KURC: A new home for a historical group
The Kennett Underground Railroad Center has found a permanent home, and a very appropriate one: the former house of Dr. Isaac Johnson at 120 North Union Street in downtown Kennett Square. Dr. Johnson treated an escaping slave who had badly injured his foot when he jumped off a train to flee from his pursuers. The man was nursed back to health by nurse Esther Hayes and recuperated in a house owned by James Walker at 233 South Union Street. He returned to Kennett years later, and had named himself Johnson Hayes Walker in their honor.
"Now we have a place where we can share all we know about the Underground Railroad operatives and activities in the Kennett area," the Underground Railroad Center's board of directors wrote in the group's annual fundraising letter. Their goals for 2020 are to install "a museum-quality display" in their new facility, expand their tours and presentations, do outreach to students and offer a scholarship at Kennett High School.
The house sits at the corner of Union and West Linden Streets, across from the parking garage.
SEMPER FI: A Korean War veteran
At Lowe's in Avondale I parked next to a pickup truck with a Korean War bumper sticker and various military decorations. The owner, an elderly gentlemen, and I were returning to our vehicles at the same time, and as he opened the passenger-side door of his truck and gave his little sweater-clad dog a cuddle, I noticed he was wearing a U.S. Marine Corps cap.
I thanked him for his service, and he thanked me in turn for remembering.
He said at the outbreak of the Korean War he'd gone to the Lancaster recruiting center to volunteer and was disappointed to learn that the Marines no longer had a paratrooper division.
"Seems not many men wanted to jump out of planes," he said, adding drily, "especially over North Korea."
KENNETT Y: A new executive director
Tom Gallagher is returning to the Kennett YMCA as the new executive director. He served as the Kennett Y's health and wellness director and senior programming director before moving to the Spring Valley Y in Royersford. Welcome back, Tom.
RIP: Goodbye, Mr. Stegeman and Mr. Brown
Two prominent members of the community recently passed on. Both were kind, generous and public-spirited gentlemen and will be missed.
William Jackson Stegeman, the founder of Jackson ImmunoResearch Laboratories, died on Oct. 13 at age 77 at the Friends Home in Kennett Square. He started the company in 1982 in a room in a neighbor's barn, then moved to a rented building in Avondale, and finally to the headquarters that he built on Baltimore Pike in Jennersville (next to the Jennersville YMCA, where I often saw him working out). The company's products are used in research labs around the world.
Henry Brown died at his Newlin Township home on Nov. 21 at age 81. After "Jerry" retired from his career as an architect with Anderson, Brown, Higley and Associates in Wilmington, he opened Unionville's Foxy Loxy ice-cream store. How appropriate that a party to celebrate his life will be held at Foxy Loxy on Friday, December 6, from 4 to 7 p.m.; all who knew him are welcome. I will miss his smile and the twinkle in his eye.
WEST MARLBOROUGH: The Landowners' Tea
After being postponed at least twice last year due to rain and mud, the Landowners' Tea for Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds was finally held the morning of Saturday, Nov. 16, at Lydia Bartholomew's Plumstead Farm on Street Road. It was a beautiful sunny morning and, as always, there were lots of neighbors, ample food and drink, and conversations about the perennial interests of horses and real estate transactions.
Just before the horses and hounds set off for the day's hunting, Master of Fox Hounds Sanna Neilson gave a short, gracious speech, thanking the guests for allowing the members of the hunt to ride across their land.
For fun, I wore a vintage hat of my mother's decorated with (I think) pheasant feathers. Kim Brosnan-Myers told me it reminded her of the time a few years ago when she was cleaning out a closet at London Grove Friends Meetinghouse and found a cache of old hats and gloves. She said the story goes that during World War II, the ladies of the meeting decided they would not buy new hats or gloves and instead contributed the money they saved to the American Friends Service Committee.
THANKSGIVING: Amusement for kids and grown-ups
The surprise hit of Thanksgiving dinner this year was the paper tablecloth, which was printed with puzzles and turkey cartoons to color (boxes of crayons were distributed around the table). I had the pleasure of sitting next to a Hillendale Elementary School student, and we had great fun creating and pronouncing nonsense words from the hidden-word puzzle (SUBLATS!).
Across the table, the boy's parents were deeply engrossed in the game where you try to create more squares than your opponent out of a grid of dots. Dearest Partner sketched a rabbit and a cat on the tablecloth, then switched gears and helped a couple of kids tune their ukulele.
We were very fortunate in the timing of our journey to Perkasie for the Thanksgiving celebration. As we were zooming up the Northeast Extension in the early afternoon, we saw the aftermath of a chain-reaction crash involving several cars on the southbound side of the highway. Traffic was backed up for miles, and it looked like emergency vehicles were having trouble getting to the site because it's in a construction zone without shoulders. On our return trip at about 6 p.m. the roadway was as clear as could be.
UNIONVILLE: A suitable soundtrack?
A reader who jogs around Unionville High School's track told me that on a recent visit, hard-core rap music was blaring from the stadium's speakers.
"I'm not easily offended," he said (he's not; I know him well), "but it was really disgusting." He gave a few examples of the lyrics, none of them pleasant, much less printable. He said none of the coaches or adults present seemed the least bit troubled by the violent, misogynistic imagery.
My reader suggested that the message being sent seemed in no way consistent with the school district's laudable goals of promoting respect, civility and tolerance for all.
WINTERTHUR: Local Roadshow episodes to air
The episodes of "Antiques Roadshow" that were shot at the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library in June will air on PBS January 6, 13, and 20, 2020. The episodes will kick off the show's 24th season. I'll be watching to see if I spot any familiar faces!
NEW BOLTON: An unexpected treat
At a New Bolton Center lecture the other night on equine infectious diseases, the topic may have been unappetizing but the buffet set up outside the lecture hall was most certainly not. Before the program I said hello to New Bolton professor and associate dean Corinne Sweeney, DVM, and told her how tasty the food was (I'd noticed some vet students chowing down with gusto as well). She said all credit for the refreshments should go to Sarah Riggins Tonge, owner of Catering by Occasion.
I reached out to Sarah for more information and she told me that she handles all of New Bolton's events and also runs the café at New Bolton, which is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday for staff, clients and the public. She also does outside catering "with our signature pit-style BBQ chicken." She can be reached at email@example.com.
Sarah, a Unionville native, graduated in 2002 from Unionville High School.
CHEATERS: Eroding social capital
After a neighborhood get-together, I was walking back to my car along with a woman who had a service dog, a handsome Bouvier des Flandres. I complimented her on how well-behaved the animal was, and she said that is because he's a "real," highly skilled and intensively trained service dog. She told me that there are unethical dog owners who buy "service animal" vests online just so they can get special privileges.
I stopped in my tracks. "Are you kidding me?!" I said in amazement.
It's true, she said matter-of-factly. And then when the faux service dogs misbehave, the reputation of real service animals and the users who need them is tarnished.
Utterly disgusting. Like when greedy people start fake GoFundMe accounts, claiming some calamity has befallen them and seeking to cadge money from good-hearted strangers.
WEST GROVE: Not-so-joyful noise
Tuesday evening I was picking up a book at the Avon Grove Library when a young patron suddenly began shrieking.
"Oh, dear," I said to the library worker who was helping me. "Somebody's not happy."
The child just kept wailing, and her parents decided for the good of everyone that it was time to leave. The father carried the distraught girl under his arm, and the mother toted a sleeping infant in a car seat.
"We'll try again in a few years," said the patient dad, with good humor.