From the Independent • Mt. Airy News Stories

April 15, 2010 • April 15th Mt. Airy Independent PDF

In This Issue

The Stories

  1. Sestak, Toomey Square Off at LaSalle

  2. D.A. Williams Promises ‘Smart’ Approach to Crime

  3. 40 Years, 40 Prizes at 2010 Mt. Airy Day

  4. Walker and Fowler First Black Major Leaguers

  5. Poetry to Edify at Church of the Brethren

  6. YMCA Members Meeting

  7. Sites Team Up for ‘Great Day on Great Road’

  8. Candidates Forum for Senate, State Races

  9. 9th Ward Democrats Endorse Endorse Sestak

  10. Germantown Poetry Festival  Spotlights Young Spoken Word Artists

  11. Spring Gardening Classes at Morris

  12. $2 Million for Nugent Project

  13. Dine at Trolley Care, Help MARC

  14. Talk on Wissahickon Stewardship

  15. Scholarship Concert at Second Baptist

  16. New Redeem Apostolic Week

  17. At Grace Epiphany

  18. Oxford Choir

  19. Review: ‘The Violet Hour’ – Moral Questions with a Sci-Fi Twist

Madeline Magee (left) and Sheila Slater (right), both members of the Duval Improvement Association, were two of a small army of volunteers that fanned out across the Northwest last Saturday to add their efforts to the city’s annual Spring Clean-Up. Duval members collected at the triangle bounded by Johnson Street, Wayne Avenue and Lincoln Drive (where Magee and Slater were working) and then spread outward. Nearby, West Mt. Airy Neighbors volunteers worked at clearing and cleaning the intersection of Johnson Street and the Drive, the location of the former “gateway” pillars that are in the process of being restored to their former condition.

Sestak, Toomey Square Off at LaSalle


Guest Writer

U.S. Senate candidates Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey squared off in a debate Sunday evening, April 11 at La Salle University that touched on the economy and health care, with some boisterous input from the audience.

Sestak, a Democratic congressman representing Pennsylvania’s 7th District, will face off against incumbent Senator Arlen Specter in next month’s Democratic primary, while Toomey is considered the frontrunner for the Republican nomination after nearly upsetting Specter in the Republican primary six years ago. Specter changed parties last year, and did not appear at the debate.

Toomey was critical of Democratic efforts, including the recently-passed health care bill and government bailouts, which he said are saddling the country with debt instead of creating new jobs.

“I have spent most of my adult life creating jobs,” said Toomey, a businessman and former congressman from the Lehigh Valley. “I know what it takes to do this.” 

Sestak praised the Democrats’ move to reform health care, especially to ban insurers from refusing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and rejected a question that suggested that Democrats were “waging war” on people who make lots of money.

“I believe we should invest in people, not Wall Street,” Sestak said. “During the eight-year Bush administration, no jobs were created. None! Since 2001, ten million Americans have lost health care.”

While the two candidates didn’t agree on much, they expressed respect for each other and criticism of Specter.

That civility between the candidates was a contrast, at times, to some audience members who asked questions that seemed to violate the rules of the debate.  When moderator Bill Bova of Pennsylvania Cable Network tried to enforce the rules on one questioner, the questioner exclaimed “god ****!”

The 75-minute debate was televised on Pennsylvania Cable Network.  It began with introductions by Dr. Mary Ellen Balchunis, an assistant professor of political science, and an explanation of the rules from Bova.

One La Salle student, Maria Muscara, former president of the La Salle College Republicans, later said that the debate should have used a different format, including asking for written questions from the audience.

“It would have run more smoothly this way, and it wouldn’t have allowed people to abuse the privilege of the microphone,” said Muscara.

Shauna McNally is a student in La Salle University’s community journalism class.

D.A. Williams Promises ‘Smart’ Approach to Crime


Staff Writer

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams met with Northwest residents in a town hall meeting at Simons Recreation Center in West Oak Lane on April 1 to explain some of his major strategies for dealing with crime.

“We’re going to try to be smart on crime,” he told a crowded audience. “We have to change the way we use our limited resources.”

Williams said Philadelphia leads the nation in the amount of felony prosecutions that are thrown out of court. To change that, he wants to focus on two major initiatives. They are: restructuring the way assistant district attorneys are assigned to their cases; and placing a heavier prosecutorial and enforcement initiative on violent crimes, while adopting a more forgiving and creative posture on less serious, first time offenses.

