a look back at another community

I am a big fan of Main Line Parent, Philadelphia Family , Family Focus Media. I love what they do, and actually for a few years I was a freelancer with them. I wrote a couple of articles for them, but mostly I was their calendar girl. That is to say for a few years I hunted down and loaded events into their events calendar. I never talked about it much but it was something that was a lot of fun to do. And the ladies who are Main Line Parent are amazing!

Yesterday one of their folks posted the screen shot above. That mural went up in Ardmore in 2012, after I had moved to Chester County, but had been in the planning stages of a group I belonged to for many years, The Save Ardmore Coalition.

Main Line Media News Ardmore to get new mural

By Cheryl Allison callison@mainlinemedianews.com September 21, 2011

The Save Ardmore Coalition has finally found a location for its long-planned community mural, and the search has brought the group back home.

Lower Merion Township commissioners last week gave the green light to the organization’s application to install a mosaic mural on a wall of the Suburban Office Equipment building at 49 E. Lancaster Ave.

The unanimous vote by the Building and Planning Committee was to be finalized at a board meeting Wednesday night….The Save Ardmore Coalition has been seeking a site for a community artwork in downtown Ardmore for more than two years. In June 2009, the organization received a $20,000 grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Community Revitalization Program to be used for a mural and other community projects.

A portion of the grant money was used last holiday season to put up advertisements at local train stations to encourage township residents to “Discover More in Ardmore” and shop local, said SAC President Sharon Eckstein.

The $15,000 mural project had taken longer to get off the ground, though, because of the difficulty in finding an appropriate location. Eckstein said the group had talked to a number of property owners before focusing on Ardmore’s historic Lancaster Avenue business district.

Main Line Media News: Mural dedication in downtown Ardmore

By Cheryl Allison callison@mainlinemedianews.com Nov 4, 2012

The Save Ardmore Coalition celebrated the completion of its Ardmore Mural Project at 49 Lancaster Ave.in Ardmore Sunday The new mosaic mural depicting a street scene has been taking shape this summer on the side of Suburban Office Equipment, across Lancaster Avenue from Rittenhouse Place.

 Artist Jessica Gorlin Liddell was on hand to talk about her work. Special guests included state Sen. Daylin Leach, through whose office a grant was provided to support this work of public art; Suburban Office owners Scott Mahan and Peggy Savery; SAC Mural Coordinator Sharon Eckstein; and other SAC members.

A Penn Valley resident, Liddell specializes in creating architectural mosaic installations…..The Save Ardmore Coalition formed in early 2005 to fight against Lower Merion Township’s potential use of its eminent domain powers to take down several buildings, including the Suburban Office building, in a controversial Ardmore Transit Center and downtown development project.

While a later vote by township commissioners officially precluded the use of eminent domain for the redevelopment project, SAC, as the grant recognized, went on to focus efforts on community advancement by organizing community forums and supporting programs like First Friday Main Line.

The years have passed on by and those of us who made up The Save Ardmore Coalition have moved on with our lives, and some like me, literally moved out of the area. By the time the mural was dedicated in 2012 I was living in Chester County, and had not been part of Save Ardmore Coalition for a while. But the people I was in that group with will always be dear to me like family.

We accomplished a great deal. We actually won a whole bunch of awards locally, regionally, and even one nationally. We were apolitical and beholden to neither political party. And yes, one year to stop the craziness in Lower Merion Township we changed the faces of who governed us and flipped half of the board of commissioners, essentially. We walked into a room together once upon a time as all strangers with a common goal to want better for our community. We left those first rooms and meetings as friends.

The mural is kind of the last thing many of us did together. Once in a while some of us get together and a lot of us are in touch with one and other. But seeing that mural pop up in a photo reminded me of the good community can do.

Be kind to one and other today and never be afraid to stand together for the greater good.

the end of the decade, new year’s eve 2019

Lovely Loch Aerie, Frazer, PA

It has been a crazy decade chock-full of so much. I wasn’t sure what my last post of the year was going to look like until I started looking at some of my photos of houses that had captured my interest and fancy in the past decade.

So in all of the houses I have looked at in this decade I have decided to remain true to Chester County today and give you my three favorites.

Ironically my three house picks for the decade are not traditional 18th century Chester County Farmhouses, but three 19th-century stone houses of a certain era.

You see the first house above. My ultimate old house love, beautiful and lovely Loch Aerie mansion. I have written about her enough that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel and restate her history.

