I Love Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com A Great Pennsylvania Town with Shops, Theatre, History, Restaurants and Great People Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:12:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 Witch Trials in Skippack: The Crucible at Playcrafters http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/08/19/crucible-theater-skippack-playcrafters-salem-witch-skippac/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/08/19/crucible-theater-skippack-playcrafters-salem-witch-skippac/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 17:22:47 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=9691 I Love Skippack |

2014-08-17 15.46.34

The Crucible, a hard-hitting drama about the Salem witch trials written by playwright Arthur Miller, opens this Thursday at Playcrafters of Skippack. The play is a classic of American theater, timeless in its exploration of power, the battle between social conformity and personal integrity, and how people who seek power take advantage of social prejudice [...]

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I Love Skippack |

2014-08-17 15.46.34

Suspicions are aroused in Salem, Massachusetts when several girls are discovered dancing in the forest in the middle of the night with the slave, Tituba

Suspicions are aroused in Salem, Massachusetts when several Puritan girls are discovered dancing in the forest in the middle of the night with a slave, Tituba, from Barbados.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller, at Playcrafters of Skippack

Opens Thurs, August 21.

Closes Sat, Sept 6.

Buy Tickets Online

More information 

The Crucible, a hard-hitting drama about the Salem witch trials written by playwright Arthur Miller, opens this Thursday at Playcrafters of Skippack. The play is a classic of American theater, timeless in its exploration of power, the battle between social conformity and personal integrity, and how people who seek power take advantage of social prejudice for their own advantage.

The year is 1692. The small Massachusetts village of Salem, a group of young girls fall ill, experiencing odd hallucinations and seizures. In strictly religious Puritan New England, the mysterious sickness spurs fears of witchcraft. Before long, the girls, and then other residents of Salem, begin to accuse other villagers of consorting with devils and casting spells. Old grudges and jealousies are brought out into the open. In other words, all hell breaks loose.

The Skippack Blogger’s Trial

Puritans come to town: Members of the cast of the crucible visit Skippack Village.

Puritans come to town: Members of the cast of The Crucible visit Skippack Village.

For the Skippack Blogger, the play presents a trial of my own. I love Playcrafters of Skippack, and want very much to get the word out to the world about the high quality of theater in our town. Suddenly, I realize that opening night is only a few nights away, and I have nothing prepared to promote The Crucible.

What next? Following upon our promotion of the musical Hair, I decide that the best short-term approach is a hard-hitting photo album post on Facebook. God bless social media. I ask director Curtis Cockenberg if I can take a group of actors for a photo shoot in Skippack Village. Before long I am leading a troop of Puritans thru Skippack’s main street. We attract the attention of more than a few passers by. One of my neighbors comes by with her children, the youngest in a stroller, and asks why I am hanging out with a bunch of Puritans. How do I get into these situations?

We stop by some of my favorite shops and restaurants and the covered bridge to take pictures. Photography often proves to be a bigger challenge than writing for the Skippack Blogger. Trying to coax a natural smile out of many people can be like pulling teeth. But these actors are expert at expressing emotion. Even in this awkward situation, I get great photos quickly and efficiently. We imagine how plain, stern Puritans would react to Skippack’s elegant boutiques and our luxuries like jewelry and home decorations.

The Accusation

Skippack Playcrafters Crucible

Actors without borders: A scene from The Crucible acted out in a parking lot in Skippack.

The actors agree to act out a crucial scene from the play in the parking lot by Pennsylvania Traditions, one of Skippack’s beautiful shops. They joke around, but suddenly a group gets into position, and visually recreates a scene from the play, communicating with gestures and body language a powerful moment: young women of Salem pointing to a foreign servant, accusing her of being a witch. The scene depicts at once the ability of hatred, innuendo, and lies to crush the weak and less powerful. Unfortunately, it is a drama acted out over and over again in society, and one that I suspect will be acted out as long as this earth spins around the sun. That is why the play The Crucible still matters.

Watching the actors, I am reminded of the talent and hard work that goes into each Playcrafters production. Even for my blog, these actors come thru as consummate professionals. When called upon to do so, they give it their all, drawing upon their skills and their very souls to create a picture of a different reality that teaches us about our own. And so they will for you and I, and the entire village of Skippack, in full force, when The Crucible opens at Playcrafters.

Tickets can be purchased online.

Video Clip: The Crucible at Playcrafters of Skippack in Rehearsal

Puritan girls by the covered bridge in Skippack: They may look sweet and innocent, but don't get on their bad side or you'll be hung for a witch.

Puritan girls by the covered bridge in Skippack: They may look sweet and innocent, but don’t get on their bad side or you’ll be hung for a witch.

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Love, Hate, and the Help Desk in Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/07/29/love-hate-and-the-help-desk/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/07/29/love-hate-and-the-help-desk/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:32:48 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=9655 I Love Skippack |

Tom Merrick in his shop: Skippack has a help desk

Of all the types of relationships available to us in this lifetime, none is spicier or more intriguing than that that which we label as “love/hate.” Mixed emotions arouse passion; shall I kiss your lips my dear or shall I knock out your teeth? Now we may say in public, or post on an online [...]

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I Love Skippack |

Tom Merrick in his shop: Skippack has a help desk

If you are having relationship troubles, there are many wonderful places you can go in Skippack to discuss your problems with a friend -- or forget them for a while.

If you are having relationship troubles, there are many wonderful places you can go in Skippack to discuss your problems with a friend — or forget them for a while.

If you are experiencing relationship problems similar to the ones described in this blog post, call Tom’s Help Desk in Skippack at 610-584-8700.

Of all the types of relationships available to us in this lifetime, none is spicier or more intriguing than that that which we label as “love/hate.” Mixed emotions arouse passion; shall I kiss your lips my dear or shall I knock out your teeth?

Now we may say in public, or post on an online dating site, that we want a healthy relationship with a compatible partner, holding hands on the beach as waves gently touch the shore; but, if we are honest, we admit this fantasy is a bit of a bore. There is a reason the happy ending occurs at the end of a romance novel; the afterward is dull. But mix up passion, disgust, attraction, repulsion, devotion, and anger, and you’ve got a spicy, steamy cocktail. And I like it shaken, not stirred.

Believe me I know; I have been trapped in a love/hate relationship for several years. As a matter of fact, right now, even as we speak, I am staring at the object of my hatred/affection. It is the computer that sits on my desk, an iMac which I bought in 2008.

Caught in a Bad Digital Romance

My love is like a red, red rose -- she has some nice, sharp thorns. Photo taken on the patio of Brasserie73 in Skippack.

My love is like a red, red rose — she has some nice, sharp thorns. Photo taken on the patio of Brasserie73 in Skippack.

Why love/hate for my iMac?

She gives abundantly yet she is cruel, very cruel.

Lovely Love: She has given me a voice, enabling me to publish my writing myself and reach more people with her than I ever thought possible. She enabled me to create my websites and Facebook pages. She is more than a lover, she is a social secretary; through her, I have met many wonderful people. I owe her much.

Hateful Hate: Just when I need her the most, she turns cold and shuts me out, she locks up, she crashes. She does not respect my time. Tasks that should take but a few minutes end up taking hours. She teases. She tantalizes me. I constantly face the frustration of not being able to implement my ideas. Photo and video file formats are not compatible. I don’t understand the editing software. She is always able to come up with a new way to thwart me.

“No, no, no,” she tells me, the very moment I need her to say yes.

Recently, my beloved is suffering from an exhaustion of memories. I loaded up too many photos of Skippack, taken in the course of my career as the Skippack Blogger, and my beloved suffered the ill effects of a sort of digital gluttony.

Relationship Expert: Skippack’s Computer Repair Guy

Tom Merrick of Tom's Help Desk in Skippack: Brings technology expertise to our village and looks cool in his shades, especially for a computer nerd.

Tom Merrick of Tom’s Help Desk in Skippack: Brings technology expertise to our village and looks cool in his shades, especially for a computer nerd.

Thankfully, there is a new expert in our village to help with troubled relationships like mine: Tom Merrick of Tom’s Help Desk in Skippack.

