Jack Ertell

Jack Ertell

Jack Ertell is all about history. He graduated from Albright College in Reading where he majored in history and political science.

Jack landed his first teaching job with the Phoenixville School System. From 1966 to 1973, he taught social studies. In 1973, he became the athletic director and served while teaching until retiring in 1998.

When Jack took the job with the Phoenixville School System, he had plans. He would teach a year or so until he figured his life’s direction. I would say he found it.

Retiring from teaching in Phoenixville in 1998, he went to teach at Montgomery County Community College at the Pottstown campus and Delaware Valley Community College in Exton. After 50 years of teaching, he retired in 2016.

Jack and his wife, Janet, married in the spring of 1967. They have three children. James lives in New Jersey, Deborah lives in Telford and Suzanne in Wyoming. There are two grandchildren. An interesting fact is that there is a 26-year-age difference between the two grandkids.

Jack and Janet started out their married life living in Phoenixville, first living on First Avenue, then moving to Hall Street. The town’s parking situation led them to move to East Pikeland.

They travel often to Arizona, as they have family living there, including Jack’s 96-year old mother. They even have a room in their home decorated with Arizona décor.

The Ertells became members of the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area shortly after the society was established in 1977. Its mission statement is “to collect, preserve, interpret and disseminate material information pertaining to Phoenixville area history in order to assist and educate the public in understanding and appreciating their Phoenixville area heritage and how it relates to their lives.”

Jack became an active volunteer after retiring from teaching at the high school. Jack became super involved and spends a great deal of the time at the society’s facility located on the corner of Main and Church streets. It is an old church that was first built as a Mennonite church. It later was better known as Central Lutheran Church before it was vacated.

Jack served as president for 5½ years. The first year and a half was to serve the remainder of Pete Bamberger's term after his death. Jack went on to be elected for two two-year terms. Jack is currently on the board of directors, chairman of the archives committee and editor of the society’s newsletter, as well as a program speaker on area history.

The society holds public meeting quarterly and offers research, museum exhibits and flea markets. Call 610-935-7646 or go online to the society's website for a schedule.

Jack as a sweet tooth and has many favorite desserts, but the red velvet cake is his very, very favorite.

Janet's Red Velvet Cake

Vegetable oil for the pans

2½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1½ cups vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)

1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed. Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded sides up. Let cool completely. Finish with your favorite cream cheese frosting.


Let Bette hear from you: banjack303@verizon.net. Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well phoenixvillenews.com (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.” Her book, “2 Cups of Yesterday,” is available at Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.

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