Columns

A Look Back in History by Richard L.T. Orth: Congressman Daniel Hoch and our American Patriotism |Jul 14, 2014

Last fall, our American Folklife Institute did an article on the Sacred Oak of the Oley Valley (“Godhead Trees and Virgin Forests”), and while working on the Oley Valley History II: The Federal Years, I had become reacquainted with the knowledge that this iconic natural wonder was on the farmstead once owned by Congressman Daniel Hoch in Oley Township.

The Historian by Robert Wood: The Stone Cutters |Jun 28, 2014

This week we speak of granite. Most of the soils attracting the German farmers to New Hanover were weathered from soft Brunswick Shales and mudstone. However on the far eastern section below Faglesville the underlying rock is granite or diabase, a hard, gray igneous rock.

Small Beginnings: The two hour marriage retreat |Jun 23, 2014

I know I’ve been writing a lot about fishing lately, but I’m not quite done. Our fishing date which was aeons ago yielded a little more material so hang in there and endure one more column about fishing! In addition to becoming a contributing factor in the worst cooking disaster I have ever pulled off, and also bringing to my attention a great spiritual truth, our brief fishing excursion produced one more unexpected result.

Welcome to my World: What is your passion? |Jun 17, 2014

I think most of us, at some time in our lives had a “knowing” what we were good at and what we had a passion for. These are our God-given gifts. Sometimes, if you really love your job, that can be one of your gifts.

The Historian by Robert Wood: Schneiders’ Tannery, part 1 |Jun 5, 2014

Austin Miller’s daughter, the late Beulah Spatz, was seven or eight when in 1925 she was running near the chicken coops on her father’s farm and the earth gave way. Their farm was right below the Minister Creek bridge on the Swamp Pike where a large, old, brick house built in 1791 now lies abandoned.

Berks County Dairy Princess offers dairy recipe celebrating June as National Dairy Month |Jun 3, 2014

Splashing in the pool, laying under the sun, vacationing and picnics are all common activities during the summer months. Did you know celebrating dairy is another popular activity for the month of June? In 1937, June was announced as National Milk Month, which later turned to National Dairy Month as a way to promote drinking milk.

From the Item Editor: My day at Berks Encore for Celebrity Meals-On-Wheels Day |May 27, 2014

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to be asked if I would be interested in participating in Berks Encore’s Celebrity Meals-On-Wheels Day. Having enjoyed covering events involving our Berks Encore centers and always being open to volunteer, I said “yes.

Welcome to my World: In our own words |May 27, 2014

Here are some of the memories, from the newsletter, of the ten siblings “in our own words.”

A Look Back in History by Richard H. Shaner: Kauffman’s book on PA German folk art |May 26, 2014

Over the years as a PA German historian, I have met several outstanding authorities on our PA Dutch/German culture. Professor Henry J. Kauffman, who wrote the book Pennsylvania Dutch: American Folk Art in 1964, did such a prolific job; I used his text when I was teaching a course about the Oley Valley to Oley High School students.

Welcome to my World: My brother, David |May 20, 2014

My brother, David, was 4 years older than me. I had 3 older brothers, but David was special. I don’t know if anyone else ever saw his pearly white wings, but I did. They extended from his shoulders, up high into the air.

Small Beginnings: Some graduation trivia to use at your next party |May 20, 2014

Having just had the delightful pleasure of being the proud parents of a recent college graduate, I was curious to know about some of the traditions we have just participated in at the commencement exercises.

From the Hamburg Item editor: Upcoming schedule and early deadline reminder |May 20, 2014

As many of you have seen when stopping by the office lately or more recently as a notice in the paper, we have moved all of our operations to our main office at 24 North Hanover Street, Pottstown. The only change for you as readers is that the office operations are out of our main office.

The Historian by Robert Wood: Harvesting was Communal in the old Days |May 14, 2014

Before the invention of mechanical harvesting machinery in the later 19th century, harvesting grain in the region was often communal. Reports have more than a hundred harvesters in a single gang wielding sickles through the wheat and rye fields.

For what it’s worth: Being gluten free isn’t all it’s cracked up to be |May 14, 2014

Have you ever heard of gluten? Of course you have.

The Historian by Robert Wood: Monday was Washday |May 7, 2014

In the old days, the housewife’s work week was ordered by a strict schedule: Monday, washday; Tuesday, ironing; Wednesday, mending (repairing seams and tears as well as patching and darning); Thursday, upstairs cleaning (The washed, ironed and mended clothing was taken up, put away, and the upstairs cleaned and mattresses turned.

Questions to Sophie |May 5, 2014

Q: I am divorced and share custody of the children. Whenever they go to be with my ex, I get so angry. It’s hard for me to keep it inside, and I say mean things. I don’t like having to send my kids away and be without them part of the time.

