My father was born in England, so I have a lot of relatives over there. When I graduated from college, my present was a trip to England, but I was to be accompanied by my grandmother.
In all the years since then, I have not decided who was taking whom. As my family had been living in Argentina, I was accustomed to traveling by ship between South America and the States. She was in her 70s, which seemed terribly old to me at the time. It had been 36 years since she had seen her three sisters and brother who had not immigrated to the United States, so emotions were high.
On that trip I met scads of relatives that I have stayed in touch with. Two male cousins, Robin and Eric, were particularly close. I went to Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation Ball with them and had adventures with them all over London. In subsequent trips we became friends with one another’s children, a bond that has continued into today.
Bill and I decided to make a farewell trip to see the relatives, and why not do it in style? So we booked passage on the Queen Mary out of New York.
I have traveled many times on the big ships on the Moore-Macormack Line, but that was many years ago. I have traveled on the smaller ships of the Grace Line on the West Coast and even ridden on the S. S. Quisquaya that was full of potatoes. Having seen all those TV ads for a cruise line that seems to specialize in drunken parties I called Cunard and told them I had not sailed on a Cunard ship in quite a while and were they still elegant or were they like the ads I saw on television. There was a long silence, and a clipped British accent said, “We have not lowered ourstandards.”
Being unfamiliar with the ship, I got a travel agent (Chadds Ford Travel) who would know which category of cabin to rent. She got us one on Deck 6 with a balcony, as she said that was the way she and her husband always traveled. It wasn’t long before we received a small booklet from Cunard explaining which nights the dining room was informal, which nights were formal and which night was the Royal Ascot Ball.
Cunard has three large luxury ships, Queen Elizabeth 2, the Queen Victoria 2 and the Queen Mary 2. Each ship has two formal nights when cocktail dresses are required and one night for a ball. The balls vary and can be the Black & White ball, the Elizabethan Ball requiring 16th century costumes, the Buccaneer Ball where you dress like a pirate, the Masquerade Ball where you wear masks, the Starlight Ball where you dress like a Hollywood Starlet with a formal gown or white tie and tails and top hat or the Victorian Ball requiring Victorian style clothes and hats. Ours is the Royal Ascot Ball, as though we were going to the Royal Ascot Horse Races. Bill needs a morning coat and top hat and I need an elaborately decorated hat. Luckily they have a hat workshop for passengers before the ball.
The thin booklet that was sent appears to be mostly a big push to buy insurance from them and some luggage labels that appear to be very hard to fold and attach. The directions make one feel that you need a master’s degree in Origami. In the old days they glued large round labels on your luggage with the initial of your last name. The glue must have been marvelous as the labels stayed in place year after year.
All those black and white movies you see with big travel trunks are a thing of the past. The weight of each bag is proscribed and I am not certain you could even have a trunk. Cunard does want you to be happy. Should you not want to bother with an extra suitcase holding your ship board clothes, Cunard is prepared to pick up your suitcase or deliver it to any place in the world, minimum charge, $250. I know one couple who mailed the man’s tuxedo to the ship as they were traveling in Europe. When they arrived on board it was hanging in the closet of their stateroom. Those old movies showing farewell parties in the staterooms are also out of date. Ever since 9/11 no visitors are allowed on board. No tickie – no boarding the ship.
The new exhibit at the Chadds Ford Historical Society , “What’s in a Name? Roots to Branches of an Old Family Tree” is the fascinating story of the Brinton family. Their story is interesting and compelling because this family did several things that help historians. They came to the area early on, they remained here, often in the same family houses, they kept good records and continued family reunions and they were quite active with many accomplishments. There currently are two houses, one now owned by the Chadds Ford Historical Society and the1714 Barns-Brinton House; and Tavern on Route 1 and the1704 home of William Brinton owned by the Brinton Association of America, both of which offer tours.
William Brinton’s family founded Birmingham Township and Chadds Ford Township when they came to America in 1684.In subsequent years members of the family opened the quarry with the unusual green serpentine rock, Lillian Brinton, who lived to be 106 years old, was a charter member of the League of Women’s Voter and was a Red Cross volunteer through three world wars, the Spanish American and World Wars I and II, and most interestingly, Joseph Brinton was required to apologize by the Quaker Meeting for punishing a man for beating his wife.
As the family lived here for so many years, the names of the people they married include many of the names we still find in the area. Some of the descendants of the original Brintons were the Civil War General George Brinton McClellan. Some of the other families with whom they married were Bagley, Bennett, Pyle, Darlington, Harlan, Roberts, Clark and Rockefeller, although I don’t meet very many of them around here. There is even a letter from Vice- President Nixon who is also tangently related.
