Sometimes in those moments between waking and sleeping, memories of childhood come floating back. This morning I awoke to memories of a pink stucco house with blueberry bushes beyond the pool, a pool where my little sister first learned to swim. The house was located at 134 Cheswold Lane in Haverford.
So, no this is not a post about Chester County. This post is about memories.
In the early 1970s, my parents were starting to think about moving from Society Hill to the Main Line. Somehow they were connected to lovely people named John and Jean Markel and they agreed to house sit for the entire summer. My sister and I were fairly little, and this was a strange idea for us because summer usually meant the beach, but this house was magical with a secret pool tucked into the back and lovely gardens to explore. Immediately adjacent to The Merion Cricket Club we could hear every day the pop pop sound of tennis balls when they hit the racquets- and an added bonus when the tennis balls sailed over the pink stucco garden walls for us to collect.
I think the summer of ’73 because I remember it was the summer they tore down the Haverford Hotel and Mrs. Sharpe’s carriage house doors with the large heavy metal (iron?) lion heads with rings in their mouths jutted out to the sidewalk on Haverford Station Road. I have distinct memories of walking along Haverford Station Road with my father and how large the lions heads and rings seemed, and the carriage house doors imposing. I also remember before they demolished the Haverford Hotel they sold a lot of things off, like furniture and fixtures. At one point, the sweeping lawns of this old hotel had rows upon rows of mattresses lined up in the summer sun like corpses.
I have looked and looked for photos of the old hotel, and the only one I can find is from an old edition of the Main Line Times:
ML History: Recapping the summer of ’73 archives By Kathy O’Loughlin Aug 11, 2010
I also found reference to the hotel and Mrs. Sharpe on the Lower Merion Historical Society website:
Catherine H. Dixon Sharpe bequeathed her home and a 2 1/2-acre property at Montgomery Avenue and Haverford Station Road to the township for a bird sanctuary. In 1978 her house was razed, and fencing and trails for walking through the wooded area were added…..A Haverford landmark for sixty years was the Haverford Hotel, built of brick in 1913 at the corner of Grays Lane and Montgomery Avenue. Its stately white columns supported the roof over a wide and gracious porch entrance. Fifty rooms were decorated with Chippendale desks, Chinese screen paintings, mahogany china cabinets, brass sconces, and sparkling chandeliers. Many wedding receptions, including that of President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, balls, other parties, and meetings were held there, but in 1973 the hotel was demolished, and Gray’s Lane House, an apartment condominium designed by Vincent Kling, now occupies the site.
It was a lovely summer. My school friend Paula’s aunt I think it was, lived close by so I would see her and I remember visiting other people my parents knew on Elbow Lane, and other nearby roads and lanes in Haverford and Bryn Mawr.
My father’s job was in the city, so I remember a lot of the time he stayed in our house in Society Hill during the week, and took the Paoli Local to Haverford Station on the weekends.
The Markels house was a magical house, and there are details I remember to this day inside. A lovely wood paneled library with floor to ceiling books, a piano, a Butler’s Pantry loaded with the most beautiful and feminine sets of china and flatware. I think it was that summer I fell in love with English and French porcelain.
There were stools in the kitchen which was large and sunny. I remember watching television sitting on a stool – there was a tiny black and white television on one of the expansive kitchen counters.
Outside were what were to me at the time the best secret gardens ever. The gardens were so beautiful and there was also a lovely pool. I remember the Markels had inside and outside staff who would come take care of things during the week.
Ironically this was the summer I also remember seeing Loch Aerie for the first time because I remember my parents exploring way past the borders of the Main Line. I remember driving out Lancaster Avenue into Chester County for movies and antique stores. I remember that there were also drive in movie theaters in Chester County at that time, but I digress.
The Markels house was old school Main Line beauty. The house was large and gracious, but just beautiful and subtle inside. It was also a very livable house. I think it was because of this summer that a few years later my parents eventually settled in Haverford after a year in Gladwyne.
According to Montgomery County public property records, the people whom eventually bought this lovely house from the Markels sold it to Merion Cricket Club more than a few years ago for a little over $1.5 million:
Unless you lived back on those streets, you really weren’t paying attention to who was selling and who was buying. I remember before I left the Main Line talks of Merion Cricket Club amassing neighboring properties so they could expand. I just didn’t pay much attention to it. I was never a member, only ever a guest.