Logano becomes second multi-time winner of year |Apr 29, 2014

Hello readers, Races at Richmond are usually filled with drama and Saturday night was no exception. The drivers hadn’t even gone a quarter of a lap before the first caution of the night came out when Clint Bowyer and Kyle Larson made contact, which sent Larson into the wall.

Small Beginnings: The chilly mornings are calling for a cup of tea |Apr 28, 2014

I’m not sure where the warm weather is. I suppose we are all impatient for it to arrive and remain. I for one am simply ready for my heat to stop running! I was hoping that last tank full of oil would last for a few months but I am beginning to doubt it.

A Look Back in History: Pa Dutch youth celebrate Palm Sunday |Apr 16, 2014

A former resident of the Lehigh Valley, where the 1741 Moravian Church at Bethlehem celebrated their church services with brass musical instruments, I was delighted when Salem United Church of Christ in Oley Township invited the Mount Laurel Brass Quintet to participate in Sunday’s Palm Sunday Worship Service.

The Historian by Robert Wood: Andreas Frey, Pious Layman of New Hanover, Part 2 |Apr 15, 2014

Last week we began the story of Falkner Swamp pioneer Andreas Frey who as early as 1720 owned 400 acres along the Swamp Creek where the Antes House now stands. “Nothing is know of Frey’s early life or the date of his arrival in Pennsylvania.

Small Beginnings: Holy Week |Apr 15, 2014

Here we are right smack in the middle of what Christians around the world call Holy Week. It is referred to with this unique identifier because the weekend commemorating the Easter story is the crux around which the entire Christian faith revolves.

The Historian by Robert Wood: Andreas Frey, Pious Layman of New Hanover, Part 1 |Apr 11, 2014

Before Rev. Muhlenberg came to Swamp, New Hanover, in 1742 to permanently establish the Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania and the Rev. Leidich (Leidy) in 1748 to do the same for the Reformed, the region was for a time a tempestuous hub of religious ferment.

Welcome to my World: Our wedding day, March 20 |Apr 8, 2014

March 20, 1982 was a beautiful spring day for a wedding. I have to admit I hardly did anything as far as my wedding plans were concerned. All I had to do was show up. I made sure I did that.

Welcome to my World: In Mom’s own words |Mar 25, 2014

Out of a family of ten, I was the one who loved to write. In my early 40s, my 10 siblings and myself helped take care of our father, who had a stroke in his 80s. On nights when it was my turn to sleep over, I sat with Mom and collected her stories.

The Historian by Robert Wood: Three Cross Knife, part 1 |Mar 23, 2014

Although not freely discussed, there was widespread belief in the supernatural among the Pennsylvania Dutch. Many of these beliefs were brought with the immigrants, and their counterparts could be found in the old country.

The Historian by Robert Wood: Some Curious Documents of New Hanover History |Mar 13, 2014

Housed in the library of The Historical Society of Montgomery County are some copies of petitions to the Court of Quarter Sessions, Philadelphia County, 1720-1783. This area was then in Philadelphia County.

The Historin by Robert Wood: The Story of the ‘Mud Shows’ |Mar 10, 2014

Circuses had their heyday at the end of the 19th and first half of the twentieth century when they traveled by train. As many as three trains of thirty cars each transported a circus to new locations.

From the Editor: Sit back and prepare to be amazed by talent |Mar 4, 2014

This past Thursday I had the chance to attend a one of a kind performance that I would have no idea what I was missing out on had it not be part of my job to attend. I am extremely glad that I was able to sit in on Petar Maric’s performance at Tilden Elementary Center.

The Historian: Black Walnuts: History and Lore |Feb 27, 2014

Each year the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival, held in August, carries a different theme. These topics range from “wood” or “iron” to “lard” or “the garden.” A few years back the theme was “black walnuts on the farm.

Olympic events |Feb 26, 2014

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia have come to an end with the closing ceremonies airing this past Sunday night. Overall the Olympics amaze me; the incredible strength and ability of the athletes, and their stamina and persistence is incredible.

The Historian: A surprising discovery of the potter’s craft |Feb 22, 2014

Knowing my interest in things Pennsylvania Dutch, an acquaintance sent me an on-line catalogue detailing an auction at Sotheby’s, New York, of Pennsylvania Dutch antiques. While scrolling through it I was astonished to find two decorated dishes, dated 1838, and made by Conrad Renninger in Montgomery County.

Small Beginnings: Waiting for the desert to bloom |Feb 11, 2014

The Bible often talks about the desert. The Middle East clearly is located in an arid region of the globe where deserts are commonplace. In the United States, unless you live near one, which I do not, odds are you have never been to the desert, which I have not.