Loch Aerie on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer in East Whiteland Township enters the next decade with a guaranteed and brilliant new lease on life. She is being restored to her former glory, and will have an adaptive reuse that will ensure her place in architectural history for decades to come.

Old stone house Francis Ave, Berwyn, Easttown.

Next on my list is a house I was reminded of this morning. I know nothing of her pedigree. It is the great stone house on Francis Avenue in Berwyn.

My great friend (and Chester County historian and artist) Catherine Quillman and I stumbled upon this beauty in 2016 one fall afternoon.

We took a wrong turn somewhere after leaving Jenkins Arboretum and all of a sudden we were on Francis Avenue in front of this house. And before anyone flips out, we did not trespass. I had a camera with a zoom lens with me and I took photos from the street. This house captured my fancy for a number of reasons, including the fact that the stonework reminded me a lot of Loch Aerie.

I know absolutely nothing of the history of this house other than its 19th century and in Easttown Township . I think it probably has a name (possibly according to a 1912 atlas it appears it was maybe called “Rhydlyn” home of James G. Francis, whose sister in law I believe was famed local photographer Lucy Sampson according to census records from the early 20th century and according to the census she lived there for a while!) I don’t know if it is listed on any national registries or even a state or local registry. I couldn’t find it listed anywhere. (I am told it is mentioned HERE.)

It strikes me as a similar vintage to Loch Aerie. I also do not know the current ownership of the home but I am told it is being preserved as part of some kind of a development. I am also told that the glorious slate roof is no longer which I can’t say surprises me because old slate roofs are incredibly expensive to maintain and it’s a lost art of the craftsmanship of roof building. There are very few slaters left.

My last house which captured my fancy a great deal in this last decade is the Joseph Price house in West Whiteland Township.

This house is on S.Whitford and Clover Mill Roads in Exton. The Joseph Price House in West Whiteland Township.

Here is a wonderful little slide show presentation on prezi. This house is historically listed. It was built in 1878 and altered in 1894 by the house namesake inhabitant at the time. It was altered from a Gothic style to a Queen Anne style.

I was also told in the 1990s it was separate apartments inside and there were also cottages around it which were rented out as well.

In the 1950s and 60s there was a large barn there that was a sale barn for cattle run by Bayard Taylor —a blog reader told me that. He knew because his mother did bookkeeping for that business while she was in college.

This house is not completely deserted I am told there is a caretaker who still lives there. However, this house has an uncertain future at best and nobody seems to know what will happen to it. Which is a shame because it’s very cool.

So as we lift a glass one last time to toast a crazy tumultuous decade everywhere, let us think of our future and historic preservation. There are so many cool houses like this throughout Chester County from all eras of time.

Less development. More land and structure preservation and adaptive reuse. That’s my final wish for Chester County for 2019.

Please do not trespass on these properties. Either get permission to wander around or look from the street.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve!

Joseph Price House. West Whiteland Township.

if you actually want peace on earth start by looking inward

Oh yes. Peace on earth and goodwill towards men. But when you say it do you mean it?

The other day someone I know who I think very highly of normally decided to post something on a social media page that I found deliberately inflammatory.

It was one of those “don’t hate me because I voted for X” posts. Of course the immediate result was everyone up in arms. Those who found the post deliberately inflammatory were then immediately accused of “hastily making assumptions based on [a] false belief system.” Some are further told their behavior objecting to this is “socially unacceptable.”

Mind you this was said by a person who claimed they hadn’t watched TV or the news since 1983. Yet there they are on social media getting their information. It’s ludicrous. And how are they to judge who has a false belief system or not? Or who is socially acceptable or not? It’s just nuts.

Now the person that posted this thing originally is probably angry at the outcome of the most recent, more local elections. But when this is the kind of thing that you post why do you think people are up in arms and getting out to vote different types of people into office? Sorry not sorry, this is exactly why. You are fomenting the hate and you know you’re doing it. What does political goose stepping accomplish?

Answer: NOTHING good.

Then how can these same people as human beings then turn around and spout peace on earth good will towards men? The short answer is they really can’t. Because all they’re doing is antagonizing the other side from their side and what’s the point of that? Is there always this game of one upsmanship? It’s hypocritical.

Something my grandmother said a lot when I was little least said soonest mended.

Totally applies here.

Deliberately poking the bear in a public forum so you can get the last word when NO ONE today can discuss politics civilly is just dumb. It is in fact (in my opinion) deliberately aimed at upsetting people. If you’re going to post it on your own social media timeline, that’s on you and that’s totally your right because it’s like your virtual house. But posting something that’s deliberately inflammatory or provocative in a public forum? And we’re talking national politics in a local forum? Why bother? Don’t we have more important things to discuss locally?

