bad taste and far away from their founding values: the union league club of philadelphia has lincoln rolling over in his grave.

The Union League Club in Philadelphia is this majestic building down Broad Street from City Hall. They like to boast about being occasionally ranked as #1 in city clubs in the country, but I wonder if they will get there again with their distasteful choice of Florida’s own human trafficking politician, Governor Ron De Santis for their “Gold Award.”

The Union League self-describes on their own website as follows:

Founded in 1862 as a patriotic society to support the Union and the policies of President Abraham Lincoln, The Union League of Philadelphia laid the philosophical foundation of other Union Leagues across a nation torn by civil war. The League has hosted U.S. presidents, heads of state, industrialists, entertainers and dignitaries from around the globe and has proudly supported the American military in each conflict since the Civil War. The Union League continues to be driven by its founding motto, Amor Patriae Ducit or Love of Country Leads.

~ The Union League on The Union League

From The Philly History Blog in 2006:

A striking building ….Union League of Philadelphia building stands at 140 South Broad Street in the heart of Center City. It was completed in 1865 and features a French Renaissance design.

The story of the League began in December 1862 when two weeks after the crushing Federal defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia, Dr. J. Forsythe Meigs held an organizational meeting for a “Union Club” at his Walnut Street home. Members dedicated themselves to upholding the Constitution and to supporting President Abraham Lincoln’s often unpopular policies. Lincoln’s vigorous measures to stifle disloyalty alienated many northerners already fatigued by a protracted war. Union Leagues (a.k.a. Loyal Leagues), including the Philadelphia chapter, lent their unwavering patriotism to a weary chief executive and to a grueling war effort. By the time of the Philadelphia Union Club’s founding, the pro-war enthusiasm of 1861 had dissipated. The peace wing of the Democratic Party enjoyed considerable strength in the city. Unconditional Unionists were disturbed….The Union Club sought to reinvigorate Unionist fervor. Originally limited to fifty members of Philadelphia’s aristocracy, the organization rechristened itself the Union League and expanded its membership to several thousand by the end of the Civil War. The League functioned as a society for the burgeoning business class being ushered in by rapid industrialization. Members supported many efforts on the home front, including the United States Sanitary Commission’s commitment to improving health conditions in military camps and hospitals. At the USSC Fair in 1864, the Philadelphia League raised money for wounded and disabled soldiers. Its Committee on Employment located jobs for thousands of veterans and widows.

~ PHILLY HISTORY BLOG “In League With Lincoln”

When I was growing up, The Union League was this treat to visit for whatever the occasion. Amazing art and so beautiful inside, one of the things I remember most from growing up is one of my closest friend’s fathers used to take us to the second floor facing Broad Street every New Year’s Day for years so we could watch the Mummers’ parade from the windows of the Union League.

Other memories? Weddings, birthday parties, Orpheus Club Concerts, receptions. Tales of clubs within the clubs with men in kilts to men in diapers.

Back to Abraham Lincoln as their raison d’être at The Union League. Ron De Santis ships immigrants across state lines for shits and giggles. Ron De Santis has been described by MSNBC as a “politician unmoored from fundamental democratic principles….what makes DeSantis such a uniquely worrying character is that there is seemingly no political sewer into which he won’t wade…” He is the complete antithesis of anything decent, and has issues with the First Amendment when it comes to critics. We are also a nation of immigrants, it makes you wonder about De Santis, doesn’t it? And then there is his basic everything phobic and he should just get an award for being a general asshole and overuse of the word woke, right?

City & State: Some Philly Union League members oppose club honoring DeSantis with major award
Florida’s governor has come under fire for using government funds to relocate migrants from Texas to Massachusetts.

Some Union League members oppose club honoring DeSantis
Alec Larson TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER Sep 30, 2022

If I was feeling kind, I would say The Union League has lost it’s way. I am not feeling kind. The Union League has lost it’s damn mind.

Craig Mills is the Club President. What are his thoughts? Is he okay with this?

I am disgusted. My disgust does not matter to the Union League. I am also sad. My sadness at a Philadelphia tradition to so many generations doesn’t matter to the Union League. But this should matter to the membership. How about a vote of no confidence in their entire club leadership at a minimum? How about lots of membership resignations? After all The Union League with all of their properties has a pretty big overhead nut to crack, correct?

But think about it. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Clout Columnist Chris Brennan, Abraham Lincoln was the first recipient of the gold medal in 1863.

Clout obtained a flurry of letters from club members to Union League president Craig Mills, calling for the event to be canceled. Some members vowed to resign unless the club changes course.

