Columns

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.

A Look Back in History: Farm women turned out plenty of fresh bread and pies in outdoor bake ovens |Jul 12, 2017

The quaint bake oven as it is found in the Pennsylvania Dutch region was an outstanding invention for its time, far superior to any found elsewhere in America. As European families transferred their white man’s culture to the virgin forests of Pennsylvania introducing their frontier farmsteads to the area, there was no other invention, expect perhaps the large frontier fireplaces, that intrigued the native Indians more than these outdoor bake-ovens.

Welcome to my world: Listening to the silence |Jul 12, 2017

I happened to come across a title for this story through a leaflet that came in the mail. In my case, I’ve learned to listen to inward silence through the practice of meditation. Yet, looking back on my life, I realized silence also spoke to me, in a seemingly different way, especially in nature.

REFLECTIONS: Don’t let a tick get you sick with Lyme disease |Jul 6, 2017

When I was a kid, I loved to play in the woods. My buddies and I were all over Mount Penn, playing war games, building tree forts, hiking, scaling rocks, hiding out from our parents.

A Look Back in History: President John Adams’ favorable opinion of the PA Dutch People |Jul 6, 2017

When Patriot John Adams stopped over at Kutztown, Pa., he remarked in his diary he was pleasantly impressed with the cooking and lodging among these local Pennsylvania Dutch at Kemp’s Tavern on his return trip to Massachusetts.

Welcome to my World: Piggy Banks and the delight they bring |Jul 6, 2017

There are times I get exasperated because I discipline myself to sit and write every week night, but all last week I didn’t get one idea for an article. At least not until I visited, my 1½-year-old great-granddaughter, Eva, on Saturday.

Welcome to my world: Flowers do speak |Jun 28, 2017

For lo the winter is past; The rain is over and gone;

A LOOK BACK IN HISTORY: The Kutztown Folk Festival is right around the corner, literally |Jun 21, 2017

Our Kutztown Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Festival has long portrayed regional folkways that were always called “Deitsch” (Dutch), not German. A vernacular transferred here by ethnic sub-cultures living in the 18th Century Rhine Valley, though their actual ethnic lineage was German, Swiss, or French, regardless of the Rhenish tongue they spoke; but collectively and accurately known as the Pennsylvania Dutch and proudly! Us, these, native PA Dutch are a very religious lot and extremely principled people.

Welcome to my world: The origins of the Wedding Party may surprise you |Jun 21, 2017

Marriage is one of the earliest institutions and is observed in almost all societies. The wedding customs of today are based on folklore, religion, symbolism, and superstition. Our traditional wedding party refers to the people involved in the ceremony and its history has been established since primitive days, such as “marriage by capture”.

A Look Back In History: Legendary Mountain Mary’s voyage to America |Jun 7, 2017

A home-grown Protestant Saint, Mountain Mary became a pioneer model for anyone who lived alone in the Oley Valley, especially hard-working immigrants who were sold into servitude by greedy Colonial sea captains as indentured servants for their passage to the New World; a practiced not abolished by our Congress until 1818.

A look back in history: The Shelleys and Their Unique English Style Barn on the Hunter Plantation |May 31, 2017

One of the most beautiful Oley Valley plantations is the 1768 John Hunter plantation that also served as a wayside inn located on Covered Bridge Road, halfway between Pleasantville and Yellow House, in Oley Township.

A Look Back In History: William Penn’s legacy of Christian love & the Pennsylvania Dutch |May 24, 2017

Prior to 1727, a number of Rhineland immigrants who embarked at Philadelphia had the luxury of worldly possessions to enable them to become prosperous settlers. But after that year, those Rhinelanders that didn’t, were sold as redemptioners to pay off their passage to previous settlers.

The Historian: Oak Splint Baskets |May 24, 2017

Sturdy and inexpensive, oak-splint baskets were used in almost every kitchen and barn on the old homesteads. Prized now by collectors, these plain, undecorated, utilitarian forms tended to fall by the wayside in the twentieth century when inexpensive imported baskets, commercially made bushel and “peach” baskets, and all sorts of other containers came on the market.

