all of this on a Monday morning at 10 AM when they opened up for the week? And if there was security perhaps the vandalism would not have occurred let alone the theft. This is undoubtedly kids I think – of course it remains to be seen if they are high school kids or college kids, but this definitely smacks of kids by the very nature of it. I hope too much money wasn’t lost.
Sorry not sorry, it sounds like pennywise and pound foolish Radnor. I hope if Radnor can’t get their act together and install proper security on this site that one of the many well healed in Radnor Township who love the “mansion” as they call it, pony up to repair what needs to be repaired due to vandalism and for a proper security system that includes cameras. They could even get a wireless system like so many people are using today couldn’t they?
And I also just don’t understand what motivates anyone to break into a historic house and vandalize it. Is this the kind of world we are living in now? Do other historic houses in the area have to worry? Should this be a wake up call to other historic houses?
It’s a sad state of affairs that anyone did this to such a lovely place. And I hope if anyone knows anything, that they do the right thing and contact Radnor police.
Well as my readers know, the other day I wrote a post called hooey. I wasn’t exactly breaking new ground. I was talking in part about groups I find kind of nutty because they speak to me of cult mentality.
These groups popping up everywhere and sometimes you just simply get tired of hearing their rhetoric like it’s the only thing that matters, and theirs is the sole voice you should follow. That’s why I wrote the post. I was expressing how I felt as a writer and a human being with a brain.
You have all these people running around claiming to be “true” conservatives and “true” Christians. The problem is when you know actual true conservatives and true Christians you realize the differences immediately.
True conservatives have a belief system. And they are happy to discuss it with you. They don’t beat you over the head with it, they don’t tell you that your thought process is wrong, they tell you how their thought process is different. The true conservatives that I know may some days be a little right of Attila the Hun for me, but they don’t try to beat people with opposing points of view into a verbal pulp or physical pulp.
True conservatives don’t need bumper stickers on their cars and flags on their lawns. They discuss things like intelligent human beings. A couple of friends in particular come to mind, and I have always found them delightful because they also have terrific senses of humor. Some of my true conservatives do still believe in Trump. A couple will send me things to read once in a while but it’s not unpleasant, it’s not combative, it just is. I do have a couple who no longer speak to me. We didn’t argue or fight, we just believe different things and it doesn’t mean I dislike them, or them me. Again, it just is.
Even when I was a registered Republican I have had friends who were true conservatives. they didn’t label themselves as tea partiers or anything which has evolved since, they merely had and have their point of view. And while I never completely agree, although sometimes on some points sometimes I agree to an extent, I have never left any conversation feeling like I wanted to barf. Or like they tried to make me feel less than. They knew what being a patriot actually is. And even more importantly, we leave the conversations as friends who had a discussion. Not a blood battle. That is an important nuance that these newfangled ones don’t seem to grasp, sadly.
What I find interesting is you never hear from these true conservatives anymore. A lot of them quite honestly quietly joined the ranks of the Never Trumpers. Oh and they didn’t think January 6, 2021 was OK either. And they understand that someone asking them to get a COVID shot is not depriving them of their personal freedom. They are just being asked to do their part as an American to end the global pandemic on our shores.
Now let’s also go to Christians. True Christians also have a solid belief system. They are happy to talk to you about it. They are calm and firm and happy in their belief in God. But they aren’t mean or horrible to anyone. They don’t say they are God-fearing and then bully someone online.
True Christians are exemplary and the ones I know, are extraordinarily good people. They go out of their way to help others. And they have a quiet dignity about their faith. They walk in God’s shoes so to speak.
So when I wrote this post it took a little bit but the comments are starting to roll in. Truthfully I don’t know why what I say as one person matters so much to all of these people. Like them I have my opinions on things, but unlike them I am not allowed to have opinions according to them.
I had comments come in on this blog. I had comments come in via private message on my blog’s Facebook page after I wrote hooey. Among other things they have labeled me a communist or call me a commie. That’s so Joseph McCarthy/J. Edgar Hoover of them. Do they even understand the definition of the words they are using? Do they even know who McCarthy and Hoover were? And they wonder why I think they are bobble headed Stepford Wives or escaped from the 1950s?
