person to person — impact: In His Time |Nov 23, 2016

The main speaker in my column of November 8th, “Precious In His Sight: Bill Montgomery” (, which talked about the home going of Bill Montgomery, indicated his death was no accident.

Think about it: The Sponge Capital of the World |Nov 23, 2016

“Do you ever wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.” — Stephen Hawking

A Look Back in History: 19th Century cane carvers of the PA Dutch Country |Nov 23, 2016

Locally, the most popular cane carver, “Schtockschnitzler Simmons” (1885-1910) from the Kutztown, Moselem, Hamburg area was a late German born immigrant who bartered his carved bird handle canes from farm to farm or tavern to tavern.

Welcome to my World: Grave Epitaphs |Oct 17, 2016

Every summer that I can remember as a kid, Mom insisted Pop drive to visit the gravesites of both the Christman’s, in Lehigh County, and the Kohler’s, in Berks County. Mom also took us on walks to the family cemetery of the Siegfried’s, from Siegfriedsdale, located near our farm.

A Look Back in History: Interesting Folk Days rooted in Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers (pun intended) |Oct 17, 2016

Pennsylvania Dutch rural folklore was important in providing Rhineland peasants with knowledge of becoming successful American farmers. Although most PA Deitsch folklore revolved around their religion, it is dubious that Grundsau Day (Groundhog Day) was purely an American idea.

A Look Back in History - Sacrificing to Prosper in a New World: The Cultural Exchange at the Port of Philadelphia |Oct 12, 2016

The interaction between Pennsylvania “Deitschers” (Dutch people) and English farmers around Philadelphia was important to both their well-being, because of the Dutchman’s language barrier attempting to negotiate commerce in Penn’s port city.

Welcome to my World:Mom Mom’s bash proves older people can have fun too |Oct 12, 2016

An invitation: Mom Mom’s Bash You’re Invited To

A Look Back in History: The Americanism ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’ still preferred today |Sep 28, 2016

Since Colonial times our ancestors were referred to as the Americanism, “PA Dutch,” a term widely used to describe these immigrants by suburban Philadelphians, who followed the local Quaker-American colloquialism, as people today.

A Look Back in History: The Old Order Mennonite Sect at Kutztown also preserving the Historic Oley Valley |Sep 21, 2016

Living on the Lancaster Plain for many generations, the Plain People have bought as much tillable land as their economy will afford. However, since their families are quite large, there is just not enough land available to accommodate all their offspring in farming.

A Look Back in History - PA Dutch folk art images & scriveners in the New World: Part II |Aug 5, 2016

In trying to understand the American folk art of our 17th and 18th century Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants to the New World, one must understand the premise of how much of a religious backlash these Pilgrims were a product of during Medieval times including beheading when scribes of the Middle Ages eliminated religious texts and a stylish lettering form known as this Fraktur, among religious persecution.

Welcome to my World: Memories of Mom’s apron |Aug 5, 2016

Aprons were a very necessary part of Mom’s wardrobe as a farmer’s wife. She had to be careful not to soil the few nice clothes she had. So protecting her dresses from stains and splashes was a priority (Mom never wore slacks - she considered them sinful).

BOOK BEAT - IMPACT: The Long Goodbye |Aug 3, 2016

The last book I reviewed came from a list provided in the Parade Magazine from the Philadelphia Inquirer listing the best books of the 1940s. Today’s review, The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, is from the same source but was voted one of the 1950s best books.

Out & About: The Great Northwest Passage Trip - Olympic Gold |Aug 1, 2016

We recently visited the Olympics. No, we were not in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, but discovered another “Olympics” in northwestern Washington State. Our travels brought us to Olympic National Park, a vast wilderness of almost a million acres.

The Historian - Old inns and taverns of Swamp, Part II: Swamp Hotel |Aug 1, 2016

In this area, taverns were a necessity of village life for more than 200 years. First, taverns were friendly meeting places where men, isolated on the farm, could meet, exchange gossip, learn the news and as we say today “bond.

Welcome to my World: Hats galore! |Jul 29, 2016

In the early 1940s, like most children, I enjoyed dressing up in Mom’s dresses and the few hats she owned. At 70, I’m still enamored with hats, whether it’s today’s fashionable ones or the vintage kind.

A Look Back in History: PA Dutch folk art images & scriveners in the New World |Jul 29, 2016

In studying early American folk art, there is no shortage of folk art documents that express early pioneer immigrants’ gratitude for reaching America in a time when many individuals still feared the world was flat, or worse, that sea serpents lurked in the troubled ocean currents enduring their lives.

Ask Esther: How can we improve our home to get the best and quickest sale? |Jul 27, 2016

Dear Esther: We are thinking of selling in a year or two. We want to do all we can to improve our home so it sells for the most money and quickly. What advice can you give to guide us in this?

PERSON TO PERSON - IMPACT: If only we could be kids again! |Jul 27, 2016

No, forget it. I will not accept the Nobel Peace Prize. However, I will let you in on a BIG secret. I have figured out why there is such hatred and violence in our world today. We adults grew up! In other words, we just didn’t stay like innocent kids.

