Columns

Sen. Folmer: Why must government spending grow every year? |Aug 3, 2018

I’ve searched both the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions and I can’t find it. Where’s it written government must grow each and every year? Why isn’t government expected to live within its means just like people and businesses?

A Look Back in History: Early Folk Religion of the PA Dutch |Jul 23, 2018

To the outside world of Auslanders (outsiders) of the “PA Dutch Country,” and even to some within the Pennsylvania Dutch folk culture through its descended community, the practice of Powwowing is often confused with Hexerei.

PERSON TO PERSON - IMPACT: 2018 Baseball All-Star Game is a home run! |Jul 23, 2018

My favorite sport has always been baseball. My kind of game had the Philadelphia Phillies winning a closely contested game which ended in a 1-0 or 2-1 score, with the Phillies’ pitcher striking out 10 or more of his opponents.

Welcome to My World: For the love of shoes, heels and stilettos, now and then |Jul 17, 2018

I was elated to be able to wear my first 2-inch heels for confirmation in 1954. However, as the years went by, I started to hate heels. I often wondered why women had to be tormented with fashionable heels, and not men.

Reflections: Building sandcastles tall enough to touch the stars |Jul 17, 2018

Anybody who has ever been a kid (which includes most of us, I imagine) or has kids and has been to the beach, has built a sandcastle.

A Look Back in History: An amazing creativity in folk art developed in the New World |Jul 17, 2018

Here in the New World in a land of plenty, pioneer immigrants had the resources to develop an American style of folk art never dreamed about in the Old Country, hence the creativity of these Rhinelanders blossomed into an amazing folk art form that was nurtured by freedom of religion and free private enterprise, thus becoming American Folk Art!

A Look Back in History: National Register property owners maintain and preserve our heritage |Jul 10, 2018

In the shadow of the Berks County Conservancy, volunteers who had surveyed the historic early American heritage of the East Penn Valley decades ago, modern citizens could not believe it was possible for a civilized community such as ours to demolish one of our landmark buildings, which was once slated to be put on the National Register of Historic buildings in the United States!

A Look Back in History: Colonial ‘Grossa Schranks’ and Paint-Decorated Furniture |May 31, 2018

Because few Germanic homes had closets, clothing was kept in a “Grossa Schrank” (Colonial wardrobe) made of either walnut hardwood or more commonly from a soft poplar wood or pine. However, since these Deitschers enjoyed colorful decorations, quite often the poplar wood was stipple-painted to break up the monotony of rustic pioneer interiors.

LETTER: Kudos to Boyertown Sr. High Marching Unit |May 29, 2018

“KUDOS” to the Boyertown Senior High Marching Unit and it’s director for performing a medley of military excerpts and salutes to the various branches of the armed forces. That’s what the Memorial Day parade is all about.

Reflections: Life without AC feels like life circa B.C. |May 29, 2018

We all take air conditioning for granted. Until the first heat wave of the year hits Berks County like a jackhammer and your central AC tanks more blatantly than a four-round club fighter getting his brains scrambled.

A Look Back in History America’s early hinterland houses were built of native stone |May 22, 2018

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

Welcome to My World: From Marriage by Capture, by Contract, to Mutual Love |May 22, 2018

Reprint (2017 Screamin Mamas) Marriage for the bride has certainly evolved over the centuries from “marriage by force or capture,” during ancient tribal days. It wasn’t unusual for a tribe, when in the process of conquering and pillaging a rival tribe, a groom, with the help of his “best man” to assist him, literally kidnapped the woman he desired for marriage.

A Look Back in History: Tribute to the late folklorist & potter, Lester P. Breininger |May 17, 2018

A veteran collector of PA Dutch redware, I was among many Berks County customers who admired the earthenware folk artistry kept alive by Lester Breininger and his apprentices in rural Robesonia. In revisiting my Lester file, I came across an old newspaper clipping of Ron Devlin’s article from the Reading Eagle where he wrote about the amazing Americana collection the late Breininger and subsequent auction and talking of Lester’s legacy.

Welcome to my World: What is a May Pole Dance? |May 17, 2018

My oldest sister, Anita, told me, “I used to go to Kutztown to see the May Pole dances. They were really nice.” It never occurred to me to ask more questions, but recently I decided to find out more about these dances.

Student Column: Serving as Olympic Buddy ‘was a truly rewarding experience’ |May 10, 2018

Meeting new people is great for everyone! Sometimes it’s just a little harder for some to make new friends.

A Look Back in History: Father Time And The Town Crier’s House |May 3, 2018

Since the duty of Kutztown’s town crier was to act as the lamp lighter on Main Street and watch over the town declaring pertinent information as to the welfare of its citizens, it was important that he had a reliable time piece.