Tom worked as an IT manager for large companies in Willow Grove  and Philadelphia. He found his role less than satisfying; when people came to him with computer problems he had to refer them to an overseas call center, per company policy. Tom wanted to be hands on, and help people directly

Tom opened his own computer repair shop and help desk in Quakertown in 2008. He opened his office in Skippack in 2013.

“I love the small town atmosphere in Skippack. There are so many things to do here. Even before I opened my office, I loved visiting the village and going to events. People are so friendly,” says Tom.

“I saw a need for computer help,” Tom explains. “The village was lacking in technology support.”

“But,” I ask Tom, “do you think you can help a computer problem as serious as the Skippack Blogger’s? Can you fix a relationship so broken?”

“Sure, no problem. I’ve backed your photos up to an external hard drive. The most important thing is that your information is safe. It’s just a matter a of mending the broken relationship between your computer and the storage unit.”

Eternal Hope for a Happy Ending

The Skippack Blogger, at left, at Mal's American Diner ins Skippack, with Tom Merrick, owner of Tom's Help Desk: Seeking advice for a troubled  relationship.

The Skippack Blogger, at left, at Mal’s American Diner in Skippack, with Tom Merrick, owner of Tom’s Help Desk: Seeking advice for a troubled relationship.

After I explained some of our deeper relationship issues, Tom recommended at-home counseling for my iMac and me. He will soon send a member of his technology team to analyze our difficulties and implement a solution. A customer may also bring their computer to Tom’s Help Desk in Skippack and Tom and his technologists can also work remotely, tapping into your computer thru a digital connection.

As I await the healing visit, the eternal hope again awakens in my soul that my iMac and I can enjoy a contented, peaceful, emotionally-healthy relationship; free from rancor and bitter disputes; free from curses spoken in haste and bitter mornings of regret.

But, you may wonder, do I really want the relationship healed? Perhaps I will miss the sleepless nights and endless fights, the lovely loving and the hateful hate? Perhaps I have become adrenaline addicted to the waves of frustration and the raging battles? Unlikely; I am older and wiser now. I am ready for a peaceful, mature, healthy relationship.

Besides, if I resolve my issues with my fickle one, the iMac, I will have more time for human relationships, where plenty of tempest and intrigue is still to be found.

Tom Merrick in his shop: Skippack has a help desk

Tom Merrick in his shop: Skippack now has a help desk. Tom’s Help Desk is located at 4007 Skippack Pike, call 610-584-8700.

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Hair: Skippack’s Summer Musical Event http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/07/17/hair-skippack-playcrafters-summer-musical-event-theater/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/07/17/hair-skippack-playcrafters-summer-musical-event-theater/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:02:51 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=9600 I Love Skippack |

These hippie rebels do not respect the "no sitting on walls" sign in our beautiful village. No good.

Dammit. I am fighting back the tears. I am not saying I am actually crying, but I’ve been sitting in on rehearsals for Hair, the landmark anti-war, pro-love rock musical of the 1960s, which opens this week at Playcrafters of Skippack: It’s come to the final scene which shows the parting of friends, their youthful [...]

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I Love Skippack |

These hippie rebels do not respect the "no sitting on walls" sign in our beautiful village. No good.

These hippie rebels do not respect the "no sitting on walls" sign in our beautiful village. No good.

A group from the Tribe visits Skippack: These hippie rebels do not respect the “no sitting on walls” sign in our beautiful village. Not good.

Skippack’s summer musical event, Hair at Playcrafters, opens July 17 and continues thru August 2.


Dammit. I am fighting back the tears. I am not saying I am actually crying, but I’ve been sitting in on rehearsals for Hair, the landmark anti-war, pro-love rock musical of the 1960s, which opens this week at Playcrafters of Skippack: It’s come to the final scene which shows the parting of friends, their youthful circle broken, their Garden of Eden shattered. It’s ripping me apart.

What is it that gives this show so much power, performed in the Village of Skippack, more than four decades after it first opened on Broadway?

Get Ready & Get the Best

The short answer is a great director, production staff, and cast.

Members of the cast of Hair exploring the covered bridge in Skippack.

Members of the cast of Hair exploring the covered bridge in Skippack: Spontaneous fun is a key ingredient  in theater and life.

“At Playcrafters, shows are chosen almost a full year in advance of the opening date,” explains Kevin Binder, the director of Hair at Playcrafters. “Directors start work right away by selecting their production staff. Without the wonderful staff we assembled, the show wouldn’t work as well as it does.

“My assistant and I started meeting last September. I started putting together the book for show in October. That took until January,” Kevin says. He worked from several different versions of Hair published during the musical’s long history to craft a version he felt was right for Skippack’s community theater.

And then there’s the task of assembling the cast. “You hope for the best,” says Kevin. He pauses.

“And I got the best,” he says with pride. “It’s a strong, fresh-faced young cast, with a lot of people new to the Playcrafters stage.”

Practice to be Spontaneous

These high-energy young performers make up the Tribe; a group of free spirits in an uninhibited, crazy time. They sing, dance, and channel their beautiful individuality into a chaotic but magnificent whole. They get to rock. They let go. They make it look spontaneous. They show us what they can do. Young, local actors, singers, and dancers create the joy and inspiration that is the core of Hair.

In rehearsal

In rehearsal

Hair celebrates young friendship. Youth is a time of life when friendship and relationships mean everything; we watch as friends on the fringe of society party together, celebrate their identity as individuals and social outcasts, form intimate bonds, and provide a protective shell for each other against authority.

“When I was younger and saw Hair for the first time,” recalls Kevin, “I was at a point in my life where I didn’t know where to turn. Then I saw the peace, the love, the understanding, and, more important, the emphasis on accepting people for who they are, warts and all; accepting them as one.”

Discover Your Inner Hippie

An inner hippie lies buried within each of our souls. A part of us longs to rebel against authority, give the middle finger to society, the man, the corporation. A fragment of our being wants to live in a world of beautiful colors and poetic self-expression, and cast our fate to the wind.

As we grow up, we learn to suppress our inner hippie. We go out to earn a living. We make compromise after compromise. We see the hypocrisy and cruelty of society and we swallow it. Always there is another bill to pay, a car payment, a mortgage payment, a tuition payment, a reason to repress the outcry of the rebel inside.

IMG_7275

Mr. and Mrs. Skippack Blogger with our hippie threads on, right before going to see Hair at Playcrafters: Discover your inner hippie.

The magic of live theater: Going to see Hair allows us, for a couple wonderful hours, to get back in touch with our inner hippie. For a brief time, we become members of the tribe. Our world becomes “peace, love, freedom, flowers, happiness.”

Thanks to the hard work and discipline of director Kevin Binder, the Tribe, and the production staff, we get to reconnect with the free-wheeling, spontaneous flower child buried deep in our soul.

May you have a great deal of fun and find your own meaning when you see Hair at Playcrafters. Let the sunshine in.

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A Fourth of July Welcome, in Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/07/02/fourth-of-july-vietnam-veterans-dav-southest-trading-post-skippack/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/07/02/fourth-of-july-vietnam-veterans-dav-southest-trading-post-skippack/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 01:39:30 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=9544 I Love Skippack |

A member of local chapters of Disabled American Veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America participates in the Montgomery County  Honor Guard during the Fourth of July parade in Skippack.

Frank DeSimone, a Skippack resident, and his friend Ralph Nealman, who lives in nearby East Norriton, will never forget last year’s Fourth of July parade in Skippack. Frank is commander of Chapter 25 of the Disabled American Veterans, which meets in the Skippack Township Building. Ralph is president of Valley Forge Chapter 349 of the [...]

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I Love Skippack |

A member of local chapters of Disabled American Veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America participates in the Montgomery County  Honor Guard during the Fourth of July parade in Skippack.

The Southwest Trading Post in Skippack

The Southwest Trading Post in Skippack

After the July 4th parade, which begins at 11 am this Friday, the Montgomery County Honor Guard, composed of members of local chapters of the Disabled Veterans of America and Vietnam Veterans of America, will perform a special dedication ceremony for a new flagpole and American flag which will fly on the grounds of the Southwest Trading Post.

As part of the ceremony, the honor guard will fire a three volley salute, followed by taps. To see the ceremony, walk or ride to the Southwest Trading Post at 4039 Skippack Pike immediately after the end of the July 4th Parade.

