Sunday, September 21, 2014

There's Just Something About a Train

Photo by Evan Brandt
Mike Schreiber of southern Ohio is one of those
people lucky 
enough to have his life revolve around trains.
I can't explain it, but it's true.

There is just something about railroads.

The country was built by railroads, but it it not an experience common to my generation.

I grew up in the suburbs of New York City and there was a train to Manhattan about once an hour.

I rode it often, and didn't think much about it.

I was surprised and disappointed when I moved to Pottstown to discover there was no similar service to Philadelphia.

I was fooled by the Security Plaza train station.

But I've also never taken a long trip on a train, despite the fact that for generations in America, it was the only way to get anywhere.
Photo by Evan Brandt
Be honest, don't you want to just jump on board
and go somewhere?

Pottstown is a car town and American has become a car nation. We like the idea of leaving when we want, arriving when we want, stopping when we want. It appeals to our sense of independence.

Trains are more of a communal experience. We all wait on the platform for the same train; we're all ride to together, accommodating each other in little ways. Nobody's screaming infant is in our car if we don't want them there.

The equivalent these days is air travel, which few view as a romantic experience the way we look at trains.

And for a sub-set of Americans, trains are the only way to go.

I've written a story in today's Mercury about those people (click here to read it) and, I must confess, after covering the auction of the Greenbrier Express's assets Thursday, visiting the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke dozens of times while visiting family; and reporting on the Colebrookdale Railroad's Secret Valley Line Project, I'm beginning to wonder it I'm not one of them.

Here's a video of one.

(Click here to see Kevin Hoffman's photos from that auction. The slide show contains a few too many photos of yours truly, but hat's between me and Kevin. Ignore them if you can)

They have very specific knowledge about a wide range of things I suspect the rest of us know nothing about and, I will confess again, that makes me curious and feeling a little bit like I've been left out of
Photo by Evan Brandt
Among the secret specific knowledge of train people are a seemingly
innate knowledge of that things like this are for.
something. Because they all seem quite happy about their secret knowledge.

And let's face it, most of the best James Bond movies (and murder mysteries) involve a train journey.

However, it seems like quite a commitment and I'm not sure I have the time to devote to it. But I will remain fascinated nonetheless.

Anyway, along those lines, here are the photos I Tweeted during the auction Thursday. I hope you enjoy them.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cut from Commoners' Cloth

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Pottsgrove Manor

Pottsgrove Manor will show visitors what their colonial ancestors wore to work with a living history program entitled, “Clothing the Common Sort” today Saturday, Sept. 20,  from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. historian Deborah Peterson will give show-and-tell presentations explaining the clothing of laboring men, women, and children in eighteenth-century America.

Throughout the day, the site’s living history volunteers will demonstrate various colonial chores, including cooking at the open hearth, while dressed in their working-class attire. 

Some activities will be hands-on, and visitors will get a chance to try on some of the reproduction clothes for themselves.

This program is being held in conjunction with the Manor’s current exhibit of both reproduction and original 18th-century garments, “To the Manor Worn: Clothing the 18th-Century Household,” which can be toured on the hour during the program. 

There is a suggested donation of $2 per person for this program. 

The museum shop will also be open throughout the event and will be having a special one-day-only sale—10% off all sewing-related items!

The clothing exhibit can also be toured during regular museum hours through Nov. 2: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

Tours are given on the hour. The last tour of the day begins at 3 p.m.. The site is closed Mondays and major holidays. 

Groups of ten or more should pre-register by calling 610-326-4014.

Pottsgrove Manor is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422, in Pottstown. 

Pottsgrove Manor is operated by Montgomery County under the direction of the Parks, Trails, and Historic Sites Division of the Assets and Infrastructure Department. 

For more information, please call 610-326-4014, or visit the website at

Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at

Friday, September 19, 2014

Welcome to the Team

Photo by Evan Brandt
Katina Bearden is the newest member of 
the Pottstown School Board
The Pottstown School Board welcomed its newest member Thursday night when Katina Bearden was sworn in by District Judge Scott Palladino.

Bearden took the oath of office after being selected by the board last week to replace Dennis Wausnock who died in office.

She was welcomed by the board members as well as Robert Decker, a Pottstown High School math teacher who is also a representative for the Pottstown Federation of Teachers.