Recently, someone sent me a Zoning notice from Lower Merion Township:
Wow, so now we know why Merion was buying all the properties over the past years, right? They want to become a land locked Main Line Country Club? Forget that the history of the club, and the traditions of the club do not lend themselves to this, that there already are swim clubs and country clubs on the Main Line.
But given the nouveau Main Line, I completely expect all of these lovely houses Merion Cricket has amassed in these still lovely neighborhoods will fall to the wrecking ball with hardly a whimper.
These are beautiful homes. They are also part of an increasing history of the Main Line no one cares about, or they find it is acceptable to just sacrifice these established and lovely neighborhoods. This is a change that will impact this area. For those of us with childhood memories it is sad and / or bittersweet. I am guessing my own personal memories of a magical childhood summer have surfaced because of this news.
Here is a recent article on the topic:
LM Zoning: Merion Cricket Club seeks demo of club-owned historic homes Viability of club’s future addressed in plan
By Richard Ilgenfritz email@example.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Apr 21, 2017 Updated Apr 21, 2017
Citing the need to attract additional members, officials from the Merion Cricket Club are seeking Lower Merion Township zoning approval of a plan to demolish seven historic homes in Haverford, including those built by famed architect Walter Durham, and repurpose others.
“The club has seen its membership levels drop over a significant period. In order to address the long-term, continued viability of the club, the club has, over the years, acquired the adjoining parcels and has embarked on a master planning process to develop a vision for proposed improvements to the club’s facilities. By providing for improved facilities, the club’s objective is to allow the club to stabilize membership levels, and thereafter return to and sustain its previous membership levels,” according to the application submitted to the Lower Merion Zoning Hearing Board…..The Cricket Club has owned many of the properties for more than a decade and under the plans will demolish houses on Elbow Lane near Cheswold Lane and ones near Grays Lane to the rear of its historic property. Four homes in the center of the Elbow Lane to the rear of the club will be retained and repurposed for other uses.
The Lower Merion Conservancy placed the Durham homes that date back to the early and mid-1900s on its Historic Preservation Watch List last year due to concerns that they would be demolished.
Sometimes things done in the name of “progress” are painful. But I no longer live there, so I write about this as an observer memorializing memories of a summer long ago.
Enjoy the lovely day.
Chester County Coyote. Reader submitted photo. April 21, 2017
Yesterday was a big win for taxpayers in the Lower Merion School District. You may recall that last year Lower Merion School District was ordered to revoke its latest tax hike, saying that the school district mislead taxpayers by projecting large budget deficits as justification for raising taxes. The class-action lawsuit was filed by Arthur […]
OK, you can call me a Grumpy Old Man. I happen to agree with Springfield Police Chief Joe Daly.
He's issuing a stern warning to kids - and their parents - about some of the hijinks that kids in the township are engaging in. It is not a unanimous opinion.I have heard from readers who are coming to the kids' defense, asking why the township does not provide more for them to do. And yes, I am among those who are always whining that kids never seem to lift their faces up from their phones.Now they go out, and everyone comes down on them for it.I am lucky, as I freely admit to anyone who asks.I grew up before the Internet age. I have total deniability as to the myriad of knuckle-headed things I did as a kid. There is - to the best of my knowledge - no video evidence. There are no Google links, no proof that sticks out on Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat. It's one of the things I thank God for every night when my head hits the pillow.Believe me, I did plenty, and caused my parents no shortage of grief.But I still stand with Daly, and his warning to kids about some of the things they are doing.We take up the chief's cause on our editorial page
today as well.
The NFL thinks Carson Went and the Eagles are ready for prime time. The Birds have no less than five prime time matchups this season. The NFL released the 2017 schedule Thursday night and the Eagles kick things off Sunday, Sept. 10 against the Redskins and wrap up the season on New Year's Eve against the hated Cowboys.In between they will be in the spotlight, with a bunch of prime time appearances, including a home game on Christmas night, a Monday night contest vs. the Raiders.
