Opinion

Reflections: We’re all day to day |Aug 7, 2018

It’s funny how one’s perspective on age evolves as one ages.

A Look Back in History: Americana folk art developed in the New World |Aug 7, 2018

Here in the New World in a land of plenty, pioneer immigrants had the resources to develop an American style of folk art never dreamed about in the Old Country; hence the creativity of these Rhinelanders blossomed into an amazing folk art form that was nurtured by freedom of religion and free private enterprise, thus becoming American Folk Art! Although the Plain Dutch, such as the Amish and Old Order Mennonites, seldom engaged in bold colorful folk art as seen by the Church PA Dutch, both groups were known for their religious folk art writings, known as Fraktur, in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Sen. Folmer: Why must government spending grow every year? |Aug 3, 2018

I’ve searched both the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions and I can’t find it. Where’s it written government must grow each and every year? Why isn’t government expected to live within its means just like people and businesses?

A Look Back in History: Practice of witchcraft among PA Dutch rarely accurately portrayed to public |Aug 1, 2018

The occult practice of witchcraft among the Pennsylvania Dutch, despite its longevity, has rarely been accurately presented to the public. There is, undoubtedly, no other field of folklore where the Pennsylvania Dutch folkways have been more misunderstood, than in the practice of Hexerei.

Letter: Berks County commissioners must not sell Berks Heim |Jul 23, 2018

I was at the July 19 Berks County Commissioners meeting, where I heard first-hand concerns regarding the timeline for the potential sale of Berks Heim. These concerns are legitimate and timely, as the Commissioners have been clear about their collective willingness to sell off the Heim if certain conditions are met.

A Look Back in History: Early Folk Religion of the PA Dutch |Jul 23, 2018

To the outside world of Auslanders (outsiders) of the “PA Dutch Country,” and even to some within the Pennsylvania Dutch folk culture through its descended community, the practice of Powwowing is often confused with Hexerei.

PERSON TO PERSON - IMPACT: 2018 Baseball All-Star Game is a home run! |Jul 23, 2018

My favorite sport has always been baseball. My kind of game had the Philadelphia Phillies winning a closely contested game which ended in a 1-0 or 2-1 score, with the Phillies’ pitcher striking out 10 or more of his opponents.

Welcome to My World: For the love of shoes, heels and stilettos, now and then |Jul 17, 2018

I was elated to be able to wear my first 2-inch heels for confirmation in 1954. However, as the years went by, I started to hate heels. I often wondered why women had to be tormented with fashionable heels, and not men.

Reflections: Building sandcastles tall enough to touch the stars |Jul 17, 2018

Anybody who has ever been a kid (which includes most of us, I imagine) or has kids and has been to the beach, has built a sandcastle.

A Look Back in History: An amazing creativity in folk art developed in the New World |Jul 17, 2018

Here in the New World in a land of plenty, pioneer immigrants had the resources to develop an American style of folk art never dreamed about in the Old Country, hence the creativity of these Rhinelanders blossomed into an amazing folk art form that was nurtured by freedom of religion and free private enterprise, thus becoming American Folk Art!

A Look Back in History: National Register property owners maintain and preserve our heritage |Jul 10, 2018

In the shadow of the Berks County Conservancy, volunteers who had surveyed the historic early American heritage of the East Penn Valley decades ago, modern citizens could not believe it was possible for a civilized community such as ours to demolish one of our landmark buildings, which was once slated to be put on the National Register of Historic buildings in the United States!

A Look Back in History: A celebration of people at the Kutztown Folk Festival |Jul 5, 2018

Over our 330-plus years in America, the PA Dutch people have been overwhelmingly known for peaceful co-existence. The first PA Deitsch to reach Pennsylvania were from Krefeld, Germany in 1683.

Reflections: The sweetest sounding organ is a donor organ |Jun 28, 2018

The bliss of the womb, where we are warm and protected, has a limited shelf life.

Welcome to My World: Celebrating our nation’s Independence Day is more than fireworks and picnics |Jun 28, 2018

Independence Day, July 4th, is here again with its picnics, parades, baseball games, fireworks and long weekends. Red, white,, and blue decorations can be found in backyards, parks, and wherever celebrations of the day are held.

Reflections: Laughter is the bass line behind the good times in life |Jun 8, 2018

It isn’t easy being funny. Which is a shame. Because laughter is the bass line behind the good times in life. Isn’t it grand to watch people laugh uproariously? Heck, they sometimes vibrate like tuning forks.

A Look Back in History: Get fresh oven-baked bread at annual Kutztown Folk Festival |Jun 8, 2018

The quaint bake oven as it is found in the Pennsylvania Dutch region was an outstanding invention for its time, far superior to any found elsewhere in America. As European families transferred their white man’s culture to the virgin forests of Pennsylvania introducing their frontier farmsteads to the area, there was no other invention, expect perhaps the large frontier fireplaces, that intrigued the native Indians more than these outdoor bake-ovens.