I ask that question simply because I have friends who are now American citizens and have been for decades, who escaped communist countries or countries under communist rule when they were children. They can tell you what communism is actually about because they lived it.
Someone having a different thought process on things from them or their comfort level is not a communist. They are just different from them and their comfort level, which to me seems rather limited. And narrow-minded…something else I was called just yesterday in a comment on hooey.
And I haven’t been called a Nazi yet, but I have seen others who don’t share their particular thought processes called Nazis. and that usually has to do with having to get a Covid19 shot or carry a Covid19 shot card and show it in certain circumstances.
Here you have to ask them if they know their history? And if you’ve ever known anyone who either escaped Nazi oppression during World War II Germany, or had family members who did or were murdered by Nazis they wouldn’t throw that word around so lightly and incorrectly either.
I have known people who were both Jewish and non-Jewish who escaped Nazi oppression. Or watched their family members rounded up and made to disappear. I will start with Norwegians. You don’t hear a lot about what happened in Norway during World War II. We all learned about it again in 2021 if you watched a PBS series called Atlantic Crossing.
And then there were the Germans who were not Jewish but who didn’t agree with the Nazis. These families much like their Jewish neighbors in a lot of cases, had their businesses removed from them, property stolen by the Nazis, and they had to flee and hide during World War II. And some of these cases I actually knew people growing up whose fathers were sent to the Russian front to their eventual death basically because of the weather and starvation and poor conditions all because they didn’t buy in to what the Nazi party in Germany during World War II was selling.
This why it is actually offensive as well as ludicrous when some of these keyboard warriors call people “Communists” and “Nazis”.
And these are the people who also don’t want to wear masks, they don’t want their kids to wear masks even if their kids don’t care, and they don’t want COVID shots.
Yet as they are getting infected with the virus even within their own families it astounds me of the things that you see them talking about. Including crazy therapies that could actually kill people.
Now can we talk about the harm the unvaccinated are doing vis a vis the current spikes of COVID? And by the unvaccinated I am not referring to people who literally can’t get the shot because of medical conditions, or those who are so tiny and young they can’t get the shot for that reason. I am talking about those who chose deliberately not to get the shot. Maybe it is their right to not get a shot, but what about the rest of us having the right not to get sick because others are spreading COVID?
And then they give you their pretzel logic argument of if the shots worked then people wouldn’t get COVID. No that’s actually not true. Because of the shots in a lot of cases, people aren’t getting as sick, but because there are so many people who haven’t gotten shots the virus continues to spread and mutate. But hey, they will continue to do them. Meanwhile I know people with immunocompromised little children too young to get shots who are terrified. What about their rights?
But it’s OK for these others to espouse this nonsense and speak their piece. But no one else can. The moment you are the teensiest bit different from what they are spouting and/or their comfort levels you are bad. You are branded “evil” or a “mean girl” even as these types bully others every single day on social media.
And isn’t it ironic as well as crazy that these are the people that are bullying others every day because you don’t share their belief system, yet if you don’t share their belief system you are the one that’s the actual bully?
My post hooey is a threat to these people why and how ? Just because I right? Or is it because my opinion is different than theirs? Or is it just simply because I am not the same as they are? And they wonder why I call them Stepford wives? And wonder about cult mentality? Don’t they get I don’t care if their marvelous selves are not in my world?
I have to ask: are we all supposed to be zombies on this bus of life?
Then these god fearing nouveau conservative women tell me how conservative women are all so much happier than the rest of us. OK that’s what they believe, but if they are so happy why are they complaining about me? If they were so happy they wouldn’t feverishly read my posts, they were just go on about their lives. If they were so happy they wouldn’t scream and jump up and down at school board meetings or carry dumb signs outside shopping malls, would they?
And I hate to break it to them but having an actual pulse and discussing things and expressing your own opinion doesn’t make you unhappy. It makes you a human being with a brain that isn’t brainwashed. But I guess we’re not supposed to be independent in their eyes are we? We are supposed to accept what they say?
