Columns

A Look Back in History: Architectural fashion in randomly laid fieldstone |Jul 27, 2015

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

Felicia Fisher’s Slice of Life: Pineapple Peach Pops |Jul 23, 2015

We all have things we hate. For two of my children, the squeaking of Styrofoam sends them into a tizzy and, coincidentally, both my husband and I detest those wooden spoons that accompany Italian ices.

The Historian: A most interesting diary, conclusion (Part III) |Jul 21, 2015

For the last two weeks this column dealt with the 1839-1845 diary of Norristown resident Mary Markley Boyer (1802-1858). Found by historian Nancy Roan some years ago, the diary pages are interleaved into The Lady’s Annual Register, a publication which included monthly almanac pages.

The Historian: A Most Interesting Diary, continued (Part II) |Jul 21, 2015

Last week’s column dealt with the 1839-1845 diary of Norristown resident Mary Markley Boyer (1802-1858). Found by historian Nancy Roan some years ago, the diary pages are interleaved into The Lady’s Annual Register, a publication which included monthly almanac pages.

Felicia Fisher’s Slice of Life: For the love of coffee and not baking… |Jul 21, 2015

I had the most surreal food experience yesterday. I opted to go inside my local Starbuck’s to peruse the coffee menu. I usually use the drive through although oftentimes I simply drive by rather than wait behind a line of six to seven cars.

The Historian: A Most Interesting Diary |Jul 7, 2015

A most interesting diary has come to light. Found by historian Nancy Roan, it was created by Norristown resident Mary Markley Boyer from 1839-1845. Diaries and journals, called “primary source documents,” are the gold standard in historical research.

For what it’s worth: My personal food challenge |Jun 26, 2015

I’ve had the house to myself for about a week, and I have another week to go. When there’s only one person—it’s easy to downsize a bit. And I decided to downsize in regards to hastily purchasing food.

A Look Back in History: American Wisdom and Good Natured Dutch Folklore |Jun 3, 2015

Almost since the founding of America, there have been many illiterate peasants who have followed the lead of Ministers and educated citizens whose wisdom has helped them survive farming in the North American wilderness.

A Look Back in History: The Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker: Our Kutztown Folk Festival Craftsman |May 19, 2015

Among the iconic craftsman that have always made up our Colonial ethnic natives of the Pennsylvania people, have been the historic tradesmen that have been long remembered for their craftsmanship, enabling immigrant natives to survive in a somewhat hostile pioneer environment.

The Historian: The Curious ‘Klingelbeutel’ |Apr 26, 2015

Another detail in the local life of yesteryear which is now totally gone from all but historical reference is the German Klingelbeutel — Glingelsock in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, literally, “bellpocket.

Part 5 Vietnam 1970 - 1971: Meet Private Beetle Bailey’s Protégé |Apr 22, 2015

Shortly after taking up residence in base camp, I established a routine of going to a Vietnamese barber on a weekly basis. Each customer received the works: haircut, shave, shoulder massage and the unexpected neck crack, accomplished by the barber grabbing each side of your head firmly and giving it a quick 90 degree sharp turn.

The Historian: Early school houses were used as Sunday schools |Apr 21, 2015

Since by tradition and custom the first schools were operated by the churches, it is easy to see why the early township school boards saw no problem with allowing Sunday schools to meet in the one-room school houses.

The Historian: The stormy beginning of Sunday school |Apr 6, 2015

In the old days, Sunday school was a big deal. Typical of the larger town churches was Pottstown’s Emmanuel Lutheran.

The Historian: A Curious Old Deed |Mar 30, 2015

A curious old deed has come to light. The well preserved parchment says that in 1789, the Rev. Johannes Christophe Kunze, D. D. (John Christopher Kunze) “of the City of New York” bought of Peter Richards, shopkeeper, and his wife Magdalena, a parcel containing 58 acres in New Hanover Township.

The Historian: Clover, Part II |Mar 23, 2015

During most of the 18th Century, Germanic immigrants continued the centuries-old agricultural practices with which they were familiar. The paramount need of the settlers was grain.

Guest editorial: Take ‘It can wait’ pledge to save lives |Mar 16, 2015

“LOL” turns into “RIP” more and more every day in the United States.

Meet Private Beetle Bailey’s Protege |Mar 10, 2015

Just wait a minute! Uncle Sam wants to send ME to Vietnam for 12 months? I am the one who went to camp the summer after fourth grade and was so homesick that I actually ended up in the infirmary for a few days but was fine once I reached home.

