UIN house

The home of Eusebius and Sarah Barnard in Pocopson Township.

TYPO: Why spell checkers will never replace editors

As regular readers know, in addition to writing this column I am a freelance copy editor. One of my current projects is a book on various types of meditation. I knew I'd found my "typo of the day" when I encountered this sentence: "Moreover, by peeling back the lawyers of a lifetime of stress, we may reach our full late-life potential."

My friends' reaction was just as funny. Two attorneys wanted to know what the typo was. Two spouses of attorneys said that sentence described their marriage.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A new Hunt Cup director

Andrea Collins has been named the new race director for the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, taking over from Leslie White, who served in that capacity since the October 2018 death of longtime director Kathleen ("Kathee") Rengert. This year's Hunt Cup, the 86th, is set for Nov. 1. Co-chairs of the race are Anne and Michael Moran, with Jay Meister as vice president and Buzz Hannum Jr. as treasurer. Proceeds benefit the Chester County Food Bank.

GIANT: Marty makes the news

The Giant supermarket chain's roving robot Marty was the subject of a front-page article in the Feb. 22-23 issue of the Wall Street Journal. The reporter, Kate King, tells how the robot's engineers were first irritated by the googly eyes affixed by a store employee, but they came to realize that it actually humanized the automaton.

Tim Rowland, chief executive of Badger Technologies, is quoted as saying, "Marty's eyes and name help customers feel more comfortable around the 140-pound robot as it circles stores reporting spills and other potential hazards for cleanup."

According to the story, customers' reactions to Marty range from slugging him with a full bag of groceries to inviting him to a winter formal (alas, he had to send his regrets as he was working).

GIRL SCOUTS: International Thinking Day

I was honored to attend the local Girl Scouts' 20th annual Thinking Day celebration on Feb. 22 at Patton Middle School. Each of the 23 troops chose a country, researched it and shared not only information about its geography, weather and history but also brought in a typical food for sampling-- I saw pizzelles from Italy, Hungarian goulash, churros (a pastry from Argentina), Swedish "iron buns," a chocolate fountain (Belgium), maple syrup (Canada) and yogurt (Iceland).

One troop performed a traditional Hungarian folk dance; another danced to "K-Pop" from South Korea. Crafts included an Italian chef's hat, castanets, and origami. The troop that chose Chile pitched a whole tent that visitors could walk through, and in the center was a living stone figure from Easter Island.

Lucy Barber, a troop leader who grew up in Chelmsford, England, displayed her mother's Girl Guide uniform from the 1950s.

The girls also learned about the plight of refugees around the world and wrote letters to people serving overseas in the U.S. military to accompany shipments of Girl Scout cookies ("Operation Cookie Drop").

I noticed that there were many more fathers at the event this year and mentioned that to one of the organizers. She laughed and suggested that it might have something to do with the quantity and quality of food being served.

POCOPSON: An Underground Railroad station

We took advantage of the brilliant sunshine on Sunday morning and explored the walking trails at Pocopson Park off Wawaset Road, near the Route 52 roundabout. They paths are well maintained, offer nice views of the township's woods and fields and the neighboring property of the Brandywine & Red Clay Association.

The highlight of our visit was a stop at Eusebius and Sarah Barnard's house, a station on the Underground Railroad during the slave era. (Eusebius was a founding member of Longwood Progressive Friends Meeting.) The early 19th-century fieldstone house is owned by the township. Though it's not open for tours, you can peer through the windows and see the beautiful built-in woodwork, which looks like it's still intact.

On the way home we drove north on Wawaset Road, which runs high above the Brandywine Creek. I spotted a friend's house and it took a moment for me to recognize it -- I'm used to seeing it from the other side of the creek! I never realized that Wawaset Road ends up at the Route 842 bridge, near the train tracks.

TOUGH MUDDER: It's now Spartan

It's now official: the May 16 Tough Mudder competition at Plantation Field won't be happening. On Feb. 25 Christopher Sontchi, a bankruptcy court judge in Wilmington, approved the sale of Tough Mudder to its rival organization, Spartan Race.

Unfortunately, given the logistics involved in organizing the races and building the obstacle courses, no Tough Mudder races will be held until May 30 (in Haymart, Virginia). However, the new owner has vowed to honor all of the preregistrations for cancelled races. Kyle McLaughlin has been reinstated as Tough Mudder's CEO.

UNIONVILLE: Fun at the used book sale

Here's hoping the PTO made lots of money this year from the annual used book sale at Unionville High School. I certainly did my part -- although much to the Dearest Partner's relief I did manage to resist an illustrated book of dermatological maladies.

In the shuffle, some books inevitably get replaced in the wrong location; I spotted a B.F. Skinner paperbook on behaviorism in the middle of the bodice-rippers. I overheard one woman talking to herself as she browsed through the foreign-language books: "Ah! THERE are the Italian ones!" In the "required reading" section, one woman was scanning the table and kept up a one-sided conversation with her friend, chatting about the books she saw (James Michener's "The Drifters" was one) and asking her friend if she had read this one or that one. The friend would just answer "yes" or "no."

One woman had a terrible-sounding cough, which she tried to soothe with a cup of coffee. With worries about flu and coronavirus so prevalent, I noticed people were giving her a wide berth.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Stroud and Washington

On Feb. 21, the folks at the Stroud Water Research Center celebrated the joint birthday of President George Washington (1732-1799) and the center's co-founder, W. B. Dixon Stroud Sr. (1917-2005), by baking their own "cherry creations" and bringing them to share as part of an office-wide luncheon.

Thirty years ago I met Mr. Stroud when I was invited to dinner at his home, Landhope, and he impressed me as a worldly, distinctive, larger-than-life character. I went to the center's website to learn a bit more about him:

"The story of one of the world’s foremost freshwater research institutions began in the salt waters of the Pacific Ocean. In 1956 W. B. Dixon Stroud joined a snail-collecting expedition from the Academy of Natural Sciences and spent two months off the coast of New Guinea diving for live shells. This was not Dick Stroud’s first immersion in Pacific waters. Eleven years earlier he had been officer of the deck when the USS William D. Porter was hit by a kamikaze pilot during the Battle of Okinawa. The ship sank in 90 minutes. None of the crew was killed in the attack, but, as second in command, Lieutenant Stroud was the next-to-last man off.

His subsequent Pacific voyage left a better memory. It also introduced Dick Stroud to the scientific research efforts of the Academy. That introduction bore fruit nine years later when he and his wife, Joan, met Ruth Patrick, the head of the Academy’s limnology department. The three quickly became friends, and Dr. Patrick urged the Strouds to build a small laboratory dedicated to freshwater research along White Clay Creek on their farm in southern Chester County. . . . In the summer of 1966 the Stroud Water Research Center began its existence as a field station of the Academy in a hastily cleared space above the Stroud’s garage."

KENNETT: No free stuff

Apparently the lure of "free stuff" is irresistible to some folks.

This time of year, cartons of Girl Scout cookies are delivered to the parking lot of the Church of the Advent on North Union Street each Friday evening, and the troops' cookie moms go there to pick up their orders. I've seen the line of cars stretch all the way out to the street.

One of the moms told me that she's actually seen curious motorists join the line, apparently assuming that given the crowd, valuable "free stuff" is being given away.

I asked her what happens when they reach the head of the line and find out that nothing is being given away.

"They just turn around and drive off," she said.

Write to Tilda at uvilleblogger@gmail.com. Thanks!
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