And I’m going to go back to their accusing me of being mean and bullying. These people literally attack anyone with a different point of view. And there are a lot of comments I choose not to share or publish I just file away as threats. Just like the past couple of days. And it’s all coming from these people who are supposedly so much better than I am and so much better off than I am because they drank the proverbial Kool Aid? Do they not even remember Jonestown in the Jonestown massacre in 1978 and the Reverend Jim Jones? Or do they not remember Moonies? That and they hate being called Stepford Wives, but how is it they don’t actually see themselves for who they are (and aren’t)?
And when these people are removed from my blog’s Facebook page because that is my right, they then start emailing comments to the blog itself. Then I block them there. Sometimes I get hate mail. Essentially I am a bad, mean, horrible person because I don’t agree with their point of view. They don’t understand that one of these American freedoms they espouse so frequently means I am also entitled to my opinion and I don’t have to buy into theirs.
But I have to ask do they do this special treatment with everyone who disagrees with them? I kind of think they do. But with me they seem to take it to a new level. Harassment, cyber bullying, cyber stalking. And then they all wonder where the kids learn these behaviors and whose behavior they are emulating in the schools and then they complain about that.
So here we are in 2022. I am not going to say “why can’t we all get along“ because I am a realist and that’s not possible. But their rights do not supersede my rights, or the rights of others. And if they are banding together in these groups, wherever they are they are literally no better than the bullies they complain about in their children’s schools.
Again, among the rights our founding fathers thought and bled and died for was the ability for all of us as Americans to be independent minded. We are allowed to think differently than the guy down the street or across town. It’s not a crime.
And along with that free will comes the ability to choose your own path. My path doesn’t have to be your path, and you don’t have to agree or even disagree with me. Being an American means we are both allowed to coexist.
Some of these people leaving comments call me a terrible liberal. Or maybe it’s a horrible liberal or a super liberal or a miserable liberal. And it doesn’t really matter because it makes me laugh since everyone who actually knows me, knows I am actually a moderate. Maybe I’m a little too liberal for some people these days, but that doesn’t make me a super liberal and that doesn’t make a super liberal wrong if they are super liberal. It just doesn’t make sense we are all NOT allowed to have our own beliefs in their eyes.
Get over yourselves. You aren’t all that and a bag of chips anymore than the next person.
Before I get to a recap of sorts of 2021, let’s talk Christmas decorations. Mine stay up to Epiphany (maybe a little later.) When do you take your decorations down? I have to be honest, I also just like them so much I wish the Christmas season were just a little bit longer. However, I know once January rolls around the nutcrackers and elves kind of look like they are staring at me from the bookshelves, so down they come until next year.
2021 has been a crazy year and let’s start with more current events. Recently a person purported to live in the Malvern area was arrested in West Chester after a bar fight. Not just any old bar fight, she (yes she) also was charged with biting and spitting on employees. Hey I am not making this up, just ask the West Chester Borough Police who posted it. THAT is why the media picked up the story and wrote about it.
Biting and spitting during what is still a GLOBAL pandemic known as COVID-19. Why am I talking about this? Well it made the news so I posted a link to a published article. No real rhyme or reason, I just posted it. I do post crime stuff every now and again. I will note that I posted with NO opinion. Just posted the article.
Up pops the Stepford -With -Matching -Capes- Crusaders. I was a bad person for sharing it. Why was I posting it. Oh and the best? I was a threat to the community for posting it. Say what? Oh and middle school behavior for posting it. Did I mention it was in the news?
All I did was post the link. If something is in the news and it’s posted, it doesn’t make anyone a bad person for posting a link unless of course it’s fake news. It wasn’t. Now if you don’t like something someone posts, we are supposed to be grown-ups, right? So why not just scroll by for something more to your comfort level? (I will note another news story, similar topic also has surfaced out of Bear, DE at a WaWa of all places. Same age range women. Bizarre, dangerous, and hideous behavior in the age of COVID19.)
