unexpected loss: r.i.p. al terrell

I took this photo of Al Terrell this fall

I took this photo of Al Terrell this fall

I do not even really know how to begin this post.  I am so sad, I am in shock.  Al Terrell my friend who made the clean up of Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer possible has died quite suddenly.

I knew in November when we were getting ready for the special ceremony at Ebenezer that Al was not feeling well.  We talked about it.  When I saw him at the ceremony he was so happy it was happening but I saw this stillness about him . And I could tell he felt poorly and it bothered me.

Al at the ceremony this past fall right next to our soldier Joshua's grave

Al at the ceremony this past fall right next to our soldier Joshua’s grave

After the ceremony we swapped emails, text messages and one or two phone calls.  Christmas and beyond it was just text messages.  He still did not feel well and wasn’t sleeping.  At that point he made me promise to not give up on Ebenezer in case something was really wrong with him.  I promised.

And oddly he had been on my mind because a couple of people had asked me if I heard from him.

One of the things we last spoke of was his disappointment in the AME Church not responding to him further about what he wanted to see happen at Ebenezer.  I had a licensed structural engineer look at Ebenezer.  The long story short on that is the long walls are showing signs of bowing and need to be shored up to save what is left of the church ruin.  In order to do a more comprehensive engineering report, the walls would have to be shored up and the center of the ruin hand cleared of debris.  If properly stabilized, the church could be saved as a ruin, and possibly restored if money was no option.   But for that the AME Church as landowner would have to give permission for any of this.  They never replied to him. SHame on them for doing that to him. He never asked them for a cent.

We were also trying to get someone with special radar equipment into the graveyard to properly map the graves once and for all.  I won’t give up on that and I hope Dr. Watson at Immaculata will help me with that.

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Clean up this fall

I won’t give up on Ebenezer but I am so sad that this is the second friend I have made because of this sacred place who has gone home to God.  Maybe somewhere in heaven Al will meet up with Ann Christie and they will talk about Ebenezer.

Al and I became friends only in 2016.  He had contacted me initially  to tell me he would get Ebenezer cleaned up.  AT first I was like “yeah, ok” because I was so disappointed in mankind and AME church professionals and leaders in particular who had led me on a merry chase about saving and cleaning up Ebenezer for a few years at that point.

But Al just stayed in touch and slowly things began to happen.  Throughout the summer and into the fall of 2016, Al was often my first message in the morning or before I went to sleep about Ebenezer.

Al and I used to visit the same soldier before Ebenezer got too overgrown.  We shared Joshua Johnson.

Al had this quiet doing about him, he just persisted until things happened.  Every new grave uncovered, or progress made by the Willistown Scouts he texted me about. Al restored my faith in humankind.  Sounds kind of silly or even trite to my ears, but it is true. He was just a decent, nice, and caring man.  He had a deep faith about him.

Myself and the other ladies of Ebenezer as I call them will miss him terribly.  They do not make people with such honor and godliness and human kindness like Al anymore.

After Luke Phayre the Eagle Scout’s mom Kathy called me this afternoon it was like someone had punched me in the stomach.  Al was someone I knew such a short time. But he made an impact.  He mattered.

To Al Terrell’s widow and family, my deepest condolences.  Heaven truly has another angel.  Selfishly, I wished  heaven did not.  Al and I had clean up plans for the spring already.

Al Terrell with reporter Adam Farence of the Daily Local in November.

Al Terrell with reporter Adam Farence of the Daily Local in November.

Kathy Phayre and I would like to keep this going for Al Terrell.  There is the page on Facebook Save the Ruins and Cemetery of Ebenezer AME Church Frazer PA   @saveebenezeramefrazerpa – when winter turns to spring we will need volunteers.

Al Terrell you were one of a kind.  I feel blessed having known you even a short while. You were a good man.  Whenever I visit Joshua I will think of you. You will be missed. I will miss your text messages with photos of what was uncovered at Ebenezer and even your unabashed joy when people in the area just stopped by Ebenezer to pay their respects.

Everyone, I wish I could write more or be more eloquent.  I am just so truly sad at this moment.