Welcome to My World: History of Mother’s Day |May 3, 2018

Reprint 1995 1st Rights to The Family Digest; 2017 Journal Plus

Reflections: Keeping Berks Heim in county hands is a daunting proposition |Apr 25, 2018

The future of Berks Heim is being awaited with plenty of hyperventilation and trepidation.

A Look Back in History: The true spirit of 1776 among the PA Dutch |Apr 25, 2018

For modern Pennsylvania Dutch people, it is very easy for us to recall our nation’s celebrated history for in a large part of American civilization, our ethnicity has always been interwoven with the pride patriotic citizens have felt.

Student Column: Brandywine Heights students speak their minds at April 20 Walkout |Apr 24, 2018

At an April 20 Walkout, Brandywine Heights Area High School students wanted to be heard again, this time in a much more inclusive way than in previous conventions such as the one on March 14, held in wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting.

Welcome to My World: The Pain of Laughter |Apr 16, 2018

My mother died in her 80s. We, the ten children, inherited her sense of humor. We, the children, in Mom’s footsteps did anything to get a good laugh.

Reflections: Imprisoned in a single dimension by two-faced grass |Apr 16, 2018

Brown patches of dirt (OK, that’s redundant because you seldom see green patches of dirt) should know their environment, their context, their place. They have no business acting like churlish interlopers and squatting where grass once grew in my lawn.

A Look Back in History: Once consistent Pa Dutch food staples |Apr 16, 2018

Being a descendant from frugal Pennsylvania Dutch families mostly living in Berks County, many hillside farmers were hard pressed to feed their families when downturns in the national economy created not only a scarcity of jobs, but a deficiency of food in household pantries.

A Look Back in History: A unique acculturation of English food |Apr 5, 2018

Ever since the Colonial period, PA Dutch farmers in Berks, Lehigh and Lancaster counties have counted on imports from the English port of Philadelphia, and in return, we sold our food and grain products etc.

Welcome to My World: Lesson on life from ‘Peace Pilgrim’ |Apr 5, 2018

“The way of Peace is the way of Love.

A Berks County student perspective in response to school shootings |Apr 5, 2018

Hurt, despair, betrayal. These are feelings that many students across the country feel due to the lack of action that has been taken in wake of the school shootings that are almost being normalized.

A Look Back in History: Surviving Frontier Log Homes in Kutztown |Mar 21, 2018

The many salmon brick Victorian homes in the villages around Maxatawny Township give one the impression that our township is a later, pre-Civil War settlement, but lurking around each corner, one may still find log houses or log cabins that have survived from early American times.

Person to Person - Impact: Do You Want to be a Mini Hero? |Mar 7, 2018

In a January column, I addressed heroes in our towns and around the world. I realize there are many types of people that can be considered heroic but I only listed a few: men and women in our military, firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, medics and everyday civilians who rush to others’ care in the case of an emergency.

A Look Back in History: Importance of Pennsylvania Dutch taverns and wayside inns Part II |Mar 7, 2018

With the agrarian excellence of the Germanic farmer and culinary expertise of their Dutch housewives, it is easy to understand why so many colonists, whatever the ethnicity, returned to their various homes acclaiming the fine hospitality of the Pennsylvania Dutch taverns.

Welcome to my World: Boomba can be fun! |Mar 7, 2018

When you hear a cloudburst of sounds of clang, boom, ting-a-ling, rattle, toot, jingle and thump, what instrument do you conjure up? It’s called a boomba. It’s a percussion instrument consisting of a five-foot pole on a spring base, with tambourine, cowbell, wooden block, and Swiss bells attached.

SPEAKER MIKE TURZAI: PA Supreme Court oversteps authority to redraw Congressional map |Feb 21, 2018

Sen. Joe Scarnati, as the Pennsylvania Senate Pro Tempore, and I, as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House, filed an Emergency Application for a Stay with the United States Supreme Court today. Our application makes clear that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not have the power to invalidate the constitutional, democratically passed congressional map.

GUEST COLUMN: Rebuilding U.S. infrastructure requires better access to minerals, metals |Feb 21, 2018

For a White House often accused of being divisive, President Trump may yet bring warring parties together on a major initiative that few voters will oppose. In his ‘State of the Union’ address last month, the president declared a major priority of his administration will be the rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.

Welcome to my World: Honoring women in history who tried to run for President |Feb 15, 2018

I kept the best candidates for president last, namely Gracie Allen and myself. We both have something in common: we love a good laugh. Here is Gracie’s story.

Reflections: Seems as if raindrops are always falling on our heads |Feb 8, 2018

Is it just me or is it usually wet around here?