Frank DeSimone, a Skippack resident, and his friend Ralph Nealman, who lives in nearby East Norriton, will never forget last year’s Fourth of July parade in Skippack. Frank is commander of Chapter 25 of the Disabled American Veterans, which meets in the Skippack Township Building. Ralph is president of Valley Forge Chapter 349 of the  Vietnam Veterans of America. It was the first time members of these two closely aligned organizations marched in Skippack’s parade.

At left, Ralph Nealman,  president of Valley Forge Chapter 349 of the  Vietnam Veterans of America. At right, Frank DeSimone commander of Chapter 25 of the Disabled American Veterans, which meets in the Skippack Township Building.

At left, Ralph Nealman, president of Valley Forge Chapter 349 of the Vietnam Veterans of America. At right, Frank DeSimone commander of Chapter 25 of the Disabled American Veterans, which meets in the Skippack Township Building.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” explains Frank. “We brought our Honor Guard and invited anybody from our units who wanted to participate. We organized at the Firehouse. They put us in line. Many of us had our grandkids along the sidewalk watching.

“When we came down the slope along Route 73 and turned the corner by Store Road,” he continues, “people were packed six deep. None of us expected that many people to be in the crowd. We got a huge reception. It was very powerful. Many of us had never before been in a parade.

“Even though we came back from Vietnam decades ago, the Fourth of July parade in Skippack seemed like our first official welcome home, “ explains Ralph.

“Guys were in tears,” recalls Frank. “People in crowd were running up to Ralph, shaking his hand, giving him kisses. It was amazing.

“It completely took us by surprise. We never expected a reception like that,” says Frank. “That’s why we can’t wait for this year’s Fourth of July Parade. “

“People in Skippack are unbelievable,” adds Ralph.

Discovering Our Town

Chapter 25 of the Disabled American Veterans, referred to as the DAV, originally met in Norristown, underwent an reorganization, moved to Collegeville, and began holding meetings at the National Guard Building in Creamery. Then they moved their monthly meetings to the Skippack Township Building.

Frank DeSimone, second from right, with members of Chapter 25 of Disabled American Veterans at Community Services Day in Skippack, held concurrently with the Fall Car Show on the grounds of the Southwest Trading Post.

Frank DeSimone, second from right, with members of Chapter 25 of Disabled American Veterans at Community Services Day in Skippack, held concurrently with the Fall Car Show on the grounds of the Southwest Trading Post.

During this time, membership grew; now from 35 to 50 veterans attend each monthly meeting. Most of the members of  DAV chapter 25 are Vietnam veterans. Nearly all also belong to Valley Forge chapter 349 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

A member of the chapter reached out to Butch Kaelin, owner of the Southwest Trading Post and the Victorian Carriage Shops, LLC, in Skippack.

Butch said, “Because you guys are new in the area, I am going to give you space on my grounds. Set up your tent here on First Friday so you can make yourself known to the Skippack community.”

Members of the DAV began participating in Skippack’s First Fridays on a regular basis. Soon, they began participating in other Skippack events, including Winetober Fest (Skippack’s fall wine festival), and Community Services Day, also managed by Butch, and held concurrently with Skippack’s fall auto show, the International Car Show.

The Montgomery County Honor Guard and a Special Dedication Ceremony

A member of local chapters of Disabled American Veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America participates in the Montgomery County  Honor Guard during the Fourth of July parade in Skippack.

A member of local chapters of Disabled American Veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America participates in the Montgomery County Honor Guard during the Fourth of July parade in Skippack.

Local Units of the DAV and the Vietnam Veterans of  America participate in an honor guard, called the Montgomery County Honor Guard. Frank and Ralph underwent training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and are certified by the Department of Defense to perform the honor guard. The main purpose of the honor guard is to give local veterans their final tribute at the cemetery.

“Frank is usually the commander who calls all the shots,” explains Ralph, “if he’s tied up, then I’m the other commander.”

“This year, since the honor guard is going to be in the July 4th parade, we want to come and thank Butch for going above and beyond in helping our men, so we bought a flagpole for him,” says Frank.

“This week,’ he continues, “I am going to buy a new flag. We’re going to come back to the Southwest Trading Post after the parade. Once the parade is over, there will be a dedication ceremony for the new flagpole and the new flag. We’ll raise the flag. The honor guard will fire a three volley salute, followed by playing of taps.”

We Will Never Let What Happened To Us Happen To Another Generation

Ralph Nealman Skippack Vietnam Veterans of America

Ralph Nealman, president of Valley Forge Chapter 349 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, in front of the Southwest Trading Post in Skippack.

Frank and Ralph want people to understand the role their organizations play in society and in history.

“When we came home from Vietnam,” explains Ralph, “we were kids; 18,19, or 20 years old. And no one supported us. Not even the other generation of veterans.”

Frank agrees: “When we went to the VFW, they laughed us out. We had the same experience with the Catholic War Veterans organization.

“Today, that attitude has changed,” Frank says. “We made it change,” he adds with strength and pride in his voice.

“As we got older, the organizations that snubbed Vietnam veterans began to see their membership fade,” Ralph continues. “They started to worry about what would become of their legacy.

“Guess what your legacy is going to be? Us!” says Ralph with power and barely a trace of bitterness

“Your legacy is always going to survive as long as Vietnam veterans are around. We are the generation that ain’t gonna forget other other veterans. We will never let what happened to us happen to another generation.”

Frank adds: “Even though we can be hard asses, we’ve forgiven these other organizations. We take part in their events. Today, the reason soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq get such a positive reception when they return home is because of us, the Vietnam veterans.”

A New Generation of Vets

Across the generations: In this photo, two members of chapter 25 of the Disabled Americans Veterans, Charlie Becker (left) and Bill Pinkerton (right) receive an award of recognition from Joe Long, president of the Student Veterans Organization of Montgomery County Community College.

Across the generations: In this photo, two members of Disabled Americans Veterans, chapter 25, Charlie Becker (left) and Bill Pinkerton (right) receive an award of recognition from Joe Long, president of the Student Veterans Organization of Montgomery County Community College.

“Today’s returning veterans are our sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters,” says Ralph. “Both of our organizations are trying to steer them. We hope that eventually they will form their own organizations, but for now we’re here to help.”

Frank and Ralph add that today’s young veterans are dealing with the same mental stress problems that they experienced upon returning home from overseas.

“When we came home from Vietnam,” says Ralph, “we had no idea what was going on with us mentally. And dealing with that was hard.”

They are proud of the role Vietnam veterans played in calling the public’s and medical profession’s attention to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Today, members of local chapters of the DAV and Vietnam Veterans of America are working with young veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at Montgomery County Community College and elsewhere

Says Ralph,  “Frank and I can talk to a guy and when we recognize a bad case of PTSD, we can steer him in the right direction.”  He adds that there is tremendous power in the communication and bonding that takes place between veterans.

A Message to Skippack and the World

Frank DeSimone and Ralph Nealman

Frank DeSimone of the DAV (left) and Ralph Nealman of Vietnam Veterans of American: “The love and respect we have for each other is our greatest advertisement. “

The priority of the DAV and the Vietnam Veterans of America is to help other veterans. However, when they march in Skippack’s Fourth of July Parade, they send a message to Skippack and the world.

“My job isn’t to evangelize the public,” says Frank.  “We can’t force patriotism. But when people see us marching in the parade, maybe they will understand what patriotism is.

“Ralph’s organization and my organization are truly a family. I have seen so many selfless acts. We truly love each other. When you observe a group of guys, you can tell whether or not they really love each other.

“None of the preaching we do is ever going to impact people as much as the love and respect we have for each other. That’s our greatest advertisement. That’s our message. “

And crown thy good with brotherhood.

Note from the Skippack Blogger: Thank you Frank and Ralph for your time, your service, and for your openness. Thank you also for providing another reason to love Skippack, and the United States of America.

Veterans and their friends, family, and advocates may contact Frank DeSimone of the DAV at 610-657-7754 or Ralph Nealman of Vietnam Veterans of America at 610-639-4798.