They don't play their first home game until Sept. 24 vs. the Giants, another 1 p.m. Sunday game.They hit prime time Thursday, Oct. 12 vs. the Panthers.Here is the complete schedule.So grab your pencils and do the wins & losses.Don't look now, but Doug Pederson's ears may be ringing as the Eagles drop their first three games, against the Skins, Chiefs and Giants. They should rebound from there, but I still see this as a fairly challenging schedule.Me? I would love to spit out what I spit out every year. That would be 10-6 and a playoff spot. I don't see that happening with this schedule. The Eagles will have their hands full just trying to play .500.Feel free to disagree.That's part of the fun of being a fan.Here's the full schedule:Sun., Sept. 10: at Redskins, 1 p.m., FOX Sun., Sept. 17: at Chiefs, 1 p.m., FOX Sun., Sept. 24: vs. Giants, 1 p.m., FOX Sun., Oct. 1: at LA Chargers, 4:05 p.m., FOX Sun., Oct. 8: vs. Cardinals, 1 p.m., FOX Thurs., Oct. 12: at Panthers, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Amazon Mon., Oct. 23: vs. Redskins, 8:30 p.m., ESPN Sun., Oct. 29: vs. 49ers, 1 p.m., FOX Sun., Nov. 5: vs. Broncos, 1 p.m., CBS Sun., Nov. 12: BYE Sun., Nov. 19: at Cowboys, 8:30 p.m., NBC Sun., Nov. 26: vs. Bears, TBA, FOX Sun., Dec. 3: at Seahawks, 8:30 p.m., NBC Sun., Dec. 10: at LA Rams, 4:25 p.m., FOX Sun., Dec. 17: at Giants, 1 p.m., FOX Mon., Dec. 25: vs. Raiders, 8:30 p.m., ESPN Sun., Dec. 31: vs. Cowboys, 1 p.m., FOX
The Daily Numbers: 4/20. Yes it’s today’s date. It’s also a big day for pot smokers, National Weed Day, something of a high holiday for marijuana users. 8 states where recreational marijuana use is now legal. 375 nurses and techs at Delaware County Memorial Hospital who have a tentative agreement on a new deal with the hedge fund that now owns the Crozer system.2 day strike done by the nurses back in March in their attempts to get a new deal.75 firefighters who responded to massive fire in a Chester mattress warehouse.5 juveniles arrested in Eddystone after series of clashes.2.50 case price for base SEPTA fares, up from $2.25, under the proposed budget.2 bucks for those using the new Key card system.3 percent hike in taxes in the Rose Tree Media budget.0 resident comments on the budget as it was adopted Monday night.100 people who took part in series of discussions leading up to the budget.173 dollar tax hike for average home in the district.23 months in jail plus 1 year of probation for a Chester man for his role in the cover-up of a fatal beating in Chester.2 home runs for Jay Bruce in leading Mets over Phillies last night.5-4 loss for the Phils.5 hits, 3 runs off Phils starter Vinny Velasquez, who pitched much better last night.3 runs he surrendered were all courtesy of the 1st Bruce dinger.4 runs on 8 hits for the Phils.20 weeks pregnant for Serena Williams. That means she was likely 2 months pregnant when she won the Aussie Open. Wow! Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Tip to Pete Mackanin. Consider pitching around Jay Bruce. I Don’t Get It: Am I the only one wondering why Bill O’Reilly getting canned is such a big deal? Today’s Upper: Kudos to Springfield Police Chief Joe Daly, who is reading kids - and their parents - the riot act after a series of incidents involving young people in the township. Quote Box: “It’s never been this bad. Enough is enough.”Chief Daly, after posting stern message to kids and parents on Facebook.
This one is too good to pass up.
I noted in a blog item this week that not everyone was especially thrilled with Monday's print column, the one in which I admitted a couple of vices, namely potato chips and a somewhat salty vocabulary.Yesterday I received this email taking me to task for my blue streak. I thought I might share it with readers, just in case you were under the impression that everyone loves what I write. I assure you that is not the case."Mr. Heron - too much info! Dropping F-bombs isn't something to be proud of but obviously you feel it is acceptable. No wonder our society has stooped to the lowest level of civil discourse. As editor of the paper, I would expect a higher standard from you. Please stop mentioning your Catholic upbringing, you are an embarrassment to the nuns. With all due respect, next year during Lent, why not discontinue the foul language and eat all the Herr's potato chips you like. Recently in the news, a construction site posted a sign "no foul language here"! Correct this personal failing, it is a bad habit that needs to be stopped and it is very unprofessional."I loved the sign-off as well:Immoral TimesI am guilty as charged. Actually the reader is right. I'm not proud of my outbursts and I will work to curtail them. I do, however, appreciate the suggestion that I not forego potato chips next year. Excellent advice.
