Friday, September 19, 2014

Top 10 Upcoming Weekend Happenings

September 19 Community Arts Center Friday Night Live Concert,  Wallingford in the Duke Gallery Musical Artists: Zydeco A Go-Go, Visual Artist: Jewel Mondros and Rinal Parikh.

Sept. 19 - Marcus Hook Preservation Society Family Night Spaghetti Dinner 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Community Center, 7 Delaware Ave, (fee) and September 20 6th Annual Pirate Festival presented by Marcus Hook Historical Society 11a.m. – 6 p.m. and  Friday, September 19, 2014 FAMILY NIGHT SPAGHETTI DINNER 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Community Center, 7 Delaware Avenue, Marcus Hook, PA Cost: $5 per person (in advance) $8 at the door. All proceeds help with the restoration of the Plank House.  All Donations are Tax Deductible.

September 19 begins Healthy Kids Running Series in Concord Township September 19th, 26th and October 3rd, 10th and 17th 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Smithbridge Park 687 Smithbridge Road, Glen Mills, PA 19342. Race Bag Pick Up Night: Wednesday September 17th 5:00-7:00 PM Philadelphia Runner (Glen Eagle Shopping Center) 571 Glen Eagle Square Glen Mills, PA 19342. 

September 20 The Concord Township Historical Society presents Shrooms and V’rooms at the Society Headquarters 659 Smithbridge Road next to Rachel Kohl Library. Antique and Classic Automobiles, Local History Museum, Mushroom Dishes from Local Restaurants. Learn "How Mushrooms Grow". All proceeds benefit the Concord Township Historical Society 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. Raindate September 21.

September 20 Paoli Battlefield Event 10 a.m - 5 p.m. Admission is by a donation of $8.00 per person, children are $5.00, and a special family rate is $20.00 (up to 5 people).
September 20 The 11th Annual Cradle of Birding Wildlife and Conservation Festival at Heinz Wildlife Refuge 7 - 3 p.m.

September 20 and 21 Arts and Music Festival at Linvilla

 Sept 20 Archaeology Festival Newlin Grist Mill 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Discover the stories of our past buried beneath our feet. Join professional and a vocational archaeologists as they share important discoveries from throughout the region. Assist archaeologists as they explore the buried past of Newlin Grist Mill. Follow the artifacts as they proceed from excavation, through screening, to cleaning and identification. Plenty of things for the family including a “kids dig”.  FREE!

September 21  The Haverford Township Historical Society presents an Open House at historic Nitre Hall located at Karakung Drive between Mill Road and Manoa Road in Haverford 10 a.m - 1 p.m. Nitre Hall, built about 1810, served as the “Home of the Powder Master” and headquarters of the gunpowder manufacturing business located and operating in this Powder Mill Valley until about 1840.

September 21 Ridley Township Annual Fall Festival 10a.m. - 3 p.m. The festival will feature an arts and craft section, bike auction, food court and day long entertainment  on the grounds of the Ridley Township Municipal Building.
(raindate Sept. 28th)

September 21 Colonial Day at the Middletown Presbyterian Church 273 S. Old Middletown Rd in Media 10:30 a.m. colonial style worship and noon - 3 p.m. games, crafts activities, and demonstrations.

Additional events happening in the city.
September 19 - 21 Spruce Street Harbor Fall Festival at Spruce Street Park located at Columbus Blvd. and Spruce street in Philadelphia. September 28 us the last day of the season. If you haven't been go check it out!

September 20 FARE Walk for Food Allergy River Sharks Stadium 401 Delaware Avenue Camden, NJ 08102. Registration/Check-in: 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. Walk Ceremony: 10 a.m.

September 20 PHS Fall Festival Philadelphia Horticultural Society 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on the Navy Yard grounds.

September 20 PRO-ACT RECOVERY WALKS! 2014 - **NOTE LOCATION CHANGE FOR START** New Walk Start Meeting Place: Walnut Street Bridge Under Balloon Arch in Philadelphia.

September 20 and 21 The Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia 5 K and Half Marathon  Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA.

September 21 Brazilian Day Festival part of the PECO Multicultural Series at Penn's Landing. Free to the public and take place at the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing, Columbus Boulevard at Chestnut Street.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Top 10 Features of the Nemours Mansion and Gardens

A. I. du Pont built the Nemours Mansion for his 2nd wife Alicia Bradford, she preferred to spend most of her time in Paris.  A topic for another Top 10, but there is plenty of information on the Internet about that. I prefer to focus on the "place" and look for a good book on the "people".  The du Ponts are a very intriguing family.