Here is Al’s death notice and the service is this coming Saturday, January 21 at Saints Philip and James in Exton. The viewing starts at 9:30 am:

Al Terrell  May 2, 1945 – January 15, 2017 (Age 71)

 TERRELL Al, age 71, of Malvern and Cape May Point, NJ, died on January 15, 2017. Survived by his wife, Darryl (Waller); his children; Lana, Andrew (Jessica) and Joseph Terrell and his grandchildren; Ella and Sophia. Relatives and friends are invited to his Visitation on Saturday, 9:30-10:45 AM followed by his Funeral Mass at 11 AM at Sts. Philip and James Church, 723 E. Lincoln Highway, Exton, PA 19341. Interment Private. In lieu of flowers, contributions to Willistown Boy Scout Troop 78, 2 Mill Rd., Malvern, PA 19355 or Triangle Park, P.O. Box 74, Cape May Point, NJ 08212 would be appreciated.

 Here is a tribute that came in from Kimberly Boddy a friend of mine (and grand daughter of the late and beloved Chester County Artist, Lee Carter):

There are no words that can possible alleviate the shock and heartache that Mr. Terrell’s family, friends and associates are feeling at this moment in time. 

We know God has spoken and we are left to say Amen, while simultaneously asking ourselves, WHY. You are right Mr. Terrell was a special soul who touched the hearts of those who were blessed to meet him. I agree that we must carry one the Restoration of Ebenezer in honor of Mr. Terrell.

We can take solace in the fact that he did indeed honor the Civil War Colored Troops buried at Ebenezer in spite of the run around he received from the A.M.E Church, District and Local Leaders.

Mr. Terrell did not have historical amnesia or seek notoriety or financial gains. His only desire was to honored those that came before him in the most respectful way and even when he received no response, support or acknowledgement from the landowners he still honored those souls interred at Ebenezer. 

And here are the articles about Ebenezer:

Updated: OCTOBER 16, 2016 — 5:34 AM EDT

By Adam Farence, Daily Local News

POSTED: 11/19/16, 7:11 PM EST

EAST WHITELAND >> During a humble autumn afternoon, a small ceremony paid homage to a long since abandoned graveyard housing African-American Civil War veterans, and others whose names have been lost to time and erosion.

For Bruce Reason and Al Terrell, the sight of the cleaned up Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church cemetery on Saturday was a welcome one…

The person who came along and led the clean-up effort was Henderson High School sophomore Luke Phayre.

Phayre, a member of the Willistown Boy Scout Troop 78, had been looking for a project to complete so he could become an Eagle Scout.

And Terrell, himself a former assistant scoutmaster working on rejoining the troop, suggested to Phayre that he clean up the graveyard as his own son, Andrew did almost two decades earlier.

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5 year bloggerversary

five-years

Facebook is always reminding you of “memories” to share.  Most of the time I ignore the prompts.  This morning for some reason I decided to look.

And guess what? #TBT and all that jazz made me realize that my blog is 5 years old this month!

Yes! Chester County Ramblings is 5!

Above is the banner my blog first had.  I chose it because of not only my love of Chester County but because that is still my favorite and what I feel is among the most iconic Chester County barns.

Well eventually I started to change the banners on the blog because I had at the time been contacted by one of the adult children of the folks who live there. Ironically after I had my photography show at Christopher’s in Malvern in 2015 I heard from one of the homeowners because one of my images mounted in that show was of that barn.  She hadn’t liked that I had cut off the question mark in the photo I chose, and to contact her if I wanted to hear the story of the barn and how it got the writing on the side of the barn. Well I did, and never heard back.  And I still love that barn.

Over the years my blog has stuck to my tag line meandering through, writing about whatever strikes my fancy.

This blog covers a lot of ground and a lot of Chester County. Sometimes I ramble off to other areas. It is my blog, after all. A lot of posts involve my photography, my cooking, crafting gardening, and passion for junking, barn picking and hunting antiques.

One of my blog’s early and still iconic photos taken by me (and not Chester County):

sign-of-the-times-1

I cover topics that make people uncomfortable at times. And the comments I get can at times be termed as hate mail.  It doesn’t matter that no one ever said they had to read this blog, or that just like when you do not like a particular TV station you can change the channel. People just want to comment.  Most comments I publish.  Some I do not but maintain for the Internet trail.

One of the hottest topics was my covering what can only be described as mommy DUIs.  My blog posts were written based on published media reports and public records.  The posts were carefully written and were compassionate.

It troubled me that there seemed to be a string of  cases of  well-educated, well-bred young women ending up with a DUI sometimes with kids in the car.

The pressure to be the perfect woman is a very real thing. And the sooner we, as women can learn to stop beating ourselves up for not being paragons of perfection, the better. And yes that is a lesson I also have to learn and accept. (Some days are just better than others and self-perception is a tricky and cheeky devil.)

