29 Jul 2009, 6:12pm

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Festival in the Park

Festival in the Park

     Kudos to the organizers of, the sponsors for, and the participants in this year’s Festival in the Park.  The best and most notable change was the absence of the tawdry, expensive, and tacky carnival rides.

    The parade on Friday evening was of moderate length with something for everyone.  Our local Volunteer Fire Department was resplendent with it’s trucks of all sizes accompanied by the rescue trucks and ambulance.  Our neighboring Fire Departments were well represented and we appreciate not only their participation in our parade, but the mutual aid they are always ready to give when needed. The John Deer Club had many vintage and modern tractors chugging along to remind us of our agricultural heritage and how far we’ve come.  There were Queens and their courts, as well as a Princess and her entourage. Yes, yes, politicians were a-plenty, handing out pamphlets, shaking hands, and asking for your vote.  The fuel-cell car drove by so quietly, I almost missed it.

     Our many and varied town organizations were represented by floats, marchers, and musical announcements:  churches, Historical Society, Friends of the Library, local businesses and others.

    Although there weren’t any equestrian groups, my guide dog really perked up her ears when the German Shepard Club marched by.  The adult fife and drum corps was fantastic. I especially like the drum rolls that serge through you with a primal urge to “run!”.  The children’s fife and drum corps were wonderful to watch and hear, knowing that before long, they’ll be in the adult group with their parents.

     The group that is nearest and dearest to my heart (okay, because my sons were in it.) was the BSA troop and Pack float.  They all worked very hard several previous evenings to build a river (out of the blue recycle boxes) with a kayak poised to go down the rapids.  Some how, there was even a crockadile lurking near-by.  Also, to illustrate the Go Green theme, was a windmill made out of recyclible plastic milk jugs and cardboard.  Great job, Scouts and Scouters.

    The parade ended in the park where it was fun to meet and greet our neighbors among the many local organizations with their fund raising events, such as hamburgers, hots, beef on wick, sodas, fried dough, well, you know, lots to eat and drink. All for good, local causes.

    One of the popular activities was the Scout Dunking Booth.  Imagine, an adult Scouter in full uniform being dunked by (as our 8-year old said)  “a girl!”   Hey, she was a straight shooter.

    Saturday was just as fun-filled and exciting with marathon races, a movie, an entertaining dance band, and a fabulous finale of fireworks.

    Yes, yes, you may have the mistaken idea that a small town festival is hokey, but, when it is your own home-town with your own neighbors, it’s a  lot of safe fun and a great way to make a lassting memory.

    Can the return of the Dance on Main Street be coming soon?

(Copyright © 2009 by Kate Chamberlin)

23 Jul 2009, 5:35pm

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Schools as big Business


Business Protocol

a.k.a  Schools are Big Business

“Gosh, I almost forgot to call the school,” a mother recently lamented as she rushed to a phone. “My son won’t be in school today.”

“Oh,” I said sympathetically when she returned. “he must really be sick.”

“no, he went deer hunting with his Dad,”  she sighed.  “Actually, he doesn’t really like to hunt, but, he likes to be with his Dad.”

I am not against deer hunting.  I understand all about culling the herd and male bonding. (What I’m really against is donkey basketball, but that’s another topic for another column.)

My gripe is about why this woman, who is a kind lady and a good Mother, just compromised her values and lied to cover up for her son who was doing something he didn’t even really want to do.

In another incident, a student had his parent’s permission to go on a long week-end ski trip.  He missed one day of school. 

When the school found out, they prevented him from going on the Senior Class Trip. His attendance at graduation was put in jeopardy when the parents objected to the consequence  imposed on their son.

School districts are big, multi-million dollar businesses.

I’ve always considered “going to school” a child’s job.  Learning should be their top priority.  They work for grades instead of money.

Perhaps schools should allow each high school student to take three personal days per school year. (I also think school should be year-round, just like other big businesses, but here again, another topic for another column.)

Such a policy would foster personal responsibility and ethical honesty.

It would be the high school student’s, not the parent’s  responsibility to notify the school at least one day in advance of taking a personal day.  Upon returning to school, the student’s written excuse would simply say Personal Day.

The students should have the freedom to choose which days to use as personal time.  They should be responsible for catching-up on the class notes and homework, but, may not make-up any missed tests.  The ethical dilemma about being dishonest would not exist. There would be no need for an attendance cover-up.

If the    purpose of a student’s going to school is to become able to function well in our community, then, accepting the responsibility of when to take a   personal day is more consistent with business protocol.

   Kate’s 2-cents: Wayne Central is looking into the feasibility of running a day-care.  Over thirty years ago, when I was a substitute teacher, I recommended that a day-care be established for teacher’s and substitute teacher’s children.  And, while I don’t condone free-sex or extra-marital sex, In this day and age, I suspect the day-care should be expanded to include the pre-schoolers of teenage parent’s, while the teen is in school or until his/her class graduates.  I would include mandatory rotation of the teens to be an aid in the nursery to help them learn how to be responsible parents, as well as earn their high school diploma.

   What are your thoughts on this topic?  Give your friendly school board member a call.  They’re all listed in the district calendar.

Copyright Dec04-06 WCSTAR, Mar08-07 WCMAIL by Kate Chamberlin

16 Jul 2009, 4:48pm

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Grandma’s Apron



 Did you make an apron in Home Ec (a.k.a. Home and Careers)?

 I don’t think our kids know what an apron is.  The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans and apple pies from the oven.

    It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.     