We have something in common with President Trump. We're not kidding. We have Georgia on our minds. We're talking politics on our editorial page today.
Specifically, the lack of sizzle as we approach the spring Primary. Especially when you compare it to that special congressional election in Georgia that sparked national attention as a refendum on the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.Still, there are a lot of important things that will be decided in this primary. Make sure you voice is heard.Why?We explain it on today's editorial page.
Serena Williams won another grand slam title back in January. Ho-hum. It was her 23rd Grand Slam tennis title.
But this one was a little different.She wasn't alone.Wednesday the tennis superstar announced that she is pregnant, and in fact was pregnant at the time she won that crown.Let me repeat that: Serena Wiliams said yesterday she is 20 weeks into her pregnancy. She won the Australian Open a little less than 12 weeks ago. In other words, she was two months pregnant at the time.I think we can close the discussion on the greatest female athlete in history now.You go, Serena.
Like the late Suzy Bales, another garden writer Chester County native garden writer David Culp inspires.
Suzy Bales inspired me to truly make my current garden one of four seasons and to plant gardens around our home on all four sides. (I still consider it a work in progress, but it’s getting there.) The books she wrote titled Down to Earth Gardener and The Garden in Winter have truly guided me in my current garden to that end. They are lovely books that you can find quite reasonably priced new and used on Amazon.com. Mrs. Bales sadly passed away a year ago this time, but you can still benefit from her knowledge through her books.
David Culp is the author of The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage. You can also find his book easily on Amazon.com. He is the one that made me see the beauty of layering your garden. It is something that I have always sort of fidfled with, but his book took it to a whole new level.
I love my gardening books as much as my cookbooks.
I have been collecting vintage gardening books since I was about 19. They are well loved and well used and much like my cookbooks, I do not lend them out. I totally encourage people to look for vintage gardening books, much like vintage cookbooks they often contain basic, time honored traditions that can get lost in translation in the Internet age.
Long before there was the Internet, Facebook, or Pinterest you relied on your own research. You poured through gardening books, you went on garden tours, you belonged to a local gardening club.
I have always been a rabid gardener, and I love to learn about gardens. I discovered years ago quite by accident but every time you went to a garage sale or a rummage sale or thrift shop a lot of the books that people got rid of were gardening books and cookbooks. And many of both kinds of books were as pretty to look at as they were practical for the information contained within them.
To an extent while I am a modern woman I am also an old fashioned woman. I love what people used to call the “home arts” – or making your house a home , creating your garden, decorating your home yourself, and cooking.
Some of the gardening books I have are quite old. And a lot of the ones I have are books of actual gardens, a lot of which no longer exist due to development and progress. Families die off, properties are sold. It is a sad fact of life. Not every person moving into a house wants to garden. And sometimes depending on where something is located, the property and the gardens don’t survive. Often whomever acquires the property will give people permission to take plants, or buy them from them.
That’s how I ended up with really old hellebores years ago.
There were a pair of old Victorian houses near the Rosemont, PA train station which had been run down apartments for years and years and finally when they were totally decrepit they were sold to a developer. I contacted the developer before they razed the houses for their condominium project. For years in spite of watching these two once very cool Victorians deteriorate, I was fascinated by these lovely hellebores that I have never seen anyplace else to this day. The developer let me take a bucketful of the hellebores. And although the gardens were quite overgrown by this point there were still some remnants of the design left and that was also valuable to check out and commit to my memory for future gardens.
I still look at the photos of these gardens in my books, captured and frozen in time, and the majority of the photos are black and white. They also inspire me. The gardens of yesterday that only live in photos inside an old book.
These gardens that live only in photos of old books can so spark the imagination if you let them. They are to me as valuable as some people find the photos of gardens on Pinterest today.
Gardening is truly an art form. And how your garden looks is entirely personal. You literally get out of your garden what you put into it and as long as your garden make you happy that is what is important.
Look for garden books you like new and old and let them inspire you in your garden. Good sources for gardening books, and even cookbooks are (again) locally at a garage or rummage sale, at a resale shop or used bookstore. If you want to go online, check out both Amazon and eBay. Locally, I have also found many fabulous gardening books at Jenkins Arboretum.
I also love book swaps – if you are finished with the book swap it to a friend for another book. A gardening book swap is also a great excuse for gardeners to get together!
The Daily Numbers: 2 alarm fire that raged through warehouse in Chester Tuesday night. 2 alarm fire that hit vacant house in Lower Chi last night.59 million lawsuit slapped on Monroe Energy by BP amid oil woes at Trainer refinery.3rd DUI charge nets a house arrest sentence for Lansdowne councilman.10 homicide in the county so far this year. All 10 have been recorded in Chester.9 of them a result of gun violence.4 new members added to the Catholic school hall of fame.29 of April date for Loyalty Day in Springfield.22 of April is Delaware County Community Day.88, age of Dorrance ‘Dodo’ Hamilton, Main Line philanthropist and heiress to the Campbell Soup fortune. She died this week.0 wins for the Union so far this year. GM Earnie Stewart says he’s not considering a shakeup.6-2 win for Phils over the Mets in 10 innings.4 runs scored in the 10th to propel Phils to win.2 runs for Mets in 1st inning, nothing after that. Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Here we go again. Freddy Galvis may have cost the Phillies a chance to beat the Mets in regulation last night when he failed to run out a popup that drifted into fair territory. He was on first instead of second, and failed to score on a double later in the inning. I Don’t Get It: Donte Island isn’t going anywhere. A Delco judge has rejected his request to move his trial for shooting Officer Chris Dorman. Today’s Upper: Kudos to the gang from ‘Delco Proper.’ Looks like the comedy set in Delco may be picked up by Comedy Central.Quote Box: “The atmosphere in Delaware County, your honor, is so toxic that this defendant cannot get a fair trial on his side of the state and that is why we’re trying to move it.”- Attorney for suspected cop shooter Donte Island, charged with shooting Officer Dorman.
Cut the Ray Charles music. President Trump has Georgia on his mind.
The Tweeter-in-chief is declaring victory in that special election race to fill the congressional seat vacated by Tom Price, who joined Trump's cabinet as Secretary of Health.The race was seen as an early test of the Trump presidency, just 90 days into his first term.There was a ton of hype surrounding the possibility of Democratic newcomer Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional staffer. If Ossoff had been able to capture 50 percent of the vote, he would have won the seat in what has traditionally been a solid red, conservative Republican district.Didn't happen.Ossoff fell a few points shy
and now will go to a runoff against the top Republican vote-getter, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. They were the top two finishers in a field crammed with 18 candidates.Democrats are crowing that this near-victory in what has been solid Republican turf for decades - Price won 62 percent of the vote here in November - is a sign of growing disenchantment with Trump.The president is claiming victory, saying Ossoff failed to win the seat outright and will fall against Handel in the June 20 runoff.Make no mistake, Trump's name was not on the ballot in Georgia, but the vote was all about him.Almost makes you look forward to our next congressional election in these parts, looming out there in November 2018. Three Democrats already are lined up to challenge Pat Meehan. It will be interesting to see how much support Meehan wants - or gets - from a White House he clearly has serious disagreements with on key issues. Remember, Meehan was one of the few who asked Trump to step down after that video of him disparaging women surfaced.For now all we have to look forward to is a fairly routine Primary election on May 16, where parties will fill their slates for County Council, county row offices, along with municipal, school board and magisterial district judge races.Maybe we should pumping in the Ray Charles music to Delco to liven up these races.
Our PA State Senator Andy Dinniman, Minority Chair of the state Senate’s education committee is set to vote on Senate Bill 383 this morning. As the issue of school safety stemming from school shootings continues, some lawmakers are looking at offensive measures to help protect students. Labeled as “providing for protection and defense of students”, […]
Sometimes life does not imitate art. Sometimes it just imitates life. And we're glad it does.
