October 20 dumped me into the lovely Chester Valley Golf Club via Bill Troxell, driver. If you listen to Dan Gottlieb, Ph.D., host of WHYY's "Voices in the Family," you'll know why a standing ovation occurred at Chester Valley.
Gottlieb is a family therapist and columnist for a Philadelphia newspaper. His radio presence and calming voice charm many listeners, and he talked about alienation: we don't listen to other people well, and our technology playthings, cell phones, and e-mail, discourage us from polishing our communication skills.
Gottlieb does many interviews, and the exit on his show usually ends with a simple, but heartfelt, "Have a good week, my friend."
Gottlieb was guest speaker for the Family Service of Chester County's annual luncheon.
If you haven't heard "Dr. Dan" on radio, tune in.
Now to another subject: catalpa trees. I was surprised and pleased to see a healthy catalpa tree across from the Turnaround Cafe at Corner Stores. It seems to be wedged in between another tree, but the large, light green leaves and 13-inch pods were dangling. I phoned Bob Elmer, Bridge Street's naturalist, and asked him about catalpa. How common were they in the Phoenixville-Royersford-Mont Clare area?
Elmer said, "There used to be a couple near the Locktender's house in Mont Clare. They come from Virginia originally."
I started hunting. I saw a dilapidated catalpa at 47 Nutt Road, across from T.D. Alfredo's on Nutt Road, but the best one was at the entrance of Pike Springs Road. Since then, when I bike or walk, I can't find them among the wide diversity of coniferous, dogwood, maple, oak, walnut, plus. Finally, I dreamed of a huge, perfect catalpa - but that's cheating. If you, reader, know of a healthy bunch, let me know.
Paul Kusko, Anderson Avenue, wrote a letter about the plenteous trees we see locally, and I agree. When I bike down Anderson or Virginia Avenue, I feel like a roof of green covers me. Of course, the green is coalescing into fall shades now, but not all. (The maple in my backyard is plenty green with only one or two red leaves eager to chase the green away.)
Now for the title part of this column.
When I visited the local historical society's museum, I requested a ledger from 1764, 1766, 1769, a store at Corner Stores owned by Longstreth, proprietor. Peg Trunk handed me a sheet of plastic within which white gloves resided. I thought it was a joke! "No," Peg said. "We have to protect the old pages."
I couldn't believe my eyes. The spine of the ledger was faded brown, yellow and shriveled. I turned the super thin pages carefully, and was excited to read the clear handwriting!
Some of the names in the ledger are names found in this area today. I found these at the top of the page:
Buckwalter (Jacob), Coates (Jonathan), Coates (Moses), Conway (John), Green (Joseph), Griffith (Ezekiel), Potts (Thomas), Longstreth (Benjamin), Tribby (Samuel), Tucker (Thomas).
And, here's what was purchased (item and service):
Beef potatoes, bran, buckwheat, bull hide, cloverseed, coffy, cowhide, flour, hay, Indian corn, meal, midlins (can't find that in a dictionary), mowing molasses, repairing fence, rye, salt, shipstuff, sugar, sundries, tea and wheat.
The ledger came to the society at Church and Main streets, Phoenixville, via the late Mike Vircsik, who located same at auction.
It was the most exciting event since I saw a double rainbow at Pleasant Run Park in Montgomery County, May 29, 2005.
See you at the Halloween parade soon!
Yours truly, with Valentine love, The Catalpa Queen, Keystone Connie, 610-933-0669.
Remember the campaign slogan: "A Cornerstone for Corner Stores."