The board also briefly discussed the ramifications of the passage a bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would allow teachers to carry firearms into schools.

They also discussed making the most of the student representatives on the school board and sending them to a conference on the subject, as well as meeting with their Pottsgrove School District counter part.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Casual for a Cause

Students and staff can pay to enjoy causal dress day starting this Friday in order to raise money to help their neighbors for the holidays.

Made popular last year as a way to raise money to replace the stadium lights at Grigg Memorial Field, several casual dress days this year have been set aside to raise money to keep children warm.

During the 2013 season, the "Keep Me Warm" provided 80 children with hats, gloves and scarfs, blankets, teddy bears, books and bags of snacks.

This year, Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness (PEAK) wants to do the same thing.

New gloves, hats and scarves are needed and can be dropped off at Barth Elementary School on West Walnut Street or Kinder Care, 1550 Industrial Highway.

Call Melissa Caballero at 484-977-0816 with questions or write to her at

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Native American Art Featured in ArtFusion Show

"Father Sky" by Joe Camaho
ArtFusion 19464 will open its next show, Rainbow Crow and Other Stories, with a special reception Friday.

Each piece is a unique interpretation of a Native American story, created in the artist's favorite medium.

Tickets for the reception, from 6 to 8 p.m., are only $20 and include wine, beverages, and appetizers from Bause Catering. 

ArtFusion is located at 254 E. High St. in Pottstown.

Those in attendance will also enjoy a performance by Native American singer-songwriter Terry Strongheart. (Check out Terry on Reverbnation.) 

You can purchase your tickets online here, or in person at ArtFusion. All proceeds help support the Rainbow Crow exhibit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Out on Bail, Ziegler Attends Township Meeting

Photo by Evan Brandt
The full board of supervisors was present for Monday's meeting. From left are Tony Kuklinski, Chairman John Stasik, Fred Ziegler and Township Manager Peter Hiryak.

The news of this meeting is, I suppose, how normal it was.

With three lawsuits going among present supervisors and former supervisors -- now one less, as embattled Supervisor Fred Ziegler has dropped his defamation lawsuit against the township -- thinks might be understandably tense.

The fact that the last time the supervisors met, Ziegler was absent because he was siting in a jail cell in Pottstown having just been arrested and charged with stealing from the township and corruption, made his appearance Tuesday night significant.

Related to that, Ziegler requested that supervisors get the bill list earlier so they have more time to review it. The fact that they often get it the night of the meeting was something Ziegler said was pointed out to him as a result of the fact that his votes are an element of the case against him.

There was also some interesting discussion about the deed for the Gilbertsville Firehouse, and an Eagle Scout project to improve trails in one of the township's open space parcels.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

Monday, September 15, 2014

11th Carousel of Flavor is a Hit!

Photo by Evan Brandt
By all reports, the icing on this Red Velvet cupcake from 
Batter-Up was quite stupendous.
The eleventh Carousel of Flavor restaurant festival was held on High Street Sunday and it was bigger and than ever.

This is, without a doubt, one of the best events Pottstown hosts, one of many, and that's saying something considering how fond I am of the Volleyball Rumble (where I get to serve -- drink -- Sly Fox Beer) and the growing swell of Halloween events in town.

Full disclosure: I have done grant work for the Carousel at Pottstown organization and been paid by them, but I would come to this restaurant festival if they had never paid me a penny.

Good fun, a classy event and hey, they've got a beer tent! (Wine too, if you like that sort of thing....)

I was there with my wife as a civilian, unofficial in ever way, but I couldn't help "documenting it," as my wife so correctly described it.
Photo by Evan Brandt
The day's food judges come from the culinary program
at Montgomery County Community College.

But hey, she also had a great idea: People love to take pictures of their food these days and a restaurant festival is tailor-made for that sort of thing.

(I did it on Twitter, but I think Instagram is the best vehicle for this next year. Keep your eyes peeled for hashtag suggestions next year.

Anyway, as your hometown newspaper, The Mercury was obviously on the scene, so I included the work of Mercury photo Chief John Strickler and Sunday reporter Frank Otto along with my own paltry menu choices here.

In fact, here is Frank's Tout video from the event:

And here are my Tweets from the event: