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May 2018

College bound Syrian refugee survived bombings

Syrian refugee survived Assad bombs
When Philadelphia Inquirer syndicated columnist Trudy Rubin called on a young man to pose his question after her talk, "7 years, 4 months and counting: the Syrian Civil War" at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Philadelphia on Saturday evening, she addressed him by name. In an interview afterward, M. Eisa, a Syrian refugee, who had been living with church Reverend Jarrett Kerbel, echoed what Rubin had concluded- that the presence of foreign forces from Russian, Turkey and Iran fighting in pursuit of their individual agendas bode very poorly for the civilian population remaining after millions of Syrians have fled. As Rubin put it, they are fighting over Syria's dying body. Rubin believes the United States missed an opportunity to militarily back non-Islamist rebel forces many years ago and a United Nations powerless against Russia's security council veto, has sealed Syria's fate. M Issai says he tempted fate in 2013 when he stayed amidst regular bombing by the Russian supported Assad regime of his Homs neighborhood in order to finish 9th grade exams. He then fled with his mother to Turkey via Lebanon, received a scholarship to attend Friends Select High School in Philadelphia in 2016 and now is bound for Bard College in upstate New York where he intends to study philosophy. Of friends and family, he has lost a lot. "I don't think there's a single household in Syria that hasn't suffered losses." Grandparents and aunts who remain are facing economic hardship and food shortages. Watch video interview of young Syrian refugee describing escaping bombings by his own government and taking refuge in Turkey and U.S. and the plight of his remaining countrymen and women and kin.


Conservator demonstrates preservation techniques

Conservator demonstratres conservation techniques
At a preservation workshop through the Mount Airy Learning Tree, Free Library of Philadelphia conservator and private consultant Meg Newburger explained, often in hushed tones, the threats to books, paintings, ephemera and other treasured objects posed by aging and exposure to the environment and pests. Then she conducted a hands-on demonstration of the archival materials and methods for keeping our precious items intact for posterity, an art and science she had clearly mastered

Flourtown is going solar

Solar panels roof
If one of their kids breaks a solar panel with a stray ball, Gail and Chris Farmer are responsible for replacing it. But if a falling tree branch breaks one, Solar City pays - as Solar City did for the entire solar installation two years ago at the couple's Flourtown, Pennsylvania house. The company, now owned by Tesla, placed 5 panels on the south sloping front roof and another 8 on the southwest facing side roof. The company reaps the benefit of excess energy generated back into the grid during the 20 year contract and the family, which satisfies 65% of its electricity needs from the sun, realizes modest cost savings as it moves toward a more fossil fuel - free lifestyle.

The Farmers' was one of three houses with solar panels on the same stretch of College Avenue in Flourtown, just outside Philadelphia, that were part of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association ("MAREA") 2018 Sustainable Living Open House Tour on Saturday, May 5th.

Solar panels electricy energyYour correspondent also visited the freestanding installation at Joy Bergey's house around the bend. Some 10 feet off the ground, 9 solar panels are mounted billboard-like atop a substantial tube pole. The panel began to slowly turn while I was there; motors automatically adjust the angle facing the sun and the map direction to maximize exposure according to weather conditions and time of day. "What have I done?" was Bergey's first reaction the night the structure was first installed because it seemed so industrial. However, her neighbors have been supportive of the project and she has since softened the visual impact of the structure, which sits in her backyard next to a big open field, by surrounding it with garden plantings. Installed in 2016, Bergey sells excess power back to PECO, the regional electric power company, through net metering and expects to break even on the $20,000 investment over 8-9 years. And she believes her house becomes more appealing for resale as buyers increasingly seek out solar energy alternatives.

Watch video and interviews of homeowners in Flourtown, Pennsylvania advancing  renewable energy by install solar panels to generate their own electricity.


2018 Wissahickon Day Parade with oldtimer and author

Wissahickon day parade doctor tom
Dr. Tom Fitzpatrick of Flourtown, a retired biochemist with the US Department of Agriculture, rode in this year’s Wissahickon Day Parade, which took place this past Sunday. For 10 years he rode a horse and for another 25 years. drove a horse carriage in the parade.The event commemorates when several hundred horse-people and their horses converged on the Wissahickon path in 1927 to successfully protest plans to open the route up to vehicular traffic. Fitzpatrick’s roots go deep. His mother was born at the nearby stable atop Forbidden Drive (now Northwestern Stables) owned by his grandfather in the 1890s. He owns horses and he heads the Philadelphia Saddle Club whose riders are regular parade participants. Although he rode in a friend’s wagon at this year’s parade, should one of his stalls open up, he might purchase a good driving horse. At 94 he says, “I got 10, 15 more good years.” Watch video of Wissahickon Day Horse Parade celebrating Forbidden Drive becoming closed to vehicle traffic and interview with old-timer Dr Tom Fitzpatrick

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Horseback riding horse book author

Nancy Peter has ridden in the Wissahickon Day Parade on Forbidden Drive, a tradition dating back to 1927 when riders successfully protested a plan to allow cars on the path, but this was the first time she rode a horse of her own. Cheyenne is a spirited, 12 year old, 15 hand, quarter horse - paint mare who had been trained for Western reining competition. "She's the love of my life," Peter professes before quickly adding, "one of them." Peter has just published a memoir of her horseback riding "escapades" called "Twenty Horses". Cheyenne released a whinny when Peter obliged her to pose as they appear on the cover of the book. Watch video of horse memoir author ride her new mare and talk about the book of her horseback riding escapades.


TCNJ alumni day, 104 year old + the Travers 5

The college of new jersey alumni reunion coed dorm

The “Travers 5” students at Trenton State College in Ewing, New Jersey were an “intentional democratic community” of young men and women on the fifth floor of the Travers dorm in 1976-1977 and 1977-1978. They governed themselves and with the $5000 they received for cleaning the bathrooms, they re-signed from “men” and “women” to “people” they went on camping trips and held bi-weekly parties. On April 28, 2018, forty years later, some 25 of their number including your correspondent’s spouse descended upon what is now “The College of New Jersey” for Alumni day festivities on the much renovated campus and gleefully revisited the bright student painted hallways where they once lived, studied and caroused. Watch video of alumni reunion 1970s coed dorm students with their unisex bathrooms and parties.

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TCNJ hundred four years oldest alumna 85th reunion

Vera McChesney, 104 years old, graduated with a degree in early education in the first class, 1934, from the all women Trenton Normal School at its new location at Hillwood Lakes in Ewing, New Jersey. Accompanied by her nephew Sam Persi on April 28, 2018, she was honored as the most senior at alumni day celebrations at what is now The College of New Jersey. Attending her class’s 84th reunion, she bested the next most senior alum by 19 years. Her nephew recounts she acquired two graduate degrees and retired as director of library services for the Mesa public schools in Arizona. Watch video of oldest alumna by far at the Trentnon Normal (State)/ The College of New Jersey alumni day.


Yardsale features draftsman chair, convex mirror

Yardsale vintage furniture chair mirror
On a warm early spring day Tony Roman was setting out vintage items for a yard sale. First catching your correspondent’s eye was his Aunt Phil‘s ornately framed convex mirror. According to Roman, she had picked it up at a yard sale on Lincoln Drive in 1930. 88 years later here it was back in a yard sale! A handsome high wooden chair with a low back took on additional appeal when Roman explained that it’s a draftsman’s chair specifically designed with slightly shorter front legs so as to tilt the draftsperson forward over the work table. An early Bendix record player housed in a wooden cabinet with storage space below for records was also on offer. Senior talks about vintage furniture, sterio, draftsman's chair, convex mirror at yard sale in video interview