Friday, June 28, 2013

Top 10 Upcoming Musical Events and More

June 28th Party on the Porch at the Thomas Leiper House, 521 Avondale Road, Wallingford, PA 7 - 9 pm. Fifth Annual Open House.  Summer refreshments will be served along with jazz guitar entertainment by Dean Maola.

June 29th - July 7th The Kutztown Folk Festival.

July 1 - 7 Wawa Welcome America!  Philadelphia's Annual 4th of July celebration.

July 1 LaFlocco Baroque Laurel Hill Mansion Summer Concerts by Candle Light.

July 3rd Philly Pops at Independence Hall , Peter Nero will lead the Pops! Concert starts a 8PM.

July 3rd 2013 Summer Nights Concert Series at Penn Museum, Wednesday evenings through September 11th.. 

July 4th Reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Colonial Plantation. Celebration and picnic 11am - 5pm. The Chester County Militia daytime muster and an evening concert featuring John Byrne.

July 4th Philly 4th of July Jam 7:00 PM on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Have you seen the lineup? It's a good one. Check this link for the full Wawa Welcomes America schedule.

July 6th  Philly PHYZZ Festival at Dr Physick's House  1 - 5 pm.

July 6th and 7th African American Festival in Baltimore.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Top 10 Pool Safety Tips

It is that time of year again.

1. Watch Your Children at All Times! Stay Focused.

2. Do not rely on swimmies or tubes.

3. Get Swim Lessons.for Your Children

4. Keep the ladder out of the pool when you are not there.

5. Secure the pool cover.

6. Alcohol and water do not mix.

7. Keep a fence around the pool.

8. Buddy swim, never swim alone.

9. Pay attention to what you are doing.

10.Floats are a deterrent and I think an obstacle to a life guards vision.

These are merely my own personal observations and something for parents to think about.  Every year in the newspaper you read about some type of tragedy involved with a back yard swimming pool or or private swim club.  It is heart breaking.  Accidents will happen but maybe with a little more awareness some of these tragedies can be prevented.  Anyone have any other suggestions to add?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Top 10 Gettysburg Mostly Ghostly Tour

There are various Ghost Tours to choose from at Gettysburg. They are all well documented, yet can have the slightest of twists depending on who is listening and who is telling the story.  Many lives were abruptly ended at Gettysburg, so if it happens anywhere Gettysburg would certainly be a place to find wandering spirits.

Gettysburg seems to fold up at night. By 8pm, there is hardly a soul on the streets or that was the case in the fall when I was there.  The stillness and the darkness brings out an entirely different feel to the town. I would not call it magical but something mysterious does seem to happen and you feel the presence.

We, okay it was me, selected the best "Ghost Tour", in town.  It was the first one I saw as we drove down Baltimore Street, when we arrived in Gettysburg.  I had to do it. We made reservations for that evening, a 7:30pm start. The one "we" selected was at Baltimore and Breckenridge.  All enthusiasts were to gather on the side porch. As we arrived, a few people had already gotten there and had taken up most of  the seats on the bench.  Then, they started to appear out of thin air, they were coming out of the woodwork.  A crowd of about forty people had now gathered and our guides arrived and split the group into two.

I was selected for the second group and as our educator began to give us basic information, a white cat came walking into the gate of the courtyard, as if on cue. The feline individually approached all who were present with a slight brush up against your leg or hand.  It was looking for free strokes or perhaps getting a feel for the safety in the crowd. Gettysburg seems to have a silent protection in place for all. Take a look at the next photograph, even you non-believers. Stop right here if you are unable to spot the ghost.  You have no imagination for this tour and will not enjoy it. During the restoration of this building, one of the carpenters had an unusual experience.  He was carrying a large piece of wood using both hands and needed entry into the house. The other worker was occupied and the door slowly swung open for him.

We were now ready for our adventure. Don't ask me why, because I am one of those people who has been spooked by my own shadow on several occasions, I was right up at the front of the line, eager to hear all the cliffhanging tales that awaited us in the night. Our first stop was the steps of the library.  We all sat as our storyteller spoke of a young couple, who being very fond of the town of Gettysburg decided to purchase a home there, right on the main drag, Baltimore Street. Of course every one's curiosity peaked. Which house?  I couldn't  possibly be the only one who wanted to know but the guide refused to give up that information in fear people would be flashing their flashes inside a private residence.  Really?  Who would do such a thing? The story involved how the final selection of the wallpaper came about and the scary price!

