pony up for hat wars

It’s here! The sport of kings everyone heralds Memorial Day and the first minutes of summer in with: hat wars at Devon Horse Show.  “Ladies” Day is May 31, and I am certain it won’t disappoint.


“Buy your reservation now”? Seriously are they paying someone to write this stuff? What happened to “make your reservations now, purchase tickets today?”

But please note The Devon Horse Show category of “Best Jewels of Devon” – I shudder to think about that bedazzling that will be done…can’t you just see bedazzled Lilly LOL?

Sigh….remember the genteel days gone by that once was Ladies’ Day? It used to be so civilized and nice. Today’s Ladies’ Day is just not for me.

I have lovely friends who are still stalwarts of this event.  But even they do not care for the element of Nouveau Devon it attracts.  It’s that whole faux society of it all.   Some of these women think that because they can throw a few fake flowers on the wrong color straw hat and layer on fake pearls that are so cheap they look like pop beads, and buy new Lilly dresses that they are instant society. And the irony is how many of them have ever ridden a horse, how many of them are in fact afraid of horses?  How many of them actually know what is going on at equestrian events?  (I do not pretend to be an expert, but I rode a little as a child and I have a general idea of what’s going on because I have a lot of friends who are horse people for lack of a better description.)

I have always loved horses. And I used to love going to the Devon Horse Show.  But what Devon has evolved into in recent years makes me wish and hope it returns one day to what it was. 

In my mind’s eye I see the Devon I personally remember best. The Devon of the mid 1970s through the 1990s. That was the Devon where you still saw the real Lilly Pulitzer and Vested Gentress dresses and spring/summer ladies pants outfits, and gentlemen had their khacki pants (lots of “Nantucket Reds”) and boaters.

What always sets the vintage Lilly apart from the modern Lilly are not the patterns, but the fabrics.  Today’s fabrics are cheap looking and feeling for the most part.  The fabrics of vintage Lilly and vintage Vested Gentress had weight to them and body. The cotton material was of such a high-quality and weave that it would hold up to heat and humidity.  Modern Lilly has fine patterns but the actual quality of the fabric cheapens the whole deal.

What will be interesting to watch this season at Devon is the society coverage. My money is on Caroline O’Halloran and her Savvy Main Line society glam squad and what will be their coverage.  

Caroline has added a real society column to her super popular website. Caroline’s columns feature a team of ladies who actually used to work for the society pages, and real coverage of events. And with their photos and Caroline’s columns you don’t just have people lined up for well-dressed society mugshots, you have well styled photos, an actual description of the event, what it’s benefiting, and so on and so forth.   It’s old-school and delightful in a modern website format and for those who chose to advetise it is a superior platform and I am not compensated to say that, it’s my opinion.  I find Savvy a much more polished and comprehensive a product when compared to what Susan Scovill puts out, unfortunately for Susan. While Susan pioneered the idea of a local website with event photos when she and the Main Line papers got their divorce a few years ago, her website in my opinion needs to evolve.  

Here is hoping people are better behaved at Devon this year, right? Last year and the police stuff wasn’t very Devon was it? And here is hoping that the people who attend Devon Horse  Show behave better than the people who attended Radnor Hunt, right?  People who are members of Radnor Hunt have been chattering about those who were guests at this season’s event which is at a private club who behaved liked early Animal House Frat House and if this is true, how could they show such casual disregard for Radnor Hunt?

It’s a lovely day for Devon today, however, so go buy a hat, see the horses and have a lemon stick!

modern family


The concept of family is a sacred thing. When you are little they are that group of people bought together by blood that all look like you.

As you grow up you realize as you form your own family units the concept of family can be redefined. I have a lot of friends who don’t have much family by related blood per se, so the friends fill the family shoes.

When my sister and I were little there were a lot more of us. Not in our immediate family, we were just four people- but through aunts and uncles and cousins and great aunts and great uncles and grandparents and great grandparents there were more of us.  As we grew up, the numbers thinned. But we still had both of our parents.

In 2005 our father died. He had fought prostate cancer valiantly and on his own terms.

For me, the death of my father is still somewhat of a surreal event. My memories from that time are a lot like flashes of  Kaleidoscope images.  Lots of bits separated by flashes of color.

I remember my mother and my sister being so instantly devastated and falling apart around me that I was almost afraid to grieve for a very long time.  I remember looking out across the church which was standing room only giving one of  my father’s eulogies .  In order to get through that and not embarrass myself by dissolving into tears I found two of my friends Stevie and Barb, and focused on them.

