Dear Friends, Good morning. There's a big party brewing at the Bucks County Bar Association's headquarters tomorrow night (February 22). It's the 125th anniversary of the Bar Association's founding in 1883. That's about 200 years after William Penn founded Bucks County in 1683.Today, there are 750 (plus) lawyers who belong to the Bucks County Bar Association according to Adrian Meyer, its President. I asked him how many attorneys lived in the county. It may be more than 1,000.
"There's a wealth of attorneys who live in Bucks County but don't practice here," Meyer responded. He told me that many lawyers practice in Philadelphia and believes that there may be another 750 or so who don't belong to the Bucks County Bar.
Those lawyers are among the unwashed, I observed.
And, they're going to miss a fabulous party. "We're celebrating the event with a masked ball," Meyer continued. There'll be eating stations, a scotch tasting bar, and a cigar bar where aficionados can watch cigars hand rolled. But they'll have to smoke them outside in the winter's cold.
He paid kudos to Kimberly Litzke, the chair of the entertainment committee. "We have an actor coming to impersonate George Lear, the Bar Association's first President," Meyer added. "Dancing will end at 11."
I asked him what kind of mask he'd be sporting? "I brought home a black and white Mardi Gras mask from a trip to New Orleans," he laughed. "My bride, Carol, hasn't decided on her mask yet. She's up in the air."
Meyer told me that each guest would receive a commemorative tile from the Moravian Tile Works. He showed a rendering of the tile to me. It will be a handsome keep-sake.
The celebration sounds like a full court press.
I noticed the history of the Bucks County Bar sitting on Meyer's desk. Attorney J. Lawrence Grim, Jr., of Perkasie fame, was the Chairman of that project in 2003. On its cover, there's a picture of the old Bucks County Court House. It was an imposing stone, Gothic styled building with soaring ornate towers.
I remember being in that building in Judge Hiram Keller's chambers when I was 13. He spent several hours with me, making certain that I understood the meaning of the 12 scout laws, as I answered his questions for the Eagle Scout examination.
Unfortunately, the Bucks County Commissioners decided to tear the old courthouse down in the 1950's and replace it with a modern, remarkably unattractive building. The circular court building adjoins the administration building. Seen from the air, local pilots liken it to a toilet seat.
That will soon change because the present board of commissioners will name an architect to design the replacement.
There's a mirror image of the former Bucks County Courthouse in Carbon County's Courthouse in Jim Thorpe, about an hour's drive north of Quakertown. They are so similar; I wonder whether both counties used the same architect?
As Meyer and I looked at the Bar Association's history, I turned to the first page, which shows a picture of the Bar's headquarters. You can see that there's a significant slope between the parking lot and the building below it.
"That's where [attorney] Sarah Webster's dog drove her convertible into [attorney] Bill Eastburn's brand new car," I told Meyer. Meyer remembered the incident vividly.
My friend, Bill Eastburn, put me on to the story, which I reported in the Bucks County Herald (Nov. 15, 2007). Sarah Webster is the better half of Doylestown attorney, Tom Mellon. They own a 150-pound Bernese Mountain dog, named "Bernie."
At the end of my column, the Herald included a photo of "Bernie" sitting at the wheel of the BMW convertible. It's top was down and "Bernie" had a big smile on his face. He clearly was delighted with his performance.
"There are several possibilities," Tom Mellon told me. "Either 'Bernie's' big butt moved the gear shift into neutral or he unset the emergency brake. Bill's [Eastburn] car looked like it was bent in half," Tom continued, "but Bernie won't be driving anymore."
Sarah's unsure about how long Bernie's driver's license will remain suspended.
Meyer and I had a good laugh about that story. It continues to be a hit among Bar Association members.
Happy 125th anniversary, friends.
Sincerely, Charles Meredith Charles Meredith is the former publisher of The Free Press. He can be reached at MeredithIII@comcast.net.