Columns

The Grange, part 2 |Oct 20, 2014

It may be difficult for newer residents to realize, but the housing developments that have transformed the south half of New Hanover Township have been built in less than one lifetime. Before, say, 1960, tract housing developments simply did not exist.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Allegorical ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ is mind-blowing in more ways than one |Oct 15, 2014

In the eyes of popular culture, “Guardians of the Galaxy” will likely go down as the year’s most popular film, and you could do far worse than Marvel’s slightly offbeat hit.

Through My Kitchen Window: Meals out the box and into the skillet |Oct 15, 2014

Those skillet meals in a box that simply require a pound of hamburger and a cup of milk are so helpful on busy weeknights. Assuming you’ve thought ahead and thawed the hamburger.

Ask Steve energy & money saving tips from Steve Moyer: Can a new thermostat save you money? |Oct 14, 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.

A Look Back in History: Our Kutztown Community Library |Oct 14, 2014

Perhaps the longest overdue article I should have written for the last couple of years involves our Kutztown Community Library, located on Bieber Alley.

Auctions in action |Oct 14, 2014

Auctions can be a bummer or a blast! Please follow me as I go through a progression of three auctions that my wife, Barb and I attended. Our oldest son, Greg, was the star of the third one.

A Look Back in History: Culinary tricks and treats of the past |Oct 10, 2014

As we look back more than 250 years of American history, certainly nobody thinks about the history of bread, certainly not Colonial bread.

Focus on the Family: Son needs to be pulled away from video games |Oct 7, 2014

Q: Our teenage son is extremely intelligent. The problem is he only wants to play video games all day and night when he’s home. It’s a struggle to get him involved in any kind of physical activity or even just to read a book.

Pickin’ in Pa: Rewarding the customer |Sep 19, 2014

When was the last time you were “rewarded” just for being a customer? I’ll admit it has been a long time since I felt special for shopping at a certain place. But, it wasn’t so long ago that merchants “rewarded” their customers with all kinds of gifts just for shopping in their store!

Ask Esther: Rent being raised; What do I do? |Sep 15, 2014

“Dear Esther, I graduated from college a few years ago and have a job I love. I’ve been renting a townhome and need to renew my lease. In so doing, I was told my rent is going to go up $100 per month.

A Look Back in History: Early Americana weathervane was one of a kind |Sep 12, 2014

A couple weeks back, I was pleased to write about the rare Americana weathervane on the Levan barn in the Oley Valley. But ironically, Clarence Shirk had a local farm auction with an identical weathervane for sale at an Emmaus farm auction Sept.

Thrivent Financial Column: September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, Think about your needs, protect your family |Sep 12, 2014

Think you don’t need life insurance? Think again!

A dessert to savor summer |Sep 9, 2014

Fall needs to stop encroaching on Summer. Lately I’ve been thinking of Dylan Thomas’ poem, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and, specifically, it’s celebrated line, “Rage against the dying of the light.

Through My Kitchen Window: Avoid the school lunch slump |Sep 1, 2014

Are you packing multiple lunches, or need a fast lunch for your preschooler or homeschooler? Here are a few quick and easy lunch ideas to keep you out of the school lunch slump.

Up to Speed with David Barr: Restart of Gordon’s life part 2 |Aug 18, 2014

Hello readers, Under the threat of cloudy skies and rain, Jeff Gordon proved that the Drive for Five is still alive and well with a convincing win at Michigan. Gordon started on the pole and led the second-most laps on the day, but he had to fend off the likes of Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, and teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

The Historian by Robert Wood: Inns and Taverns of Swamp, New Hanover, part 3 |Aug 16, 2014

For three days in September of 1777 the American army, about 8,000 strong, was camped in New Hanover principally in the long valley lying between Fagleysville Hill and Rosenberry Road but also extending south to Sanatoga and east to Schwenksville.

Up to Speed with David Barr: Allmendinger claims first win at the Glen |Aug 11, 2014

Hello readers, Recent history at the Glen suggested that fans were in for a treat and the drivers didn’t disappoint on Sunday. Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allmendinger, the two drivers who were putting all their eggs into the road-course basket as far as winning there in order to punch their ticket to the Chase were the ones up front all day fighting for the win.

A Look Back in History by Richard L.T. Orth: Fraktur among the Pennsylvania Dutch |Jul 31, 2014

As devout a Christian people as the Quakers were, they did not express their religious belief as dynamic as the Pennsylvania Dutch/Germans, whose American Folk Art naturally spilled over from the Bible into all their furniture and household belongings.

The Historian by Robert Wood: Old Inns and Taverns of New Hanover, part 1 |Jul 30, 2014

The old inns and taverns of Montgomery County share typical features that make them recognizable. Situated at a crossroads and built of stone, brick or logs, they were usually two stories high, squareish, and had attic windows in the gable ends and frequently attic dormers; along the front one will find a long porch sheltering two doors, one leading into the bar-room and the other leading into the inn parlor and family living quarters.

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.