One letter came from William Hangley, a local law firm founder who called DeSantis “a man who has made political and territorial disunion his stock in trade” and “has shown only contempt” for oppressed people, in direct contrast to the Union League’s original mission.

“Exactly what quality or tradition of our League is he thought to emblematize?” wrote Hangley to Mills, also an attorney….Clout had questions. The Union League did not have answers.

“The Union League is a private club,” Mills told Clout. “And this is a private event.”

~Brennan/Clout/Inquirer

Yes, The Union League of Philadelphia is a private club. But this is now what they will be known for. They are to be known for going forward as how far the Republican Party has fallen and how there quite literally is no longer “The Party of Lincoln.”

Somewhere, Abraham Lincoln continues to roll in his grave. And on October 13th, I hope protestors greet people entering the event. But I predict membership will not do much more than blunder and bluster. Clubs are like the embodiment of a huge FOMO (Fear of Missing Out.) Social status for so many will always outweigh doing the right thing. It’s sad but for some, it will just be too hard.

Cheers to The Union League of Philadelphia for killing the ideals and values of President Abraham Lincoln in one fell swoop.

welcome to philadelphia, the city of brotherly beat downs.

I am sure Radnor Township and many other municipalities are thrilled that I have decided to “phocus” on Philadelphia today.

It’s always hard to say what the most negative thing is about Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at present. And as a native born Philadelphian, I don’t say this lightly.

Filthadelphia and Crimeadelphia are two of my favorite nicknames. I was born in Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. We lived there with my parents until the mid-1970s. I saw a lot even as a kid, and one of the things that finally drove my parents from the city in the mid-1970s was crime. And it was crime in part that happened to a friend of mine and myself. We were riding our bicycles in our neighborhood and we were jumped by a gang of kids from elsewhere. We were literally two little girls riding our bikes. And because we didn’t have anything worth taking, including our bicycles, they instead smashed the glasses of my friend into her face.

As a grew up I watched Philadelphia have fits and starts of a renaissance. During the Bill Green years (94th mayor), the Ed Rendell years (96th mayor), and with the Michael Nutter years (98th) you often felt better about the City of Philadelphia. A fun, unrelated fact is one Philadelphia mayor, J. Hampton Moore, who was the 83rd and 86th mayor and a member of Congress lived at one time in the house we called home in Society Hill when I was little. The current lame duck mayor is Jim Kenney. He is the 99th mayor of the City of Philadelphia.

To me, Jim Kenney is like the Dr. Oz of Philadelphia mayors of recent history. Started out talking a big game, but there’s nothing to back it up. And now he’s just a lame duck who limps along. And then if you look at what else is happening today, it’s like every day you wonder if someone else resigned from Philadelphia City Council to run for mayor?

Philadelphia is a major city in shambles. Crime literally runs the city, and the city is also literally filthy. There is trash everywhere and then if you look at the streets within the city of Philadelphia, and the sidewalks, they are like a giant hazard every day. From potholes to broken sidewalks, random holes in sidewalks to where grates are missing and someone could actually fall in some kind of a hole and really hurt themselves, Philadelphia is disgusting. And this is so horrible because Philadelphia is the birthplace of America!

So today when I saw a post on Facebook from a friend of mine it was like I can’t keep my mouth shut any longer. This friend of mine is an artist, he is one of the premier portraitists in the United States today, and probably extending as far as different parts of the world like Europe.

His name is Garth Herrick. He is not some kind of flashy, showboating artist, he’s a working artist. He is a gentle soul and a kind person and humble. He’s the kind of person that would stop to help you if you were in distress and he would do it even if he didn’t know you. He’s just a good person. Because he lives in the city he often rides his bike because look at Philadelphia? Do you ever try to park on the street Philadelphia? Or what happens if you give up a space? Also, he is an avid cyclist in general and he cycles everywhere.

He was going down the street in the right direction, sounds like a smaller street or something like that, and he encountered a cab coming the wrong way. What ensued is absolutely nuts, and essentially the cab driver beat the crap out of him.

After ramming Garth on his bike with his cab, it was recounted that then the cab driver got out of his car and went after Garth and his bike. Garth had nowhere to go and had warned the cab driver he was going the wrong way on a narrow one-way street. I think the cab driver sounded like he was screaming at my friend to get out of his way. The only problem with that is there were actually cars behind my friend as well proceeding in the proper direction. I don’t think he had much of anywhere to go?

According to what he said, and a statement that he and apparently another witness gave to the police it was a cab driver from Germantown Cab Company. The witness actually got the license plate according to what Garth posted.

Now let’s get to the rest of this. Germantown Cab Company has been in the news before. Not positive.