The "New" Common School on High Street like many of the larger buildings in the area became a hospital for the  wounded Union soldiers on the first level and the Confederates on the top floor. The top floor was chosen because it would be harder to escape.  These patients were also now prisoners. Shadows are sometimes seen in the windows or is it merely a reflection? Do you see anyone? We were asked to imagine all the amputated arms and legs that laid in the side yard, sometimes just tossed out the window for lack of storage space inside.  This hallowed ground must have been soaked with blood and the stench of blood and death loomed in the town for months. This was not a pleasant thought and made one gasped at the horror that was bestowed upon this quaint little town and where these permanent residences called home. Our chaperone had attended kindergarten there some years back. It was a relatively new school in 1863.  What would you do with a building with that kind of history after the fact? Tear it down? It still stands today and if I recall correctly it is used by the Adams County Housing Authority.

Across the street from the school was one of the most beautiful buildings in town.  I thought so anyway.  Take a look.  Do you concur? Look at the next photograph.  This is it in the daytime.  It has to be some rich person's mansion, right? Back in the day, it was the Adams County Prison.  No, nowadays you would not find a prison across from the school but I would wager to say, anyone who misbehaved in school certainly learned their lesson. It is now used as a municipal building for the Borough of Gettysburg.  There is a story of rumblings around in the kitchen area, the banging of pots and pans but I am not sure what the building was being used for at the time. There were just too many alarming details to retain. It is a beautiful building though isn't it?  It was patterned after the Bastille.

Everything looks just a little different at night. Are those orbs or simply dirty spots on my lens?  Perhaps some sort of light leak into my camera.  I couldn't possibly have photoshopped the eerie empty horse and wagon that was aimlessly traveling up the street. Could I? Nah, I am not that talented. This was simply happenstance.

If you read my blog yesterday, you will recall that I spoke of Jennie Wade and her body being moved a few times.  The same thing happened in this parking lot.  It was once a burial ground and all the bodies were moved and a parking lot is now in its place.  One of the participants in our group thought he saw something in the air.  I had to go back and get him.  He was my ride home. I found that frightening.  If you didn't read my blog yesterday, I can not be responsible if you feel haunted, but I am watching you.

The ice cream store was once a gift shop run by a single mother who also lived there with her young daughter. She had an office in the very back of the building. Routinely for about a week straight, she would enter the gift shop area and up on the mantel she had a setup of a reenactment between the Union and Confederate armies.  Normally she wouldn't have taken much notice but this one particular week one of the soldiers was lying on the ground, fallen from the mantel.  The first day she picked him up and placed him back and noticed the soldiers had moved around a little.  The 2nd day, the same thing occurred, now she was taking notice but continued with the routine, placing the soldier back in line and rearranging the armies.Towards the end of the week after she had put her daughter to bed she was working in the office finishing up tasks of the day and she noticed a soldier in full uniform in the doorway.  He remained there for a brief time and just disappeared.  After that experience, she decided to leave the armies where they were and the soldier never appeared again.  I guess it was possible the soldier simply wanted to set the record straight in what had happened during that battle.

The Lincoln statue seems to have gained a scary lady in the center of Lincoln Square. She was not there during the day light hours.  I believe in future tours they will perhaps mention, "Scary Mary".  Feel privileged because you will be the first to have seen her. Scroll with the mouse.  Now you see her, now you don't!

 Even if you are not into that kind of stuff, I recommend you take a ghost tour.  I am sure they are all good with a special charm. Guaranteed you will see Gettysburg in a new light! Spirits are not something to fear. The frightening people are still alive and walk among us. Be careful in the shadows.


Is this place really haunted? That all depends on your own beliefs and theories. However, no one can debate what happened in Gettysburg and the loss of life anywhere is "haunting" especially when there could have been a much better path to the solution.

Remembering the souls of the soldiers.

Disclaimer: All the above stories were told to me almost a year ago and although some of the vivid details are a little foggy, I believe they are accurate to the best of my knowledge. I never forget anything, just ask my husband. : )

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top 10 Stories Behind the Structures At Gettysburg

1. This is the home of Mary Virginia Wade "Jennie Wade" the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. The house is now a winery.  I guess it is an appropriate place to salute, Ms. Mary Virginia Wade.

2. I have heard two versions of the story and did not go inside the museum for the "real" story. Jennie was approximately five blocks away from her home.  It is a rather short walking distance.  She was inside the home of her sister Georgia McClellan.  I have heard her mother and brothers fled their home along with Jennie and I have heard that only Jennie was there helping her sister who had just had a newborn baby.  Jennie was making bread when a shot came through the kitchen door and killed her.  It was said that the family made bread for the troops.  There has never been a confirmation whether it was a bullet from a Confederate or Union rifle.  Over 150 bullet holes were found in the structure of the house. You can still visibly see many of them especially in the door. How many can you count?

