Last week Hank's was the recipient of a Christmas visit, not just from Santa (Fred Tenille) and his elf (Mike Strelkowski), but also good old reliable Bellsnickel (Dave Murtagh), the German judge of who's been bad and who's been good. Sure enough, Bellsnickel in full regalia (striped stockings and a tall hat) and carrying switches, demanded from the patrons at Hanks, "Who are the good girls and boys?" According to German legend, those who have been bad must get on their knees and recite a verse from the bible. Those who have been good get a little gift. All the patrons must have been very, very good as everyone received a box with a Christmas tree ornament. I received an ornament made like a pickle, but I'm not taking it personally.The occasion was the Christmas event of the Tuesday Morning Club, a group of ladies who have been meeting for breakfast at Hank's for more years than we like to talk about. Ringleader Judy Murtagh came in costume, this year as a penguin. In other years she has been a snowman, a Christmas tree and a gingerbread boy. Luckily the penguin costume was made so she could see well enough to drive herself, which has not always been true in other years.

As if the Murtaghs had not done enough to celebrate Christmas, they were asked to decorate the Christmas tree at the Visitor's Center at Longwood, which they did with antique ornaments. While working on the tree, a family with two children came over and admired the work. In typical Murtagh fashion, they gave each child one of the antique ornaments. That's the real Christmas spirit.


I have received numerous e-mails about the absence of lapel flag pins at ABC on their news people. According to Snopes it is true. Supposedly the brass at ABC News has banned flag lapel pins or other patriotic insignia, as ABC should remain "neutral" about "causes." Supposedly Barbara Walters, who works for ABC, has said that this would hurt the network. If this is an example of the type of fuzzy thinking the heads of ABC have, it does make one wonder about how much even handedness is used by them in writing the news reports. I just never knew that patriotism was a "cause."


The charming duo of Danaher and MacCloud will bring the joy of Irish country music, tales and tunes to Kennett Friends Meeting House on Friday, Jan. 9, at 8 p.m. The two combine the talents of musicians, storytellers, a produced playwright, screenwriter and composer. The public is invited to this free event that ought to be a lot of fun.

Dino Days

The always popular "Dino Days" will be celebrated at the Delaware Museum of Natural History on Dec. 27 and 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Dinosaur expert professor Dodson will speak on Saturday at 11 a.m., with fossil digs, face painting crayon rubbings etc. on both days.


The entertaining play "Looking Over the President's Shoulder" will be presented at the Hedgerow theater from Jan. 9 through Feb. 8. This is the true story of Alonzo Fields, who wanted to be an opera singer but became the chief butler at the White House through four presidents. Here we catch glimpses of Hoover, FDR, Truman and Eisenhower. For tickets call 610-565-4211.

'No Child..'

The Delaware Theatre Co. will present "No Child," a tale about a teacher struggling to draw out the talents of her resistant students from Jan. 14 through Feb. 1. This live drama has two actors portraying 16 characters. The play contains strong language, so it is not for the kiddies.

For tickets call 302-594-1100.


Two mini-musical stories being given by The Players Club of Swarthmore from Jan. 8 through 11 and 15 through 17 have two different settings, one in Vienna in the 1890s and the other in the Hamptons in the 1980s. One story asks if a new romance can survive discovery of deceit and the other whether a long time marriage can survive when a flirtation threatens to become something more. For tickets call 610-328-4271.


The new musical "Give My Regards to Broadway" will run at the Kimmel Center's Innovation Studio from Jan. 8 to Feb. 1.The show has all those famous show tunes plus a history of tap dancing on the stage. For tickets ($47) call 215-731-3333.


Tennessee Williams'Pulitzer Prizewinning masterpiece "A Streetcar Named Desire" will enjoy a long run at the Walnut Street Theatre from Jan. 13 through March 1. This is the play that launched the career of Marlon Brando and won a Tony Award for Jessica Tandy in 1947. This play about Southern Belle Blanche DuBois and her lost dreams, and her animalistic bother-inlaw Stanley Kowalski, opened at the Walnut Street Theatre in 1947 before going on to Broadway. It is fitting that it is back at the Walnut as the theatre celebrates its 200th Anniversary season.

For tickets ($10 to $60) call 215-574-3550

'Hedda Gabler'

The Mauckingbird Theatre Co. will present the compelling classic drama about sexual identity and class divides at the Adrienne Theatre 's Second Stage, 2030 Sansom St. from Jan. 1 through 29. The original play by Henrik Ibsen has a new adaptation by Caroline Kava, whose film credits include "Born on the Fourth of July," "Year of the Dragon" and "Snow Falling On Cedars".

For tickets call 215-923-8909.


The Philadelphia Orchestra has had concerts for children for decades, which many people in the area grew up attending.

Some of the special concerts you might consider have real appeal for the younger set. On March 14 they will present "Beethoven Lives Upstairs," the acclaimed story of one of the greatest composers, plus some of his music. On April 4 they will have "Green Eggs and Ham," a musical version by Robert Kapilow of this childhood favorite. On Saturday, June 13, there is "Children's Corner" with classical music backing up storybook tales from Mother Goose to Hansel and Gretel.

All the concerts are at 11:30 a.m. and are preceded by pre-concert adventure at

10 a.m. at the Perelman Theatre in the Kimmel Center. For information and tickets call 215-893-3151.


For the first time in 10 years, the acclaimed Lar Lubovitch Dance Co. is on tour, appearing at Annenberg, 3650 Walnut St., Philadelphia, on Thursday, Jan. 8, Friday, Jan. 9 and Saturday, Jan. 10. For tickets call 215-898-3900.


Old needlework, particularly old samplers, is easily dismissed as unimportant sewing by young girls in boarding schools. As historians will quickly point out, the only place some genealogy and lineage of some families can be found is in these old pieces of needlework when records have been misplaced. The current exhibit at Winterthur, "Who's Your Daddy?" has a marvelous collection of the work done by nimble fingers in the last centuries. True, young girls made most of the needlework, their creations hanging in the front parlor as advertisements to the young men of their accomplishments. While needlework once may have been bait in the 17-and 1800s, today they are treasured for the wealth of information they can offer.

Today people often think that "blended "families are a modern phenomenon, but this is not true. The high mortality rate from childbirth made second and third wives not unusual. In an 1822 sampler by a Fanny Whitney, Fanny lists the children of both the marriages of her mother and her stepmother, as well as a mourning picture made the same year, in which she memorializes the deaths of five infants. Another sad memorial piece of needlework was done in 1804 by a Catherine Butler for her 18-year-old brother, Henry. Following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps, Henry had reluctantly gone to sea. Five months later he was dead of yellow fever in Martinique.

Henry Francis du Pont acquired many of the objects in the exhibit, including articles from his mother's ancestors in upstate New York. If you like history, you will enjoy the tales the embroidery tells. There is a notebook containing fragments of the dress Martha Washington wore to celebrate George Washington's 65th birthday, and several objects from the family of William Canby, a successful miller on the Brandywine in the 1800s. Particularly interesting are the pincushions that were a frequent gift on the birth of a baby. Safety pins were not invented until the late 1840's, so it took from eight to 10 hand made straight pins to fasten a baby's diaper.

This fascinating exhibit that has been somewhat overlooked in the holiday rush will be at Winterthur through Jan. 9. It is one not to be missed.

o Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.

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