We all don’t have to share the same politics but basically everyone in this country is unable to discuss such matters with civility in a public forum at this point. So please explain why the divisiveness of politics needs to be discussed especially during the holidays? You do realize there were even cease-fires during wars during the holidays.

Seriously.

For example: The WWI Christmas truce (German: Weihnachtsfrieden; French: Trêve de Noël) was a series of widespread unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front of World War I around Christmas 1914.

It’s not a question of someone being a snowflake versus someone else not being a snowflake, it’s the simple thing of why do we always have to be at each other’s throat’s?

Do you seriously think these politicians you are defending until the death actually give a crap about you as an individual? They don’t. They don’t even know your name after they cash the donation check. But you keep on attacking your neighbors over their honor (politicians) and the perceived slights to their honor (politicians).

And then to watch someone else, a purported adult, completely troll someone else while calling them a troll? I would say that wasn’t so smart or so nice, but then again the person who did it is kind of fake and just wants to belong so maybe someone should just accept they are kind of a wannabe bobble head.

But it boggles the mind. Because this wasn’t in a place where there was some contentious local or national political drama going on they just posted it essentially to stir the pot and why? Does it make pain they are experiencing more palatable or something ?

None of these people in essence are capable at this point of having mature, respectful dialogue on any political issue. So maybe they should just leave the topic alone as keyboard tigers online?

Yes these people are your neighbors. Citing personal experience, I find it astounding the difference between online and in-person behaviors. And a holiday function I recently ran into someone who has literally eviscerated me more than once in social media forums. Completely holier than thou and nasty. Then I saw them face-to-face and in person. I realized what a nothing they were in person, almost invisible, which might be part of what drives her online? It’s sociologically fascinating.

I could have at that point really been kind of mean to this person publicly and it would’ve been completely justifiable given the way they have treated me in the past online. But what was the point really? So I let it go and I was socially pleasant because that’s the way I was raised. I don’t know how they were raised because they really couldn’t handle that, and that in and of itself was kind of funny.

If these people want to get down to it, what is “wrong” is deliberately stirring the pot and saying you’re not. I would probably respect you more if you just said “I’m going to stir the pot with this.”

The thing about these people to do these things as they really aren’t interested in your political perspective they just want you to accept theirs. And that is bunk.

If you really want peace on earth, then start acting like it beginning with your online behavior. And I am not saying my behavior is perfect. What I am saying is that as a collective of human beings we can do better.

National politics are ruining our local experience. We have the choice to stop that. I wish we would.

In 2020 let’s try to keep it real. Or be more real.

Pax.

life stories

I need to take the time to write down the stories I heard yesterday so I don’t forget. Given the anesthesia and everything that went on yesterday with my surgery I’ve probably forgotten some things already.

Yesterday was my second knee surgery. This time it was definitely gardener’s knee and it was my other leg. The surgery seemed to go well but I will admit today the pain is still somewhat not fun.

I had my husband just drop me off because there is such a lot of waiting before I actually go into surgery that I didn’t want him trapped at the hospital when he had a busy work day ahead.

I met a lovely couple in the waiting room who were in the bed and holding area immediately next to me as we both were given our marching orders before going up to the holding areas for surgery.

This couple had an amazing tale. A true love story that today in the morning after thinking about it really gets me a little choked up because it’s beautiful and so happy and it’s so the power of love over the ages.

They are in their 80s. They met when they were in college. Life took them in different directions and they were very happily married to other people for decades. Somehow they came together as widow and widower and the wife moved across the country where she had lived her life out west. So now they are married and live in the area. The husband has lived in this area for decades.

I’m not sure what the husband did for a career, but the wife was a nurse her entire career, including an army nurse in years it must’ve been quite challenging. They were so happy and so in love and so positive. I think the wife sort of adopted me until I went to the pre-surgery line up and holding area because she knew I was not as much of a tough girl as I wanted to be waiting there by myself. And that was my decision. My husband would have sat there all day for me. I did not want him to.

One thing that lady and I talked about was ancestry.com. She had started an account not too long ago and showed me some really cool pictures of family members – her ancestors – that she never knew existed.

In the holding area as I waited my turn to go into the OR I met a bunch of amazing nurses. I can’t stress enough how wonderful every nurse I’ve ever met at Chester County Hospital is.