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Revolution at the Skippack Farmer’s Market http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/05/06/revolution-at-the-skippack-farmers-market/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/05/06/revolution-at-the-skippack-farmers-market/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 01:06:47 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=9284 I Love Skippack |

Jason Skippack Farmer's Mark

Often we say “one step at a time” but incremental improvements are not always sufficient; occasionally, one needs to make a drastic overhaul, a revolutionary change, a reboot from the hard drive. Such a moment has come to a great local institution; the Skippack Farmer’s Market. The question: Who among us can handle the transition, [...]

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I Love Skippack |

Jason Skippack Farmer's Mark

Jason Skippack Farmer's Mark

Jason Brown, the owner of Love Hot Dog Company, is the new manager of the Skippack Farmer’s Market.

What: The new 2014 Skippack Farmer’s Market

When: The Skippack Farmer’s Market will be held every Friday, opening at 4 pm and closing at dusk, from now until mid-November 2014.

Where: The location will remain the same as last year, along Skippack Pike, across from the WaWa, in the market lot next to Chiaro’s Pizzeria, near the intersection of Route 113; the street address is 4112 Skippack Pike.


Often we say “one step at a time” but incremental improvements are not always sufficient; occasionally, one needs to make a drastic overhaul, a revolutionary change, a reboot from the hard drive. Such a moment has come to a great local institution; the Skippack Farmer’s Market.

The question: Who among us can handle the transition, organize and manage change, storm the Bastille, deliver the produce, and revive the Skippack Farmer’s Market to its fullest potential?

Meet the Guy with the Tie-Dye T-shirt

Jason’s wife Melissa helping their two sons make lemonade; this photo was taken at the Skippack Farmer’s Marker in August 2012.

Jason’s wife Melissa helping their two sons make lemonade; this photo was taken at the Skippack Farmer’s Marker in August 2012.

Fortunately, fate and local real estate developer Dave Markel, who owns the lot where the market is held, have appointed my friend Jason Brown in charge of revolutionizing the Farmer’s Market in Skippack. Jason is the owner and chef at the Love Hot Dog Company, a mobile food service known for exotic sandwiches which serves lunch weekdays in Skippack.

The Skippack Farmer’s Market was where I first met Jason two years ago. I remember the day. His wife Melissa was helping their two young sons slice lemons for their lemonade stand. Jason was in a trailer behind them wearing a bright, colorful tie-dye t-shirt and cooking up hot dogs. My wife and I both sensed this family business would become a great resource for Skippack.

Since then, I’ve collaborated with Jason on Skippack blog posts, worked with him on the launch of the new Best of Skippack website, and spoken with him at many Skippack events, where his Love Hot Dog Company Food Truck is a welcome presence.

Jason is both visionary and go-getter. He dreams his dreams with two feet planted firmly in the earth. He gets the job done. He is keenly aware of the day-to-day demands of building and sustaining a successful locally-based enterprise.

New time: Friday Late Afternoon

Under Jason’s direction, the time of Skippack Farmer’s Market will move from Sunday mornings to Fridays afternoons, beginning at 4:00 pm.

“With a Friday time slot, we can link the market to First Fridays, which take place once a month, though we’ll be here every Friday. Hopefully, a new schedule will help bring in a new influx of people. People who want to grab some produce at the market can stop by on their way to the Jersey shore or on their way home from a restaurant or happy hour in Skippack.”

New Vendors for 2014

Bread from Corropolese Bakery, a local favorite,  will be available at the Skippack  Farmer's Market in 2014.

Bread from Corropolese Bakery, a local favorite, will be available at the Skippack Farmer’s Market in 2014.

Since opening the Love Hot Dog Company in Skippack, Jason has expanded to multiple food trucks and launched the Conspiracy Food Truck Crew, a mobile food management company, which will provide the framework for bringing food trucks owned and run by other chefs into Skippack for our Farmer’s Market. The name of the Facebook page for the new Skippack Farmer’s Market is the “Skippack Farmer’s Market & Food Truck Pod.”

“Several food trucks will be at the Skippack Farmer’s Market, and with different trucks offering different types of food each week”

In addition to food trucks, here is a partial list of vendors scheduled for the 2014 Skippack Farmer’s Market:

  • Jubilee Hill Farms; organic produce greens and speciality herbs
  • Macdougalls Irish victory cakes (only on first Fridays)
  • Jenny & Franks Artisan Gelato
  • Lavinia’s Cookies
  • A coffee roaster
  • Behmerwald Nursery (various dates)
  • Delphinium Bakery
  • Alchemy Crystals
  • Mojo’s Pop Co.; gourmet popcorn
  • Freeland Market; sausage and cured meats (returning vendor)
  • Angela’s Raw Honey
  • Corropolese Bakery; breads, tomato pies, an area favorite

A New Platform for Local Business and Nonprofits

The Skippack Blogger 9at right) hanging out with Jason Brown, the new manager of the Skippack Farmer's Market, at 4th of July Festivities in Skippack.

The Skippack Blogger (at right) hanging out with Jason Brown, the new manager of the Skippack Farmer’s Market, at 4th of July Festivities in Skippack.

“The new slogan for the Skippack Farmer’s Market is going to be ‘Cultivating our community talent,’” explains Jason. “We want to feature a different local businesses each week, especially individually-owned shops and service-providers in Skippack. We also want to feature nonprofit organizations in our area; we’d love to have organizations like the Skippack Fire Company, 4-H, Harley’s Haven Dog Rescue, Playcrafters of Skippack; and local high school clubs.

“Our goal is to create a platform for promoting organizations and services throughout the community. Featured businesses and non-profit organizations will be set up with a special location to display items and provide information.

“We will not charge local businesses or nonprofit organizations in Skippack who want to be featured in the Farmer’s Market. This will be a free service.”

A Vendor Driven Market

“Once our vendors are on board, they will have an opportunity to have a say in how things are run. I want the new market to be vendor-driven,” Jason explains. “My plan is to create a vendor board, a forum for people who sell at our market to put forward new ideas.

“It’s not my market, it’s our market. I want input from a core group of vendors who want to help it grow and make sure it remains fun and worthwhile for all who participate.

“I don’t have all the ideas we will need,” says Jason, “I need other people’s ideas and welcome them.”

Keeping it Alive, Making it Grow

Jason Brown, the owner of the Love Hot Dog Company, is an entrepreneur bring ideas to life.

Jason Brown, the owner of the Love Hot Dog Company, is an entrepreneur bringing new ideas to life. What started out as the Love Hot Dog company, which featured natural all-beef hot dogs with exotic toppings, is expanding.

“I am not getting paid to manage the Skippack Farmer’s Market,” Jason explains. “I am doing it to stop a local tradition from falling by the wayside. Farmer’s markets in surrounding communities have grown and ours hasn’t. Collegeville and many other farmer’s markets in the area are experiencing great success yet they are younger than the Skippack Farmer’s Market.”

From my talk with Jason, and from knowing him these past two years, it’s clear the farmer’s market finally has the leadership it needs. The rest is up to us. Please come out Friday afternoons and support the new Skippack farmer’s Market.

Wanted: Crafters, Vendors, Small Business Owners, Non-Profits, Sponsors

The Skippack Farmer’s Market is looking for:

  • Crafters, vendors, and small business owners who want to sell at the Skippack Farmer’s Market
  • Shops, service providers, groups, and nonprofit organizations in Skippack and the immediate surrounding area, who would like to be featured as part of the Farmer’s Market program to highlight local talent and resources (there is no cost to participate)
  • Businesses that would like to sponsor advertising, such as flyers and circulars, for the Skippack Farmer’s Market

If interested, please contact Jason Brown at info@lovehotdogco.com or call 215-783-5710.

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A Rock Star with a Big Heart, in Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/02/24/rock-star-skippack-medical-waste-c-j-santangelo/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/02/24/rock-star-skippack-medical-waste-c-j-santangelo/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 18:48:54 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=9118 I Love Skippack |

At work:

C.J. Santangelo lives the Skippack variation of the rock star lifestyle, with a beautiful wife and three beautiful kids, tattoos covering both arms, a motorcycle, and a home with an awesome man cave complete with a full gym and rehearsal space for his band, the Hot Sauce Junkies. The first time I saw him, he was singing lead vocals with the Hot Sauce Junkies as part of Skippack’s 4th of July celebration in Palmer Park.