According to Williams the most common element among all the people who get arrested in Philadelphia is that most didn’t finish high school. And, he said, all those currently serving sentences for shooting police officers started their criminal career as truants.

Based on facts like those, Williams wants to create a way to get first-time offenders out of the criminal justice system and back into school. He’s calling this effort the Back on Track program.

Instead of spending $40,000 per year to send these offenders to prison, the city could save money and help reduce future crime by investing in their futures, he said, through community service and about $5,000 worth of drug counseling, training in job trades, and basic literacy or GED classes.  The overall idea is to help remove some of the barriers to making an honest living.

“Don’t get me wrong, selling crack is bad… but there has got to be a way that we can intervene in the lives of these young people that made a bad decision,” Williams said.

(The next week Williams announced support for a plan to change the charge of possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana - approximately an ounce – from a misdemeanor to a summary offense, which would reduce the penalty and speed the court process.)

At the same time, Williams hoped that communities would begin to use his office’s Public Nuisance Task Force to knock back public drug use and drinking in the neighborhoods. The task force has the ability to translate this kind of chronic behavior into legal actions against the properties that they occur in and around. Neighbors can make anonymous complaints and the city, after proving certain properties are nuisances, can seize those properties and sell them as a means of cleaning them up.

“To see how a house goes from being a bad house to a good house  - it changes the whole tenor of the block,” said Public Nuisance Task Force Chief Beth Grossman.

The money saved by using approaches like this, and boosting Town Watch programs, which Williams said can have a major impact on property crimes like burglaries that tend to be common in the northwest, could result in a significant re-investment on preventing and prosecuting violent crime. It is a change of view that Williams said the city needs badly.

Williams likened the chance of getting a felony conviction in Philadelphia to winning the lottery – less than one in six, he said. Focusing less effort on the low level crimes and more on the serious ones can make a big difference, according to him.

Going after the gun problem in Philadelphia will be a big part of that, he said. And he’ll do it by trying to change gun laws and by focusing enforcement effort on the people who sell, and even rent guns illegally.

As for prosecution and the way his office will be handling cases, Williams wants big changes there too. Often in the old system, he said, prosecutors would not get the details of their case until sometimes minutes before they were expected to act on it. And even when the timetable wasn’t that restrictive, prosecutors would often go into a case without any familiarity with the details.

That’s why Williams wants to assign many of his 318 prosecutors geographically, he said. That is so that they will become familiar with the local details and crime patterns of the neighborhood, as well as the police who cover it, even before a new case comes across their desk.

Williams believes that by knitting prosecutors more tightly to the neighborhoods their cases originate in, and focusing less effort on less serious crimes and more effort on violent crimes, he can not only boost the rates of felony convictions in the city but increase the overall efficiency of crime prevention.

“It’s not the severity of punishment,” he said. “It’s the certainty of punishment.”

40 Years, 40 Prizes at 2010 Mt. Airy Day



The 40th anniversary of Mt. Airy Day, organized by East and West Mt. Airy Neighbors,  is coming soon, and what better way to celebrate those 40 years than with 40 prizes on Saturday, May 1?

The raffle drawing for cash prizes - with winners often plucked from the bin of entries by the Mayor – is a highlight of the afternoon. But this year, there’ll be more. “It’s 40 years, 40 cash prizes,” said Janet Amato, vendor chair. “In addition to the money the 40 prizes are being donated by businesses and friends.”

Also new for this year, said Amato, there will be an arts and crafts area where children will be able to make “Happy Birthday Mt. Airy Day” cards. “They’ll each make their own individual cards and we’ll have a clothesline to hang them on,” said Amato.

As it has for more than a decade, the festival will take place on the grounds of Cliveden of the National Trust and Upsala across the street on the 6400 block of Germantown Avenue.  Upsala will be the site of the ever-popular children’s games. In addition to the usual games for kids of all ages, there will be inflatable rides and bounces provided by Starbright Amusements, according to Chelsea Badeau, in charge of ordering the games.

May 1 (rain date May 2) will be a busy time along the Avenue. More than 150 tables and displays will fill the grounds, featuring crafts, vendors and  organizations of all kinds. Music will fill the air (fair hours are 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.) , with a variety of food vendors along Germantown Avenue. There will a plant sale organized by Weavers Way Co-op as well as tours of Cliveden.