I wish life and fixing life issues was as simple as Cher’s infamous line in “Moonstruck” – you know – “Snap out of it!” – but it’s not.  It takes work. Relationships take work, families take work.  Yes there is love and all the good stuff, but you get the good stuff by working together, don’t you?

And for these opinions, well the comments were not always…pleasant.   Such is life.

I experienced that even more when I wrote about teenage suicide.  For all we will discuss and even crowd source on community Facebook pages, people don’t want to talk about difficult topics.  I get that.

But I think we should talk about these things. That we have to.  For our kids we have to. For us as a society we have to.

Just like I think we need to really get moving on the drug epidemic attached to heroin.  The media puts a spotlight on it, but the drug deaths keep happening.  And these are not people from low income areas, but rather upscale more privileged backgrounds.

Politics. Now politics always pushes buttons.  I get messages telling me to stick to gardening and cooking posts.  I had a whole posse in West Vincent spreading garbage about me and supporting cyber bullying because they did not like what I wrote.

Cyber bullying is a hot button topic for me.  It’s real.  It has happened to me.

I first addressed it in June 2014. I asked then how do you keep your joy? How do you keep your joy in the face of unpleasantness?

It is very true that you cannot control the actions of others, you can only control your own actions and behavior.

Cyber bullying and cyber stalking. It’s real, it happens every day. It happens to kids and adults alike. It is an unpleasant side of the Internet.  And while there is plenty to help kids and young adults out there, there is in fact very little to help adults.

As a writer and a blogger I have been a target of unpleasantness. It is nothing new, but that never makes it right. When you write, you are putting yourself out there. You will have fans of your writing as well as the detractors. Sometimes the people are those you know, but a lot of the time they are just strangers.

When people love something I write, or a photo, or a recipe it is such a nice feeling. That is what makes blogging so fun. It’s a very neat connection at times.

I am blessed with meeting some very cool people throughout the years I have been writing. I have also had some unpleasant experiences. The two topics that seem to cause unpleasant experiences always seem to get whittled down to two topics: politics and animal rescue.

I also use this blog to talk about historic and land preservation.  Loch Aerie, Linden Hall, and Ebenezer AME are easily my three most covered in this category. Historic preservation needs to mean something in Pennsylvania in general. And more people need to get called out and fined by demolition by neglect ordinances.  The whole thing of just letting it rot is BS.

The need for preservation in Chester County is very, very real.  And it is up to us wherever we live.  Once places like Crebilly are gone, they are gone and never coming back.

Chester County has a rich agricultural and equine heritage in addition to just the history of what has transpired here, and I feel like it is all getting whittled away one bad development at a time.  Toll Brothers is one developer in particular which I think simply needs to be slowed down.  Pick a township. Pick a county for that matter.

Toll Brothers is hardly the only developer in Chester County but they certainly seem to be the most prolific.  Like ants at a picnic.

Yes, I write a lot about development.  I can’t help it.  There is just too damn much of it

Here are some of my favorite development posts:

when articles appear that tell but half a story
why don’t we have more control over our communities? we live here.
this is progress?
pause, downingtown?
spring oak farm
the bell “tolls” for thee, chester county
a love note to the chester county planning commission
the fairy tales of development

Along with everything else, I have shared more personal posts with you.  I have even mocked Ladies’ Hat Day at Devon. I know I know I have “some nerve”  and yes I do.  The ridiculous creatures I saw photographed at a recent theme ladies lunch (whether some were ladies of course is in question) should be glad I do not create a mockumentary over photos I saw.  Suffice it to say there should be an age limit on tutus and strapless…as well as more clearly defined parameters of who should wear Lily.

And one post that sort of stands alone had to do with the controversial topic of the followers of Rudolf Steiner or Anthroposophy. Sorry not sorry just not into communes and their belief system. I was reminded of it by this tweet at me this morning:


Yes I do receive all sorts of  tweets. And some of them  get retained like some of the comments. 

Here are some of my favorite “other posts” from the past five years:

is having an opinion social crucifixion?
girl power
this and that
surviving in the land of women
the curiousness of women as we age
women to women: a puzzle for the ages
who are we now?
anthony trollope, what would you think of us today?
childhood christmas memories
unexpected memories of childhood past
small and other gardens
provenance

I still love writing about gardening and cooking probably the most.  I actually have the mish mosh makings of a cookbook based on recipes on this blog I have yet to pin myself to my desk to write and self publish…but I will.