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I Love Skippack |

At work:

Ny friend & Skippack neighbor C.J. Santangelo

My friend & Skippack neighbor C.J. Santangelo

C.J. Santangelo lives the Skippack variation of the rock star lifestyle, with a beautiful wife and three beautiful kids, tattoos covering both arms, a motorcycle, and a home with an awesome man cave complete with a full gym and rehearsal space for his band, the Hot Sauce Junkies. The first time I saw him, he was singing lead vocals with the Hot Sauce Junkies as part of Skippack’s 4th of July celebration in Palmer Park.

When I was a kid, along with the rest of the crowd, I thought guys like Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, and Bruce Springsteen were the greatest. Now my ideal rock star is my friend and Skippack neighbor, C.J. Santangelo.

Why is C.J. my ideal of a rock star? Because I can meet up with him in Skippack Village, spend time, and learn from him. This evening, I meet C.J. at a Skippack bar. After a warm embrace, I order a Heineken Light, and we get to talking.

Living and Giving by his Own Rules

A rock star lives by his own rules. C.J. does one better: he gives by his own rules. He is the driving force behind several full-scale, community-wide, fundraising events. As a teenager he volunteered for the Leukemia Society, but now he is a rock-star-good-samaritan: operating outside the framework of an established charitable organization.

He gets support from a dedicated group of friends and family members he calls the A-Team. The goal is simple and personal: helping a neighbor in need, in many instances, a child or adult stricken with cancer.

C.J. performing with his band the Hot Sauce Junkies at Justin's Carriage House during a Skippack First Friday.

C.J. performing with his band the Hot Sauce Junkies outside Justin’s Carriage House during a Skippack First Friday.

“After the first time you experience making a difference in someone’s life, you realize nothing on this planet is more rewarding,” he says, “hands down.”

A Network of Superheroes

C.J. describes the A-Team: “We’re a network of helpers; of humble, determined humanitarians; of superheroes; we swoop down in the middle of night. People wonder how we can be so effective.”

Last year, C.J. and the A-Team raised funds to help pay medical expenses for Jennifer Romano, a young mother of three children from Norristown diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Their efforts included an event held at the LuLu Temple in Plymouth Meeting attended by more than 800 people, many of them small business owners.

“We fought really hard for Jennifer Romano,” C.J. says. “It was a tough battle from the get go, but I had faith and belief.

C.J. with the friends and family of Jennifer Romano, may her memory be a blessing. When Jennifer realized she would not win her battle against cancer, she wanted it kept secret from the young man who tried to help her.

C.J. with Jennifer Romano (to his immediate right) and friends and family. When Jennifer realized she would not win her battle against cancer, she wanted it kept secret from the young man who tried to help her. May her memory be a blessing.

“I met Jennifer. I hugged her. I felt her energy. I said to her ‘You are going to win this.’”

Two Goodbyes

When Jennifer Romano realized she wasn’t going to win, she told her family and friends she was going to hospice and might not make it to the holidays, and made them promise not to tell C.J. She didn’t want him to be hurt. He was performing with the Hot Sauce Junkies at Justin’s Carriage House during a Skippack First Friday when a friend and member of the A-Team revealed the truth to him.

“It floored me,” C.J. recalls.

C.J.’s own father died from cancer at age 58, when C.J. was 35 years old. He said to his C.J. on his deathbed, “Don’t give up the fight. This isn’t the war. This is only one battle.”

Even a Rock Star has Limits

C.J.’s rep as a rock-and-roller doing good works is growing in the local area. More and more, people seek out his help. The high-energy go-getter is facing his limits.

“A lot of people come to me with sad stories. Everyone has hardships and bad luck. I can’t help everybody. I have a business to run. It sucks to say ‘no.’”

A man's strength is his family: C.J. proudly stands next to a family portrait which hands in his office.

A man’s strength is his family: C.J. proudly stands next to a family portrait which hangs in his office.

However, don’t expect C.J. to slow down anytime soon: “I have fun,” he says. “I make new friends. I get a chance to perform with my band, give a speech to hundreds of people, and get my name in the newspaper. I can justify it to myself because I do it for a good reason.”

He adds, “Helping others can become addicting.”

Footing the Bill

When I meet a guy like C.J., living rockstar-style, on his own terms, the question that comes to mind is “how does he foot the bill?”

C.J. owns and runs S.H. Bio-Waste LTD, a medical waste company with eight full-time employees, four trucks on the road, and more than 1,500 customers. He started out working in his family business, Santangelo Hauling & Landfill (known as CBF Hauling in the Pittsburgh area), a trash collection service owned by his father, learning about hard work and life from the back of a trash truck.

In the late 1980s, a new law was passed requiring medical waste be separated from municipal waste. Hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostic labs, and doctor’s offices would need special trash disposal service. When C.J. graduated from Bishop Kenrick High School in 1989, his father’s firm launched a medical waste division, with the intent that C.J. would own and run it. However, this business remained dormant as C.J. helped his father manage the bigger and busier trash business.

At work:

At work: S & H Biowaste Ltd is a medical waste company with eight full-time employees, four trucks on the road, and more than 1,500 customers.

A turning point came when his father sold the trash business to a corporate buyer. C.J. became an employee, working as a manager for the new company. Before long, he realized the new company and new role weren’t right for him. Work had ceased to be fun.

“I had to make a decision: grow my medical waste company or sell it for close to nothing,” recalls C.J.  “It was the only thing left of our business that I could call mine. It felt wrong to give up on the medical waste project when I had never put my heart or my personal touch into it.”

C.J. began building his own business part-time, while still working for his corporate employer.

An even more unexpected change occurred: his mother left his father after 30 years of marriage and filed for divorce. Emotionally this would be a devastating blow for a young man who greatly admired his father. It also meant the family wealth would be tied up for years.

By this time, C.J. had married a lovely young woman named Michele. They had an infant daughter named Angelina. The new medical waste business wasn’t making any money. His corporate employer asked him to sign a non-compete agreement, forcing C.J. to play his hand. His lawyer told him not to sign. No matter what they gave in return, no matter how much they paid him, they could fire him at any time, and C.J. would be left without a means to make a living.

A Rock Star is Born

From left: C.J.'s daughter Angelina and his wife Michele.

From left: C.J.’s daughter Angelina and his wife Michele.

C.J. began selling full time for his own medical waste business: visiting medical practices and trying to convince the office manager to let him service their account. Before long, C.J. realized he was on to something good.

“I loved going to work every day, I loved knocking on doors and going into doctor’s offices, talking to the office manager, and convincing her I could dispose of their medical waste for a lower cost.

” ‘C’mon,’ I would say. ‘I am a young guy. I just got married. I have a new daughter. I’m not a salesman. I am the business owner. Give me a shot.’ I wouldn’t leave until the office manager said ‘yes.’ ”

Two years after his parents separated, C.J.’s father developed the cancer that would eventually end his life.

“Looking back,” says C.J., “This was my time of transition from being a dedicated son, and constantly looking for dad’s approval, to realizing that I now had a wife and a new baby. Did I want be his superhero or their superhero? It killed me emotionally but it drove me.”

This then was the crucible that made C.J. Santangelo a rock star.

Reflections from the Skippack Blogger

One observation about C.J.: His rock-and-roll self-confidence doesn’t block out his vision into the hearts and minds of others. I see this in his charitable endeavors and in our personal interactions, as our friendship develops.

In comparison, my world often seems filled with people focused tightly on their own achievements, their hearts rarely able to stretch beyond an invisible border defined by their families and their suburban homes. In the corporate world, where I eke out my living, everyone is guarded. C.J. wears his heart on his sleeve, literally in the form of a tattoo and figuratively: Once he accepts you as his friend, there’s no holding back.

An odd thought occurs to me. If I had a friend like C.J. when I was growing up, would I have learned from him? Would I have learned how to live with self-confidence, believe in myself, find a way of living that was true to who I was?

Or did I have to wait until I paid the price for not believing in myself?

C.J. would have no patience with this type of question. He would put his arm around my shoulders and say, “You got me now. So chin up, chest out champ.”

And so I end with this thought:

A rock star is an awesome being. The rock star’s insistence on living life on his own terms reminds us to believe in ourselves and pursue our own destiny.