To put up, manage, and take down all this takes many hands and the Mt. Airy Day Committee is always seeking volunteers to help out. To become a volunteer or a vendor call the EMAN office at  215-242-4170 or email  For more information visit the website at

Walker and Fowler First Black Major Leaguers


Guest Writer

Editor’s note: this is the first in a series of articles called “Black Diamonds”  on the history of African American baseball,  commemorating the 25th anniversary of Mt. Airy Baseball. Mt Airy Baseball honors this great tradition by calling its senior and tournament teams the “Stars,” paying tribute to the former Philadelphia Stars team of the Negro Leagues.

Baseball made a quick impact on American cities in the late 19th century. Veterans of the Civil War, especially in Philadelphia, helped make the game a popular pastime.

Sadly, the racism of the time meant that African Americans had a short history in the early professional game.

Bud Fowler and Moses Fleetwood Walker were the first African Americans to play “professional’ baseball. Many veterans of the Civil War played for early Philadelphia and Camden teams including the Philadelphia Excelsiors. Baseball remained open to African Americans in the 1870s  and 80s before being shut down due to racism – the “color barrier” - for the next 70 years.

Bud Fowler, born John W. Jackson, played the most professional baseball games of any African American until Jackie Robinson completed his 11th season in 1956.  He was a pitcher and catcher, who is credited with having invented shin guards.  Fowler supported himself as a barber during his playing career in the 1870s and 1880s. Fowler played for a number of teams across the Midwest, including the Keokuk IA, Stillwater MN and Terre Haute, IN nines.

Moses Fleetwood Walker played varsity baseball for Oberlin College and the University of Michigan in 1881-83.  Walker, like other African-American players, faced hostility and scorn from other players, most notably Chicago Cubs star Cap Anson.  Walker played for Toledo and Louisville of the American Association in 1884. In 1887 Walker moved to the International League Newark Little Giants. He caught for star pitcher George Stovey, forming the first known African American battery.

But baseball was quickly closing the color barrier and in 1887 the International League owners voted 6 to 4 to exclude contracts to future African Americans. Star players were  refusing to play in games with African American players. After that season the National League and American Asssociation both “unofficially” banned black players, making the adoption of Jim Crow in baseball complete.

African Americans and other “colored” baseball players would continue to play baseball in their own leagues and to barnstorm against white teams during the ensuing years. The color barrier would be in place until 1946 when Jackie Robinson would break it by signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization.

Mt. Airy Baseball is looking for pictures of former players from the early years.  Did you or your child play baseball in the late 80’s or early 90’s with Mt. Airy Baseball? 

Email copies of pictures to

Poetry to Edify at Church of the Brethren

Poet-Ify - Poetry to Edify will celebrate National Poetry Month with our “Salute to Youth” on Sunday, April 25, 3:30 – 7 p.m. at Germantown Church of the Brethren Fellowship Hall, 6611 Germantown Avenue.

Twice a year, POET-IFY welcomes young poets to come and share an open mic in a family friendly, profanity-free atmosphere because there are young people who don’t have to curse to make a point.

Music will be provided by the MTM Band. Refreshments will be served. Tickets are now available.

For more information contact Poet Ebo 215-495-8679 or email to

YMCA Members Meeting

The Germantown Y annual membership meeting will take place Saturday, April 17, 1 p.m., at the Germantown Y, 5722 Greene Street. The meeting will be held in the Residential Section located in the rear of the building.

Sites Team Up for ‘Great Day on Great Road’

Bring your family and friends to Vernon Park on Sunday, April 18 from 1-4 p.m. when Historic Germantown hosts its second annual “A Great Day on the Great Road” Festival.  Join Germantown’s 15 historic and cultural landmarks as they celebrate the history and community of Philadelphia’s historic northwest through live music, food, costumed reenactors and activities for the whole family. 

This year’s performers will include jazz great Byard Lancaster, with sets at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., as well as actor James C. Roberts, portraying famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass on stage at 2 p.m.  Returning for a second year is the ever-popular Ned Hector, a free Black Revolutionary War-era soldier, portrayed by reenactor Noah Lewis.  Local storyteller Irma Gardner-Hammond, in character as Stenton’s enslaved African housekeeper Dinah, will entertain festival visitors alongside the Stenton tent throughout the afternoon. 