As I See It: Why is desire to import immigrant on the rise? |Jan 31, 2018

Unlimited immigration... open borders... DACA. With America’s failing immigration system in the cross hairs of a political battle, the issue seems destined to die on fallow ground. The influx of “Dreamers” into this country is growing exponentially as chain migration, visas, lotteries, and both legal and illegal importation remains well above the historic average.

A Look Back in History: Moyer photographed life in Oley (Part 3) |Jan 11, 2018

Unlike H. Winslow Fegley, Amandus Moyer photographed life in the Oley Hills, specifically, around an un-captured Fredericksville and the tavern at Landis Store where frontier farmers lived more in seclusion.

JERRY SHENK: Day of reckoning coming for higher ed |Dec 26, 2017

Unsurprisingly, despite 2017’s robust job growth, the American labor market remains glutted with many thousands of under- and unemployed college graduates.

COMMISSIONER JOE GALE: Pa. voters should veto second term for Gov. Wolf |Dec 18, 2017

With Christmas quickly approaching, stores are bustling with shoppers and neighborhoods glow with Christmas lights and decorated trees. The many traditions and holiday carols sometimes outshine the true reason for Christmas: The Birthday of Jesus Christ.

GUEST COLUMN: Facts, Not Hyperbole, Should Drive Tax Reform Debate |Dec 14, 2017

Have you heard claims that the Congressional tax reform bill will cause thousands of deaths and usher in a Nazi government? Needless to say, in the debate over fixing our broken tax, hyperbole has too often supplanted rational civil discourse.

A Look Back in History: Green energy long used by Old Order Mennonites in Kutztown |Oct 13, 2017

Perhaps historic Pennsylvania Dutch farmsteads are more appreciated by Kutztown Mennonites than their modem Worldly Dutch neighbors, who seek to tear them down in modernizing farms. It is without doubt that Dr.

SEN. BOB MENSCH: Pennsylvania’s financial state is getting worse |Sep 20, 2017

As I write this in mid-September, Pennsylvania is without a final budget. In the past decade, we’ve had on-time budgets in only four years. The question is why? For a very long time I’ve been arguing that our deficits, along with our budget stalemates, are predictable given the lack of growth in the Pennsylvania economy.

THE HISTORIAN: Pigs and pig pens were everywhere |Aug 31, 2017

Pork in its many forms — fresh, salted, smoked and processed into sausages and scrapple — supplied the needs of the first New Hanover families. Any surplus could be bartered at the village store such as Brendlinger’s Store in Swamp.

Welcome To My World: Many legends talk about origins of the pretzel coming to America |Aug 29, 2017

Pennsylvania is the center of pretzel production in the U.S., making 80 percent of the nation’s supply. Both Reading and Philadelphia vie for the title, “Pretzel Capital of the World.

Person to Person - Impact: My archives of yesteryear to today |Aug 22, 2017

I must admit I am pleased that I have some of the characteristics of my dear mother, who went to be with the Lord in 2000, just shy of her 92nd birthday. Among other admirable qualities: she could play a few songs on the piano, recite poems she wrote in grammar school, carve a tugboat out of balsa wood for me when I was in Cub Scouts and draw a crane in a lake to be used in art class to make a rubber stamp.

THE HISTORIAN: Pigs played a large role in Pennsylvania German life |Aug 18, 2017

A note in the publication American Farmer, 1819, reports that an exhibition at a fair showed a “pig with a wooden leg on the off side [left front] before which appears to walk with little lameness or inconvenience.

A Look Back in History: Freedom of religion granted to our Pennsylvania Dutch people |Aug 8, 2017

Our ancestors were working true-Grit individuals who turned the PA Dutch Country into an agrarian cradle of Liberty following in the ideas of Adam Smith, our founder of the “Free market private enterprise system.

Welcome To My World: The treasures we keep help us remember good times |Aug 8, 2017

All of us — both men and women — have treasures we keep. They can be called keepsakes, mementos, heirlooms, memorabilia, tokens of remembrance, even souvenirs — most any object of a remembrance one acquires for the memories associated with it.

Reflections: Berks historical sites are an educational tour de force |Aug 2, 2017

Parents sometimes scramble about like field mice finding ways to entertain their children in the waning days of summer that don’t involve phones, tablets, apps, televisions, social media, ballparks, festivals, fairs, amusement parks, camping, beaches and pools.

Welcome to my world: Traveling with Harry |Jul 20, 2017

My husband, Harry, and I have been traveling for 34 years. It’s one of our favorite activities. We’ve visited all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, and all 48 states on the continent. I did travel to Hawaii with my sisters, but I don’t count that as Harry was not along.

As I See It: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of free speech |Jul 20, 2017

The role of prayer in our schools is a hot button.