A Look Back in History: Colonial Trade with the Port of Philadelphia |Mar 6, 2015

Before the 1862 Oley Valley Turnpike was opened from Pikeville to Black Bear Tavern, facilitating later trade with the town of Reading, many Colonial styled Conestoga wagons, like the surviving 1803 Sternbergh wagon, hauled wheat grain to the Port of Philadelphia from the Oley Valley during harvest grain rushes.

The Historian: Himmelsbriefen were in most homes |Mar 2, 2015

Movable type was invented in 15th Century Germany, and the consequences were world-changing, allowing literacy and the Reformation to spread with previously unimagined speed.

For what it’s worth: York County’s Live Eagle Camera has my attention |Feb 26, 2015

I’m not sure why it’s so interesting to me—but it is. Since I discovered it, I cannot seem to stop watching York County’s live feed of an eagle nest.

The Historian: Fraktur, the folk art of the Pa. Germans |Feb 25, 2015

During the 100 years between 1720 and 1820, well over 100,000 German-speaking immigrants entered Pennsylvania, most of them through the port of Philadelphia. In just the five years between 1749 and 1754 nearly 37,000 Germans came through that port and spread throughout Pennsylvania and beyond.

The Historian: Fences and the Antes Garden |Feb 11, 2015

In the 18th and 19th centuries, winter was the ideal time for many tasks not directly related to the planting, cultivating and harvesting of crops that took up all available time during the more temperate months.

PERSON TO PERSON – IMPACT: Valentine’s Day should be every day! |Feb 10, 2015

One of the many things that impressed me in my recent BOOK BEAT - IMPACT report on 41 – A Portrait of My Father, is how President George H. W. Bush made new friends, but at the same time was faithful in keeping in contact with his old friends.

The Historian: Spring Houses - valuable additions to the farmstead |Feb 9, 2015

A spring house was a valuable addition to the early farmstead. A good, year-round spring on a property often influenced the location of the dwelling house and barn. The spring house usually was built directly over the spring and served as a cover, protecting it from dirt, leaves, livestock and other foreign material, but it also served as food storage area and sometimes work area.

The Historian: Baking Practices among the Dutchmen, part 2 |Feb 3, 2015

Most Germanic houses built in Southeastern Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries had bake ovens; it was almost a requisite for Pennsylvnia Dutch dwellings.

Ask Steve: How important is installing a carbon monoxide detector in a new home? |Jan 27, 2015

As a service to you and our community, I want to answer your questions so you can make educated and more informed decisions when it comes to your energy, comfort needs and saving money.

The Historian: Baking Practices among the Dutchmen |Jan 27, 2015

Most Germanic houses built in Southeastern Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries had bake ovens; it was almost a requisite for Pennsylvnia Dutch dwellings.

Thrivent Financial: You bought the policy…now what? Knowing your policies supports healthy financial strategies |Jan 27, 2015

Purchasing proper insurance coverage is an important part of a healthy financial picture. However, with many policies, staying engaged ensures you have adequate coverage as your life changes.

Book Beat - Impact: ‘A Portrait Of My Father’ shows 41st President took the less travelled path |Jan 27, 2015

Review of “A Portrait Of My Father” by George W. Bush

A Look Back in History: Salem Church windows depict purple stained Iris colored flowers, a French “Fleurdelis” folk symbol |Jan 23, 2015

Last month a Community Christmas Cantata was held under the musical direction of choir director Kathy Snyder to a packed audience at Salem Church on historic Covered Bridge Road, on a Sunday afternoon, a unique presentation of Oley area churches, whereby old timers would not have to drive home in the dark.

Focus on the Family: Daughter’s lies catching up with her at school |Jan 21, 2015

Q: How can I get my teenage daughter to stop lying? I’ve caught her telling “tall tales,” and now she’s complaining that the kids at school don’t believe anything she says.

The Historian: The Tag-Team Preachers from New Hanover |Jan 19, 2015

Sometime around 1720, John Philip Boehm and a group following the German Reformed faith settled closely together in Swamp, New Hanover, and built a church. The congregation exists today, Falkner Swamp UCC, the earliest German Reformed church in America.

Felicia Fisher’s Slice of Life: Thinking outside the (brownie) box |Jan 16, 2015

I cannot tell a (baking-related) lie. I use boxed, store-bought brownie mix. To me, the ultimate brownie not only has an over-the-top, amazing, “Oh my gosh I need a glass of milk right now to wash this down” chocolate flavor but is of the fudge and not the cake variety.

Person to person - Impact: The Lady in Red |Jan 14, 2015

For many years I was quite reserved and in most cases kept my thoughts to myself. Then I entered a period of “Internal Sweats”. Someone would do or say something that I knew was not correct (at least from my standpoint) and those Internal Sweats would build up until I just had to say something to the person.