Representatives from each of Historic Germantown’s member sites will feature family oriented activities, such as papermaking, storytelling, historic kids’ games, and more. Narrated minibus tours of highlights along the “Great Road” will be available and First Presbyterian Church will be open for tours of their historic murals, created by famed local muralist Violet Oakley.  In addition, festival-goers can enjoy food and a spring plant sale.  Select craftspeople will be on hand to demonstrate and sell traditional wares including weaving, marbleized scarves and 18th century style sweets.

For this year’s festival, Historic Germantown is delighted to be premiering videos from Germantown Speaks, a multigenerational oral history project documenting discussions between local high school students and longtime Germantown residents.  The project, a collaboration between Historic Germantown, the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement (NIM) and others, is part of Germantown WORKS , a year-long Historic Germantown program initiative highlighting the hard-working spirit of Germantown’s people throughout its 300 year history.  Germantown WORKS is supported by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program.

The 2nd Annual “Great Day” festival is focused on introducing the community to the wealth of history right in its own backyard. The name “Great Road” is a nod to the history of Germantown Avenue, once an Indian trail and the historic artery that runs through the northwest. 

For more information, please email or call 215-844-1683.  This event was made possible through the generous support of Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation and State Representative John Myers.

Admission is free and open to the public. Vernon Park is located on near the corner of Germantown Avenue and Chelten Avenue.  

Historic Germantown is a consortium of fifteen cultural and historic sites located in Northwest Philadelphia.  Our members range from historic houses to an art museum and arboretum. The mission of Historic Germantown is to foster an appreciation of the diverse character and meaning of our cultural heritage in order to preserve and revitalize our community.  To this end, we cooperate in providing knowledge and resources to help preserve Germantown’s historic sites, interpret them to the public, and incorporate them into the life of the local community.  For more information about Historic Germantown visit

Candidates Forum for Senate, State Races

On Wednesday, April 28, 7 p.m., at the Brossman Center of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Avenue, several Philadelphia organizations have joined together to host a political forum for invited U.S. Senate, gubernatorial, and lieutenant governor candidates.   

This forum will be moderated by Sheinelle Jones, morning co-anchor of Good Day Philadelphia of Fox 29, and Elmer Smith, columnist and Editorial Board member of the Philadelphia Daily News. 

The forum will be broadcast live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). The following candidates have confirmed their attendance:  U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (contingent upon voting schedule); U.S. Representative Joe Sestak (contingent upon voting schedule); Auditor General Jack Wagner; State Senator Anthony H. Williams; Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato; Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel; and the Honorable Doris Smith-Ribner.

These organizations are hosting this forum:  NAACP, Philadelphia Chapter; East Mt. Airy Neighbors; The 5 Guys PAC; Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia; Action PAC; National Pan-Hellenic Council of Philadelphia; Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Philadelphia Alumni Chapter;; 2000 African American Women; and the African American Chamber of Commerce (PA, NJ, and DE).

9th Ward Democrats Endorse Endorse Sestak

The Ninth Ward Democratic Committee representing Chestnut Hill and part of Mt. Airy, endorsed Rep. Joe Sestak for the United States Senate at an April 6 meeting. After remarks from Congressman Sestak and a member of Sen. Arlen Specter’s campaign staff, the committee voted 19-11 to endorse Sestak in the May 18 Democratic primary. Ninth Ward leader John O’Connell said the first-term congressman from Delaware County  “… just flat out impressed us with his work ethic, his vision for a 21st century congress and his leadership.” The 9th Ward also endorsed State Representative Cherelle Parker and Congressman Fattah for reelection. Both are running unopposed in the primary election May 18.

Germantown Poetry Festival  Spotlights Young Spoken Word Artists


Guest Writer

The 4th Annual Germantown Poetry Festival, scheduled for this Saturday, April 17, will return to its roots by highlighting the work of student poets.

In previous years, the festival focused more on the adult poets with national reputations, though the youth poets were always a big hit.

“We realized that we had gotten away from the focus on the youth poets and we really wanted to return to that,” said Yolanda Palacio, director of the festival and an English teacher at Germantown Friends School.

“I’m looking forward to meeting so many other poets and just share my poems with the community,” says Natyna Osbourne, a senior at the High School for Creative and Performing Arts. “The energy is drawing me to this.”