I had a great conversation with a nurse whose name of course has flown right out of my head because we when were talking they had just begun the sedation process with me. This nurse noticed the limb alert bracelet on my left hand. Because I have had breast cancer and had the sentinel node removed I can’t ever have anything in my left side that was the side the cancer and lymph node was removed from.

She apparently has worked with a lot of breast cancer patients and excuse me she was interesting to talk to. Also talking to her made me realize how lucky I’ve been with breast cancer.

From that point on everything was a bit of a blur. When I woke up in the postop (which is now called something else in the land of new speak) there were some patients and nurses and it was sort of a lie there and drool for a while because I was so out of it coming out of anesthesia.

As I woke up a little more I overheard a nurse comforting a patient to the left of me. The patient wasn’t right next to me, she was a couple of beds down. And the nurse was distracting a patient by telling her about a box of special Christmas ornaments that they get out every year. They sounded like they were old Shiny Broght ornaments. But what got to me was her describing whatever was written on the box from whomever used to own them in her family.

And those are the kind of little heartwarming stories around the holidays that always get to me and make me smile because I know how special it is to me when I pull out the old ornament boxes and see my father’s hand writing on top of these boxes that are totally falling apart but I just keep taping them up so I have his hand writing there to greet me every Christmas.

My post op nurse was younger than I and from Lancaster. She was so calm and soothing. We talked about Lancaster County which was fun because that is where my maternal grandmother was from who was Pennsylvania German.

Across the postop room for me was this awesome nurses aide who ended up taking me down to the first area I came into while my husband was on his way to pick me up. She is a lovely young woman who moved here from a big city elsewhere to give her kids a better life. And she was telling her coworkers about one of her children who apparently has been a straight “A” student their entire life and just got into their pick of colleges. Another happy life story.

I know not every day in the hospital you find happy and loving and just these really warm and wonderful vibes because of the nature of a hospital. But I always seem to have these experiences in Chester County Hospital.

The entire hospital had holiday trees everywhere which I thought was awesome because I love decorated trees.

For a day that was about surgery and kind of tough on me it was also a day I enjoyed because of the people I met. I guess my whole point to this meandering post is if you’re open to it you never know where you’re going to meet interesting people.

Here in Chester County we are lucky to have this hospital.

So now I rest and heal and then begin the process of rebuilding my leg at physical therapy.

I don’t know how much I will be writing between now and the new year, so I will take this time to wish everyone a happy healthy 2020.

Cheers!





the christmas blizzard of 2010

The past decade, which is drawing to a close, had some doozies as far as storms go. One that sticks in my mind was the Christmas blizzard of 2010.

I was in New York City at my sister’s and it had already snowed quite a bit by the time Christmas Day rolled around. But then on December 26th into December 27th was a flat-out blizzard. I still wish I had taken more photos.

You haven’t seen anything until you have seen Park Avenue in New York City with no cars or taxis or buses moving, just a blanket of snow.

I remember when the snow was really coming down in earnest how eerily still New York City was. You always expect a major metropolitan city to be constantly noisy. But it wasn’t, it was still and quiet like you were in the country.

A city in a major snow storm is vastly different from suburbia. Except it forces everyone to slow down whether they want to or not.

And I remember even snow plows getting stuck as they started to move the snow once it stopped.

And once it stopped that year, it felt bitter cold because I remember it was so incredibly windy.

Thanks for rambling down memory lane.

this christmas 🎄 , defend what you ❤️ love/support your neighbors 👩‍👧👨‍👧

P.k. Ditty photo

A place where the above photo was shared had a couple of people who left a “laughing” emoji where you can like this post or find it sad or find it angry. To them I say there is nothing funny about this and you don’t have to like every post anyone posts – but at least TRY to be understanding of what other folks not too far away from you are dealing with. It could be your family, your neighborhood, your house affected.

Someone else made a comment about these pipelines and rights of way. Umm land agents and threats of eminent domain for non-compliance with these corporate bullies does not equal a traditional right of way does it?

I didn’t really understand this issue until I moved into Chester County. And while I am blessed that I don’t have one of these things going THROUGH my property, if the Adelphia pipeline comes through I will be in a potential “blast zone” with one of these pipelines either 1030 feet from a corner of our property or 1060 feet. We are also on wells where I live.

I have a friend who lives up the road apiece from me into West Whiteland Township. When she and her husband bought their house no one told them about the pipeline easement on the property. As in it didn’t show up at the settlement table from either realtor. They are barely in their house a hot minute and Sunoco/Sunoco Logistics/Energy Transfer shows up. As it turned out, the people they bought the house from had sold an easement to the pipeline company maybe a year or less prior. Now she has a ticking time bomb in her front yard.