Hamburg Item Early Files |Jun 8, 2018

25 Years Ago June 16, 1993 Hamburg Area High School Valedictorian is Kristine Bryant and Salutatorian is Angela Laubenstine.

Letter to the Editor: House Bill 1745 supports youth in foster care system |Jun 8, 2018

I am writing this letter regarding House Bill 1745, currently in the PA State House Education Committee. This fall I will be joining the Kutztown University freshmen class of 2022. Applying for college was one of the most difficult things I have ever done due to the lack of supports I had as a young person in the foster care system.

A Look Back in History: Colonial ‘Grossa Schranks’ and Paint-Decorated Furniture |May 31, 2018

Because few Germanic homes had closets, clothing was kept in a “Grossa Schrank” (Colonial wardrobe) made of either walnut hardwood or more commonly from a soft poplar wood or pine. However, since these Deitschers enjoyed colorful decorations, quite often the poplar wood was stipple-painted to break up the monotony of rustic pioneer interiors.

LETTER: Kudos to Boyertown Sr. High Marching Unit |May 29, 2018

“KUDOS” to the Boyertown Senior High Marching Unit and it’s director for performing a medley of military excerpts and salutes to the various branches of the armed forces. That’s what the Memorial Day parade is all about.

Reflections: Life without AC feels like life circa B.C. |May 29, 2018

We all take air conditioning for granted. Until the first heat wave of the year hits Berks County like a jackhammer and your central AC tanks more blatantly than a four-round club fighter getting his brains scrambled.

A Look Back in History America’s early hinterland houses were built of native stone |May 22, 2018

America’s early hinterland houses built of native stone were more than well-constructed abodes as they reveal the desire of the frontier inhabitants to be part of the architectural fashion of the day.

Welcome to My World: From Marriage by Capture, by Contract, to Mutual Love |May 22, 2018

Reprint (2017 Screamin Mamas) Marriage for the bride has certainly evolved over the centuries from “marriage by force or capture,” during ancient tribal days. It wasn’t unusual for a tribe, when in the process of conquering and pillaging a rival tribe, a groom, with the help of his “best man” to assist him, literally kidnapped the woman he desired for marriage.

A Look Back in History: Tribute to the late folklorist & potter, Lester P. Breininger |May 17, 2018

A veteran collector of PA Dutch redware, I was among many Berks County customers who admired the earthenware folk artistry kept alive by Lester Breininger and his apprentices in rural Robesonia. In revisiting my Lester file, I came across an old newspaper clipping of Ron Devlin’s article from the Reading Eagle where he wrote about the amazing Americana collection the late Breininger and subsequent auction and talking of Lester’s legacy.

Welcome to my World: What is a May Pole Dance? |May 17, 2018

My oldest sister, Anita, told me, “I used to go to Kutztown to see the May Pole dances. They were really nice.” It never occurred to me to ask more questions, but recently I decided to find out more about these dances.

Student Column: Serving as Olympic Buddy ‘was a truly rewarding experience’ |May 10, 2018

Meeting new people is great for everyone! Sometimes it’s just a little harder for some to make new friends.

Reflections: Do benefits from sun exposure outshine cancer risk? |May 9, 2018

Medical studies, I believe, exist in a vacuum. They’re unmindful of the past, uncaring of the future, existing only for the moment.

A Look Back in History: William Penn’s Free World Holy Experiment |May 9, 2018

Hardly had William Penn became the proprietor of the British colony of Pennsylvania in the New World, when German Protestants accepted his invitation as early as 1683 to begin a Holy Christian settlement by his “Society of Friends,” known as Quakers.

A Look Back in History: Father Time And The Town Crier’s House |May 3, 2018

Since the duty of Kutztown’s town crier was to act as the lamp lighter on Main Street and watch over the town declaring pertinent information as to the welfare of its citizens, it was important that he had a reliable time piece.

Welcome to My World: History of Mother’s Day |May 3, 2018

Reprint 1995 1st Rights to The Family Digest; 2017 Journal Plus

Reflections: Keeping Berks Heim in county hands is a daunting proposition |Apr 25, 2018

The future of Berks Heim is being awaited with plenty of hyperventilation and trepidation.

A Look Back in History: The true spirit of 1776 among the PA Dutch |Apr 25, 2018

For modern Pennsylvania Dutch people, it is very easy for us to recall our nation’s celebrated history for in a large part of American civilization, our ethnicity has always been interwoven with the pride patriotic citizens have felt.