The festival will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Yarnell Auditorium at Germantown Friends, 31 West Coulter Street, between Germantown Avenue and Greene Street. Entrance to the festival is free, although donations will be accepted. It also will be broadcast live on G-Town Radio (

The event was created in 2006 after a teacher at Germantown High School was attacked by a student and seriously injured. Teachers from both Germantown High and Germantown Friends saw a poetry festival both as an opportunity to create an after-school program to engage students and also to bring both schools closer, said Palacio. The teachers hoped the students would begin to channel their thoughts and feelings into their poetry.

The year’s festival will feature performances from at least five youth groups, including young poets who participate in Saturday workshops, poetry teachers who were guest speakers during the workshops, student alumni from the previous three festivals, and several other youth groups from around the city, said Palacio.

Palacio said she hopes that people will leave the festival inspired by the talents and insights of the students. She believes people will be surprised by the depth of thought of the young poets.

Palacio wants those who attend to understand that these students are looking for a way to express themselves and be heard. They can do that through poetry and this event gives them the opportunity to share their thoughts with others in their community, she said.

And, added student poet Osborne, “I get to do what I love, which is read, recite and share poetry.”

Allison Cronk is a student in La Salle University’s community journalism class.

Spring Gardening Classes at Morris

With the fabulous warm weather of late, spring has come into full bloom and everyone seems to be out in their garden.  Dig into the new season with a class at Morris Arboretum. 

For practical tips on how to plan your garden, register for “Dependable Perennials for Low Maintenance Gardening” on Tuesday, April 20. (Problem solving perennials will also be featured at this year’s plant sale on May 9 and 10.)  “Soil Biology and its Effects on Tree Management” on Monday, May 10 will examine the structural and chemical composition of soil.  Learn how to add your own artistic touches that reflect your personality to your garden on Saturday, June 19 through “Integrating Stylish Art and Accents in your Garden.”

Sign up for one of these classes or pick another course of your choosing from more than 50 offered this spring covering topics in horticultural, arts & crafts, kid fun, landscape design, floral design and trips that take you behind the scenes with experts.  With the wide range of subjects offered, everyone is sure to find a class that interests them and will come away with a new found knowledge of nature.  Times and costs vary, so check the website, or call 215-247-5777 for more information.

The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is located at 100 East Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill. 

$2 Million for Nugent Project

On Thursday, April 8, Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller announced the recipients of a total of $5.1 million in affordable housing support. These awards will be used to create housing opportunities in affordable housing developments throughout the Eighth Council District.

Each of the developments was selected through a competitive Request for Proposal process overseen by the City’s Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD). The funding is sourced from Community Development Block Grants, both annual and additional funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, HOME and the City’s Housing Trust Fund.

The following developments in the 8th District that were selected to receive affordable housing funding:

Forgotten Blocks III, a five-unit, in-fill new construction by the Allegheny West Foundation, received $653,230. This North Philadelphia development is part of a larger neighborhood revitalization effort.

Nugent Senior Apartments, a 26-unit rehabilitation of the former Nugent Home for Baptists in Mt. Airy, received $2 million. The developer for this project is the Philadelphia Preservation Group.

1900 West Allegheny Avenue, a 60-unit, low-income senior housing development, received $2.5 million. This development is new construction and will be built on a former industrial brownfield. The developer is NewCourtland Elder Services.

Dine at Trolley Care, Help MARC

On April 19 - 25 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 3 – 9 p.m., Mt. Airy Revitalization Corporation (MARC) is holding afundraising event at Mt. Airy’s Trolley Car Diner and Deli, 7619 Germantown Avenue. As part of its Helping Hands Week fundraising program, the diner will donate 15 percent of the revenue from diners to help support MARC’s community development efforts. 

MARC was established to stimulate economic development in Mt. Airy.  MARC has achieved this through streetscape improvement projects, business assistance, neighborhood beautification and bringing resources to the community.

Support it by enjoying a dining experience at Trolley Car Diner and Deli.

Contact John Ungar at 215-548-5950 or  to request a coupon for this fundraiser.

Talk on Wissahickon Stewardship

The Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) will present Stewardship Challenges in the Wissahickon, a lecture by Sarah West at Cathedral Village, 600 East Cathedral Road, in Cathedral Hall, on Wednesday, April 21, at 7 p.m.