Philadelphia Magazine: Germantown Cab Company Shut Down by PPA
150 cars taken out of service.
by JOEL MATHIS· 3/10/2014, 1:46 p.m.

Philadelphia Business Journal and NBC 10report that the Philadelphia Parking Authority has shut down Germantown Cab Company, taking 150 taxis off the streets for allegedly failing to turn over proper documentation and background checks on the company’s drivers.

But that’s not the only thing. Apparently the Philadelphia Police Department didn’t show up for an hour and a half to the scene and how is that even possible????? My friend turned down their offer of medical assistance and friends took him to a local hospital to be treated that he was comfortable with. (Because that’s the thing in addition that makes this hard, when they send an ambulance or whatever to take you to a hospital it’s not necessarily where you want to go.)

My elderly mother has been accosted more than twice in front of her building in what is considered a good neighborhood by mentally ill homeless vagrants. The last time it happened it was so bad that someone kindly jumped out of a car on the street and pulled the homeless man off of my mother who was sitting on a bench next to the front door of her apartment building. When I asked my mother why she didn’t call the police she told me because when you call the police in Philadelphia a lot of the time they don’t show up or they show up hours later.

You hear horror stories about crime everywhere. But in Philadelphia it’s extra special. They have a police officer shortage to begin with, and a lot of controversy over what they call “extended tours“ for officers.

And I think a lot of this as far as the total deterioration of Philadelphia can be laid directly at the feet of lame duck Mayor Jim Kenney. He is what my great aunt from South Philadelphia would have referred to as a “bum.”

So Kenney, what are you going to do here, yo.? Why am I writing about this? Because this isn’t the end of the story. And I think this also needs airing.

When my friend was waiting for police to arrive, he posted about what happened including a photo of his battered face in his local Facebook group in Germantown. Some people were sympathetic, but others were downright terrible. He was accused of being like the living embodiment of white privilege to being called a “Karen.”

I have screenshots of these comments, but I am choosing not to share them. I think they would only serve to inflame tensions in a very beleaguered section of Philadelphia which is just tired of crime.

But victim shaming/blaming is just something I find reprehensible.

I have to ask have we stooped so low as a society that we can’t exhibit any compassion or kindness? And again my friend is a salt of the earth kind of human being, he is just simply a really good guy. I also wonder if in this instance if he wasn’t a guy reporting a crime within his local Facebook group while waiting for the police if it would have made a difference?

So that is it for this sad story of crime and victim shaming straight from the streets of Philadelphia.

I think we all need to do better and try harder no matter where we live. And here’s hoping that the City of Philadelphia does something about this. Enough law and disorder.

unhoused community growing along schuylkill valley trail

Homeless encampment from some area of Pottstown. Photos from #WEBELONG Community Page on Facebook

A lot of times I ignore the posts which appear on the social media app NextDoor. But recently one kind of stopped me in my tracks because it was talking about a growing homeless encampment along the Schuylkill Valley Trail which so many people in our area use.

This post was from someone who am I guessing is a cyclist or a runner who uses the Schuylkill Valley Trail. And then I wondered where did this encampment come from? I have been aware of the ones that come and go in the Pottstown area along the river.

So I called up a friend of mine who runs a food bank in Montgomery County and asked her what was going on. And she said things have gotten so bad that even her food bank on the Main Line has waiting lists to take new people. Between average every day Americans having the ability to get decent jobs and landlords who jack the rents whenever possible and then just evict people, she said there’s a growing crisis for the unhoused everywhere. And in Montgomery County it’s a real crisis and it’s pretty damn big.

My friend told me a story of a homeless person at a Main Line train station. He actually had a job, but he was trying to save enough money so he could find a permanent place to live and insure his car. Thanks to my friend finding out about this guy from another mutual friend, a very nice pastor from a church nearby was able to give this man a hand up and get him off the street.

But that’s just one person helped. And in areas like densely populated urban areas, homelessness is at such a crisis point that it’s overflowing into everyone’s communities. And then in our suburban communities, including Chester County to a degree, homelessness exists and food banks and food pantries are being stretched unbelievably hard. There are a lot of people in need right now. My own personal belief is people were barely getting by before Covid hit, and Covid has quite simply decimated so many peoples’ lives in some way or another.

Back to this encampment on the Schuylkill Valley Trail on the Montgomery County side. It has been caused by the city of Norristown and Montgomery County.

An activist named Bill England said in June:

With the closing of the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center – CHOC – Montgomery County no longer has a year-round shelter for single adults. A new facility could take up to 2 years until opening. A temporary shelter needs to be opened now to provide a safe place for those in need of housing.

The Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center was on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital. Their lease there ended at the end of July.

According to The Reporter Online:

A land transfer agreement for the 68 acres was initially reached back in 2017, according to Norristown Municipal Administrator Crandall Jones. An agreement of sale was unanimously approved by council members five years later during a work session in February.

While the land is slated to be conveyed to the municipality, the actual agreement was listed between the state and Montgomery County‘s Redevelopment Authority.

~ Rachel Ravina, The Reporter online 6/2/22

So this is quite literally Montgomery County and Norristown‘s fault. So where is Val Arkoosh the great bungler of things COVID in Montgomery County and Chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners?

Where is Congresswoman Madeline Dean who has a district office in Norristown at 101 E. Main Street? The Congresswoman literally has a rather large homeless population that’s outside her office within a stones throw pretty much all the time now. And I know for a fact that people have gone to that office trying to ask them would they please do something to help the homeless that are right in front of them. It’s kind of political crickets all the way around.

Found on Facebook #WEBELONG Community Page. Photo dated 8/3/22

And then there is this other thing that literally happened a couple of days ago. Norristown as in the borough of (because it’s a city but it’s actually a borough) passed some ordinance keeping people out of borough parks and other places from Dusk until Dawn. This means they’re further abdicating responsibility for their homeless population, and basically pushing them out to other communities and even the Schuylkill Valley Trail because they have no housing, and they seek no solutions. Norristown probably won’t like that opinion but I’m entitled to have it.

Very few media outlets talk about this homeless crisis in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. And there’s not only Norristown, there’s the Montgomery County side of Pottstown. There have been homeless encampments along the river off and on for years.

Found on Facebook #WEBELONG Community Page. Photo dated 6/20/22

WHYY is one media outlet which put out a rather in depth article recently:

Advocates say there’s ‘no place’ for unhoused people in Norristown, where it may soon be illegal to stay in parks past dusk

By Emily Rizzo Aug. 9, 2022 11:19 am

Each time Tony Morano and Anne Douglass find a new place to pitch their tents, they face the threat of being forced to pack up their homes — and leave.

Recently, they say, a borough officer told them to get out of Riverfront Park, in Norristown, Montgomery County. When they moved to a spot along the Norristown bike path in late July, a park ranger ordered them to vacate.

Without vehicles, each removal — which they say feels like an eviction — means hauling their belongings by foot, and if they don’t, they risk getting their things thrown out.

Now, Norristown Borough, one of the poorest municipalities in Montgomery County, is considering a new “dawn-to-dusk” ordinance, which would make it officially illegal to sleep overnight in the borough’s parks. The ordinance comes during an affordable housing crisis in the county, and homelessness is 118% higher in Norristown than this time last year.

“I’m tired of us feeling like we’re at the bottom of the food chain, that we don’t exist and we don’t have feelings,” said Morano, who has been in Norristown for 10 years. He has a disability and has struggled to find stable, affordable housing. Douglass has lived in Norristown for two years with her daughter, who has a job in the area that she commutes to via public transportation…..When asked about the lack of shelter in Norristown for unhoused people, Lepera said, “There’s 53 municipalities, townships, and boroughs in Montgomery County. Why does it have to be in Norristown?”

“There is no place to be…They’re going to be outside for the foreseeable future. That’s the reality in Montgomery County,” said Boorse.

And unhoused people tend to “stay close to their roots,” Boorse and other housing advocates said. Many people have been in Norristown long enough to have a network of support that they rely on, are connected to necessary services, and basic needs like transportation.

~ WHYY 8/9/22

My research has indicated that most assistance to these homeless people is coming from churches and other bon-government organizations. My research also indicates that most elected officials are just literally looking the other way. Especially in Montgomery County.

Why am I writing a post? Because when I saw the thing about a homeless encampment on the Schuylkill Valley Trail I just wondered where this all came from. And now that I know I figure I’ll put a post out there because PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running for governor and he’s from Montgomery County and he is a former Montgomery County Commissioner. He needs to give a damn about this and now not at some vague point in the future. He and Leslie Richards used Montgomery County as a steppingstone to State careers and other opportunities. She went from PennDOT to SEPTA. He became Attorney General and is running for governor.

The homeless population within the City of Philadelphia is off the hook too, but I can’t even begin to cover that because the City of Philadelphia is so corrupt that nothing is going to happen there anyway unless there is some sort of crisis Jim Kenny can’t wiggle his way out of before he lame ducks his way out of office.

I remember years ago they would bus homeless people from the city out to Bryn Mawr and they would let them off right by the A+ gas station across from Ludington Library in Lower Merion. I am told it still happens? I don’t know if it’s by bus or by train but it still happens as per my sources.