Other things I remember from the day of my father’s funeral were two people who weren’t there. One was my father’s brother, his only brother. Even as a child I never thought much of him and I pretty much wrote him off after that. He was like a selfish caricature version of my father. Truthfully, and without guilt and reservation, I can say with a clean conscience I don’t care if I ever see him again.

The other person who wasn’t there that day was my godfather.  That was a more bitter pill to swallow, especially since he lived down the street from the church. He was literally two or three blocks away.

My late godfather was a great disappointment to me on that day.  He had known my father (and mother) since high school and he gave the toast at their wedding.  So I let my godfather go. I was sad for a moment when I heard he had died, but I did not attend his funeral which was at the church a block away from where my father’s funeral had been held. I saw no need to open that door one last time.

We all moved on. It took a while, but we found our way and it was OK but it was different.

Then in 2010, we also lost my brother-in-law quite suddenly.   Our little family unit was devastated all over again. It nearly broke me to watch my sister and her children grieve because there was nothing anyone could do other than to be there for them. It was also so incredibly hard to watch my mother grieve this new loss as well.

Eventually the clouds lifted and we all moved on. One day our mother finally ‘fessed up and told us she was seeing someone. (We had suspected this, incidentally.) Mother seemed almost scared to tell us like we would be upset.  But we weren’t upset, we were very and truly happy for her. We also felt that our father would not have wanted her to be alone because he loved her that much. Our mother was truly happy and alive again, and we loved it.

So for the past few years we have watched a rather remarkable love story develop and unfold. At a time in life where a lot of people tend to wind down and accept a more solitary existence, my mother once again found love.

And my sister and I grew to love her gentlemen as a surrogate father. We felt so lucky and so blessed to have him.

I am especially personally grateful for him as he really gets me as an individual . He has this uncanny intuition with people and capacity to listen to, understand, and love that is just lovely. I don’t know how else to describe it.  And on Monday, 22 May, 2017 he officially became our stepfather.

It was a quiet and intimate occasion, just the children and the couple whose dinner party inadvertently introduced them. Yes, this was something that happened quite literally by fate.

My mother and new stepfather were married by a judge they knew. After the ceremony was complete, the judge asked the children if they had anything to say. My sister spoke, but I didn’t have my words at that time. So I did not speak.

It has taken a couple of days for my wandering thoughts to come together. And among those thoughts I marvel at the modern family we all have become.

My own little family unit is a blended family, and now my larger family unit is a blended family. My sister and I have five stepsiblings! We gained four brothers and one sister…and that does not include spouses and children!

The thing about my newly blended family is how marvelous they are. Seriously, they are awesome.

We (the children) have all gotten to know each other over these past few years as our parents came together from being widowed.  So this is actually a really happy time for all of us. We all have had our bittersweet moments as we remember the parents who are no longer with us, but we are so fortunate that our parents have found such a wonderful love together and bought all of us together.

The power of love and happiness is a powerful thing indeed.  We are all stronger and better together. A true case of  Yours, Mine, and Ours — which incidentally is one of my favorite movies.  (The 1968 version starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.)

Believe in love. It takes you on the most unexpected journeys in life.

Thanks for stopping by.

make a trip to dan dan in devon


Dan Dan in Devon is open in the old Ella’s Bistro spot behind where Braxton’s is. What a welcome change to the same old same old.

Taiwanese and Sichuan cuisine. And the food is delicious. Clean flavor combinations and very fresh, I will be coming back again!

Service was a little frazzled by the time we left because they just got slammed with diners.

They have a full bar, and the flora and fauna didn’t disappoint. I am thinking White Dog Cafe is missing some of their cougars. But then again if the cougars of the Main Line are migrating already, then you know Dan Dan is a hit!

Everything was delicious. Don’t pass up the signature Dan Dan noodles and the dumplings with Chili oil!

Dan Dan is located at 214 Sugartown Road Wayne, but it’s really Devon. Reservations are a good idea especially Thursday dinner service through the weekend. 484-580-8558

anna maciejewska is still missing

I was asked by a friend who lives in Charlestown to post about Anna Maciejewska , who is still missing.  

According  to media and local reports she has not been seen since like April 2nd or April 10th (I have seen both dates in media reports and on social media, so I don’t know which one is correct. All I know is she has been missing for weeks at this point.)