Ask Esther: Should I be concerned about a septic system inspection? |Jan 14, 2015

I am planning to sell my home but have heard nightmare stories from coworkers concerning septic inspections. My home is about 40 years old but I have had no problems with my septic system. Should I be concerned about this?

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: ‘Selma’ marches to greatness; ‘Still Alice’ takes the easy route |Jan 9, 2015

“Still Alice” is likely three times the film it would be without its central performance – a tremendous turn by Julianne Moore, who adds texture and detail where the script often glosses over such.

Focus on the Family: Grandparents want to help, not butt in, with new baby |Jan 7, 2015

Question: How can grandparents help new parents without wearing out their welcome? I’m excited to play an active and positive role in my grandchild’s life, but I want to be careful to respect appropriate boundaries with my son and daughter-in-law.

A Look Back in History: The Importance of the Church & Faith in our Pennsylvania Dutch |Jan 7, 2015

As we see our church numbers dwindle and only somewhat filling during the Christmas and Easter times, we need to take a step back and remember how strong religion and faith was to our ancestors driving them to pave the way and persevere in a new and unknowing with unparallel bravery in crossing the mighty Atlantic, and the tremendous hardship they faced in death of loved ones, cold, hunger, and doubt.

What’s Cooking with Linda: Grab a soup mug of Shrimp, Potato & Corn Chowder, sit by the fire |Jan 7, 2015

It’s time to put a movie on, light the fire place and grab a soup mug of this awesome Shrimp, Potato & Corn Chowder. Lenore Lasowecky, Fleetwood, shares this recipe for a hearty flavorful soup.

The Historian: The Real Story of Mountain Mary, part 2 |Jan 5, 2015

As noted last week, there is very little reliable information about the legendary figure Mountain Mary of Pike Township, Berks County.

Felicia Fisher’s Slice of Life: Nuts to your New Year’s Diet resolutions |Jan 2, 2015

I don’t bake healthy. I do not bake gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, or vegan-friendly items and I’m perfectly OK with that decision. I use butter, processed non-whole grain, white flour and refined white sugar and I do not have any way of effectively controlling whether the components of my baked goods are derived from GMO seeds.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Intense musical-thriller ‘Whiplash’ earns its title |Dec 19, 2014

For all intents and purposes, “Whiplash” is a monster movie -- it doesn’t exactly take place in reality. Concerning an ambitious young man at a renowned music college under the tutelage of a conductor whose technical excellence is outweighed only by his ruthlessness in weeding out imperfections in his students, this is a film that approaches musicianship much like “Gravity” approached space travel.

The Historian: Log Houses in the New Hanover area |Dec 19, 2014

When we think of early houses in the region, the images that usually come to mind are the large, stone farm houses and the associated bank barns.

Book Beat - Impact: Review of ‘The Night Watchman’ by Mark Mynheir |Dec 16, 2014

Ray Quinn makes his way down a deserted street in Orlando, Florida, looking like a man many years his senior as he struggles with his cane and his plastic hip of 10 months. He notices two youths about 20 years old who are tailing him.

The Historian: The West Branch Paper Mill |Dec 15, 2014

Of the many types of mills that were built on the Perkiomen Creek and its tributaries, the most uncommon was the paper mill. I know of just one, located in the extreme northern edge of Douglass Township on the West Branch of the Perkiomen on, appropriately, Paper Mill Road.

The Historian: Six Horse Bell Teams |Dec 9, 2014

A fully rigged Conestoga wagon was a union of graceful craftsmanship and rugged utility. With running gear painted vermilion, sides a bright blue and topped with white canvas on graceful bows, wagon and team could be as much as 60 feet long.

A Look Back in History: The Sarah Boone School and public education |Dec 9, 2014

Located at Hoch’s Corner in Oley Township, the fieldstone one-room school house of Sarah Boone had long been a centennial of pioneer education, even though Sarah Boone was long remembered for female vocational education.

ASK STEVE: What are the ideal thermostat settings for night and day? |Dec 9, 2014

As a service to you and our community, I want to answer your questions so you can make educated and more informed decisions when it comes to your energy, comfort needs and saving money.

Focus on the Family: Tips on helping kids learn about history |Dec 3, 2014

Q: Every now and then I’ll see these “man on the street” interviews on television where people’s ignorance of history is on display -- and it discourages me that our culture doesn’t seem to value its importance.

The Historian: Butchering Day on the Farm |Dec 1, 2014

It’s safe to say that in the old days, most every farm family butchered pigs when the weather turned cold. Meat, more than bread, was the “staff of life,” and meat at every meal was not uncommon.