But now, suburbia has its own homeless crisis. And at present Montgomery County is abdicating its responsibility for its homeless crisis and sooner or later they’re going to start moving into other counties as well. We are seeing that as the homeless start to move into the Schuylkill Valley Trail.

I am not saying any of this to be some NIMBY person, but we’ve had issues in Chester County and I remember when I first moved to Chester County there was a shell of an old restaurant on route 30 in East Whiteland that was eventually demolished that used to have homeless people that would break into it and live there. These people need a place to go. These people need some sort of government assistance no matter how you feel about that.

If you look at this in other ways, there’s also not very much affordable housing in a lot of places. You can count Chester County among those places. There’s lots of development, however. But that development pushes up real estate prices and rental prices and it pushes people out of their communities, sometimes making them homeless.

And then there is just the lovely economy. Superbly painful amounts of inflation, and a global pandemic have put us in a pickle. And nobody wants to say recession but as it may be worse than a recession at this point? And this did not start with the current administration, either. It is simply a big, nasty can kicked down the road.

I don’t have the answers, I wish I did. But friends in Montgomery County when I spoke to them about this asked me if I would write a post because Montgomery County and the various municipalities like Norristown dealing with homelessness are very petty towards people who speak out. And apparently Congresswoman Madeline Dean doesn’t want to deal with it either although her office literally looks at the Norristown homeless/unhoused pretty much every day? Nice job, Madeline.

So here I am, just putting out a curtain raiser. I really wish the rest of the media would look at this and I thank WHYY for looking at this. And Josh Shapiro? Tag you are it, you really shouldn’t ignore this.

And one last thing. Republicans and Democrats alike like to espouse they look after all of their constituents, only they don’t seem to see certain sectors of the population. Montgomery County and Norristown with their burgeoning in homeless/unhoused issue are a glaring example of this. Also the Pottstown area, where there are also significant homeless issues, and there is social media chatter about the Borough of Pottstown (Montgomery County) fining churches etc for feeding the homeless? And the borough council won’t allow discussion at meetings?

To readers of this post if you have photos of the Schuylkill Valley Trail unhoused encampment or the various ones that pop up around Pottstown, please message them through the blog’s Facebook page. I will publish them and you will have to tell me if you want any kind of attribution. Otherwise I will just say “submitted photo.”

Montgomery County, it’s time for you to stop abdicating responsibility.

Please consider a donation to your local food bank or similar organization.

Found on Facebook #WEBELONG Community Page

4th of july 2021

4th of July. Our country’s annual birthday party. It’s not just about fireworks.

On July 4, 1776, the United States gained independence from Great Britain by the Continental Congress when 12 of the 13 “colonies” voted for the separation from Great Britain.

However, a lot of people don’t have a warm and fuzzy feelings about the 4th of July. Some people are ambivalent. Some people like myself don’t like the overt commercialism that tends to follow American holidays around.

I like and appreciate the history. I think we need to remember and appreciate our history. Is it perfect? Were things like slavery and indentured servitude acceptable during part of our history and world history for that matter? Were most women treated like chattel? Yes and yes and yes. Those things are part of our history and were (again) also part of world history at that time. We need to acknowledge that past as a different time, yet part of what formed this country.

BUT it doesn’t diminish what our founding fathers accomplished because times were different.

Yesterday I celebrated part of my 4th of July weekend at Historic Harriton House in Bryn Mawr. I have loved this magical and historical place since I was introduced to it when I was 12 by a neighbor.

Harriton House was originally known as “Bryn Mawr”, and was once the residence of Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress. This was originally built in 1704 by Rowland Ellis, a Welsh Quaker, and was called “Bryn Mawr”, meaning “high hill.”

The town of Bryn Mawr in Lower Merion Township is named after the house, and the National Register of Historic Places has it listed under the original name.

Historic Harriton House yesterday

The history of Harriton is undeniable, as well as the connection to the founding of our country. So it was an absolutely perfect place to celebrate part of the 4th of July weekend! People were invited to picnic (and we made ice cream with an old fashioned and fully functional ice cream machine!) and there was a lovely program and music.

Harriton House around 1919

The program was introduced by a wonderful man I am lucky to know because we have mutual friends. Chef Walter Staib. He was proprietor of The City Tavern for decades, and most of you know him as the host of A Taste of History which you can find streaming or on PBS. A Taste of History is one of my favorite shows. I love cooking, I love history, including the history of cooking. (They are filming a new season now.)

Chef Walter Staib addressing the guests yesterday.