For more info about C.J.’s band and his business:

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Seeking Serenity, in Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/02/18/day-spa-body-serene-skippack/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/02/18/day-spa-body-serene-skippack/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 23:09:41 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=9094 I Love Skippack |

After: A radiant Mrs. Skippack Blogger.

Of all the prizes that we humans seek in our journey on this planet -- wealth, fame, happiness, power -- none seems quite as desirable as serenity, or as difficult to obtain. Call it what you will, serenity, calm, inner peace: it seems to reside with the stars in heaven, but is less likely found in our homes, offices, automobiles, or daily lives.

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I Love Skippack |

After: A radiant Mrs. Skippack Blogger.

The Body Serene Day Spa in winter.

The Body Serene Day Spa in winter.

The Body Serene is located in Skippack Village at 4007 Skippack Pike. Phone 610-584-7284.

Of all the prizes that we humans seek in our journey on this planet — wealth, fame, happiness, power — none seems quite as desirable as serenity, or as difficult to obtain. Call it what you will, serenity, calm, inner peace: it seems to reside with the stars in heaven, but is less likely found in our homes, offices, automobiles, or daily lives.

Always there is the unpaid bill, the pile of laundry, the stack of papers, the unwashed dish, the unfinished assignment. These are the more benign stressors we face. A crisis at home or work — sickness, layoff, debt, anger, separation, accusations, conflict — and we are knocked far off the path to serenity. And it is not always easy to find our way back.

A view inside The Body Serene.

A view inside The Body Serene.

The Temporary Escape

Fortunately, there are businesses and people dedicated to enabling us to escape at least temporarily this crazy world and grasp a moment of peace. For example, Skippack is home to a day spa named The Body Serene. The name implies both physical pleasure and mental repose. A state of being as much as a service.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, the long winter was beginning to weigh too heavily on Mrs. Skippack Blogger and me. We faced another gray, cold Sunday afternoon. How could we brighten the day? I decided to treat Mrs. Skippack to a visit to The Body Serene, located in beautiful historic Skippack village.

Upon entering. Mrs. Blogger and I were greeted with a warm welcome by the friendly staff, offered a seat on a comfortable couch, along with a cup of tea and a light snack. The stress of daily living began to peel away.

The before picture: Mrs. Skippack Blogger before her makeover.

The before picture: Mrs. Skippack Blogger before her makeover.

Creating a Special Look

The Body Serene offers nail and skin care, massage therapy, cosmetics, waxing, a variety of special packages, and spa services for men. Debby chose a cosmetic application and lesson.

Her appointment was with Jennifer, an experienced and talented aesthetician. Jennifer used mineral-based Jane Iredale makeup to create Debby’s special look. This high quality line of makeup is suited for every type of skin including acne-prone, allergic, and sensitive skin types. Jennifer explained the application techniques step by step.

At the end of the session, Debby smiled from ear to ear, radiating happiness and looking beautiful. Her session at the Body Serene supplied the lift needed on a gray day in this long winter. It wasn’t hurried, wasn’t rushed, and not a mass produced event, but a special, personally-created moment in time.

After: A radiant Mrs. Skippack Blogger.

After: A radiant Mrs. Skippack Blogger.

Lessons Learned

“Why wait to be in a wedding or an invitation to a party to create that dazzling look,” Debby said to me as we gathered our belongings to leave, “when any ordinary day can be made special?”

Beauty comes from within. When you feel happy, you are beautiful. That is the secret of customer service at the Body Serene.

And what did the Skippack Blogger learn from the experience?

Mostly, I observed and took photographs. I was struck by the attentiveness of the staff and their commitment, not only to providing excellent service, but to creating an environment that lived up to the name of the establishment; an environment of serenity. I thought: Perhaps I can learn from their example; focus less on seeking serenity for myself, and more on giving serenity to others.

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A Table for Two, in Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/01/21/euro-delights-bakery-skippack/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/01/21/euro-delights-bakery-skippack/#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 13:30:22 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8907 I Love Skippack |

Euro Delights

One of my favorite places in Skippack is a small table for two by the window at Euro Delights, a wonderful new bakery café in the heart of Skippack Village. I am sitting here now watching the rain fall from the window that looks out onto Skippack’s main street. Why a table for two? A table [...]

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I Love Skippack |

Euro Delights

Euro Delights Window

Looking out the window of my table for two at Euro Delghts

Euro Delights LLC, located at 4034 Skippack Pike, offers baked goods and more, made on premises from fresh ingredients daily. By special arrangement, Euro Delights serves intimate dinners for small and larger parties, where you and your guest or guests can enjoy a private, gourmet meal with an outrageously delicious dessert. Call 610-306-2224 for more information.

One of my favorite places in Skippack is a small table for two by the window at Euro Delights, a wonderful new bakery café in the heart of Skippack Village. I am sitting here now watching the rain fall from the window that looks out onto Skippack’s main street.

Why a table for two?

A table for one is a sad affair. “Dinner for one, please” is a lonely request. But a table for two is the beginning of human interaction, the beginning of hope, the beginning of friendship, the beginning of happiness. There are in this world grander tables by far, feasts where hundreds are seated and wine and delicacies flow like a river after a rainstorm; these tables I will never know, their grandeur is not for me in this lifetime. But I have known the happiness of a table for two.

To reach my table for two, I walk in the front door and turn left. In my line of sight as I enter is the display case. My eyes take in all the sensory delights — tiramisu, chocolate mocha ganache tortes, cannolis, cheesecake, German apple pie, cream puffs, Black Forest tortes, good ol’ American cupcakes and more — all baked fresh from basic ingredients. The menu features brunch or lunch, fantastic coffee and the delights from the display window.

Joe, about the time when Euro Delights was preparing to open in Skippack

Joe, about the time when Euro Delights was preparing to open in Skippack

I remember last year when I first saw the banner announcing the impending arrival of Euro Delights in Skippack. I received an email from the co-owner Joe and met him soon after while taking a walk down Skippack Pike with Mrs. Skippack Blogger.

Joe spent most of his conversation praising the culinary skills of his partner Anette, the executive to chef getting ready to run the kitchen at 4034 Skippack Pike. I got to know Joe first, working with him to announce the opening of Euro Delights on the I Love Skippack Facebook page.

“Wait until you taste her baking,” Joe must have said to me a hundred times.

Born in Finland and raised in Germany, Anette learned to bake watching her mom and worked in the kitchen of a five star restaurant. When she came to the United States, she pursued a career in retail management, ran a catering business on the side, and waited for the opportunity to open her own bakery café .

Anette is interested in all styles of cooking, which gives Euro Delights an international flair and an atmosphere of spontaneity, and gives the customer an amazing variety of food options considering its cozy scale.

Since opening, Euro Delights has only gotten better. Seasonal menus are being introduced, with new salads, soups and sandwiches offered according to the time of year. Thankfully, Euro Delights is now offering lattes, cappuccinos and iced coffee, providing the coffee shop environment Skippack has needed for years. I have been a fan since I came for a Skippack Sunday brunch and ordered the Finnish crepes.

Sweet temptation: Anette, with some recently cupcakes.

Sweet temptation: Anette, with some recently baked cupcakes.

The Magic Ingredient

As the Skippack Blogger, I am challenged to articulate the magic ingredient that makes our town special, that will convince someone to pull into a parking lot here rather than the massive lots beckoning from the King of Prussia and Philadelphia Outlet Malls. Right now, I best describe this magic ingredient as personal intimacy. Personal intimacy is often the missing ingredient in mass marketed comforts and experiences, but you can find it in Skippack, if you stick around long enough, in places like Euro Delights.

Speaking of magic, seven years ago, Mrs. Skippack Blogger took a chance and married me. Now it was to time celebrate the occasion, or seventh wedding anniversary. But how?

We could make a reservation at the Fountain Restaurant at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia, or go to the Plaza in New York or some other chic, fancy joint, but it didn’t seem right, neither for the path that the two of us are walking together in this life nor for what the occasion demanded; a sense of personal intimacy.

Then Anette and Joe made an offer; try an intimate dining experience at Euro Delights.  We decided to take them up on it. They closed the restaurant to all but Mr. and Mrs. Skippack Blogger. Anette made a delicious dinner just for us and we were served graciously by a lovely young woman named Reva, in the beautiful café with the orange tablecloths and the walls painted an orange faux marble, at our table for two.