Everyone is not lucky enough to have had relatives who kept good records, but there is still a great deal of information that can be found about one’s ancestors. At the exhibit there is a desk with information on how to trace your family tree. Also in the shop is a very attractive family tree kit designed by artist Anne Johnson that would be a wonderful way to display the family tree. Johnson would be available to write in the names in calligraphy if your writing is not too neat. The display will be at the society through Dec. 7.
You may think you know what the brasses in a symphony or band sound like, but if you would like to have a sparkling evening of music , don’t miss the concert “Sound The Brass !” Saturday, June 22 by the Kennett Symphony at Longwood Gardens. It’s gonna be a blast! We are all familiar with oompah-pah sounds of a German band, and you will hear that classic Benny Goodman “Sing! Sing! Sing!” that is always a delight.
There will be the stately sounds from the orchestra that we are accustomed to, but when you hear the original music by “Of Kingdoms and Glory,” I defy you not to think of Camelot and Merlin and dragons. And wait until you hear “”Nessun Dorma,” which is really an opera aria played by a trombone that thinks it is Pavarotti or the gentle, delicate “”Variation” by Nimrod. Of course you will feel like standing up and cheering when they play Tomasi’s “Fanfares Liturgique,” considered to be the definitive brass and percussion work.
For tickets to this rare evening of musical fun call 610-444-6363.
Music at Winterthur
“Buffalo Chip & the Plainsmen” will be the guest artists for Music Along the Bank at Winterthur on June21. The concert will run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Bring picnics and lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy these well-known local musicians. Members free, non-members $10.
The Brandywiners have chosen a really fun show for this summer’s production – Irving berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun.” This fanciful story about sharp shooter Annie Oakley and her romantic troubles will be at Longwood Gardens July 25, 26, 27 and Aug. 1, 2, and 3 with the show beginning at 8:30 each evening. Tickets are $30 for adult (includes $2 service fee, $25 for youth, 17 and under. You can order tickets online at Brandywiners.org/tickets, by phone at 302-478-3355 or 800-338-6965 or by mail at P.O. Box 245, Montchanin, DE 19710.
The Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia is presenting the play “Ulysses S. Grant & the Great Centennial Banana Mystery.” In the story President Grant slips on the banana peel during the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. The play will be given Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. , 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. from June 15 through Aug. 4.
The Brandywine River Museum will hold a class for adults in perspective drawing on June 19 at 7 p.m. Admission is $20, $16 for members and students. Tickets may be purchased by calling 610-388-8326. On July 17 there will be a class on landscape art combined with watercolors/
Between June 18 and 22, 10 young organists will from around the globe will compete in the inaugural Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition for the $40,000 Pierre S. du Pont Prize. Longwood Gardens will hold an organ competition on Tuesday,June 18 at 2 and 7 p.m., on Wednesday, June 19 at 2 and 7 p.m., with the final rounds on Saturday, June 22. Tickets are available from 610-388-1000.
Penn State Master Gardeners will hold a workshop on every aspect of growing tomatoes on Wednesday, June 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The class will be held at Penn State Valley Conference Center, 30 E. Swedesford Road, Malvern. Cost is $25 per attendee with pre-registration required. Mail checks to Penn State Cooperative Extension, Government Services Center, 601 Westtown Road, Suite 370, West Chester, PA. 19380.
The Bristol Riverside Theatre, 120 Radcliffe St. Bristol, will have three concert Summer Musicals. The first, “Up, Up and Away” takes you back to the 1970s, June 29 through 30 with such favorites as “You’re So Vain,” “Roll Over, Beethoven” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.’
From July 18 through July 28, the show is called “Ol’ Man River” and has baritone Keith Spencer paying homage to African American leading men and the Broadway shows that made them famous. This includes songs from “Show Boat,” “Jelly’s Last Jam” and “Man of La Mancha,” which I don’t understand.Although the music is gorgeous in “LaMancha,” I have never seen African Americans in the show. The final show is “BRT Broadway Collection” Aug. 15 through 25 with hit songs from “Oliver,” My Fair Lady” “Wicked” and more.
Subscriptions are available by visiting brtstage.org or by calling 215-785-0100.
If you missed seeing “Love, Loss and What I wore” when it was at the Delaware Theatre Co., you can catch up with it at the Philadelphia Theatre Co. June 25 through July 7 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre at Broad and Lombard streets in Philadelphia.For tickets call 215-985-0420.
Jonathan Edwards – singer, composer, musician – Edwards is a country boy who has milked his affinity for nature into acclaimed records and appearances with most of the top folk singers, like B.B. King, Emmylou Harris and the Allman Brothers at the Kennett Flash. His songs like “Sunshine” and “Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy” are legendary while his appearance in the film “The Golden Boys” received good reviews. June 21 at 8 p.m.
Heather Maloney –She was trained in opera, classical Indian and improvisational jazz vocals, when she stepped out for a period of silence. She is back with rave reviews for her unique music. June 22 at 8 p.m.
Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.