Columns

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.

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.

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: 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.

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.

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.

A Look Back in History: Importance of Pennsylvania Dutch taverns and wayside inns Part II |Mar 7, 2018

With the agrarian excellence of the Germanic farmer and culinary expertise of their Dutch housewives, it is easy to understand why so many colonists, whatever the ethnicity, returned to their various homes acclaiming the fine hospitality of the Pennsylvania Dutch taverns.

Welcome to my World: Boomba can be fun! |Mar 7, 2018

When you hear a cloudburst of sounds of clang, boom, ting-a-ling, rattle, toot, jingle and thump, what instrument do you conjure up? It’s called a boomba. It’s a percussion instrument consisting of a five-foot pole on a spring base, with tambourine, cowbell, wooden block, and Swiss bells attached.

SPEAKER MIKE TURZAI: PA Supreme Court oversteps authority to redraw Congressional map |Feb 21, 2018

Sen. Joe Scarnati, as the Pennsylvania Senate Pro Tempore, and I, as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House, filed an Emergency Application for a Stay with the United States Supreme Court today. Our application makes clear that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not have the power to invalidate the constitutional, democratically passed congressional map.

GUEST COLUMN: Rebuilding U.S. infrastructure requires better access to minerals, metals |Feb 21, 2018

For a White House often accused of being divisive, President Trump may yet bring warring parties together on a major initiative that few voters will oppose. In his ‘State of the Union’ address last month, the president declared a major priority of his administration will be the rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.

Welcome to my World: Honoring women in history who tried to run for President |Feb 15, 2018

I kept the best candidates for president last, namely Gracie Allen and myself. We both have something in common: we love a good laugh. Here is Gracie’s story.

Reflections: Seems as if raindrops are always falling on our heads |Feb 8, 2018

Is it just me or is it usually wet around here?

As I See It: Why is desire to import immigrant on the rise? |Jan 31, 2018

Unlimited immigration... open borders... DACA. With America’s failing immigration system in the cross hairs of a political battle, the issue seems destined to die on fallow ground. The influx of “Dreamers” into this country is growing exponentially as chain migration, visas, lotteries, and both legal and illegal importation remains well above the historic average.

A Look Back in History: Moyer photographed life in Oley (Part 3) |Jan 11, 2018

Unlike H. Winslow Fegley, Amandus Moyer photographed life in the Oley Hills, specifically, around an un-captured Fredericksville and the tavern at Landis Store where frontier farmers lived more in seclusion.

JERRY SHENK: Day of reckoning coming for higher ed |Dec 26, 2017

Unsurprisingly, despite 2017’s robust job growth, the American labor market remains glutted with many thousands of under- and unemployed college graduates.

COMMISSIONER JOE GALE: Pa. voters should veto second term for Gov. Wolf |Dec 18, 2017

With Christmas quickly approaching, stores are bustling with shoppers and neighborhoods glow with Christmas lights and decorated trees. The many traditions and holiday carols sometimes outshine the true reason for Christmas: The Birthday of Jesus Christ.

GUEST COLUMN: Facts, Not Hyperbole, Should Drive Tax Reform Debate |Dec 14, 2017

Have you heard claims that the Congressional tax reform bill will cause thousands of deaths and usher in a Nazi government? Needless to say, in the debate over fixing our broken tax, hyperbole has too often supplanted rational civil discourse.

A Look Back in History: Green energy long used by Old Order Mennonites in Kutztown |Oct 13, 2017

Perhaps historic Pennsylvania Dutch farmsteads are more appreciated by Kutztown Mennonites than their modem Worldly Dutch neighbors, who seek to tear them down in modernizing farms. It is without doubt that Dr.

SEN. BOB MENSCH: Pennsylvania’s financial state is getting worse |Sep 20, 2017

As I write this in mid-September, Pennsylvania is without a final budget. In the past decade, we’ve had on-time budgets in only four years. The question is why? For a very long time I’ve been arguing that our deficits, along with our budget stalemates, are predictable given the lack of growth in the Pennsylvania economy.

THE HISTORIAN: Pigs and pig pens were everywhere |Aug 31, 2017

Pork in its many forms — fresh, salted, smoked and processed into sausages and scrapple — supplied the needs of the first New Hanover families. Any surplus could be bartered at the village store such as Brendlinger’s Store in Swamp.

Welcome To My World: Many legends talk about origins of the pretzel coming to America |Aug 29, 2017

Pennsylvania is the center of pretzel production in the U.S., making 80 percent of the nation’s supply. Both Reading and Philadelphia vie for the title, “Pretzel Capital of the World.

Person to Person - Impact: My archives of yesteryear to today |Aug 22, 2017

I must admit I am pleased that I have some of the characteristics of my dear mother, who went to be with the Lord in 2000, just shy of her 92nd birthday. Among other admirable qualities: she could play a few songs on the piano, recite poems she wrote in grammar school, carve a tugboat out of balsa wood for me when I was in Cub Scouts and draw a crane in a lake to be used in art class to make a rubber stamp.