Letter to the Editor: Kutztown Quarry Public Hearing to be held Aug. 10 |Jul 25, 2016

Dear Editor: As a follow-up to your June 16 article about the proposed expansion of the Kutztown Quarry on Hinterleiter Road, I want to inform your readers that the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) District Mining has scheduled a Public Hearing for Wednesday, Aug.

Welcome to my World: Cake walks, now and then |Jul 22, 2016

Several years ago, my sister, Gladys, and I attended our home church, Maxatawny Union, for their annual June Strawberry and Ice Cream Festival. One of the events that day was the cake walk, with both adults and youngsters joining in on the fun.

A Look Back in History: When wheat was king in the Oley Valley |Jul 22, 2016

In 1983, when the Historic National Trust decided to register the important local examples of the nation’s early American architecture, a committee was formed by local citizens and architectural experts.

BOOK BEAT - IMPACT: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn |Jul 20, 2016

How do I make sure I vary the types of books I review? “Parade Magazine,” a small insert in the “Philadelphia Inquirer” of June 26, 2016, has helped me out immeasurably. The magazine asked award-winning author Ann Patchett to head up a group, which eventually included 17 booksellers, to comprise a list of the 75 best books over the last 75 years.

The Historian - Old inns and taverns of Swamp: Schneider’s Tavern |Jul 18, 2016

Eighteenth century taverns of Montgomery County share typical features that make them easily recognizable. Usually built of stone, they are two stories high, squareish and have attic windows in the gable ends and often attic dormers; along the front, one will almost invariably 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.

Out & About - The Great Northwest Passage Trip: Sand, surf and stacks |Jul 18, 2016

Drive north on Highway 101 through Oregon and Washington, and you’ll discover an unspoiled coastline that is rugged, beautiful and rich in history. This region includes miles of high, drifting sand dunes in southern Oregon, and wild rivers that flow through towering coniferous forests to the rocky shorelines of the Pacific Ocean, as you continue north.

Op-Ed: March for a Clean Energy Revolution |Jul 18, 2016

We are now in what some have termed “decade zero,” the last decade left to get a handle on climate change. Stopping it is off the table. The best we can hope for now is to keep the planet’s temperature from climbing past a point-of-no-return two degrees Celsius over what it was in pre-industrial times.

Welcome to my World: That part of my life is over now |Jul 15, 2016

Over the years, I’ve learned to accept whatever happens in life, whether positive or traumatic. But last month, when my 91 year old sister, Anita, died peacefully in her sleep, her death, even though it could be anticipated, affected me differently than all my other siblings’ deaths.

A Look Back in History: Harsh winters and immigrant survival in the New World - Part II |Jul 15, 2016

Among PA Dutch historians who have researched homes of our Palatine immigrants, the late, astute Brethren sect members, Robert Bucher and Clarence Kulp, were some of the first to call attention to the concept of central heating developed by our PA Dutch pioneers.

Prayer in the schools |Jul 15, 2016

Dear Editor: Belief triumphs over fact every time. Columnist Mary Cantell is a believer. She believes that religious prayer belongs in the public schools and was upset that Pottsgrove School Directors removed prayer form the graduation ceremony.

PERSON TO PERSON - IMPACT: One Hundred! |Jul 13, 2016

Thanks so much for having the strength to revisit me this week to conclude an article I started last week. As I mentioned, since this is my 100th column, I would like to review some of my favorites.

Out & About: The Great Northwest Passage Trip - The tallest of the tall |Jul 11, 2016

This upcoming series of “Out & About” articles focuses on a trip my family and I just returned from that took us through the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We were excited to visit an area we’ve never been to before, and follow in some of the footsteps of the original Lewis & Clark expedition of 1804-1806.

The Historian: Pennsylvania Dutch Dance - ‘Tavern Frolics’ |Jul 11, 2016

The German and Swiss immigrants who settled here in the 18th century brought with them a tradition of lively and exuberant dancing. Although seldom noted or written about, in the early days the Pennsylvania Dutch danced at almost every excuse.

A Look Back in History: Harsh winters and immigrant survival in the New World |Jul 8, 2016

Like the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Plantation era, American immigrant survival was not always about having enough food, but dependent on surviving the terrible North American blizzards and cold in a new land until spring weather had turned a corner and the harsh forbidding winter was gone.

Welcome to my World - The many forms of love: Part II |Jul 8, 2016

This “Storge” story (another Greek word for love) is about the love of a mother and daughter told to me by my sister-in-law, Alice, about Sarah, her daughter: “Sarah had attended a woman’s night out at her church.

PERSON TO PERSON - IMPACT: Ninety nine! |Jul 6, 2016

One hundred of something is not always a lot. For instance, you would need six more cents to cover the tax if you were to purchase one item from McDonald’s dollar menu. With that same 100 pennies, you may be able to purchase one daily newspaper, depending on the paper and where you bought it.