Mr. and Mrs. Skippack Blogger enjoying our table for two at Euro Delights on our seventh wedding anniversary.

Mr. and Mrs. Skippack Blogger enjoying our table for two at Euro Delights on our seventh wedding anniversary.

Debby and I reminisced about our time together and worked on building a dream or two for the future. The evening ended with an outrageously delicious tray of desserts: New York style cheesecake, Mocha Cake, and heart-shaped chocolate whoopee pies filled with chocolate mousse.

Now sitting here, looking out the window at Skippack, on a rainy winter day, my blog posts ends, oddly enough, with a prayer, a grace after meals if you will:

May all the lost souls in this world come to know the happiness of a table for two.

Victorian playwright Oscar Wilde wrote "I can resist everything except temptation." He might have been thinking of this chocolate peanut butter cupcake from Euro Delights in Skippack.

Victorian playwright Oscar Wilde wrote “I can resist everything except temptation.” He might have been thinking of this chocolate peanut butter cupcake from Euro Delights in Skippack.

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Guide to Beer Fest in Skippack Village http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/10/24/guide-to-the-skippack-beer-festival/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/10/24/guide-to-the-skippack-beer-festival/#comments Thu, 24 Oct 2013 13:12:35 +0000 Joseph Mitsch http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8838 I Love Skippack |

Guest Blogger and friend promote beer fest in Skippack.

You’re Invited: Sample quality beers and spend time alongside quality people in an amazing village. The Skippack Beer Fest is a fresh, fun opportunity to enjoy Skippack’s scenic spots and casual, upbeat village vibe. More than 50 breweries will serve beer, most pouring for beer fest attendees on the patios of well-established Skippack restaurants. The [...]

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I Love Skippack |

Guest Blogger and friend promote beer fest in Skippack.

skippack-beer-fest-197x300

The First Annual Skippack Beer Fest will take place Sunday, October 27 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Ticket price is $45. This price includes a wristband and tasting cup with unlimited pours for the duration of the event. Purchase tickets here or on location the day of the event.

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Joseph Mitsch is the general manager of the Brasserie 73 and the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

You’re Invited: Sample quality beers and spend time alongside quality people in an amazing village. The Skippack Beer Fest is a fresh, fun opportunity to enjoy Skippack’s scenic spots and casual, upbeat village vibe.

More than 50 breweries will serve beer, most pouring for beer fest attendees on the patios of well-established Skippack restaurants. The event provides ample time for you to sample beers throughout town as well as taste delicacies from Skippack kitchens.

This beer festival will feature fantastic food, live music in two different locations (swing, blues, and rock), a great place to watch the Eagles on TV, and the friendly atmosphere of a very special small town.

Good people + good brews + great small town = Skippack Beer Fest

Good people + good brews + great small town = Skippack Beer Fest

Registration and Day-of-Event Ticket Sales

Registration and day-of-event ticket sales will be located in the outdoor area between Euro Delights  Bakery & Cafe (4034 Skippack Pike) and After 5 Gifts (4038 Skippack Pike).

Justin’s Carriage House

Swing into it: Starting on the back patio at Justin’s Carriage house, you will enjoy great swing music from the group A Swinging Affair and great blues covers from Tuesday’s Blues. Beers to be poured include favorites like Founder’s “Breakfast Stout” and Free Will’s “Oktoberfest” alongside Full Pint’s “Night of the living stout,” Boak’s “Two Blind Monks,” and Cricket Hill’s “Hopnotic.”

Brasserie 73 and Roadhouse Grille

A block away and across the street you will find the next beer fest location, Brasserie 73. The terrace patio, located in the heart of Skippack’s beautiful main street, will accommodate local breweries, such as Prism Brewing, Evil Genius, Boxcar, and Manayunk Brew Pub. Go inside Brasserie’s adjoining restaurant, the Roadhouse Grille, to watch the Eagles vs. Giants game on the large screen television and sample home brew beers.

Hotel Fiesole

This European-style hotel is the elegant but warm and welcoming heart of Skippack. Dogfish Head beer will be poured at Hotel Fiesole’s casual downstairs restaurant, the Bella Rossa. Beers from big name breweries like Weyerbacher and Stone will be served on the outside patio. Grab some beer then head inside to sample some appetizers from their brand new fall menu.

I like a "Skippack Vibe" with my beer

I like a “Skippack Vibe” with my beer

Basta Pasta

This Italian gem of a restaurant features a wrap around patio leading to Skippack’s lively outdoor Cabana Bar. Examples of beers you will find here include Troegs, Long Trail, and Anchor’s “California Lager.” Enjoy your beer while rocking out to music played by Dragonfly followed by The Flathead Band.

Parc Bistro

Parc Bistro offers an eclectic fine dining mix — French, country, Italian — in the cozy, charming atmosphere of a refurbished 19th century roadside inn. Two tents will be set up in the courtyard patio between the Parc Bistro and the barn that serves as a banquet hall. Quality brews that will be served at this location include Fegley’s, Left Hand, Flying Dog, and Southern Tier.

Enjoying the patio in the courtyard at the Parc Bistro

Enjoying the patio in the courtyard at the Parc Bistro

Stop to Shop

The Wooden Duck will host a reception with food and music to introduce everyone to the special experience of shopping in Skippack. All of Skippack’s shops are mom and pops (no corporate retail ownership) and each one is a unique and worthwhile shopping experience. For a sampling of our eclectic mix of shops, considering visiting New Wave Comics, the Southwest Trading post, and Miss Riddle’s Candy Shop, all of whom have been invaluable in supporting our beer fest.

And remember, on October 27, Skippack Village Becomes a Beer Garden.

Skippack Beer Fest Beer Guide

Note: name of the brewery is in italic type.

Parc Bistro

Saucony Creek: Captain Pumpkin’s Maple Mistress, Sessions IPA. Fegley’s: Rude Elf , Dopplebock Bourbon. Doylestown: Union St. IPA, 300 Amber. Smuttynose: Big “A” IPA, Homunculus Golden Ale. Left Hand: Ambidextrous #4, Wake Up Dead Imperial. Bell’s: Two Hearted Ale, Oarsman. Flying Dog: Gonzo Porter, Double Dog. Southern Tier: 2011 Back Burner, Unearthy IPA, Pumpking. Terrapin: Oak Aged Hoppy, Maggie’s Saison.

Hotel Fiesole

Weyerbacher: Winter Ale. Yunegling: Oktoberfest. Dogfish Head: Punkin, other beers to be determined. Stone: Ruination, Levitation. Old Dominion: Oak Barrel Stout, Double D. Heavy Seas: Small Craft. Lagunita’s: IPA. Hacker Pschorr: Oktoberfest. Spring House: Beer still to be determined. Firestone: Double Jack. Sam Adams: Oktoberfest. Great Lakes: Beer still to be determined.

Justin’s Carriage House

Boaks: Two Blind Monks, Double B W. Breckenridge: Vanilla Porter, Agave Wheat. Climax: Helles, Oktoberfest. Cricket Hill: East Coast Lager, Hopnotic IPA. Founders: All Day IPA, Breakfast Stout. Free Will: HopGeek, Oktoberfest. Full Pint: Chinookie IPA, Night of the Living Stout. Shawnee Craft: Session Porter, Pumpkin Saison. Tommy Knocker: Beer still to be determined.

Brasserie 73

Susquehanna: Hop 5, Golden Cold. Prism: Red Zone, Bitto Honey. Boxcar: Amber, Pumpkin. East Coast: Pilsner, Winter Rental. Starr Hill: Psycho Kilter, Saison. Evolution: Lot 3, Lucky 7. St. Killians: Kronenbourg Blanc, Grimbergen Double. Evil Genius: Forsaken. Manayunk: IPA, Session.

Basta Pasta

Troegs: Dremweaver, Javahead Stout. CraftBrew: Kona Wailua Ale, Redhook ESB. Long Trail: Imperial Pumpkin, Blackberry Wheat. Shock Top: Shandy, Pumpkin. McKenzie: Black Cherry Cider. Anchor: California Lager. Sierra Nevada: Celebration, Flip Side. New Holland: Mad Hatter, Dragon’s Milk. Lancaster: Winter Warmer, Oktoberfest.