1. The Mansion is of course extravagant, elegant, breathtaking and amazing.  You cannot take a bad photograph from any angle. It is modeled after  Le Petit Trianon  of Versailles. Carrère and Hastings designed the home in the style of Louis XVI—Rococo French architecture. Alicia was a frequent visitor to Paris and a fan of the French.  Alfred named Nemours after the French town his great great grandfather represented in France.

2. Turn from the steps of the mansion and you observe the "Vista" or Long Walk.  It is an absolutely breathtaking walk down into the garden area. The path is all green and there were certain areas in the house where you were not permitted on the carpets.  I felt the same way about this perfect carpet of green and I did ask, "Are we allowed to walk on it?".  We were.

Your next step, I can only tease you with, will be inside the mansion.  Photographs are not permitted which is just as well.  Any interior decorator trying to duplicate will only meet with feudal attempts.  Everything inside is original and in many cases exquisite including the chandelier over the staircase in the grand hall.  It once hung in Lafayette's home. Yes, Lafayette the favorite French general of General George Washington that helped the United States win independence.

3. The English Gate  will be your first entrance on to the Nemours Garden and Mansion Tour.  Does it feel like royal treatment? These gates once stood at Wimbledon Manor.  Henry the VIII, once owned Wimbledon, the gates however date back to the 18th century. It is still royal in my opinion.

The Russian Gates once stood at a palace built by Catherine II (Catherine the Great) outside Petersburg in Russia.  The staff affectionately refer to this structure as Kate's gates. The dates listed above the gate refer to her birth 1729 and her death 1796.

4. Fountains are visible throughout the property and I am sure through further exploration I could find they each hold a special significance. I didn't count fountains or man made bodies of water but there was a notable amount to reflect upon. The round building in the background is a water tower that is close to the garage area.  Wait till you see what is parked in there!!!

This fountain flows behind the house.

I would call this the centerpiece, the large lake but the family would have called this the 8000,000 gallon body of water, the "pool".  It was used for swimming and boating

The Four Seasons Statues around the pool area will definitely remind you of  the Versailles palace in France.

5. The newest addition to the A. I. Dupont Hospital is easily visible from the front steps on the Nemours Mansion. The photograph also provides another view of the Wimbledon Gates.

6. The Temple of Love – in classical style, with life-sized statue of Diana the Huntress (1780) by Jean-Antoine Houdon, a a French neoclassical sculptor. It is situated beyond the sunken gardens and across the lake.

Tenderesse is a bronze statue of mother and child by G. Loiseau Bailey. It can be found in the Four Corners Garden.

7. Depending on where you are standing the gardens lead the imagination.  The first aerial shot taken from the second floor balcony leads your imagination.  Is that a clown face? Maybe I am seeing symmetrical snow angels in green. Is that a sun dial in the center. The red flowers remind me of the spinner in the Game of Life.  Does anyone else have a similar imagination than mine? I am going to have to try this at home.

In the center of the maze garden is the crowing jewel "Achievement" covered in 24 kt gold leaf by Henri Crenier.

8. Just when you think you have seen it all and it doesn't get any better than this, you walk through the Colonnade. It is dedicated to Pierre du Pont and E. I. du Pont.  It was designed by Thomas Hasting. Hastings also designed the NewYork Public Library.

9. The Sunken Gardens were designed by the firm of Massena and duPont (Alfred Victor duPont), son of A. I. duPont.  The sculpture on top is by Charles Sarrabezolles.

It must be as long as a football field.

10. The garage holds its own special marvels but the prized possession would be the 1960 Phantom V Rolls Royce. According to, Queen Elizabeth II had a Phantom V, and her mother owned one as well. the governor of Hong Kong had one for ceremonial purposes. John Lennon purchased a new, white Phantom V. He proceeded to have it covered with psychedelic paintings, turning it into one of pop culture's most vivid and expensive pieces art. Elton John also owned a Pink Phantom V.

My impression of the Nemours House and Gardens?


I feel incomplete if I don't mention the shards of glass cemented into the top of the wall.  It may be tough to see exactly what they are from my photographs but they are actually pretty multicolored pieces of sharp glass sticking out of the top of the wall. For years rumors had it that it was there to keep estranged family members out but our us driver cleared that up for us.  He once had a monk from the town of Nemours on a tour and he verified that is how it is done back at home in France. Either way, it is a secure way to guarantee privacy. Buy a ticket and take the tour, if you have that ticket, they are very friendly and welcoming.  It is a great tour and thus far my favorite duPont estate.  I have not been to Longwood Gardens in a very long time.  I think it is time to go back and compare.

Don't forget it is Community Day, September 20, at A.I. duPont Nemours Hospital and it's free.  The Nemours Mansion and Garden tour is not free and they recommend reservations ahead of time for large groups. Save that trip for another day. It is so worth it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Top 10 Things to Know About A. I. Dupont

 Saturday September 20 is Community Day at Nemours,  Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children 1600 Rockland Road Wilmington, DE 19803 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Ran or Shine.  Admission is Free.

1. A. I. duPont was born in 1864. Alfred was the eldest son, of the eldest son (Eleuthian Irenee du Pont II) of the eldest son (Albert V. du Pont) of  Eleuthian Irenee du Pont founder of the E. I. Dupont de Nemours and Company. E. I. du Pont was his great grandfather.

2. He and his two sisters and younger brother were orphaned at 13. He attended MIT as did his cousins T. Coleman duPont and Pierre Samuel duPont.

3. He lost an eye during a hunting accident and used a fake one.  His eyes are on display along the timeline at the Nemours Mansion and Garden Museum Visitor's Center.

4. He fought against the older family members to keep the E. I. Dupont  majority in the family and won. He was part of the "new generation" to take over E. I. Dupont along with two cousins, T. Coleman du Pont and Pierre du Pont. In 1916, he was forced out of the family business.

5. Three marriages:
He married, Bessie Gardner. a distant cousin. They had 4 children together and divorced after 19 years of marriage.

He married second cousin, Alicia Bradford Maddox less than a year later.. She had one child from her first husband George and Alicia later adopted a war orphan, Denise. Albert ( A.I. )  took responsibly of both children after Alicia's death. It has been said that Alicia only valued Albert's friendship. He built her a mansion patterned after Petit Trianon at Versailles it had 77 rooms and 300 acres of gardens. She preferred to live in Paris.

Jessie Ball, twenty years his junior was his third and final wife.  She became the love of his life and put into action his wishes to share his fortune for the care of crippled children. This trust, the Alfred I. duPont Testamentary Trust supports one of only 20 children’s hospitals in the nation ranked by U.S. News and World Report in all 10 specialties including:cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, gastronterology, neonatology, neurology and neurosurgery and orthopedics.

6. In 1920, he was nearly bankrupt. After leaving the family business he invested in real estate, banks and paper and made a fortune in Florida and became a philanthropist.

7. He traveled all over the world to try and improve his hearing loss, eventually he went deaf.

8. He personally funded a pension plan program for seniors in Delaware in 1929, later the U.S. Social Security system was patterned after it.

9. He applied for over 200 patents, most were related to his work including the first gas powered locomotive in the United States.

10. Alfred played and wrote music and founded the Tankopanicum Musical Club. He played violin and also conducted. A friend, John Phillip Sousa played one of his songs.

 A. I. Dupont left his fortunate to the care of sick and crippled children.   He is buried at Nemours and written on the bell tower is "Rectitudine Sto".  It is the burial spot of A. I. Dupont, his wife Jessie Ball Dupont and her brother Ed Ball.  It is quite a magnificent building towering over and looking out for the children in the hospital as A. I. Dupont did in his will. Since 1935, the trust has distributed over 2 billion to the Nemours Foundation helping sick children.

Information obtained from the Timeline and the Film shown at the reception area at the Nemours Mansion and Gardens and at the Nemours website.

"Rectitudine Sto", means "Upright I Stand".

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top 10 Highlights of the Dover Air Mobility Museum

1. Dover Air Mobility Command Museum is located at 1301 Heritage Raod at the Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware.  It is just off Route 1, the Korean Veterans Memorial Highway and very close to Route 13, Dupont Highway.  If you have traveled on either of these highways and you've been lucky, one of these gigantic planes cast its shadow over you as it flew above.

2. The C-5A Galaxy is one of the "specials" you will want to see.  The plane itself has many highlights and you will want to go during a time when the aircraft's are open to the public. What I am going to call the belly of the plane is the first glimpse you see inside of only a partial look of all the capabilities of this high powered machine. The cargo deck is 121feet which is one foot longer than the length of the first Wright Brothers flight. The cargo compartment can hold 100 original Volkswagen Beetles or 6 Greyhound buses. It has over 100 miles of wiring that operates all the aircraft systems. The fuel tanks hold 51,000 gallons which could enable an average American car to travel around the world 49 times.

3.  You can go on the Dover Air Mobility Command Museum website and read the complete history of this aircraft. There is something very special about this C-5A Galaxy and its cargo besides all the military personnel that it safely transported.

The Minuteman is a land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). First flown in 1961, over 400 will remain in service until at least 2030.  It was the first solid-fuel missile to have a digital flight control computer, a combination which allowed a launch on short notice.