So thank you readers for being a part of my journey the past five years!  Cheers to the next five years!

Thanks for stopping by.

happy new year!


Yes January 1 definitely means winter things, so today I have been applying new patches to an old quilt.

How do I make an American quilt? Well truthfully I do not because I am not truly a quilter.  Quilting is an amazing folk art form. I have taught myself how to patch and restore old and vintage quilts. 

I have written before about my love of old and vintage quilts and that I use them in my home. Quilts are a happy thing to me. 

Very cheery.

That is a lot of what I have been doing this weekend. Not very exciting to New Year’s Eve party enthusiasts, but I have never been a big New Year’s Eve person. So yesterday, I patched a really cool depression era lap quilt that was made out of old wool suits.  It will be a quilt to snuggle up with and watch TV.

You could say finishing the three quilts I have come across in various stages of now  last year is my first New Year’s resolution and one I can keep!

It’s 2017. Let’s make the best of it. Make it your year to be better. We can’t control what others do, we can only control our own actions.

Pay it forward. Do something nice – you know like helping the family made homeless by the Frazer Christmas fire next to the WaWa?

Or attend municipal meetings where you live and stand up and be counted. Tell officials how you want your community to look and stop allowing developers to do the dictating.  Pick a township and pick a developer. In January I am told Bishop Tube in East Whiteland will go to zoning. 

If you live in East Whiteland bear in mind what has now happened in Lower Merion with the Rockhill Road site. Basically Lower Merion Township officials spent years jumping through hoops at the expense of residents to benefit the developer and many years later a shovel has never hit the ground and a decrepit site is still decrepit and now for sale. Same developer as for Bishop Tube site – O’Neill.  

Bishop Tube is a toxic site. Not to be crass, but it’s a flipper baby site and they want more zoning relief. Steep slopes and such.  East Whiteland had said in late November, 2015 that the meeting was postponed until January 23. Zoning means the people with true standing who can make an impact are people who reside in the shadow of Bishop Tube.  Also they haven’t finished site remediation yet have they? 

Other items up in January would be yes more meetings in Westtown over Crebilly. Meetings are subject to change so if you live in Westtown, keep an eye on township agendas and thus far please mark your calendars for the upcoming January Planning Commission meeting dates:

Tuesday, 1/10, 6:30 Rustin High School Auditorium

Tuesday, 1/24, 6:30 Rustin High School Auditorium

There is a chance locations may be changed. Mindy Rhodes and others will keep you posted or (which I wholeheartedly suggest) you can sign up for direct notifications from Westtown Township by clicking on ‘Get Email Alerts’ at the top of the website: westtownpa.org.  

Also, Chris Patriarca, Township Planning and Zoning Officer of Westtown Township, encourages people to reach out to him directly with questions: (610)692-1930 or cpatriarca@westtown.org.
 

And remember there are all sorts of communities suffering from Toll Brothers  plans. Take a drive down Little Conestoga Road in Upper Uwchlan. Google the debacle down on Jewelers Row in Philadelphia.

Politics as in national politics? Not going there. Look we need to change the tone in this country, so yes we need to be more active, but the ugliness has gotten us all what? Nothing but more ugliness.

This New Year’s I am grateful. Grateful for my friends and family and to still be in the breast cancer survivor category.

2017 marks my third year with a gratitude jar. It is a simple thing.

The gratitude jar is a private reminder to you. It’s a sweet and simple thing. I read my year of thoughts and have already added to my jar for 2017.

Creating the jar isn’t rocket science, but the home craftiness of creating the jar isn’t really what the jar is about. If you hang with the jar throughout the year you will find it is not just a bit of ribbon, lace, a jar, labels and itty bitty bits of paper.

Yes, something so simple can teach life lessons.

You don’t have to be perfect. Don’t write something for your jar just to fill it up with little slips of paper. Every once in a while (and how frequent is up to you), sit down for a moment and pause. Let the words come to you. They will. On good days and not such good days.

Some empty their jar each New Year’s Eve. I don’t. I let the little thoughts accumulate.  I don’t put something in my jar daily, so it’s fine.

Happy 2017!  Wishing all my readers a happy and healthy 2017.

things that really aren’t so invisible 

By now most of my readers probably know about a story I have been following since Christmas. It is the story of the mom and two sons who live next-door to the Wawa in Frazer.

While there were at church for Christmas, their apartment burned. NBC10 Philadelphia and reporter Deanna Durante covered it yesterday (CLICK HERE) and the Daily Local has covered it and I am told other media outlets are in the process of covering this story as well.