Social media behavior in general (as in everywhere) has greatly deteriorated since the last presidential election and COVID19. Maybe all of you armchair critics merely like the sounds of your own voices but not everybody has to listen to it. And so we are clear, I am not speaking about that old-fashioned concept of disagreeing, yet having a thing called a conversation. I am referring to the beyond the nipping at the virtual ankles, being flat out obnoxious if not more. And yet these are the same people who don’t understand where kids learn about bullying.
Sometimes I turn the other cheek with these village idiots in local social media groups. This was not one of those times. I grow increasingly intolerant of this brand of bullsheit. And that doesn’t make me a bad person, it means I have had enough of those who wish to have local social media domination in a puffy cloud world where cute bunnies and unicorns fart rainbows.
Then the other day I had the best giggle all day from a writer, Brian Hickey:
“Let’s Go Brandon: the rallying cry of people who peaked in high school.”
~ Brian Hickey 12/28/21
That makes a nice segue to the comments of 2021 on this blog having to do with politics, maskers vs. anti maskers, anti-vaxxers and more:
I only posted a snippet of the hate mail comments I receive. But these show the range from I am a horrible person to why don’t I just kill myself. Ah yes the milk of human kindness at it’s finest. And mind you, I will get these comments when writing about a garden tour. It’s me I suppose. I am too different in opinion from them, I don’t know “my place”, whatever. Someone I know had this to say about one person being a keyboard tiger jackass:
I hope he accidentally uses his poison ivy as toilet tissue And deserves the kind of life that is small minded, mean, douche-y comment deserves. You on the other hand deserve to have a wonderful day that you had and being able to celebrate it free from pestilence.
Your “I’m-not-afraid-to-go-low” friend from New York.
I have to admit that made me laugh. My New Yorkers are fierce.
And as far as social media groups like on Facebook go, if you as an admin have the audacity to remove an ankle biter, that is rarely the end of it. Some of them keep trying to get back into a group. Others keep sending their friends and relatives to either keep beating their drum in their absence, or to spy and see if people are still talking about them. Hence the reason most groups these days do not let you join automatically. Everyone is tired especially of the Facebook ankle biters.
Even inane NextDoor isn’t immune from insane social media behavior. 2021 saw the oddly obsessed CVS man and the people who recently piled onto the poor woman who was just concerned about a homeless couple living in their car in a grocery store parking lot in Phoenixville. And let’s not forget the freak flag flying political posts of NextDoor and the crowd sourcing for should people call the police about things, or posting personal information publicly like it isn’t social media, although it most assuredly is.. That site in general is a big headscratcher.
Also in 2021 we had the woman who thinks Tredyffrin Easttown School District school board meetings are for her to throw extra blonde temper tantrums. She didn’t like me mocking her public comments at a public meeting. And at that time she was blathering to anyone who would listen to her (including local media) about her views on life, vaccines, masks, politics, the universe.
This was the same woman who during breast cancer awareness month (the dreaded and disliked Pinktober to many of us) posted a photo of me on Facebook in a hospital gown taken either before my breast cancer surgery or after my surgery but before I started treatment. It was like a wanted poster with piss poor timing. Among other things it was supposed to intimidate me. Purely female BS.
The school board follies on the whole were quite insane in 2021. The ugliest of the ugliest. And it’s not over. Even if so many of the anti-vaxxer anti-maskers, and Qanon cuties lost their school board races, they are still around. At least one was a nurse. A pediatric nurse, no less. I hope whomever she works for is proud of her efforts, right? Others of their ilk did not lose and made it onto school boards. Essentially the politics of crazy will continue to threaten public school education just like it threatens the very tenets of our society and democracy.
The most frightening example of threatening our democracy occurred this year on January 6, 2021. That is another highlight of the sheer volume crazy of 2021. Who would have ever thought we would be watching news reports of mob of Americans storming our beloved Capitol? On January 6, 2021, a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump attacked the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. hoping to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election by disrupting the joint session of Congress assembled to count electoral votes that would formalize then President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. This effort failed, and it has been in court and all over social media ever since. Mob members who have been identified are being prosecuted. One of the oldest mob members is from the West Chester area and I think I read he is in his 80s.