This PowerPoint program takes a trip along the Wissahickon Creek from its origin near Montgomeryville Mall to its outlet at the Schuylkill River. In addition to an overview of the watershed, West will discuss flooding and flood damage, water runoff, pollution and sedimentation, invasive plants, deer overpopulation, loss of biodiversity, and repairs and restoration. 

Sarah West is retired from Germantown Friends School where she taught biology, earth sciences, and physics. The author of a short book on Wissahickon science and history, she currently serves as a Trail Ambassador for the Friends of the Wissahickon and is a member of its Speakers Bureau. She is also a former FOW Board member.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Register online at or by calling 215-247-0417 ext. 104. Spaces are limited.

Scholarship Concert at Second Baptist

Young people are first taught the notes of a keyboard: a, b, c, d, e, f and g. Then they learn the sharp and flat keys. Over time, misplaced notes bloom into a magnificent chorus played on resonator bells, hand bells, recorders, or sung by our young people at Second Baptist Church of Germantown, 6459 Germantown Avenue.  A dedicated entourage of gifted women and men at SBCG is leading our youth into learning more than music to support personal growth and development.

An amazing orchestra of talented educators and professional guides our youth to excel in life and reach superior levels of achievement. An example of the quality demonstrated by this American Baptist USA church is its 10th annual scholarship concert that will take place Sunday, April 18, 3 p.m. It’s an event that raises fund to send out youth to colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning.

The artists headlining this afternoon of fine music are trained in classical music by the best. Native Philadelphian Dr. Theodore Jones attended Settlement Music School of Philadelphia and Morehouse College. Ms. DeVonne Gardner worked many years with Duke Ellington and his band.  Accomplished organist and music director Theodore Thomas, Jr. completes the trio. All are top artists trained in the classical works of Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn, Mozart and others.

This event will be filed with classical, gospel and spiritual songs. Seeing and hearing these three at work represents the talent devoted to serving the youth of our community. SBCG invites the public to join us as we present an extraordinary gift of time and talent to lead our youth to greater heights.

In eleven years, the SBCG Scholarship Committee has contributed $47,500 in scholarship money to 21 high school students.

New Redeem Apostolic Week

New Redeem Apostolic Church, 5001 Germantown Avenue, invites you to Apostolic Week 2010. Come looking for your miracle and a fresh anointing. Bring the sick, those with substance abuse problems, and those needing salvation. Come and experience four nights of heaven on earth.

Events run April 20-23 and feature Tuesday, April 20, Pastor Edith Mareno of Gospel Highway 11; Wednesday, April 21, Bishop Benjamin F. Peterson of Greater Way Bible Temple; Thursday, April 22, Bishop K. Washington of Ambassador Seed of Love Church, Inc.; and Friday, April 23, Rev. Dr. Bobby Scales, Faith Outreach Ministry for All People. Services begin at 7:30 p.m. nightly. For information call the church at 215-848-4246.

At Grace Epiphany

The Altar Guild of Grace Epiphany Church presents its annual  Luncheon and Card Party Saturday, April 17, noon to 4 p.m. Do you enjoy bridge, double deck or board games? Then plan to attend this annual favorite. Bring your friends. For more information or to register call 215-247-9142. Grace Epiphany Church is at the corner of Gowen Avenue and Ardleigh Street. There is ample parking.

Then later that day at 8 p.m., Ancient Voices will be in concert at the church. The popular University of Pennsylvania early music vocal ensemble, using early instruments, offers an evening of medieval and renaissance music from Spain, Italy, France and England including music of Encina,  Mantovano, Monteverdi, and William Byrd and a complete mass by Josquin Desprez. A freewill offering for the Church’s missions and ministries will be gratefully accepted.

Oxford Choir

The Men and Boys Choir of New College, Oxford, founded in the 14th century, will end its seven-city, two-week American tour at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, 22 East Chestnut Hill Avenue, with a concert on Friday, April 23 at 8 p.m.

For the past 650 years, the choir has been one of the most respected and, in recent years, most recorded ensembles in the world. The concert includes pieces spanning more than 500 years of sacred music including contemporary composer Jonathan Dove’s Ecce Beatam Lucem,  John Taverner’s  Mater Christi, Thomas Tallis’s In Ieiunio et Fletu,  Herbert Howells’ Take Him Earth for Cherishing, Jonathan Harvey’s I Love the Lord, and more. In addition there will be organ interludes of music by John Bull, Edward Elgar and Louis Vierne.