The Historian - A trip down the Rhine: Part III, The Crossing |Jul 4, 2016

Until well into the 20th century, German dialect was the everyday language of most everyone in New Hanover and the surrounding townships. The New Hanover region was settled in the early 18th century (which is the 1700s) by Germanic immigrants from areas around the upper watershed of the Rhine River.

As I See It: Prayer flunks out at graduation |Jul 1, 2016

At a recent school district board meeting in Pottsgrove, I observed a spirit of confusion regarding the rights of free speech. The debate centered on the need for the school board to maintain neutrality in matters of religion, while at the same time, preserving the rights of individual students to religious speech.

Welcome to my World: The many forms of love |Jul 1, 2016

Whatever form of love is given to a spouse, family, friends or strangers, including animals, it is one of our greatest gifts from the heart that we can give to others. It is our natural state of being.

A Look Back in History - To the port of Philadelphia by way of six-horse Conestoga wagon teams: Part II |Jul 1, 2016

In 1791, Alexander Hamilton’s Federal excise tax on whiskey caused the Whiskey Rebellion among Scotch-Irish farmers in Western Pennsylvania. George Washington, as President, took charge of having Federal troops to put down this misunderstood ethnic tax Rebellion, which these Scotch-Irish natives thought was only against them.

PERSON TO PERSON - IMPACT: Touching the heart |Jun 29, 2016

Have you ever met someone you wish you were more like? No, I’m not talking about a young boy who wishes to be a great baseball player like Mike Trout, of the Los Angeles Angels, or a girl who swoons over the latest male movie star or boy band.

The Historian - A trip down the Rhine: Part II |Jun 27, 2016

Most emigrants were well aware of the difficulties and dangers of crossing the Atlantic to Philadelphia in the 18th century. The early refuges literally took their lives in hand when they boarded an English ship for the two, three or even four month crossing.

A Look Back in History: To the port of Philadelphia by way of six-horse Conestoga wagon teams |Jun 24, 2016

Historians record that there were literally a thousand Conestoga wagons from upstate Pennsylvania on their way to sell their valuable harvest to ship captains for hard cash. On almost any road leading to Philadelphia were these Red, White and Blue Conestoga wagons with beautiful homespun white covers protecting their yearly harvest and pulled by six-horse teams of Conestoga horses embellished with Conestoga bells that announced their presence on the highway.

Welcome to my World: The art of auctioneering |Jun 24, 2016

One of the things I enjoyed as a youngster, in the 40s and early 50s, was attending auctions, at a local home or farm sale, with Mom and Pop. Mostly, I was mesmerized by the actions of the auctioneer himself, Luther Welder.

BOOK BEAT - IMPACT: The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton |Jun 22, 2016

The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton, is the 16th book I have reviewed for “Book Beat – Impact” and it is the hardest one to write about because I wasn’t particularly impressed with it.

The Historian: A 1720 trip down the Rhine |Jun 20, 2016

On Aug. 30, 1720 the ship Laurel, John Coppel, Master, from Liverpool and Cork, docked in Philadelphia with about 240 Palatine immigrants. It is believed that aboard that ship were New Hanover pioneers Henry Antes, his father and sister, as well as John Philip Boehm, school master, who founded and led the Falkner Swamp Reformed congregation, among others.

A Look Back in History - In defense of humility and ‘Demut’ Plain Dutch living: Part II |Jun 17, 2016

With additional Plain (German) Brethren, once called “Dunkards,” because of their unique baptism practice, this sect founded Pricetown in the Oley Hills and still maintains their 18th Century Brethren Meeting House off the modern Pricetown Road (Route 12), proudly avowed as “the oldest, unaltered Church in America.

Welcome to my World: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend |Jun 17, 2016

You might have seen the movie “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” where Marilyn Monroe sang the words: “A kiss on the hand may be quite continental, but diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

PERSON TO PERSON - IMPACT: Rodney the Pencil |Jun 15, 2016

Hello, my name is Rodney! My parents named me that after the comedian Rodney Dangerfield who had the signature line in his jokes: “I don’t get no respect.” Now listen, I have been in a pencil holder on my owner’s desk for years, hiding behind a pair of scissors, a letter opener and several pens.

Out & About: Busy as a beaver |Jun 13, 2016

My daughter and I took the boat out for short fishing trip to a local lake a couple weeks ago. As we quietly made our way to the far end of the lake, she discovered that we were not alone. Our mysterious “company” was not another boat, or angler, but a large, brown animal that was working on some tree branches at the shoreline.

The Historian - Pleasant Run: Part III |Jun 13, 2016

Concluding the series of articles on the New Hanover village of Pleasant Run.

Guest Column: Trends in Alzheimer’s care |Jun 10, 2016

The Alzheimer’s Association expects that there will be a 40 percent increase in the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s by 2025. The increased incidence of the disease has certainly heightened the public’s awareness of Alzheimer’s.