Welcome to My World: Have a heart |Feb 11, 2014

Reprint: 2012 , The Lutheran Digest, First Rights

Questions to Sophie: Feeling worn out after long days at work and home |Jan 22, 2014

Q: My days are always packed full of a long list of things I have to get done and problems to deal with. By the end of the day, having endured stress at work, battled the traffic, looked at the new bills that came in the mail, ran errands and kids to practice, put dinner on the table, and interrupted numerous fights, I am worn out.

Small Beginnings: When your phone deletes all of your contacts #First World Problems |Jan 22, 2014

I must confess that many of my ideas for columns originate from conversations with my friends and family. In fact, more and more after becoming engaged in a discussion about something remotely curious or unusual or fascinating, I find that folks often say to me, “You could write a column about that!” Which is true, I could write a column about any number of topics, but they have to spark my interest or else it just won’t pan out.

The Historian: The curious origin of the Swamp and Fagleysville independent schools |Jan 16, 2014

From 1875 until they closed in 1948, the New Hanover villages of Swamp and Fagleysville each administered their own tiny school districts. These independent schools were a rarity in the state and it is a wonder that New Hanover had two, side by side.

Focus on the Family: Child’s adoption should be addressed early in her life |Jan 15, 2014

Q: When and how should we tell our child that she was adopted?

Welcome to My World: Farm kids entertainment part 1 of 2 |Jan 14, 2014

Reprint: Berks County TV web site 2012, First Use

‘Just Another Day In Paradise’ Phil Vassar performs at Penn’s Peak |Jan 14, 2014

About ten years ago, my best friend Brittany and I attended our first concert together. It was the 92.5 WXTU 21st Anniversary Show in Camden, NJ. The concert was free, but you had to win tickets. Luckily her parents won a set of lawn seats and a set of reserved seats.

Versatile rye favored by early settlers |Jan 9, 2014

A phrase to best describe the cultivars found in the early pioneer clearings here in the New Hanover region would be “a little of everything.” Many of the plants and crops are virtually unknown today.

Past, Present and Future: ‘The Black Seminoles: History of a Freedom-Seeking People’ |Jan 8, 2014

Last night I finished reading “The Black Seminoles: History of a Freedom-Seeking People” by Kenneth Porter. It is one of the most worthwhile books I have read since Michener’s “Report of the County Chairman.

Questions to Sophie: ‘Invest in positive emotional banking for rich relational living’ |Jan 7, 2014

Imagine within your heart there exists an active emotional bank account. It registers deposits and withdrawals with an ever changing balance. For every kind connection you make with your partner, a deposit is recorded into their account and you earn an interest deposit into yours.

From the Editor: Thank you to the school and readers |Jan 7, 2014

I wanted to take a moment to say a big thank you to the students, teachers and readers for the past few weeks. As a local community news paper, The Item relies on its readers and their submissions as well as participation.

Up to Speed with David Barr: Humble beginnings |Jan 7, 2014

Hello readers, In the last few weeks, I have recapped the history of the other top series in NASCAR, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Now it is time to recap the history of the top series, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Focus on the Family: Social media can break down marital bonds |Jan 7, 2014

Q: How can I tell if Facebook and social media are negatively impacting my marriage? I don’t think this is the case at present, but I don’t want to be taken by surprise either.

On the Record: It was a Keith Urban Christmas at Hummingbird Hill |Jan 7, 2014

Every year I have a Christmas/ New Year theme party for my children and grandchildren. Last year it was hats and gadgets. This year it was Keith Urban guitars and Kuerig Coffee makers. Family gifts rather than individual gifts.

Up to Speed with David Barr: Recap of the Nationwide Series |Dec 30, 2013

Hello readers, Once again, there isn’t a lot to discuss in the Cup Series this week, so I will again be recapping the history and 2013 season of one of the lower-tier series in NASCAR, the Nationwide Series.

At the Movies with Rode’o: Kid reviewer gives ‘Frozen’ an A+ |Dec 30, 2013

Summary: “Frozen” is an animated musical fairy tale, which tells the story of two princesses/sisters Anna and Elsa. When the girls’ parents discover Elsa has the power to turn things and/or people into ice, they close the castle and keep Elsa separated from her sister.

Aggressive tot threatens families’ good friendship |Dec 29, 2013

Q: Our good friends have an aggressive preschooler who is always kicking, hitting and hurting our kids whenever we visit. He likes playing with them, but he’s too physical. Is there a way to put a stop to this without offending them?

From the Editor: Happy New Year! |Dec 27, 2013

Happy New Year! Usually not much changes for me from year to year, but 2013 had a lot to celebrate and of course some bittersweet moments as well.