These pipelines are dangerous and they pollute our wells, they are problematic and sinkholes occur because of how they are digging (in disregard for the geological composition of the area), roads have had visible issues in spots and the “plans” for first responders won’t save anyone including them and oh how about they are drilling right next to Goshen Fire Company at Boot and Greenhill in West Chester? What happens if something happens there? Who will save the first responders?

They ARE drilling next to schools, libraries and so on. You may have even driven by a site where they are working and not realized what’s going on behind giant temporary construction walls that to us never seem temporary at this point.

If and when there is an explosion do you think the people on the road driving by are going to be any safer than the rest of us?

And then of course there is the giant fairytale that these companies like to tell everyone which is you’re getting gas, etc because of these pipelines. What is being taken from the ground here and shipped through these pipelines through residential neighborhoods is going overseas. To places like Scotland to make plastic.

And the other fable they like to tell is how this brings lots of local jobs. All you have to do is drive by a site and count the out-of-state plates. And I’m not talking New Jersey and Delaware out of state I’m talking Oklahoma,Texas and so on where the wildcatters are from.

And then there is all the stuff in the news about the constables who were working for these pipeline companies through a security company and not reporting the income or the job on their ethics form for the state. A constable is an elected official and they took an oath and the ones who did this thought it was all ok? (And the Commonwealth Constable Association can write all the letters to the editor they want it doesn’t change what happened and how wrong it was does it?)

My mother, who lives in the city, was stunned at what she saw when we were driving back from a Christmas lunch in West Chester a week ago. She couldn’t believe what she saw and compared it to the issues and conditions with coal mining companies in PA in the 19th century (the Molly Maguires era).

I think we all in this area have to become more informed on what is going on with regard to this issue even if it’s not in our backyard literally.

The above photo was originally posted by someone else with the following:

My neighborhood has been held hostage by Sunoco/Energy Transfer for over 2.5 YEARS now… with no end in sight.

This dangerous export pipeline project claimed eminent domain for overseas plastics production. It carries highly explosive and highly pressurized by-broducts of fracking.

Sunoco continues to cause sinkholes, contaminate private drinking water, drilling mud spills, etc. They are an egregious operator who’s latest illegal tactics include false reports to law enforcement authorities.

We want our backyards back. We want our safety back. We want our clean air & water back. We want our peace & quiet back.

#DefendWhatYouLove

So when this all first started, residents were told “you won’t even notice we’re here.”

Did you know on a clear and quiet day if they are working in a neighboring Township I can actually hear the rhythmic thump thump thump of whatever that machine is they use to move the pipeline along?

State Impact PA has referred to these pipelines as the “risky mystery beneath our feet”.

And then there is the recent incident I find disturbing. The pipeline workers at one Chester County site had residents and people visiting them arrested for walking on a public street in a public neighborhood? Yes you heard me, public street. Not anything but.

And as far as gas explosions go, want to SEE what a gas explosion does to a neighborhood? Check out CNN and their coverage of the deadly explosion this week as in yesterday in South Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer too.

I will also share what a lovely lady I am privileged to know named Carrie wrote the other day. These are her words and her photo:

#CleanWater is a human right.

We stand in solidarity with our friends David Warren, David Mano, Rosemary Fuller, Erica Tarr, Ralph Blume and many others across Pennsylvania who have had their private well water contaminated by the destruction of the dangerous Mariner East export pipeline project.

#AllIWantForChristmas

In 2010 the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.* There are many families throughout the United States who are currently living without clean water. Industries, like the fossil fuel industry and other resource extraction industries, have continued unchecked to contaminate our water resources.

There are too many examples of a lack of clean water. Here in Pennsylvania, fracking and pipelines, like the Mariner East Pipeline Project have poisoned people’s aquifers and have left residents to fend for themselves. In fact, some may be drinking poisoned water and they do not know it yet. Leaving individuals and families without clean water is unacceptable. Clean water is our right and we need to hold policy makers accountable.

Two states and only a handful of municipalities have legally established their rights into local constitutions and municipal regulations. For example, in Pennsylvania’s constitution

“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.**”

*Resolution 64/292

**Article I, section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution

Thanks for listening and thank you to our founding fathers for our First Amendment Rights.

And in closing please take a minute to read what State Senator Andy Dinniman wrote this week. It’s also on the subject of pipelines and very important and timely.