LETTER: Time to embrace that we are Pottstown! |Apr 24, 2018

As PDIDA (Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority) continues to reach out to our community at large, our first focus group met on March 29, 2018, in the PDIDA Office to discuss the next five years in the downtown district.

Student Column: Brandywine Heights students speak their minds at April 20 Walkout |Apr 24, 2018

At an April 20 Walkout, Brandywine Heights Area High School students wanted to be heard again, this time in a much more inclusive way than in previous conventions such as the one on March 14, held in wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting.

Welcome to My World: The Pain of Laughter |Apr 16, 2018

My mother died in her 80s. We, the ten children, inherited her sense of humor. We, the children, in Mom’s footsteps did anything to get a good laugh.

Reflections: Imprisoned in a single dimension by two-faced grass |Apr 16, 2018

Brown patches of dirt (OK, that’s redundant because you seldom see green patches of dirt) should know their environment, their context, their place. They have no business acting like churlish interlopers and squatting where grass once grew in my lawn.

A Look Back in History: Once consistent Pa Dutch food staples |Apr 16, 2018

Being a descendant from frugal Pennsylvania Dutch families mostly living in Berks County, many hillside farmers were hard pressed to feed their families when downturns in the national economy created not only a scarcity of jobs, but a deficiency of food in household pantries.

A Look Back in History: Colonial Fresh-Baked Bread and Hard Cider |Apr 13, 2018

As we look back over 250 years of American history, certainly nobody thinks about the history of bread, maybe hard cider, but certainly not Colonial bread. I hope most people realize the spongier type of bread manufactured today is not the same bread as yesteryear, let alone centuries ago.

A Look Back in History: A unique acculturation of English food |Apr 5, 2018

Ever since the Colonial period, PA Dutch farmers in Berks, Lehigh and Lancaster counties have counted on imports from the English port of Philadelphia, and in return, we sold our food and grain products etc.

Welcome to My World: Lesson on life from ‘Peace Pilgrim’ |Apr 5, 2018

“The way of Peace is the way of Love.

A Berks County student perspective in response to school shootings |Apr 5, 2018

Hurt, despair, betrayal. These are feelings that many students across the country feel due to the lack of action that has been taken in wake of the school shootings that are almost being normalized.

Letter: Truck traffic is over the top on Philadelphia Ave. in Boyertown |Apr 5, 2018

I am speaking as a Boyertown community member, retired PE teacher, and advocate for community wellness. I live in a neighboring township in the Boyertown Area School District very close to Route 73, and I am impacted by traffic created by the Delaware County ash trucks which travel along the main road in our community.

A Look Back in History: A birthday tribute to the father of the American folklife movement |Mar 29, 2018

With several PA Dutchmen and women approaching their 100th birthday, together with fellow aging countrymen from Europe, America’s Civilization has unmistakably become one nation under God with Liberty and Justice for all.

A Look Back in History: Surviving Frontier Log Homes in Kutztown |Mar 21, 2018

The many salmon brick Victorian homes in the villages around Maxatawny Township give one the impression that our township is a later, pre-Civil War settlement, but lurking around each corner, one may still find log houses or log cabins that have survived from early American times.

Letter: New laws won’t stop criminals from obtaining guns |Mar 19, 2018

For transparency, I am an NRA life member, hunter, father and grandfather. In response to Mr. Tatum’s March 13th article, I feel he has missed the mark. The NRA is made up of like-minded people who are gun owners for various reasons.

Welcome to My World: The Day of Palms |Mar 15, 2018

We all know palm branches were cut from trees and strewn on the streets the first Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt. Before that time, the early Israelites used “palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars” (Leviticus 23:40 NIV) to adorn the booths at an autumn festival.

Reflections: Baseball season — when we can park the real world in right field |Mar 15, 2018

Another major league baseball season soon will be upon us as the players knock off winter’s rust in spring training. For those of us who follow the game, it’s time to be eternal adolescents once again.

A Look Back in History: Planting Onions and Peas on Saint Patrick’s Day |Mar 15, 2018

Among the wise and prudent, self-sufficient PA Dutch people, their Americana folk calendar has always called for the planting of onions and peas on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. Since Colonial times, gardeners were urged to hedge themselves against a shorter sporadic growing season in North America, a folk practice learned by early Americans who had suffered devastating, long, winter storms.

Letter: Brace yourselves for KutzPatty Day on March 24 |Mar 15, 2018

Dear Editor, Some timely advice for new neighbors in our community.

Person to Person - Impact: Do You Want to be a Mini Hero? |Mar 7, 2018

In a January column, I addressed heroes in our towns and around the world. I realize there are many types of people that can be considered heroic but I only listed a few: men and women in our military, firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, medics and everyday civilians who rush to others’ care in the case of an emergency.