On October 24, 1974, a C-5A Galaxy successfully conducted an Air Mobile Feasibility "Test" when an 86,000 pound ICBM was extracted by parachute from an aircraft flying at 20,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean.  As soon as the missile stabilized, its rocket engine fired.  The 10-second engine burn allowed it to climb 12,000 feet before it dropped into the ocean as planned. Although only done once it was enough to uses as a negotiating point in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT).

The C5-A in front of you, 69-0014, on display with this missile-loading trainer, is the aircraft that conducted those tests.

4. A view just outside the cockpit affords you the opportunity to view more of the fleet housed in the outdoor aircraft museum. Standing here is comparable to being three stories above the ground.  Just beyond the fence you will see three smaller aircraft.  These planes are not part of the museum.  They are on active duty and have a very important role to our military.  I will highlight these planes at the end of the list.

5. Inside the cockpit are a lot of gauges and monitors and gadgets I could only guess at their significance.  We were told George sits in the center.  "George" is the automatic pilot.  These planes typically would have a crew of 7 (aircraft commander, pilot, two flight engineers and three loadmasters) 4 minimum (pilot, copilot, two flight engineers).  It has the seating capacity for 75 passengers in the upper deck.

6. There are several other aircraft of notable interest and you will want to arrive early to board as many as you can. Save time for the museum inside which is housed in Hangar 1301 it comes with historical significance.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.  The museum control tower cab is the actual unit used at Dover AFB from 1956 until 2009. Its original location was close to the base's new tower. The exhibit tower is 39 feet tall. The original control tower was 103 feet tall and the new control tower is 128 feet tall.

There are many fascinating things to see inside but there were two that really caught my attention.

This is one of the machine guns used on the B-17 Flying Fortress and someone, a gunner, would sit inside.

The other fascinating object was a hand painted film case cover from a RF-51 reconnaissance aircraft that flew over enemy territory gathering information.

8. There's that Red Cross an international symbol known the world over and a friendly reminder that our military is mostly not all about war and fighting an enemy, day in and day out. The C-9A Nightingale performed countless Missions of Mercy during its 37 years of service.

9. This is a fun one, VC-9C Air Force Two has transported many of America's Leaders from 1975 - 2011.  It has carried Vice President Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Al Gore, George W. Bush and Dick Chaney.  It has also served several First Ladies from Rosalyn Carter to Michelle Obama. When this aircraft was used to transport the President into smaller airports, it was known as Air Force One. Have a look inside....

It is first class for the Vice President all the way including china with the White House seal.  Check out the original design during the Carter Administration.  Many will recognize the 70's popular orange color. The press corps seems to have wide comfortable seats as well. I guess if the press is happy the Vice President is happy. Make sure you stop at the back of the plane, there is something very special displayed back there. It is from the "Sacred Cow". The "Sacred Cow" is now on display at the Presidential Gallery at the National United States Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio but an authentic piece of the Sacred Cow sits on Air Force Two in Dover.  Read its history.

The arrow on the photograph points to the section of the plane on display.  It is in front of the tail.

10. The port mortuary at Dover Air Force Base is responsible for the return of all Department of Defense personnel from Overseas Contingency Operations and other overseas deaths with mortuary entitlements. Additionally when requested, it maintains response capabilities in the event of homeland mass fatalities. The Port Mortuary not only serves as our nation's sole port mortuary but is the largest mortuary in the DOD and the only one located in the continental United States. The remains of Army Maj. General Harold J. Greene, the highest ranking official killed in Afghanistan was honored with a dignified transfer at Dover AFB this past August 7, 2014. This area is not open to the public but the airplanes you saw in #4 await a very special mission.  Once the bodies of the deceased arrive safely back in the United States often the remains are flown individually to their final destination to the family by these smaller airplanes. A twenty-two year old soldier who gave us a tour of the C-5 told us that.  He also has been assigned to participate in the dignified transfer of our military heroes.  Even though they are not part of the museum, I felt they shared just as much importance.

I can't for the life of me understand war and hate and greed and money and politics and the total disregard of human lives but every time I visit a museum that has a connection to the military I can't help but have the utmost compassion for the men and women of our military. They never start the fire but they charge in with orders to put it out.  How can you not respect someone for that?

Open Aircraft Day

Every third Saturday (this weekend is a third Saturday)
On every third Saturday of the month, through November, the museum is opening up some of its more impressive planes for guided tours. The C-5A Galaxy, VC-9C Air Force Two, KC-135E Stratotanker, KC-97L Stratofreighter, C-133 Cargomaster, and other aircraft will be opened to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., if weather permits and tour guides are available.

Admission and parking are both free!

Open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed on Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

Most if not all tour directors are active or retired military personnel.  Don't forget to thank them for their service. They deserve our gratitude.