A look back in history: Jonas Day Family of Irish-Pa Dutchmen in Berks County |Apr 26, 2017

Of all the ethnic peoples assimilated in Berks County’s PA Dutch Country, none have left their ethnic image on our architectural landscape, more obvious than a number of Irish frontier immigrants.

The Historian: Travails of the Early Protestant Ministers |Apr 26, 2017

By 1750 there were at least 20,000 Lutheran immigrants and as many Reformed in Pennsylvania. There were, however, very few ordained ministers to serve them. In the 1740’s, the Reverends Michael Schlatter, Reformed, and Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Lutheran, accepted the call from their church fathers in Europe to come to Pennsylvania as missionaries to try to organize the scattered congregations, such as they were.

wELCOME TO MY WORLD: What’s in a name? Let’s talk toilets |Apr 19, 2017

Thomas Crapper actually has a day named after him – January 27 is Thomas Crapper Day!

A look back in history The Importance of the historic Keim Homestead in American Folklife Institute’s early years |Apr 19, 2017

When the American Folklife Society in the 1970s was allowed to preserve the historic Jacob Keim farmstead outside of Lobachsville for a museum in the Society’s early days, they very much appreciated Rudy Rhoads’ wisdom and cooperation with Pike Township, as Director Shaner recalled.

A Look Back in History: Salvage art creations and industrious Pennsylvania Dutch |Mar 27, 2017

Among the most logical waste items on a dairy or cattle farm were the many strands of bailer twine that were left over after opening up bales for bedding or feeding hay to livestock. Usually hung on a nail in the barn feedway, said cut bale twine could not be used again by the bailing machine.

A Look Back In History: The rare feature of a ‘Schpriggel bar,’ still seen in a Maxatawny Township barn |Mar 23, 2017

Both Schweitzer and standard barns in the region are frequently found with a practical large earthen bank at its rear, which allowed wagons carrying sheaves of grain or loads of hay to bridge the threshing floor.

REFLECTIONS: The price of a too early spring |Mar 23, 2017

Unless you’re an avid skier or for some strange reason love to have the wicked, winter winds carve you up with an icy scythe, we can’t wait to embrace spring.

The Historian: ‘Hit and miss’ engines were a hit with farmers |Mar 10, 2017

Editor’s Note: This column is part one of an extended piece.

a look back in history: Wm. Penn’s Quakers influence on our Pennsylvania Dutch history in a nutshell |Mar 8, 2017

Our PA Dutch people who had immigrated to the American frontier were on the cutting edge of discovering New World goods and opportunities to create new Americana ways of life; not just simply copying their Old World ways, but creating exciting hybrid ones like our barns, hex signs, and rural folk art.

REFLECTIONS: Lent is doing hard time |Mar 8, 2017

We’re now in the Lenten season and loving every minute of it, right?

a look back in history: Rare Fegley and Moyer photos show life in Oley Valley’s 19th century |Feb 28, 2017

When photography was invented in the 19th century, few photographers took the time to photograph actual Folklife of people living in the Oley Valley except H. Winslow Fegley and Amandus Moyer, who lived near Lobachsville.

CHRIS FREIND: We need common sense in immigration debate |Feb 24, 2017

The immigration debate was back in the headlines. Par for the course, both parties’ spewed lip-service on the need for reform, while simultaneously killing any meaningful legislation. Comprehensive immigration reform hasn’t gone anywhere in decades, making it clear that neither party’s ruling class wanted it.

NATHAN BENEFIELD: Reinventing Pennsylvania government |Feb 24, 2017

Imagine if Stephen King had written “Green Eggs and Ham.” What if Dr. Seuss had penned “The Shining?”

From Arthur’s Policy Desk: Trump’s Order and the Ninth Got it Wrong |Feb 21, 2017

Columnist On February 9th the political drama of President Trump’s executive order took an old turn when his opponents translated a political fight into a constitutional question and thus dragged the courts into the ring of battle.

Look back in history: King George III of England was actually a German! |Feb 21, 2017

A few years back when the PA German Society and the offices of the American Folklife Institute hosted a modern Germanic television film crew to televise our current PA Dutch territory for an European Broadcasting Company, we were glad to meet local PA Dutchmen, some of which were Palantine Germans, who came from New Jersey and were celebrating their 300th anniversary of arriving in America.