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Rediscovering Rock, in Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/10/21/rediscovering-rock-in-skippack/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/10/21/rediscovering-rock-in-skippack/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 19:45:39 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8794 I Love Skippack |

Catherine Offner,  owner and teacher at Catherine's Music Studio in Skippack, performing at the Water Tower in Oaks, PA.

When the Skippack Blogger was growing up in the suburbs, teenage boys listened to classic rock. Back then, we would never have called our rock “classic.” We called it hard rock, album rock, FM Rock or just plain rock. Alt Rock didn’t exist yet. I remember my excitement whenever I purchased a 33 rpm vinyl [...]

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I Love Skippack |

Catherine Offner,  owner and teacher at Catherine's Music Studio in Skippack, performing at the Water Tower in Oaks, PA.

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Catherine Offner, a classically-trained pianist, teacher, entrepreneur, Skippack business owner, keyboard player in a rock band, wife, mom, and a lovely young woman.

Catherine’s Music Studio, located on the 2nd floor at 4079 Skippack Pike, offers lessons in piano, voice, guitar, bass, ukelele, drums, violin, viola, fiddle and more. Lessons are tailored to the needs and learning styles of individual students. Contact piano instructor and owner Catherine Offner at 267-446-5886 or by email catoffner@me.com. For more info, visit the Catherine’s Music Studio website.

Catherine is also a member of Sheetrock, a classic and modern rock cover band. For more info, visit the band’s Facebook page.

When the Skippack Blogger was growing up in the suburbs, teenage boys listened to classic rock. Back then, we would never have called our rock “classic.” We called it hard rock, album rock, FM Rock or just plain rock. Alt Rock didn’t exist yet.

I remember my excitement whenever I purchased a 33 rpm vinyl rock album: Gazing at surrealistic cover art. Trying to avoid scratches. Reading liner notes with the intensity of a monk studying an ancient text.

I listened in as my older brother and his friends discussed the merits of musicians and groups: Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Cream, the Who, the Doors, Yes, the Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Santana, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Bruce Springsteen, and other legends of rock. I took the opinions expressed by my brother and his friends seriously. Like them, I thumbed my nose at Top Ten and Bubble Gum music. I listened intently to wailing guitars and screaming vocals.

Parting Company with Rock

The sign outside 4079 Skippack Pike: Catherine's Music Studio is on the second floor.

The sign outside 4079 Skippack Pike: Catherine’s Music Studio is on the second floor.

All things tarnish with time. As years went by, I began to dislike the large crowds at stadium rock concerts; if I had a seat in the back, the rock star performing on stage looked small and remote. And the crowd and their antics began to seem silly. Rock, the music of rebellion against authority, I observed, was leading my peers down a path of conformity, submission to the tyranny of the crowd. I wanted to find my own way.

Rock and I began to part company. The soundtrack of my life began to be filled with mellower sounds, the softer but intricate flow of jazz. Soft music to which my parents would listen and which I would mock in my rock years suddenly started to sound damn good.

By the time I had entered college, rock had a serious challenger. Disco was in full force. Decades later I met a girl who grew up in New York at the height of the disco era. I married her. I thought the door to loud, blaring rock had closed forever.

The Rediscovery

This is Skippack: If I stay attuned to the vibes that float through the air, there is always an adventure awaiting the Skippack Blogger.

Catherine with the other members of classic rock band Sheetrock.

Members of classic rock band Sheetrock. In the back, from left to right Sean Pinkerton, Kevin Higgins, Catherine Offner, Joe Korkus, Bart Reitter. In the front, Al Baumeister.

Debby and I take walks in summer and fall evenings down our well-lit main street. We pass a two-story structure that looks like it was once a family’s home and is now home to two Skippack businesses. On the first floor is Good Golly Dolly, which sells vintage toys and antiques. I love this store, but that is another blog post for another time. Above it is Catherine’s Music Studio.

Some nights, we walk by and the lights upstairs are on. I may hear a sound from a wailing guitar, the familiar tune of a classic rock hit.

I know the owner of the music studio, Skippack music educator Catherine Offner. When she is not teaching kids the principles of harmony or finger positioning, she plays keyboards with a local classic rock cover band called Sheetrock. At night, the band rehearses inside her studio. I walk around the back, climb the stairs, sit on the leather sofa in her waiting room, and listen. I relax and get re-acquainted with rock.

Something here enables me to enjoy the music especially well. There is no crowd, no smell of beer, no distractions. I can focus on the music. The sound is tight, loud, clean, rich at the bottom. Guitar riffs find there way to remote memory cells. I recall songs I haven’t listened to purposefully for years.

Each player brings a touch of individuality to create a rock group sound. Bass player Sean Pinkerton is steady, calm, and thoughtful. Rhythm guitar player Kevin Higgins seems laid back, content, comfortable in his own skin. Lead singer Al Baumeister brings it home, with vocal dynamics and exuberance that makes the party happen.

Here is a video of the band rehearsing:

There are 6 people in the band. The players have day jobs and are raising families. They fulfill their responsibilities by day and practice their passion by night.

Kevin Higgins, rhythm guitar

Kevin Higgins, rhythm guitar

“It brings me back to my youth,” explains the band’s drummer Joe Korkus. “I had stopped playing drums for about twenty years when these guys recruited me back. It’s a good way to break out of the normal, everyday routine and hang out with some good friends.”

Dads that Rock

Two band members have children taking lessons at Catherine’s Music Studio.

“Both my daughters take piano lessons here at the studio,” says rhythm guitar player Kevin Higgins. “They both really enjoy it. From a musical perspective, having a foundation in piano is the best way to start.”

“I wish I had picked up the guitar when I was younger,” adds lead guitar player Bart Reitter. “It’s such a passion for me now and so enjoyable. I want to expose my children to music lessons and give them the opportunity to get a solid musical foundation. I now realize how important this is.”

Reflections from the Skippack Blogger

Al "Boo" Baumeister, lead vocals

Al “Boo” Baumeister, lead vocals

I can relate to the guys in Sheetrock; like them, I pursue my passion at night, writing for my websites, while working during the day to earn a living. Listening to them play classic rock songs, so familiar from days long past, helps me to recall the young Skippack Blogger, at 16, 18, into my twenties; the youthful self that still exists inside this middle aged shell.

Rock music stokes the fire inside of me: it touches upon the force that keeps me going as decades steal upon me. The members of Sheetrock seem to draw upon that same youthful energy and channel it through electric guitars, drums, keyboards, and a voice mike.

The child is the father of the man wrote the great English poet William Wordsworth. The fire of adolescence and teenage years must drive us through decades of work and responsibility, and ignite our pastimes.

The Skippack Blogger’s Rock Motto: Keep the goofy young dude underneath the mask of adulthood alive for as long as you can. If he dies, it’s time for the retirement home, and then the long, dreamless sleep. And how to keep him alive? Feed him: feed him a diet of classic rock.

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Bart Reitter, lead guitar; Joe Korkus, drums

The lady on the keyboards: Catherine Offner is the teacher, the reassuring presence, my knowing and gentle guide back to the world of rock. Soft-spoken, articulate, trained in classical piano, a strong proponent of music education; Catherine knows much more about music than I ever will. If she finds value in rock music, then there must be more for me to learn as well.

Skippack’s Classic Rock Band

Facts about Sheetrock (the band, not the drywall material):
• Four band members live in Skippack.
• One band member is a Skippack business owner.
• Rehearsal takes place inside a Skippack business.
• One of the band’s first public gigs was at Skippack Days.

Add all this together and it makes Sheetrock a strong contender for the title of Skippack’s classic Rock band. I look forward to their next appearance at a First Friday or another one of Skippack’s other festivals. I want to see if I can lose myself in a crowd of people listening to hard rock (I won’t call it classic), like I did when I was a kid.

Sean Pinkerton, bass guitar

Sean Pinkerton, bass guitar

Lord help the Skippack Blogger. I am the middle aged fan of a rock group.

Catherine Offner,  owner and teacher at Catherine's Music Studio in Skippack, performing at the Water Tower in Oaks, PA.

Catherine Offner, owner and teacher at Catherine’s Music Studio in Skippack, performing at the Water Tower in Oaks, PA.

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