Living La Vida COVID in 2021 meant a lot of us spent a lot of time keeping to ourselves. And given the climate of the world around us, it was a perfectly acceptable alternative. As the world re-opened we still couldn’t be sure who was vaccinated, who was not, who had COVID, and who may or may not act crazy if they saw you wearing a mask or saw someone not wearing a mask.
This extended to a lot of our recent Christmas celebrations, which for most were considerably smaller to be safe, because what has arrived? The lovely Omicron variant. I know quite a few people who have picked it up, including at a Christmas concert I love but decided to skip this year because of COVID. Some people who were vaccinated I know who got snagged by the latest variant but they hadn’t had their booster yet. But most of the people I know who now have COVID19 have never gotten shots yet. I wonder if they will now?
Now that COVID cases are on the insane rise again, there are other issues. Remember we have one hospital in Chester County – Jennersville – closing at the end of this week, and another, Brandywine closing at the end January. It seems no one can stop Tower Health from doing this. But then again no one could stop Hahnemann in Philadelphia from closing, either.
Tower Health by these actions is essentially going to cause unbelievable problems for ALL residents of Chester County, not just the communities affected most directly by the hospitals they are closing. It’s a shame Chester County can’t sue Tower Health or federal entities like The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, isn’t it? Or can they?
Back to politics. The politics of extremism still rules the day. I have watched friendships erode over politics, even my own. I have a friend who is super conservative. I sent her a Christmas card like always. No card received here. Crickets.
I feel it is because I could never join the cult of Trump. I never judged this friend’s conservatism because it’s their belief system, and even if I don’t agree with a lot of it now, the world is big enough for more than one point of view. But I am wondering if I instead were judged? Makes me sad, but I can only control me. I won’t shut the door, but it makes me sad because there are a bunch of those in my life. I was fine when I was a Republican, but now I am not, I am somehow not worthy. Or I am not worthy to some because I am not liberal enough.
How did this world happen? I remember a time when you could be many political persuasions in a room, yet you would all leave the conversations friends. Now it’s “off with their heads” and you can’t have an actual conversation, let alone sit on different sides of the political fence. What good is that doing anyone?
Other things that marred 2021 was crime. Usually surrounding the City of Philadelphia, which has deteriorated into a filthy dirty, crime ridden city with a joke of a mayor and a doofus of a district attorney. But when Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon got carjacked at gunpoint at FDR Park in Philadelphia recently they got the bad guys in like a day….which NEVER happens to regular folk. I am very glad she is OK but I sure hope this keeps a GIANT spotlight on the hot mess that is the City of Philadelphia.
Crime has made it’s way more and more into what was bucolic Chester County. It sucks, frankly. And the police forces are smaller than in a big city.A lot of areas are covered by the Pennsylvania State Police. Like Charlestown where Anna Bronislawa Maciejewska-Gould went missing on April 10, 2017. In April, 2022 it is FIVE years. FIVE years.
In 2021 we saw the ugliness of development march on in Chester County. Even in a global pandemic it’s more, more, more. From butt ass ugly billboards to apartment buildings to fake carriage homes to townhouses for lemmings and more, over-development is now Chester County’s middle name, isn’t it?
We saw things like Tarad Hill Farm in West Bradford go up for sale. It remains to be seen what will happen, but it was being marketed for it’s development possibilities by the nouveau gentry who acquired it and now appears to be selling it. Support the efforts of groups like the Marshallton Conservation Trust in that area (please).
We also saw Rock Hill Farm in Willistown go into a sales agreement I guess since in that case there have already been plans submitted for development. (See here on Willistown website) That is 200 plus acres of what is not only amazing open space, but what about the history of the property? And it has Crum Creek going through it and is old-growth forest, wetlands, rolling hills and streams, and productive farmland. The big puzzle for me in this case is the son of the deceased owner or co-owner is on the Board of Willistown Conservation Trust and has been for a while, right? So why was nothing on that parcel ever put into conservation? In 2022 Willistown residents will see what will happen I suppose. So many object to it, but in the end I think the horse is sadly out of that barn. Someone recently put up a website.