A few years back, Joseph Chambers, then a Ridley teen and junior volunteer firefighter, made headlines for his heroic actions in helping pull a Philadelphia police officer from his burning police cruiser after it crashed on a Philly street.It was appropriate. Chambers had a burning desire of his own - to one day be a police officer himself.A few years later, Chambers has seen that dream come true.He's not a part-time officer in two Delaware County towns.On our editorial page today
, we salute Officer Chambers, and the idea of life imitating life.
Thanks for ABC's Wide World of Sports, we know all about "the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat." Life, as opposed to sports, is a little harder.
That's what I thought this morning when news broke that former New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez had been found dead in his prison cell.Just last week, Hernandez had been acquitted in a double murder. But he was still looking at life in prison after being convicted of a third murder.This morning he was found in his prison cell, hanging by a sheet. He had apparently blocked the door to the cell.Aaron Hernandez had it all, one of the top tight ends in the NFL, on maybe its premier, dominant franchise.But it wasn't enough.Just incredibly sad.You can read about the Hernandez case here
There is an update on one of the worst stories I have encountered in my four decades in this business. Last week Jillian Tate was in court in Chester County to enter a guilty plea in the horrific torture and beating death of her 3-year-old son, Scotty McMillan.
The official report on how this little red-headed tyke died - and what Tait and her live-in boyfriend allegedly did to him - makes you wonder if there is any limit to human beings' cruelty, and bottom that we cannot surpass.As part of her deal, Tait is expected to offer testimony against her boyfriend, Gary Lee Fellenbaum, who is believed to have inflicted the most heinous beatings to little Scotty.Yesterday he was ruled competent to stand trial.
And those proceedings will not be moved out of Chester County. Tait and Fellenbaum are charged with several days of beatings and torture that led to Scotty's death.Just how unfeeling were these people. After one of the most vicious beatings, they put the unresponsive Scotty in his bed, then went out and got pizza, brought it back to the trailer, had sex, then munched on pizza while Scotty was dying just a few feet away.Unimgainable? Yes, although to be honest, I'm beginning to wonder if there is any such thing any more. Here is the full update on this ugly story. Read that headline on this blog item carefully. There is an error in it. Calling this guy a man really stretched the definition of the word.
I suppose it could have been worse.
That likely won't come as much comfort to the faithful at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Upper Chichester. Less than 24 hours after they gathered in the sanctuary for Easter services, fire broke out and heavily damaged the church.You can get all the details here.
Thankfully, no one was injured. But their building suffered heavy damage.Now the faithful will be praying for another resurrection, only this one involving their house of worship.
In this job, I'm pretty used to fielding complaints. But yesterday's response from a reader was a first.
I got a voice mail from a woman who wanted to take me to task for Monday's print column
. In it I noted a couple of my foibles, including my secret vice, potato chips, which I gave up for Lent. That was a substitute for trying to refrain from cursing during those 40 days, which is pretty much a lost cause these days. The woman who called said the way the column was presented in the paper, in which we used a photo of my old high school buddy Ed Herr, who just now happens to be the spokesman for his family's snack food empire, made it appear it was Ed who had the cursing problem. Now I happen to know Ed. He is one of the most God-fearing businessmen I have ever encountered. I assure anyone else who was under this impression that Ed does not share my penchant for a color vocabulary. Chip happens? Yeah, I guess so, even when you're not even planning it that way.
Today is the last day to register to vote in the May Primary. I'm not exactly expecting a mad dash by throngs to the County Courthouse in Media.
As far as elections go, this is about as unsexy as it gets. It's an off-year municipal primary.That doesn't make it any less important. It just does not have the sizzle of the presidential cauldron we just endured a few months ago. On the ballot in May will be candidates seeking their party nomination for a slew of county offices, as well as municipal posts and school boards, and races for magisterial district judge.An interesting thing has happened since the nation elected Donald Trump president.Activism has been on the rise.Will that translate into a big spike in numbers of voters taking part in the primary.I'm not betting on it.You can get all the details on what is at stake in the primary here
in terms of what is up for grabs in Delaware County and here
for what is on the ballot in terms of statewide races.