Two farewells in Kemblesville

The little village of Kemblesville said two good-byes this week, and for many there was a tinge of sadness about both.

A dismantling crew began taking apart the old J. G. West Barn just off Appleton Road on Thursday.

Then on Saturday, the breakfast crew at the Kemblesville United Methodist Church hung up their aprons forever after 25 years of monthly community breakfasts.

In these two events there was the bitter and the sweet.


First the barn:

The 200-year-old barn has been studied and identified as unique in many respects, and soon it will be gone. The Historical Architecture Review Board protested its removal, but the township supervisors voted to proceed with process.

It is sad to see a visible and solid link to the past disappear.

On the other hand, it was also bitter that the barn was deteriorating and would be an increasing burden to the township, even if a fund drive were commenced to collect private funds for a renovation.

Township Supervisors Chairman John Auerbach said, I take no joy in taking this thing down.

Similarly, HARB Chairman Paul Lagasse said, A lot of us are going to be heartsick for awhile.

On the other hand, the barn got an honorable good-bye.

There was no wrecking ball, and the materials didnt get thrown in some trash heap.

A group of guys called The Barnyard Boys carefully took the elements apart and recycled them.

The steel and aluminum on the exterior will be recycled, and the wood -- lovely wood -- will be used for other construction projects.

One spectator at the operation said, Wouldnt that wood be a beautiful kitchen floor?

And with the empty pad thats left where the barn was, there will be a nice, wide space for the Franklin road crew to mix salt and no-skid rocks on icy days.

Moving on to the Kemblesville United Methodist Church, it was sad to see the nine-man crew that had been preparing community breakfasts for 25 years call it quits.

It was disappointing to hear that they just couldnt maintain the volunteer crew large enough to cook and serve the breakfasts month-in and month-out.

The breakfasts were precious, old-fashioned events, hearkening back to the founding days of Franklin. The meals included those foods so characteristic of southern Chester County: creamed dried beef, scrapple and sausage gravy.

They also held an atmosphere that was typically old-time rural, where folks got together with their neighbors in good spirits to talk about what was going on.

On the good side, however, was the wisdom of the kitchen crew members to know when it was time.

At least the breakfasts didnt die an embarrassing death for lack of attendance.

The other good thing was the appreciation that people showed.

The turnout was so great that they ran out of eggs and sausage. And then the West Grove Fire Company showed up, and out of respect for the great job those kitchen guys had done, they brought the restored fire truck and parked it in the lot outside the church.

It was not lost on the guests or the cooks that the monthly breakfast was indeed a valuable and historic event that that was going the way of the old barn.

We will miss the barn and we will miss the breakfast. But we will hold the memories in pictures and stories. Perhaps our grandchildren will see in our eyes and hear in our voices how much we respected the human touch that lived in the barn and the breakfasts.