THE HISTORIAN: Pigs played a large role in Pennsylvania German life |Aug 18, 2017

A note in the publication American Farmer, 1819, reports that an exhibition at a fair showed a “pig with a wooden leg on the off side [left front] before which appears to walk with little lameness or inconvenience.

A Look Back in History: Freedom of religion granted to our Pennsylvania Dutch people |Aug 8, 2017

Our ancestors were working true-Grit individuals who turned the PA Dutch Country into an agrarian cradle of Liberty following in the ideas of Adam Smith, our founder of the “Free market private enterprise system.

Welcome To My World: The treasures we keep help us remember good times |Aug 8, 2017

All of us — both men and women — have treasures we keep. They can be called keepsakes, mementos, heirlooms, memorabilia, tokens of remembrance, even souvenirs — most any object of a remembrance one acquires for the memories associated with it.

Reflections: Berks historical sites are an educational tour de force |Aug 2, 2017

Parents sometimes scramble about like field mice finding ways to entertain their children in the waning days of summer that don’t involve phones, tablets, apps, televisions, social media, ballparks, festivals, fairs, amusement parks, camping, beaches and pools.

Welcome to my world: Traveling with Harry |Jul 20, 2017

My husband, Harry, and I have been traveling for 34 years. It’s one of our favorite activities. We’ve visited all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, and all 48 states on the continent. I did travel to Hawaii with my sisters, but I don’t count that as Harry was not along.

As I See It: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of free speech |Jul 20, 2017

The role of prayer in our schools is a hot button.

A Look Back in History: Farm women turned out plenty of fresh bread and pies in outdoor bake ovens |Jul 12, 2017

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.

Welcome to my world: Listening to the silence |Jul 12, 2017

I happened to come across a title for this story through a leaflet that came in the mail. In my case, I’ve learned to listen to inward silence through the practice of meditation. Yet, looking back on my life, I realized silence also spoke to me, in a seemingly different way, especially in nature.

REFLECTIONS: Don’t let a tick get you sick with Lyme disease |Jul 6, 2017

When I was a kid, I loved to play in the woods. My buddies and I were all over Mount Penn, playing war games, building tree forts, hiking, scaling rocks, hiding out from our parents.

A Look Back in History: President John Adams’ favorable opinion of the PA Dutch People |Jul 6, 2017

When Patriot John Adams stopped over at Kutztown, Pa., he remarked in his diary he was pleasantly impressed with the cooking and lodging among these local Pennsylvania Dutch at Kemp’s Tavern on his return trip to Massachusetts.

Welcome to my World: Piggy Banks and the delight they bring |Jul 6, 2017

There are times I get exasperated because I discipline myself to sit and write every week night, but all last week I didn’t get one idea for an article. At least not until I visited, my 1½-year-old great-granddaughter, Eva, on Saturday.

Welcome to my world: Flowers do speak |Jun 28, 2017

For lo the winter is past; The rain is over and gone;

A LOOK BACK IN HISTORY: The Kutztown Folk Festival is right around the corner, literally |Jun 21, 2017

Our Kutztown Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Festival has long portrayed regional folkways that were always called “Deitsch” (Dutch), not German. A vernacular transferred here by ethnic sub-cultures living in the 18th Century Rhine Valley, though their actual ethnic lineage was German, Swiss, or French, regardless of the Rhenish tongue they spoke; but collectively and accurately known as the Pennsylvania Dutch and proudly! Us, these, native PA Dutch are a very religious lot and extremely principled people.

Welcome to my world: The origins of the Wedding Party may surprise you |Jun 21, 2017

Marriage is one of the earliest institutions and is observed in almost all societies. The wedding customs of today are based on folklore, religion, symbolism, and superstition. Our traditional wedding party refers to the people involved in the ceremony and its history has been established since primitive days, such as “marriage by capture”.

A Look Back In History: Legendary Mountain Mary’s voyage to America |Jun 7, 2017

A home-grown Protestant Saint, Mountain Mary became a pioneer model for anyone who lived alone in the Oley Valley, especially hard-working immigrants who were sold into servitude by greedy Colonial sea captains as indentured servants for their passage to the New World; a practiced not abolished by our Congress until 1818.

A look back in history: The Shelleys and Their Unique English Style Barn on the Hunter Plantation |May 31, 2017

One of the most beautiful Oley Valley plantations is the 1768 John Hunter plantation that also served as a wayside inn located on Covered Bridge Road, halfway between Pleasantville and Yellow House, in Oley Township.

A Look Back In History: William Penn’s legacy of Christian love & the Pennsylvania Dutch |May 24, 2017

Prior to 1727, a number of Rhineland immigrants who embarked at Philadelphia had the luxury of worldly possessions to enable them to become prosperous settlers. But after that year, those Rhinelanders that didn’t, were sold as redemptioners to pay off their passage to previous settlers.

The Historian: Oak Splint Baskets |May 24, 2017

Sturdy and inexpensive, oak-splint baskets were used in almost every kitchen and barn on the old homesteads. Prized now by collectors, these plain, undecorated, utilitarian forms tended to fall by the wayside in the twentieth century when inexpensive imported baskets, commercially made bushel and “peach” baskets, and all sorts of other containers came on the market.