Tickets are $10 for seniors and students, $15 for general admission, $35 for preferred seating, and either $100 for a single patron or $150 for a patron couple.

Tickets may be purchased through the St. Paul’s website,, by calling 215-242-2055, or at the door.

Pampering Party

Attention, ladies: envision yourself surrounded by the glow of candlelight, soothing music, and the essence of aromatherapy, a day of relaxation with pampering products to soothe your body, mind, and spirit. Through this special offer your group of ladies can take part in a Pre-Mothers Day Pampering Party at TLC SPA Salon on Saturday, May 1. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., at Trinity Lutheran Church, 5300 Germantown Avenue. 

The menu will feature several services packages, including express manicure, express pedicure, express facial and mini-massage. Additional services are available. There is a 45-minute or $20 minimum per guest. A complementary brunch is included. For information or reservations call Trinity at 215-848-8150 or 215-603-2059.   Proceeds will benefit the ministries of the church.

Review: ‘The Violet Hour’ – Moral Questions with a Sci-Fi Twist


Guest Writer

“The Violet Hour,” a play by Richard Greenberg and directed by Patrick Martin, is now running at the Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Avenue.

It is April 1, 1919. John Pace Severing is an Ivy League product, just returned from military service in The Great War. John’s father has bankrolled his very small publishing venture, giving him just enough cash to set up a two-room office in a Manhattan office tower, hire an eccentric man-of-all-work named Gidger, and produce one book. But which book shall it be? The future of Severing’s business, the futures of other people, maybe the future of all Western culture depends on it.

How can so much depend on the publication of one book?

A machine – a contraption – is delivered to Severing’s offices. No one there has ordered or purchased it. No one knows where it comes from. But shortly, it begins to print out the pages of books that have yet to be written; books that will be published between 1919 and the end of the 20th Century, pages that foretell the future of mankind and the future of literature for the next 80 years.

Is the machine a gift or a curse?

A fascinating think-piece, an entertaining and unusual bit of sci-fi/fantasy, this play introduces Brian Weiser, Bradley Johnson, Danielle Adams, and Dan Buck to the boards at Stagecrafters.  This is the first appearance by all four actors at this theater.

Quisha Lawson, a powerful player in “Raisin in the Sun” at Stagecrafters last season, is the only familiar face on stage, but she produces one of the strongest performances of the evening as Jessi Brewster, a popular singer, the author of one of the books Severing might publish, and Severing’s secret lover.  Severing, a prim, reserved young man, is played by Brian Weiser. Severing’s old college pal, a talented but up-to-then unknown author, an “aspiring dipsomaniac,” and a candidate for publication by Severing’s young company is Denis McCleary, played by Bradley Johnson.

The lives and immediate fates of these three people will be determined by the influence of the mysterious machine. Danielle Adams, playing McCleary’s fiancé Rosamund Plinth, and Dan Buck, playing Severing’s histrionic office manager Gidger, provide intense dramatic support and occasional over-the-top comedy to the production and round out this presentation nicely.

But on this occasion, the story is the star of the evening. “The Violet Hour,” a 2003 play written by Pulitzer Prize nominee Richard Greenberg, poses grand moral and philosophical questions and provides the audience with the machine – the “deus ex machina” – that, for a moment, gives the viewer’s imagination power and has the potential to make everyone’s dreams or nightmares come true.

It is the curse of the American Literature major to recognize some of the backstories in this play. McCleary’s character is a composite of doomed novelists Thomas Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Severing’s ability to discover and nurture new literary talent is based on the career of famed Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins (the man who introduced Ernest Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Wolfe to the world). But it is any audience member’s challenge to decide why playwright Greenberg limits the power he places in the hands of Severing and his mysterious machine. Director Patrick Martin’s presentation of this material is bold and stimulating and he and Stagecrafters are to be commended for bringing it to life.

Remaining performances of “The Violet Hour” are on April 15,16,17, 22,23, and 24 at 8 p.m. and Sunday April 18 and Sunday April 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 (Thursday evening performances two for $20).  Students with valid ID get $2 off general admission.  Groups of 15 or more are offered a reduced rate of $12 a ticket.  The box office opens 45 minutes before each performance.  For reservations call 215-247-8881.  The theater is at 8130 Germantown Avenue.  Visit for details. 

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