I am guessing last person who saw her is her husband because well she is married and has a little boy named Andrew (do I have his name right?) who I think is like 4 or 5.  He must miss his mommy something fierce, so I figured I would put a post up in the hopes like all the media reports that someone somewhere has seen something.

Has anyone seen Anna Bronislawa Maciejewska?  The PA State Police want to hear from anyone who may have seen her. Call 911 or Embreeville barracks at 610-486-6280


Media reports continue to go out and the AP has picked up the story. 

It would be great if a national law and justice show like Nancy Grace could tell her story so please, if you are in the media or know media, pay it forward so Anna’s son  Andrew (?) doesn’t lose his mom.  Anna is Polish and I am also told that family in Poland is frantic.

Anna Maciejewska went missing from the Charlestown section of Malvern.  She was driving a blue Audi A4 she is 43 years old and 5′ 4″ and 150 pounds 
There is a Facebook page up for FINDING Anna Maciejewska.

She’s a mom. She’s not going to leave a little child like that. Please, if you have seen Anna Maciejewska, call the police.

saving history through salvage

Pattye Benson photo

When you love history and historic preservation, there are things that make your heart beat faster.

Preservation is a balancing act. Not everything can be saved in perpetuity. Such was the case of Fritz Lumber in Berwyn. But now I have learned from my dear friend and Preservation  Wonder Woman, Pattye Benson, that Fritz’s beautiful big old red barn as it is deconstructed, will be going to the restoration of the Jones Log Barn!  

Here is what Pattye wrote:

 

The final phase of the rebuilding of the Jones Log Barn is finally underway! With the generous help of Stacey Holmes Ballard and Eadeh Enterprises, the Trust is now able to complete the Jones Log Barn at Duportail House. Scott Walker of Axe Handle Timber is the contractor for the project. 

 The Barn Saver of Lancaster County is deconstructing the large red barn at Fritz Lumber — the materials from the red barn will help complete the Jones Log Barn. How wonderful that a part of the of the Fritz Lumberyard Development project will also include the rebuilding of the 18th century Jones Log Barn.

For all of those who support historic preservation, we are asking you to ‘like’ the Rebuilding the Jones Log Barn Facebook site and follow the progress of the project. The Living History Center at Duportail will be a win-win for the community!

This is what it is all about: all these different people coming together with true generosity of spirit to save history, salvage history, and pay it forward! Bravo!

demolishing part of memory lane on the main line

Sometimes in those moments between waking and sleeping, memories of childhood come floating back.  This morning I awoke to memories of a pink stucco house with blueberry bushes beyond the pool, a pool where my little sister first learned to swim. The house was located at 134 Cheswold Lane in Haverford.

So, no this is not a post about Chester County. This post is about memories.

In the early 1970s, my parents were starting to think about moving from Society Hill to the Main Line. Somehow they were connected to lovely people named John and Jean Markel and they agreed to house sit for the entire summer. My sister and I were fairly little, and this was a strange idea for us because summer usually meant the beach, but this house was magical with a secret pool tucked into the back and lovely gardens to explore. Immediately adjacent to The Merion Cricket Club we could hear every day the pop pop sound of tennis balls when they hit the racquets-  and an added bonus when the tennis balls sailed over the pink stucco garden walls for us to collect.

I think the summer of ’73 because I remember it was the summer they tore down the Haverford Hotel and Mrs. Sharpe’s carriage house doors with the large heavy metal (iron?)  lion heads with rings in their mouths jutted out to the sidewalk on Haverford Station Road. I have distinct memories of walking along Haverford Station Road with my father and how large the lions heads and rings seemed, and the carriage house doors imposing.  I also remember before they demolished the Haverford Hotel they sold a lot of things off, like furniture and fixtures. At one point, the sweeping lawns of this old hotel had rows upon rows of mattresses lined up in the summer sun like corpses.

I have looked and looked for photos of the old hotel, and the only one I can find is from an old edition of the Main Line Times:

ML History: Recapping the summer of ’73 archives By Kathy O’Loughlin Aug 11, 2010

 

I also found reference to the hotel and Mrs. Sharpe on the Lower Merion Historical Society website:

Catherine H. Dixon Sharpe bequeathed her home and a 2 1/2-acre property at Montgomery Avenue and Haverford Station Road to the township for a bird sanctuary. In 1978 her house was razed, and fencing and trails for walking through the wooded area were added…..A Haverford landmark for sixty years was the Haverford Hotel, built of brick in 1913 at the corner of Grays Lane and Montgomery Avenue. Its stately white columns supported the roof over a wide and gracious porch entrance. Fifty rooms were decorated with Chippendale desks, Chinese screen paintings, mahogany china cabinets, brass sconces, and sparkling chandeliers. Many wedding receptions, including that of President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, balls, other parties, and meetings were held there, but in 1973 the hotel was demolished, and Gray’s Lane House, an apartment condominium designed by Vincent Kling, now occupies the site.