If you live in the Malvern area it was the second such fire in a little more than 24 hours. But where this fire was different is that most people do not realize people live back there where the fire occurred.

In East Whiteland along Lancaster Avevue starting on just the other side of the Wawa at the corner on Planebrook, and stretching up a piece on Lancaster Avenue there are a combination of small houses and apartments above commercial structures and so on.  I mean no disrespect to the people who call these places home, but they are rentals and a lot of these landlords for years should have probably been taking a good hard look at the rough shape some of their rental properties were in and not just collected the rent.

But for the grace of God go all of us when it comes to house fires. The Rodriguez family could have all perished had they been home and not at church worshiping for Christmas. 

 I am told their landlord owns other structures right around there. I am not making any disparaging comments about said landlord because I have no personal experience with them. What I will say is I hope he does right by this family and I hope he takes a look at everything else he owns to make sure something like this won’t happen again. 

But it was sad for me to watch contretemps occur on a page on Facebook where people we’re arguing over which family who lost their home at Christmas was the most important.

The simple answer is each family in Chester county that lost their home to fire a Christmas is important.   But the not so simple answer and one that most don’t want to hear anything about is the fact that sometimes some of the families that experience these losses are generally speaking invisible to most people on a day-to-day basis. So they may need more support than others.

The people that live in the slightly ramshackle community along route 30 starting just on the other side of the Wawa aren’t living there because they have any other choice. It’s what they can afford, and in fact it’s probably the only actual “affordable housing” supply right there in East Whiteland.

Lots of communities don’t want actual affordable housing within their boundaries because people see section 8 tenement housing in their mind’s eye and are terrified. (Does anyone remember way back when the late Willard Rouse threatened to put in a trailer park and basically then got what he wanted?)

And every time some developer goes in front of the local municipality talking about how if you let them build X number of hundreds of houses and they will give you a couple affordable housing units, demand that they define “affordable.” Because I don’t think this family that lived next-door to the Wawa is the kind of family you’re going to see renting a $2000 a month one bedroom condo apartment do you?  
People talk about referring people over to the William Henry apartments on King. All I ever read about are horror stories of tenants who live in those apartments.  And are they really affordable to all?

Every community has a small segment of residents who are literally invisible to the majority of other residents. And it takes a tragedy like a total house fire for people to get it.

These people aren’t invisible and where they live is not invisible either.  But it behooves us as a community when we can come together to help our neighbors.

This family of three who lost their home and all their belongings in the Christmas fire need a new place to live. The two sons are in the Great Valley School District. If you can pay it forward for this family please do. They don’t just need donations they need a place to live.

Here is the link to the Go Fund Me Page:

https://www.gofundme.com/frazer-house-fire

please help bring christmas to local family

Tragically, yet another local Chester County family has lost everything, literally everything in an overnight Christmas fire.

https://www.gofundme.com/frazer-house-fire

The person who has started the GOFundMe is also collecting clothing in the short term to help these folks – they were not home when the fire started but all that is left for them are the clothes on their backs.

This was a horrible fire and a lot of folks lent a hand to East Whiteland Fire Company. You can read and see photos of the fire here.

Merry Christmas Chester County and thank you to those who can help these folks!

remembering the soldiers at ebenezer at christmas 

My friend Cathy messaged me yesterday:

“Hey do the soldiers at Ebenezer have wreaths for Christmas?”

I said no, and look what she did yesterday? Isn’t that awesome?

I also thought I should mention we did have a licensed structural engineer have an initial look at the church ruin. No it was not paid for by the A.M.E. Church, but they do have the report. There are certain steps that need to be taken to stabilize the ruin, but they need to give permission before anything happens. They have had the report for weeks I am told, but have not responded to further contact by anyone which is disappointing.

Sadly,  I find the ignoring caring people sadly predictable behavior. It seems to be what they do and not just in the case of Ebenezer. 

But the church has never disavowed ownership of Ebenezer (well they can’t an be telling the truth can they?) and as per what I have been told that they  actually do bear responsibility here no matter what.

We now have volunteers who care and if we keep up a schedule we can keep the graves cleaned up.  We are hoping to get someone to use the equipment like was used at Duffy’s Cut to comprehensively map out the graveyard.

It is Christmas Eve and time for all of us to be with loved ones.  Remember the old souls at Ebenezer A.M.E. in your prayers and thoughts.

Stay dry on this very rainy Christmas Eve and thanks for stopping by!