Reflections: Albert Boscov had a heart of gold and the golden touch of King Midas |Feb 21, 2017

The injection of energy and the infusion of personality that personified Albert Boscov were as remarkable as his marvelous accomplishments that will remain vivid in the folds of time.

Welcome to my world: Sally, the Pianist |Feb 15, 2017

Just recently, Sally Anderson, joined our breakfast group. Sally told us, “I lived in California for 28 years and moved back to Pennsylvania in 2015, because I wanted to be closer to my daughter and five grandchildren.

A look back at history: An amazing creativity in folk art developed in the New World |Feb 7, 2017

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! Although the Plain Dutch, such as the Amish and Old Order Mennonites, seldom engaged in bold colorful folk art as seen by the Church PA Dutch, both groups were known for their religious folk art writings, known as Fraktur, in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Carole Christman Koch: President’s Inauguration firsts, traditions, and more: Part 2 |Jan 22, 2017

Part 2 Franklin Pierce, in 1853, accepted his presidency, but was still in mourning. Just a few months prior to the ceremony, the Pierces lost their 3rd and last child in a railroad accident, that both witnessed.

At the Movies with Rodeo’: Kid reviewer gives ‘Fantastic Beasts’ 4 popcorn boxes |Jan 6, 2017

A companion piece to the “Harry Potter” film franchise. Writer Newt Scamander lands in early 1900’s New York, with a suitcase full of creatures in all sizes and shapes endowed with other-worldly powers.

A Look Back: How PA Dutch Are You: Did you eat your good luck pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day? |Dec 31, 2016

This folk practice still creates a yearning, especially among our older folk people and those still appreciative of our heritage and a good, hot Pennsylvania Dutch meal. Many Dutch families over the generations and years never forget this dish on New Year’s Day and eagerly partake in the consumption of pork and sauerkraut.

Through My Kitchen Window: Baking with children, challenging but fun |Dec 29, 2016

When I think about this column entitled Through My Kitchen Window, I envision people looking through my kitchen window while I bake. I wonder what they would see.

Welcome to my world : The Hands of my Family |Dec 28, 2016

Farm Woman Written by Mary Alice Kohler Christman

Think about it: Becoming a full-time member of AARP |Dec 28, 2016

“At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” — Ann Landers

Reflections: Good looks are kind to the mirror and the bottom line |Dec 28, 2016

We’ve all heard again and again that you can’t judge a book by looking at the cover.

person to person — impact: Better Than MREs* |Dec 26, 2016

Over ten years ago, Barb and I, along with several others from our church, started a program we called Operation Encouragement. The objective of the program was to pray for, communicate with and send care packages to the men and women serving in our Armed Services.

A look back at history : New Year, New Ideas, New Horizons in the PA Dutch Culture |Dec 26, 2016

Plain groups as the Old Order Mennonites and Amish continue to prosper in our area and expand, protecting our rich and vast farmland. Nearby Plain Brethren, once called “Dunkards,” the sect that founded Pricetown in the Oley Hills, still maintain their 18th Century Brethren Meeting House off the modern Pricetown Road.

A Look Back in History: American history records the Pennsylvania Dutch |Dec 16, 2016

Historians trace this Rhineland immigration to as early as 1683, when the first waves of Rhenish immigrants speaking the Germanic Dialect arrived in Pennsylvania. One Historian, R. Webster records: “Although the immigrants that made up the 1683 Germantown settlement in the city of Philadelphia were German-speaking Dutch, German, and Swiss immigrants, most of them were Dutch.

The Historian: The story of ‘black head’ bricks |Dec 14, 2016

If you examine local brickwork of the 18th and 19th centuries you will see a small number of bricks that have black ends, apparently glazed. This black glazing is not intentional. The “black-heads” were those bricks directly exposed to the kiln fires.

A Look Back in History — To Allemangel and Westward: Travels by a PA Dutch Conestoga Wagon … |Dec 7, 2016

By the mid-1700’s, when immigrant Colonial wagon trains passed through the beautiful Oley Valley and East Penn region from Philadelphia en route to frontier lands northeast of Kempton (upper part of county), the Germans called this new territory “Allemangel,” meaning all wants, for its lack of fertility and farmable land.

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” (http://www.berksmontnews.com/opinion/20161103/person-to-person-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