Also in Willistown this year there has been the strange tale of the neighbors of Castlebar Lane and Wildflower Farm. They live in Willistown but apparently farms to them are verboten? Is this just a case of NOFIMBY (No Farm In My Back Yard) ? This is one of the most bizarre things in Chester County in 2021 and it’s so Scary Spice meets Stepford Wives meets Knotts Landing meets Desperate Housewives. Except in this case it’s a whole Scare Spice RACK. The township came to an agreement with Wildflower Farm recently, but we’ll see if the narsty neighbors (yes narsty) are finished yet. But hey look, they can always build bigger berms, right?
This year has also been a crazy year in the seemingly unending saga of the pipelines. Sunoco/Mariner East/ Energy Transfer. Josh Shapiro announced criminal charges and then it seemed like a short time later announce a run for governor, so is this for him or for the residents of Chester County? And then they just announce that pipeline work would resume? Which came first, the chicken or the pipeline? File under to be continued….
However, in 2021 here at the end of the year have been a few surprises. Let’s start with Township Managers.
Casey LaLonde is done at West Goshen. Yup at the meeting on the 21st of December, he is leaving West Goshen for greener pastures somewhere in the private sector but where? Kiss kiss Casey and will folks find you at the Joan Crawford Museum as a docent?
Then today the news eeeked out that Mimi Gleason is out at West Whiteland? Fie under Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus in West Whiteland. Will it be AprèsMimi, le deluge? Only time will tell and I think people should fasten their seatbelts.
Speaking of seatbelt fastening, today I learned that in East Goshen they will be “investigating” undoing eminent domain at the Hicks Farm. That was the word used in the meeting packet for next week. East Goshen Supervisors can you not begin next week with a simple resolution to end eminent domain? Okay semi rhetorical, because they can. It was done in West Vincent, it was done in Ardmore years ago. And so on in so forth. (Good lord they can even look on the Institute for Justice’s website for how tos probably, right? They practically have a legal zoom for eminent domain. Even a good Google can help you.)
And one of my favorite bright spots was the news on Crebilly Farm in Westtown. Recently the Westtown Township Board of Supervisors granted funding to Natural Lands to begin the process of grant proposal writing for the conservation of Crebilly Farm. I had to pinch myself on that one. But prayers up, there is something to work towards, even if there does seem to be an active real estatelisting on the property?
Personally this has been a year for me. I reached a ten year milestone being breast cancer free, yet I lost two long time friends to cancer. Also this year two of the great ladies of my childhood passed away, and one of my late father’s favorite cousins. And the thing is none of these losses were due to COVID-19 but COVID kept people from saying goodbye to loved ones and friends all over the globe. And if we don’t all get it together, 2022 will be another long COVID riddled year. You aren’t having your first amendment rights threatened if you are asked to get a shot or wear a mask.
BUT I still had a wonderful year with my friends and family including being able to tour David Culp’s Brandywine Cottage gardens and have a couple of small and safe gatherings with vaccinated friends and family.
Life is what we make of it and it is the simple things that bring me joy. Like a phone call from a very dear friend who just wanted to thank me for being able to see my Christmas decorations. Of course I laughed and told her but now I had to start thinking about disassembling the tree and more and putting all of the ornaments away. When that happens it is like saying good bye to old friends for a year. But then we all start planning our gardens, don’t we, so it is a cycle of happiness, right?
As we literally count down the hours until 2022, I hope some of you can just hit the pause button. I wish for you health and happiness in 2022 and pray for a more peaceful world and a little less political craziness. I won’t be unrealistic and wish for it all to disappear, but maybe hope for just a little less mania.
Thanks for stopping by in 2021. 2022 marks this site turning 10. Happy New Year kids!
I have always been fascinated with people who do metal detecting and treasure hunting. I think it’s just cool and I also like the history involved. So this morning, Chester County Metal Detecting came out to our home and scanned our property and woods.
Sadly no fabulous examples of local history were found but we did find a lot of really old shotgun and looks like rifle shells. The rifle shells are interesting because one of my neighbors tells me that Chester County is shotgun only.
