Columns

Focus on the Family: Set limits to stifle kids’ narcissistic behaviors |Nov 22, 2014

Question: I recently read that narcissistic behavior is on the rise, and this seems to confirm my own observations of a culture that seems to be increasingly selfish and entitled. I’m especially concerned about my children growing up with these influences.

Through My Kitchen Window: A Day for Thanksgiving |Nov 19, 2014

The past 150 years, Thanksgiving feasts in the White House have been sumptuous affairs. The first official Thanksgiving feast was presided over by Abraham Lincoln after he declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday in 1863.

A Look Back in History: Baking Bread in the Bakeoven |Nov 18, 2014

In further elaborating on my references of Colonial bread making and shipment made over the past month in my columns and with conversations with Director Shaner, by 1767, the bulk of exports from Colonial Pennsylvania consisted of wheat, flour, bread, corn, pork, and beef, bar iron, pig iron, flaxseed, and beer.

Felicia Fisher’s Slice of Life: Presenting the “it” item of the season, cranberries |Nov 17, 2014

Considering how good they are, it’s quite shameful that their popularity is seasonal. I am not referring to anything involving the words “pumpkin” or “spice” but to cranberries, the tart red berries that are a featured item during the upcoming holiday season yet seem to be forgotten the remainder of the year.

The Historian: A Voyage up the Salt River |Nov 17, 2014

Local historian Nancy Roan has her mother’s diary, which contains this curious entry for Nov. 17, 1932: “Up to Swamp to see the salt river parade tonight.”

Focus on the Family: Life’s difficulties can upset thanksgiving time |Nov 15, 2014

Question: Thanksgiving is this week, and I’m having a hard time getting up for it. I’m usually a positive person, but all of life’s difficulties decided to visit me this year. And the mess the world is in only adds to my feelings of despair.

The Historian: The Ice Industry, part 2 |Nov 14, 2014

Last week’s column noted that at the turn of the last century, the ice companies centered on Green Lane were shipping as much as 150,000 tons a year to Philadelphia and points beyond and providing seasonal work for hundreds of farm workers, many from the New Hanover area.

A Look Back in History: Chicken and waffles: a typical Pa Dutch meal |Nov 14, 2014

Among the Americana inventions of our PA Dutch people who were famous for designing cast iron waffle irons in Colonial times are 18th Century waffle irons with attractive tulip designs molded in their long handle fireplace iron molds, where housewives took pride in creating motifs which were definitely PA Dutch.

The Historian: The Ice Industry, part 1 |Nov 12, 2014

Since the creeks in New Hanover Township flow into the Swamp Creek, which joins the Perkiomen Creek at Zieglersville, New Hanover is part of the Perkiomen Creek watershed and region.

Focus on the Family: Be cautious about revealing too much of your youth to kids |Nov 10, 2014

Q: How much do my children need to know about my past? Is there any reason to be completely open with them about the moral failings of my youth?

A salute to our servicemen and women: Veteran Mac Chandler shares his life story |Nov 7, 2014

WRITER’S NOTE: As Veterans Day approached, I contacted friends of mine, Mac Chandler, and his wife, Joyce, about doing an interview for the purpose of writing an article for the Tri County Record.

Ask Esther: |Nov 7, 2014

Can I Afford to Sell? My wife and I had our 3rd child this year so our 3 bedroom home is becoming cramped. Because of our mortgage, I’m not sure if we can afford to sell. How can we find out what we can get for our home?

A Look Back in History: Kutztown’s familiar Farmer Yonkers |Nov 3, 2014

Among the most endearing farmers of the area, widely seen and easily accessible, is Bryan Yonkers, a dairy farmer, whose operating farmstead is just northeast of Kutztown Borough limits along Hottenstein Road.

Ask Steve: Allergies and asthma are sometimes caused or exacerbated by bad indoor air quality |Nov 3, 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.

The Historian: The Ice Industry |Nov 3, 2014

Since the creeks in New Hanover Township flow into the Swamp Creek, which joins the Perkiomen Creek at Zieglersville, New Hanover is part of the Perkiomen Creek watershed and region.

Ask Esther: Clean up messy credit to get keys to dream home |Oct 27, 2014

Dear Esther – My wife and I have decided on the area we’d like to raise our kids in and found a house we love. In the process, we were disappointed to find out our credit score is not high enough to purchase.

Through My Kitchen Window: |Oct 27, 2014

It’s time! This is the week I answer your food and cooking questions, and share your favorite recipes.

Focus on the Family: Marriage may not be right answer for expectant couple |Oct 27, 2014

Q: Should I marry my pregnant girlfriend? Our relationship has always been one of convenience, and neither of us considered it permanent. She intends to raise the baby, and I want to do my part. But my girlfriend has some significant life issues, and we’d face huge obstacles if we married.

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.