    From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

    When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

 And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.  Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.  Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

    From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

    In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.  When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

    When the noon-day dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to eat. Eventually, the apron was lovingly cut into squares and sewn into a quilt.

    Metaphorically, the apron strings kept us close to home and the safety of our family.

    It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that old-time apron that served so many purposes.

    They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron, but, I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron.

PS. Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.  Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw. 

(from a well-traveled e-mail)     


8 Jul 2009, 5:12pm

Comments Off on Once Upon A Father’s Day

Once Upon A Father’s Day


Column To: Mike Sorenson, Editor,

06/11/2009 Wayne County Mail Newspaper


        by Kate Chamberlin

  986-1267 E-mail: KATHRYNGC@JUNO.COM

     Copyright ©2009 by Kate Chamberlin



Once upon a father’s day


    Once upon a Father’s Day, this mother remembers feeling shoved aside, useless and forgotten.

    Our younger son (then 26) swooped in from out-of-town with his family and declared, “Dad, you’re not allowed to do anything today.  I’m going to do it all.”  And thus, it was. 

    Yes, after all, it  was Father’s Day.  Paul enlisted the aid of his then 28-year old brother, Will,  to go grocery and beverage shopping.  They came home with more bundles than Dave and I get in a month!

Our daughter-in-law had sent her shopping list with Paul and she quickly set her 11-years old daughter to work chopping veggies for dip and a special pasta/vegetable salad that she is famous for.  Will iced the beverages and prepared the gas grill, while teasing his Dad a bout how great this was going to be.

Paul made quite a flourish of preparing the barbequed ribs and steaks to perfection, reminding his Dad that he knew exactly how to cook them to Dave’s standards.  He timed the corn to be cooked thoroughly but not mushy exactly when the meat was ready to serve.

Our daughter stacked the plates, flatware and napkins on the table, so the buffet could begin whenever the food was ready.  Dave was reading storybooks to Tyler and John at the far end of the porch.

So, where was I?  Well, they had seated me at my usual spot at the corner of the porch dining table.  I couldn’t supervise, kibitz or even really know what was going on from that vantage point and it made me frustrated.  Someone pushed a brew into my hand and said, “isn’t this great, Mom?”  I wasn’t sure if he meant the party or the brew, but after one sip, I was glad to recognize they’d bought Michelob.  It didn’t seem right to sit and drink all by myself, so I left it alone.

Then I heard a small whimper from the open guest room window across the patio from my porch perch.  The others were so busy, they didn’t hear my little, 6-month old granddaughter say her happy nappy was over. I slipped out of my designated chair, avoided the kitchen and went into Paul’s first born, Alexandra Grace.  I knew right where to find the antique cradle with the real rubber wheels and found she was happily kicking her legs and shaking her blanket.  She wasn’t startled to see me and she didn’t cry when I changed her tiny diaper.  She held my fingers with her firm, steady grip as we sat on the floor playing pat-a-cake and singing Row, Row Your Boat.  She rewarded my singing with gentle, juicy raspberries and snuggled her fuzzy head into my neck when I told her how much her Mimi loved her.  I didn’t feel shoved aside or useless as long as I was holding this precious , little bundle.

    Through the open window, I heard plates clink and Tyler ask in his loud child’s voice, “Where’s Mimi?’  Up until then, no one had missed me. Even my guide dog stayed slumbering on her porch rug, so, she didn’t miss me either. Eventually, we were discovered and had to rejoined the festivities on the porch. 

Oh Dear Gussie.    My attitude in the beginning was totally wrong.  Now I say, “let others do the work and please pass the baby.”

    Happy Father’s Day to all you Daddies!

©2001, 2009 by Kate Chamberlin)

1 Jul 2009, 3:55pm

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Steam Powered Toys

Steam Powered Toys 

Saturday afternoon, during a recent high school reunion weekend in PA,  we drove to Auburn Heights, Delaware to check out Stanley Steamer Cars and “Steamin” Trains in a beautiful preserve that was the ancestral home of Tom Marshall.  He has donated the property and his “toy collection” to the Delaware Parks Department.  Louie Mandich was the host for this really unique and fascinating experience. 

    A volunteer named Dan gave us a lift up the hill in his little jitney and RoseAnne was our tour guide.  She literally let down the barriers so I could feel everything from the really cool 1910 Stanley Steamer car from bumper to steam whistle, to brakes, to pistons, to water tanks, and kerosene lanterns. 

    In the parlor display, I  touched the top-of-the-line coal/wood stove with nickel high-lights, dough box and  fire-box.  I learned the difference

between a flat iron and a round iron, a milk pail and lunch pail, and even checked-out the cherry pitter.  I also have a certificate to prove I conducted

the steam-powered orchestra. 

    Mr. Marshall did a demonstration on how to fire up a steam powered car with it’s intricate valves, fuel tank, water reservoir,

levers, and burners to heat the water.     

    There were opportunities for young and old to ride a steam powered bus, model train, and electric car.  The steam powered popcorn popper was complete with a little clown

“pulling” the lever to make the whole thing work. 

    There were several antique cars on display and I was chagrinned to find that a 1952 Chevy was among them.  My first car was a brown and tan 1954 Chevy  we called Charlie! 

    Unfortunately, it rained the whole time we were touring in and out of the buildings and grounds, but we had a lot of fun and really appreciated

how accommodating Dan, RoseAnne and all the volunteers were.  I heartily recommend a visit to the Steam Museum the next time you’d like a special trip with or without your

children/grand-children.   For more information, contact:


Copyright © 2009 by Kate Chamberlin

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