3. Jennie was originally buried in the back yard of her sister's home. In 1864, her body was moved to the German Reform Church and later, November 1865 she was moved again to the Evergreen Cemetery her final resting place.  Here there is a monument designed by a Gettysburg resident, Anna Miller.  The memorial includes an American flag that flies 24 hours.  The only other site to display this perpetual tribute to a woman is the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia. Jennie is said to be one of the more popular spirits that roam the streets of Gettysburg.  Is it any wonder?  It took a while for this young lady to rest in peace.

4.  I found this to be one of the more disturbing stories that happened in the town.  In 1863, this was the home of Henry Stahle, the publisher of the Compiler newspaper.  His office was also on this site.  During the conflict, Stahle persuaded a Confederate surgeon to come into his home and perform a life saving amputation on a Union officer.  Stahle was temporarily incarcerated for aiding the enemy in capturing a Union officer and charged with disloyalty.  The charges were made by a political opponent.  Mr. Stahle was very vocal in his political beliefs in the newspaper.

 5.The Schriver and the Pierce Families were neighbors. During the fighting in Gettysburg Hettie Schriver decided to leave town and walk to her parents farm 3 miles away and take her two young daughters and a neighbors child, Tillie Pierce with her.  It landed them on the Weikert's Farm situated between Big Round Top and Little Round Top, a much worse case scenario.  When they returned after all the battles, Hettie was told that a sharpshooter held a position in her home and at least two Confederates were killed inside her home. Tillie Pierce was fifteen years old when she experience the first hand horrors of war.  She later wrote a book called "At Gettysburg,Or What a Young Girl Saw and heard of the Battle".  He home is now a bed and breakfast on Baltimore Street.


6.. In 1863, the Stoever-Schick building housed the family of Professor Stoever's family and the Schick general store.  During the unrest, the Stoever home became a makeshift hospital for about 20 wounded Union soldiers. After the end of the fighting the store was the store was taken over by the Christian Commission as the supply and distribution center.  The Stoever's held an open commissary in their backyard feeding countless hungry soldiers. This building is one of the four original building on Lincoln Square.  Next to the building is a monument tribute to Company K, First Pennsylvania Reserves.


7. General Meade made his headquarters at the Leister Farm during the Battle of Gettysburg. Lydia Leister, a widow was living there with her six children when she vacated the property just as the battle drew near.  She returned after the fighting to discover bullet holes in her home, trampled wheat and dead horses and extensive damage to her property.  The only compensation she received for the damage was the sale of the horse bones at fifty cents per hundred pounds.  Now I am curious, what are dead horse bones used for?
Meade's Headquarters

8. The house that Confederate General Robert E. Lee used as his headquarters was owned by Thaddeus Stevens and occupied by Mrs.Mary Thompson at the time of the conflict in Gettysburg.  I have read the Mrs. Thompson was none too pleased to have a "Rebel" in her home but he displayed gentlemanly qualities unlike the destruction and thievery displayed by his attendants.  This building is privately owned and is one of the oldest museums in Gettysburg.
Lee's Headquarters
9. Codori Farm was the site of heavy fighting July 2nd and the center of the fighting during Pickett's Charge on July 3rd. The farm was owned by Nicholas Codori but it is unclear who was living in the residence at the time of the engagement.  Wounded from both sides were sheltered inside the building and the grounds became a burial ground for over 500 Confederate soldiers.  Their remains were later moved.  The property is now owned by the National Park Service and it is occupied by personnel.  There is a question as to the authenticity of this being the location of Lee's Headquarters but i don't want to fight about it.

Codori Farm
10. The McLean House and Farm were owned by attorney Moses McLean who was living in town during the attacks. He was renting out the farm to David Beams and his wife.  Beams was a Union soldier away at another location during this conflict.  His wife and three year old child were forced to leave the area as the Confederates approach.  After the battle their possessions were either stolen or destroyed.  The property is now owned by the National Park Service.
McLean Farm

Monday, June 24, 2013

Top 10 Battles to Choose in Gettysburg

1. Watch the Film at the Visitors Center to get a background on the landscape you are about to see. You can also acquire or pick up any tickets you may have ordered in advance.On your way in stop for a photo op with Mr. Lincoln. Go to see the Cyclorama also found at the visitors center.  The art work and the depiction of the sights and sounds of the Battle of Gettysburg will give you a vivid  description of what happened on July 1, 2 and 3 in 1863.  This year marks the 150th Anniversary.