These lovely people do this for fun there is no charge they’re not treasure stealers and they love what they do! I met them in part because they scanned a friend of mine‘s home and they were at a nonprofit event for the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust recently.
They have a Facebook page and a website if you would like to connect with them and have them come visit you. It’s a totally fun experience and I highly recommend it! Besides, you never know what little bit of history will be unearthed!
Damage from Hurricane Ida was a hot topic among fair goers at the Harriton Fair yesterday. I know because I saw Lower Merion Commissioner Scott Zelov getting his ear bent about it, especially about the Mill Creek Road Bridge.
Now sometimes over the years I have been hard on Commissioner Scott Zelov. We know each other from things Lower Merion. But where I will always give him credit is unlike others, he shows up to events in Lower Merion Township, and listens and engages with residents. I especially give him credit for supporting Historic Harriton House and the fair because the commissioner whose ward contains Harriton can never seem to show up for anything there which I find strange because it’s a wonderful place.
Anyway, River Road in Gladwyne was hit horribly and other places in Lower Merion as well. But I did not know about other Ida collateral damage until this morning when a member of Gladwyne Civic posted the following (and I am re-posting verbatim):
‼️📌MILL CREEK ROAD BRIDGE From Scott Zelov, LM commissioner: the Mill Creek Road Bridge at the 1690 House has to be demolished and re-constructed due to extensive damage from Ida. The engineering and design could take 9 months, and then construction could be another 9 months, meaning that the bridge won’t re-open until March 2023. This bridge is owned by Montgomery County, not Lower Merion Township. We are working with the County to try to compress both the design and construction periods. TO CONTACT COMMISSIONER ZELOVhttps://www.lowermerion.org/services/township-secretary-s-office/board-of-commissioners/commissioners/v-scott-zelov 📌‼️
This makes me really sad. The history of the 1690 house is amazing. There is this website called Living Places which has a history. I will share an excerpt:
📌The Mill Creek Historic District is located in Gladwyne, Lower Merion Township, on the west side of the Schuylkill River. Approximately ten miles from downtown Philadelphia, it is situated at the juncture of Mill Creek and Old Gulph Roads alongside of Mill Creek.
…,The area was originally settled by a Welsh Quaker named John Roberts “the miller” who purchased the rights to 500 acres of land in the Welsh Tract in 1682. Taking title to 250 acres; he set up his grist mill called “The Wain” by 1690 or earlier….The house at 543 Mill Creek Road is the oldest in the area and possibly in Lower Merion Township. Originally it was the log house of John Roberts, the Miller, c.1683. The house, which is commonly called “the 1690 house” has been expanded several times and now bears no resemblance to the original. It is 1 1/2 stories has brick chimneys, and dormers with slanting overhangs. Presently, it is sheathed with wood shingles. Over the years, Mill Creek Road has been raised giving the house the appearance of being in a gully.📌
The 1690 house is a private residence. It’s a gem. I actually had senior portrait photos taken at the old mill across the street- way before it was restored into a private residence.
But my point is even THAT is taking forever. And you can’t get around easily and it’s right where 76 has an exit. The Mill Creek Road Bridge being out will mean a need for a huge work around connecting parts of Lower Merion Township to other parts of itself.
But I am glad the 1690 house can be saved. Here’s hoping the re-engineering can lift it up some and save parts of the original structure to incorporate into the re-build.
Ida was a real natural terror and my heart goes out to the people who own the 1690 House and my friends on River Road and elsewhere. And no, I have not seen photos of the 1690 house post-Ida
Catherine Renzi from Yellow Springs Farm came over last week to drop off plants. My current garden is one of many over the course of 20 years that I have incorporated plants from Yellow Springs Farm into.
During this visit, Catherine entrusted me with the news she and her husband Al are now allowing me to tell all of you: Yellow Springs Farm is for sale. And before we go any further, know one thing: this is a conserved farm. This land will remain protected in perpetuity from subdivision or development because Catherine and Al Renzi donated a conservation easement in 2001.