It was a lovely summer. My school friend Paula’s aunt I think it was, lived close by so I would see her and I remember visiting other people my parents knew on Elbow Lane, and other nearby roads and lanes in Haverford and Bryn Mawr.

My father’s job was in the city, so I remember a lot of the time he stayed in our house in Society Hill during the week, and took the Paoli Local to Haverford Station on the weekends.

The Markels house was a magical house, and there are details I remember to this day inside. A lovely wood paneled library with floor to ceiling books, a piano, a Butler’s Pantry loaded with the most beautiful and feminine sets of china and flatware.  I think it was that summer I fell in love with English and French porcelain. 

There were stools in the kitchen which was large and sunny. I remember watching television sitting on a stool – there was a tiny black and white television on one of the expansive kitchen counters.

Outside were what were to me at the time the best secret gardens ever. The gardens were so beautiful and there was also a  lovely pool. I remember the Markels had inside and outside staff who would come take care of things during the week.

Ironically this was the summer I also remember seeing Loch Aerie for the first time because I remember my parents exploring way past the borders of the Main Line.  I remember driving out Lancaster Avenue into Chester County for movies and antique stores.  I remember that there were also drive in movie theaters in Chester County at that time, but I digress.

The Markels house was old school Main Line beauty. The house was large and gracious, but just beautiful and subtle inside. It was also a very livable house.  I think it was because of this summer that a few years later my parents eventually settled in Haverford after a year in Gladwyne.

According to Montgomery County public property records, the people whom eventually bought this lovely house from the Markels sold it to Merion Cricket Club more than a few years ago for a little over $1.5 million:


Unless you lived back on those streets, you really weren’t paying attention to who was selling and who was buying.  I remember before I left the Main Line talks of Merion Cricket Club amassing neighboring properties so they could expand.  I just didn’t pay much attention to it. I was never a member, only ever a guest.

Recently, someone sent me a Zoning notice from Lower Merion Township:

Wow, so now we know why Merion was buying all the properties over the past years, right? They want to become a land locked Main Line Country Club? Forget that the history of the club, and the traditions of the club do not lend themselves to this, that there already are swim clubs and country clubs on the Main Line.  

But given the nouveau Main Line, I completely expect all of these lovely houses Merion Cricket has amassed in these still lovely neighborhoods will fall to the wrecking ball with hardly a whimper.

These are beautiful homes. They are also part of an increasing history of the Main Line no one cares about, or they find it is acceptable to just sacrifice these established and lovely neighborhoods.  This is a change that will impact this area.  For those of us with childhood memories it is sad and / or bittersweet.  I am guessing my own personal memories of a magical childhood summer have surfaced because of this news.

Here is a recent article on the topic:

LM Zoning: Merion Cricket Club seeks demo of club-owned historic homes Viability of club’s future addressed in plan
By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Apr 21, 2017 Updated Apr 21, 2017

Citing the need to attract additional members, officials from the Merion Cricket Club are seeking Lower Merion Township zoning approval of a plan to demolish seven historic homes in Haverford, including those built by famed architect Walter Durham, and repurpose others.

“The club has seen its membership levels drop over a significant period. In order to address the long-term, continued viability of the club, the club has, over the years, acquired the adjoining parcels and has embarked on a master planning process to develop a vision for proposed improvements to the club’s facilities. By providing for improved facilities, the club’s objective is to allow the club to stabilize membership levels, and thereafter return to and sustain its previous membership levels,” according to the application submitted to the Lower Merion Zoning Hearing Board…..The Cricket Club has owned many of the properties for more than a decade and under the plans will demolish houses on Elbow Lane near Cheswold Lane and ones near Grays Lane to the rear of its historic property. Four homes in the center of the Elbow Lane to the rear of the club will be retained and repurposed for other uses.

The Lower Merion Conservancy placed the Durham homes that date back to the early and mid-1900s on its Historic Preservation Watch List last year due to concerns that they would be demolished.


Sometimes things done in the name of “progress” are painful. But I no longer live there, so I write about this as an observer memorializing memories of a summer long ago.

Enjoy the lovely day.