Born in Germany, Chef Staib emigrated to America many years ago. He became a citizen, started his family here. He became a US Citizen a couple of years before the Bicentennial. And as well as loving to cook, he is a perpetual student of history. His love for the United States was the perfect was to kick off yesterday’s program which also featured this truly amazing brass ensemble called Festive Brass. I have included two snippets filmed with a phone. Sorry, not the best but I wanted to share their sound with my readers. Beautiful and festive music.

Yesterday at Historic Harriton House the program was free of charge and they asked for a free-will offering. These beloved historic sites need and deserve our support. Look no further than to the historic sites owned by the National Park Service that are either closed to tours or just closed and moldering.

Closed and moldering would be a lot of the houses in Valley Forge Park like the Kennedy Supplee Mansion which I have written about twice.

Closed to tours would include the houses of my childhood in Society Hill like the Bishop White House and the Todd House, places I actually gave tours of leading up to the Bicentennial as a child. I love those houses and I helped plant the kitchen garden in the Todd House way back when. It was there I learned a deterrent for cabbage worms in the garden were marijuana plants. Seriously. Fun little fact of historical gardening.

Also closed is a place I remember being saved and restored as a child. Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s house on 3rd Street in Society Hill. Most of you probably have no clue this place exists or the historical significance. And I swear that place has been closed more years than it has been open. Also owned by the National Park Service.

The City Tavern for that matter, also owned by the National Park Service. Also shuttered now that Chef Staib is not there. That in particular, is truly prime real estate, so one would think they would be polishing up the tavern and marketing her for a new chef and restaurant in residence, right? But are they? Or will The City Tavern go the way of the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion?

Do you sense a theme? Sorry for the segue, but literally every time I go to Valley Forge I think of all the wasted potential of the historic structures. Not all have to be open for tours, but the National Park Service should be more open to restoration and adaptive reuse. I also feel the last administration in Washington harnessed the red, white, and blue of American patriotism for their own selfish ends (including abject ugliness and tyranny) and did nothing for preservation or true patriotism of any kind. And the current administration should get on the ball with preserving more of our history.

History is not something to be neglected and erased. It should be embraced, even the less savory and inconvenient parts because it is all part of how we got to be quite literally.

History, metaphorically speaking, is a living breathing thing we need to embrace and preserve. Even the parts we don’t like because when people try to erase history like it never happened, we are doomed to repeat past mistakes. Look no further that two world wars for proof of that.

Today on the 4th of July, I hope you all pause and think about our history. Think about our founding fathers who bled and fought and died for us. What they accomplished was no small feat.

Me and some friends, mid 1970s doing a costumed re-enactment in the kitchen at Harriton House.

And remember your favorite historic sites with even a small donation. Like Historic Harriton House in Bryn Mawr. Remember your local historical societies that help preserve our history and keep it alive.

🪶🇺🇸In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.🪶🇺🇸

life in the covid19 fast lane

We went into Center City Philadelphia to see my parents this weekend. I have not been in Philadelphia since before the riots this summer.

I didn’t have a camera with me so I captured a couple of photos on my phone but it really doesn’t do what looking at the city looks like now justice.

The city of Philadelphia after a year of COVID19 and riots and protests is not good in my opinion. So many boarded up store fronts. And these weird outside pods for bars on the sidewalk which are mostly on the street making them more narrow.

The streets themselves are in horrible condition, holes and potholes and trenches everywhere. Broken pavement everywhere waiting to literally trip you. Coming up 16th St. going home we also passed this generator that was almost a city block long that was running.

The streets are mostly empty. The people you see the most of are homeless. It’s back to Filthadelphia.

Philadelphia looks grey and grimy , depressed, and sad. And it wasn’t just a grey day making me feel that. I used to love the city. It felt alive and vibrant. Now it feels to be barely hanging on.

Thanks for stopping by.

new life for a consignment store settee

After Christmas in 2013, I purchased the below settee from Consign-It Furniture in Kennett Square, PA. This had been manufactured for Hess Brothers in Allentown. The tag on the bottom of the piece said Hess Brothers. At the time I researched it and found it to be mid-century vintage.

I am not a big pattern person but I loved the settee’s shape and the arms and back in particular. So I lived with it for a few years and grew accustomed to the pattern until this year. I decided I was sick of the fabric and the piece was starting to sway in the middle underneath and get a little bulge.

So I began the hunt for an upholsterer. I did not wish to use the same person I used on a vintage wing chair a few years ago. It wasn’t that the upholstery job itself was bad, it’s that the price I was paying went from being agreed-upon to a moving target without notice. And when I compared notes with people and other upholsterer’s after the fact I paid probably $500 to $600 more for that chair to be reupholstered than I should have. It was a learning curve.