While many land parcels in Chester County are NOT safe from wanton development, Yellow Springs Farm is.
I have know Catherine for many, many years. Before there was Yellow Springs Farm, she was a well respected financial advisor and for a few years I was a sales assistant in her office. As a matter of fact, I remember when she said she was taking her life in another direction and she and Al were buying a farm. To many of the stock jockeys, that sounded crazy. To me, it sounded wonderful.
Although Catherine started out essentially a boss, she has become my friend over the course of many, many years we have known each other. I have been buying goods from her farm as long as they have been selling them.
Yellow Springs Farm is a magical place and so beautiful. It has been a happy place for me in Chester County over the years. I always knew spring was truly here when there was an open farm day, and I could see the new kids. Kids, aka baby goats, are among the most joyful animals to be around. Goats can be a little stinky, but they are funny creatures guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The Yellow Springs goats are now gone from the farm. They went to live at another dairy.
Change can be hard, and Catherine and Al didn’t make this decision lightly. BUT people are entitled to new and different chapters, and if I am honest, when I saw Catherine had picked up her paint brushes again and started creating beautiful paintings, I knew change was coming.
Now while their location might be changing, Catherine will still be offering landscape design and consulting services (and hopefully plants!) from a new, TBD location.
With Catherine and Al’s permission, I am sharing their note to their Cheese CSA members:
📌📝Yellow Springs Farm Native Plants Nursery and Artisanal Goat Dairy will close this Fall. After 20 years of goats, gardens and countless community connections, Al and Catherine Renzi are ready to begin a new life chapter.
We are extremely grateful for the knowledge, friendships and warm memories you, our valued CSA members, have shared over the years. We could not have pursued our mission of connecting sustainable landscapes with local foodscapes without our customers, colleagues, chefs and so many Farm supporters, near and far.
The Farm real estate is for sale, but it remains protected in perpetuity from subdivision or development because of the conservation easement we donated in 2001. We imagine new owners will live their dreams here, and continue to care for this beautiful place. The goats were the soul of the Farm. They are safe, and have moved to another dairy. We receive their milk to continue making cheese until later this Fall– likely November. The dairy and cheesemaking equipment is available for purchase. Nursery plants not sold this season will come with us to our new location TBD. Change is hard to process, but we are focused on being glad that YSF happened (2001-2021), not sad that it is coming to an end. When we started this adventure in 2001, and now again in 2021, we made choices to take chances, and look forward to change ahead with refreshed aspirations. Every ending is a new beginning
We will connect with community venues and other means to pursue our interests in nature, conservation, and local food. Catherine’s creative muse, and Al’s analytical penchant for science are alive and well. We will share specifics as we know more details in coming weeks and months.
Thank you for sharing this fulfilling, challenging life chapter with us. Your support and enthusiasm for our Farm has been priceless. A piece of this place lives forever in our hearts, and we hope you too have fond memories of Yellow Springs Farm.
With warm regards and heartfelt thanks,
Al and Catherine Renzi📌📝
So there is the news. If you are a realtor or a potential owner who is a farm lover with a conservation soul, follow this LINK and this LINK to the listing and schedule a showing. The farmhouse is sensitively and beautifully updated, and some lucky family could move in “as is.”
Yellow Springs Farm sits on a glorious conserved 8 acre parcel. The farmhouse as mentioned is restored and dates to 1850. A spring house, a bank barn, run in sheds and more await the right owner. The barn has a fabulous 1 bedroom apartment, suitable as a rental or space for visiting friends/family. If you think it’s you, contact:
Linda Burgwin Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. Office Ph: (610) 225-7400 Cell: (484)- 716-0163
And no, I am not getting into the real estate listing promotion business. This is a special place and the Renzis are special people. Please if you are interested in the farm, schedule a visit through a realtor properly. Please do not just drive up the driveway for a look see.
Catherine and Al, you know I wish you nothing but the best and look forward to your next chapter. Cheers to you both!
To those interested in preserving the character of Chester County, be like the Renzis and consider conservation. Conservation and preservation go hand in hand.