2. Take a Tour.  There are several offered and can be purchased at the visitor's center or online.We opted for the a private tour with an Association of Licensed Battlefield GuideMr. James Tate escorted us around the battlefield and pointed out all the hot spots as well as some personal experience. He grew up in Gettysburg and was in the field as a young boy, the day President Roosevelt came for the dedication of the Eternal Light Peace Monument in 1938. He also showed us where his ancestor Solomon Tate, bugle boy for Company B was laid to rest on Cemetery Hill.

3. Make sure to find the location and the times of the Park Ranger Tours.  They are located at various times and places throughout the day.  They are free and they are great.  We took one at Soldiers Cemetery it was fabulous and FREE. Some of the unique things I learned from taking this tour is they do not know the exact spot where Lincoln delivered his speech and Lincoln was not the key speaker that day.  Also the remarkable story about how the identity of one of the unknown soldiers was discovered.  There were many unknown soldiers.  Some are identified merely by a number. Amos Humiston was killed at Gettysburg, he died clutching the photograph of his three children.  That is how he was later identified and the Philadelphia Inquirer helped in that search.

4. There are many museums throughout the town. Unfortunately, I only saw the one at the visitors center. It is a good one, make sure you spend some time there. I would have liked to have seen the wax museum, and also July 1, 2013 Gettysburg's Seminary Ridge Museum is scheduled to open.  The Seminary building was turned into one of the largest hospitals for both north and south civil war soldiers.  That should be a good museum to check out.

5. Walk the length of Baltimore Street from the Jennie Wade Museum all the way down to Lincoln Square and tour the David Willis House when you get there.  It is where Lincoln stayed when he came to town and delivered the Gettysburg Address. Check for days and times to tour these sites.

McClellan House where Jennie Wade, the only civilian casualty was killed.

David Willis House

6. Read all the way markers and plaques on the buildings as you walk along Baltimore Avenue to get a feel for the town. Observe the buildings with the civil war plaques.Those buildings were standing and survived the bloody war. The town was just as heavily impacted by the fighting yet only one civilian was killed. The heavy burden of dealing with all the wounded and the dead fell to the town's people. Any building that has a plague was there during the battle.  There are a lot of plagues throughout the town.  It is a location that preserves the memory of those who fought there and the spirit of those who died.

7.Catch a sunset atop the Pennsylvania Monument and also climb the monument and get a sense of where all the battles took place by reading the compass markers up there.

8. The entire Gettysburg National Park has over 1,320 monuments.  They all have a special significance and meaning. You can't possibly see them all in one visit but you will want to. Stop at the Eternal Light Peace Monument and pay your respects. "Peace eternal in a nation united". The figures represent the North and the South and the Eagle means united in strength. This is the one place you really get the message, we can not survive in a nation divided.

9.  Have dinner in town. My recommendations the Farnsworth House for dinner, try the spoon pudding.  The portions are huge so share if you can. The Dobbin House Tavern for lunch, they are famous for the French Onion Soup.

Spoon Pudding at the Farnsworth House
Dobbin House Tavern French Onion Soup
10. I always recommend a Bed and Breakfast and we stayed out of town in Chambersburg, PA at the Inn at Ragged Edge with a special history all its own.  It was built by Colonel Moorhead Kennedy and the architect was Frank Furness. Frank Furness was also a decorated civil war hero. Look at this house design. It is just one more of the architectural marvels he built. It is even more gorgeous inside. I loved the window and the view from the top of one of the landings.  It made me want to take the stairs more often.  One of the reasons, I would choose a bed and breakfast over a hotel is of course the food but also meeting other guests and sharing conversations about things they have seen in the area and learning about the areas they came from. I think the Inn at Ragged Edge is 10 stars!

There will be two civil war reenactments this year on July 4-7th and June 27-30th.  The actual date of the original battle took place on July 1, 2,and 3. I suppose you can change the date but you can not change the outcome, too many lives were lost. If you ask me this is a most disturbing and thought provoking souvenir.

It will be packed in Gettysburg in the upcoming weeks and reservations may be hard to come by but there might still be time to book for the Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in November and the fall foliage is just beautiful in Pennsylvania at that time of year. Gettysburg is a place all Americans should visit. It should have taught us a lesson, north, south, black, white, blue, gray, red, blue, the colors are red, white and blue.

What do the colors on the flag signify? explanation found at
White signifies purity and innocense
Red hardiness and valor
Blue signifies diligence, perseverance and justice.