So I start looking for upholsterer’s and took a look at Ken’s Upholstery on Facebook. When I saw some of the work he had done from the bare bones of a stripped down furniture frame to finished piece, I knew this was the person I wanted to call.

We spoke and I think at first he didn’t know what to make out of me. I can be tough. But I kind of want to know what somebody’s about before I do business with them. The owner Ken and I bonded initially over 4th Street in Philadelphia. You see, 4th Street below South is where I went for years as a child with my parents to pick out fabric and sewing notions and trim.

My mother has always sewed, and we would also go into the fabric district there on 4th street for upholstery fabric for furniture and fabric for curtains and draperies. I remember being little and playing under the big workbenches where they would roll out the giant bolts of fabric to measure and cut. It was really kind of cool. Most of those places don’t exist anymore. I have all of these memories including back-and-forth discussion with the fabric sellers about what fabrics had a hard enough finish that would survive as upholstery and drapes.

So Ken came out to visit with sample books of fabrics which had been wiped down with sanitizing wipes. He came with gloves and a mask on. Which made me comfortable because face it, this year has been anything but normal with COVID19.

We discussed what I wanted and he took initial measurements and left me with the fabric books for a few days to decide what fabric I would choose.

I chose my fabric, and my quote was firmed up and emailed to me in writing and I provided a deposit for the fabric cost.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving they came and picked up the settee. I received photos all the way through the process, including when they took it down to the studs and found out that indeed the front legs were loose. So they stopped everything and put the settee frame back together the way it should be, and rebuilt her. Ken literally kept me updated every step of the way. I didn’t have to do the follow up, he just does it as a matter of best business practice.

The finished product speaks for itself. I had no idea such a gorgeous piece of furniture was living inside my consignment store settee! Ken’s Upholstery knocked it out of the park for us!

The settee is so gorgeous to me. The attention to detail and the time they took is self-evident. Oh I have provided a close-up of one of the arms in a photo because that’s very difficult to pull off and the tucks and everything have to be just right.

I will note that I am just a regular customer and the reason I am writing up my review is I think this business owner deserves all the accolades possible for just doing an amazing job and being a super nice, decent person. He’s very positive in a time when it is hard for anyone, let alone a small business owner to be positive.

I recommend Ken’s Upolstery highly! And his pricing is beyond fair.

I have attached a screenshot of the business card to give anyone interested all their information. Lots of interior designers in the greater Philadelphia/Main Line region he has been a best kept secret. But why go through the up-charges when you can deal directly with a craftsman like this?

If any of you out there are looking to get anything recovered I hope you will consider them!

Thanks for stopping by!

just wrong.

Things I cannot accept is like the above. This is the tomb of the unknown soldier and a monument to Washington in Washington Square Park in Philadelphia. This is destruction that’s divisive. This location was actually one of the five original ideas for public parks/spaces drawn up by William Penn in his plans for Philadelphia.

As per USHistory.org this park at first wasn’t used as a park. It was used as a potter’s field. This started around 1706 and apparently continued for many decades.

By 1778 Washington Square was one of the last barracks for the thousands of soldiers who died in Philadelphia. It has been remarked by historians that while a lot of battles did not take place within the city a lot of dying of soldiers did. And these are the soldiers who were fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy today including our rights to assemble and protest.

📌“Those wounded in nearby battles, or those sick with disease would be brought to Philadelphia. Pennsylvania Hospital and the Bettering House for the Poor filled quickly. Churches became ad-hoc hospitals. And during the British occupation of Philadelphia in 1777, the Walnut Street Jail became a Dantesque vision of hell...In 1793, the square once again served as a mass graveyard — this time for wracked, malodorous victims of the 1793 Yellow Fever epidemic. Philadelphia was literally decimated by this epidemic: about 5,000 of Philadelphia’s 50,000 residents were taken by the Aedes mosquito. 📌- USHistory.org

Into the 19th century, Washington Square stopped functioning as a cemetery and people started to look to make it what it was originally intended to be -a town square and park. 1825 it was renamed in the honor of George Washington who was the commander-in-chief of all those soldiers who laid buried underground in unmarked graves.

In 1954 a committee was formed for the betterment of Washington Square. apparently they did archaeological excavations and that is how they found their unknown soldier.

The tomb and monument were built and the statue of George Washington is a replica of Jean Antoine Houdon’s famous bronze sculpture of Washington. Sculpture was placed so that George Washington can forever gaze upon Independence Hall.

This memorial has many things carved into marble like “Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness”. There is an eternal flame, and on the tomb of the unknown soldier we were taught a school children what it said: “Beneath this stone rests a soldier of Washington’s army who died to give you liberty.

I was born in 1964 and this park was 10 years old at the time. I spent a lot of my young years going with my mother and my father and then my baby sister to this park. Lots of kids were in this park and we were all representative of different races, creeds, and colors. We respected the history of this hallowed ground.

When I was little they were always things going on in this park. There were amazing used book sales and plant sales. I remember my mother filling up our little grocery shopping cart with bags of books one year!

I have lots of very distinct memories throughout the years of this park. And I’ve always known and respected the history. Until this recent defacing of this monument and two I haven’t known anyone who didn’t respect the history.

There hasn’t been much talk of this getting defaced during all of these protests. There was a mention in the Philadelphia Inquirer which said 📌 “At Washington Square, the hallowed Tomb of the Unknown Solider of the American Revolution was defaced by spray paint. Vandals wrote Committed Genocide and ACAB — meaning, All Cops Are Bastards — on the granite wall behind Jean-Antoine Houdon’s bronze statue of Washington, the monument’s centerpiece.”📌

Not much more was said about this. I don’t recall Mayor Jim Kenney even talking about it. And that truly upsets me. It’s like it doesn’t matter that this happened there and it does matter a great deal. This is a location were soldiers who fought for our freedom as a young nation died and were laid to rest. It’s quite literally hallowed ground. My best guess is whoever did this will be haunted the rest of their lives. And the Park Service and Philadelphia need to put security cameras in there.

Above you see what the monument looks like in better times. If you look at the monument with the graffiti you will notice something else. Did you notice that the eternal flame is extinguished?

Washington Square Park is a special place. Hallowed ground. And the people who defaced it? That was just destruction. That is an a message that we need positive change in an end to systemic racism in this country, that was just graffiti and destruction.

I will state it again: I have no problem with peaceful protests. I completely believe that we are in the grips of insidious systemic racism in this country. But I do not believe the destruction of things like this accomplish anything at all. Destruction is negative.

If people want protest to be perceived as positive and necessary destruction cannot follow it. And that is the other thing that is so sad about all of this. The people protesting social injustice and racial inequality aren’t the people that are destroying these properties.

We need to be better as a nation. We need elected officials who aren’t as divisive. Which is why I pray for house cleaning in Washington DC this November. as human beings in this country we have to be the change we want to see.

It’s because of sights like this that protesting right now has concerned me.

I believe in peaceful protests, I do not believe in destruction of property.

We are better than this. We have to be better than this. We have to get things changed in this country. I don’t know that we will ever be able to erase hate because hate is as old as the beginning of time.

Please be careful out there this weekend if you are taking part in protests. Please start to think about how we can also be the change we need to see outside of protesting, because we have to be able to keep moving forward. We need to be positive change.

Please don’t let the hate and anger and vitriol win.

dear mayor kenney and chief outlaw,

Dear Mayor Kenney and Chief Outlaw,

My husband spent hours trying to figure out a way to get to my elderly parents and bring to us to get them out of the city. To no avail.

He couldn’t get to them. He literally went all the way down to Columbus Boulevard and over to South Philadelphia and back up! I am beside myself.

I just got off the phone with my mother and she tells me that the building Cole Haan is in was burnt out on Walnut, TD Bank and PNC Bank were destroyed all those other stores were loaded and broken into. She’s not sure about all that happened to places DiBruno Brothers on Walnut Street (they did get looted) but everything around it was pretty much destroyed.

This crap literally came to the front door to where my parents and another friend call home and that is so unacceptable and also while all this looting was going on last night? Apparently although they didn’t see a lot of police activity, but they saw a lot of news cameras and people with phones recording it.

A partial list of other things I found of what has been looted and/or destroyed includes: Boyd’s , Brooks Brothers, AT&T, Apple, 7-11, Target, Macy’s, GAP, Lacoste, Old Navy, JCrew, Marathon Grill, Reading Terminal Market, UNIQLO, DiBruno’s.

There are many, many more. There is looting and rioting in the Northeast. Port Richmond is in particular crisis as I type this.

My parents are elderly. They live in YOUR city. I don’t feel they or my other friends in Philadelphia are safe. I never thought I would say that. And if you can’t get control of the city, we can’t get to them. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF THESE WERE YOUR PARENTS?

I believe there should be justice for George Floyd. I had no problems with peaceful protests. But where is the justice for the innocent residents of Philadelphia and elsewhere who are the victims of the terrifying rioting and looting? Truly no one is safe right now. Doesn’t that worry you?

I’ll leave it there.