Mike Litka began work last week as general manager of the Swarthmore Co-op. He comes to Swarthmore after more than a year as GM at DiBruno Brothers’ store in Ardmore’s Suburban Square. Mike has worked for 30 years in the retail food business, ever since his graduation from St. Joseph’s University’s Food Marketing program. He has been general manager of the Creekside Co-op in Elkins Park, and worked in various roles over many years with Whole Foods Market. We talked with Mike during a short break in one of his long days at the Co-op.
The Swarthmorean: How does the Swarthmore Co-op compare with Creekside?
Mike Litka: The sales volume is about the same, but the Swarthmore Co-op building is about one-third larger. We’re doing a lot of the same things, just on a bigger scale here. The membership model is the same; most co-ops are open to the public, like Creekside and Swarthmore. The environment today is based around convenience.
TS: Where did you start out?
ML: Philly. I’m a native of Frankford, and I went to St. Joe’s. My first job was in produce, and I became an assistant perishable manager at ShopRite. At ShopRite, I went through a management training program — 16 weeks in every department, in stores in Northeast and North Philadelphia and Montgomery County. My home store was B and Olney. Then I went to Super Fresh, then Whole Foods. When I joined Whole Foods in 1996 to open the 20th and Callowhill/Parkway store, that was their 75th store. Now there are close to 400.
TS: Is it different working for a board than for a corporation, or the family management group at DiBrunos?
ML: Not much different. I had corporate reporting responsibilities to different VPs and specialists [elsewhere], but it comes down to the same thing: be passionate about food, and try to do the best for the business.
TS: Community outreach has been a big element of the Co-op’s profile in Swarthmore. Are you going to continue to develop that?
ML: I’m a very big advocate of community outreach. I want to see more community engagement, not just externally but inside the store as well. We’d like to create some space to have events inside the store more often. And we’re in the planning stages now for a couple of [food-related] events.
TS: Is there anything you want to change about the store?
ML: Eventually we’ll do a grocery reset to get more up to date with trends in the industry like more natural foods on the shelves. In the other departments, I’d like to see expansion in prepared foods, more cross-merchandising, like placing produce throughout the store. And we have a great meat cutter here in Lance, and I’d like to expose him more to the store customers.
TS: What’s your favorite cheese?
ML: I love burrata. It’s the creamy mozzarella. Put some simple sea salt on that, olive oil, some nice crackers, and you’re good to go.
Swarthmore’s Lizzie King is glad she’ll be staying “home” for four years. “It’s awesome.”
In early December she got the acceptance letter from Swarthmore College, where she had applied early decision. For Lizzie, who grew up and lives in Swarthmore, familiarity did not breed contempt; in fact, she said, “Swarthmore set the standard for me. I always wanted a smaller school, with closer relationships between students and professors. And I’m excited about the whole adventure of a liberal arts education.”
Another lately prominent feature of the college is its women’s soccer program, which under coach Todd Anckaitas was nationally ranked for much of last season. “Growing up here as a soccer player, I knew about the team and the coach.” And surely the coach knew about Lizzie, who was a talented youth player in town and club soccer, and a key contributor to Strath Haven High School’s 2015 and 2016 championships in the Central League.
Lizzie was named the Delaware County Daily Times girls’ soccer player of the year after the 2016 season, repeating as the top player for the second consecutive year, and earning her third consecutive All-Delco recognition. Lizzie was one of 57 girls in the nation named to the 2016 All-America girls team by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. She was also inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame as a scholar athlete.
Lizzie’s role on the Panthers squad changed dramatically from sophomore to senior year. She was a dominant striker and prolific scorer as a 10th grader, attracted increased defensive attention as she played through injury in her junior year, and became a true game-changer as the double-teams focused on her throughout this season created opportunities for her talented teammates to score 40 goals on top of the 13 she netted.
Lizzie expects to play on the attacking side of the field for the Swarthmore College Garnet next fall. “I’ve played forever on lots of all kinds of teams, but I’m sure this will be a different atmosphere,” she said. “At Strath Haven, I had to change my style of play and become a distributor,” Lizzie said. “And it was cool to see my teammates score so much. There is no difference in skills, just a different mindset.” Mind, and body, she said — “I had to get used to bumps and bruises” as opposing teams played an increasingly physical style against the center forward.
Her aches and pains aside, Lizzie credits her coaches Gino Miraglia and T.J. Adams for helping her stay healthy for the full season. “They are really aware of how we’re doing physically, and I’ve learned about how the body works,” she said. That’s more than coincidence. “I love biology, and I’m planning on graduating from Swarthmore with pre-med requisites.”
Strath Haven and Swarthmore have apparently prepared Lizzie King well for the next level, both on the field and in the academic community.
On Sunday, January 29, CADES at 401 Rutgers Avenue will be the sweetest place in Swarthmore. That’s the date of this year’s Putt-Putt Palooza event, in which putters of all ages are invited to play a round or two of miniature golf to benefit CADES and its young clients with physical and intellectual disabilities.
The course consists of holes designed along the Candy Land theme and built by students, parents and volunteers from community organizations and businesses. Prizes will be awarded to the three most creative holes.
Nine-hole rounds cost $5 per player, and can be arranged in advance (see CADES.org) or at the door. The event which runs from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday will feature music, food and raffles. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of communication devices which can be used by nonverbal children to “speak” through eye movement or touch.
Jeremy T. Kane and Sara Anne Silzle
Sara Anne Silzle and Jeremy Todd Kane were married on Saturday, September 24, at the Tabard Inn in DuPont Circle, Washington, D.C. Karen Kane, mother of the groom, officiated at the ceremony.
The bride is the daughter of Bob and Diane Silzle of Swarthmore, and the groom is the son of Norm and Karen Kane of Rolling Prairie, Indiana.
Sara, a 2000 graduate of the University of Maryland, currently works for the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Jeremy is a 1998 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and is employed by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Following the reception at the Tabard Inn, the couple left for an extended trip to Maine, after which they returned to their home in Washington, D.C.
Friends and family who were unable to attend the wedding in D.C. celebrated at two receptions in Indiana and Swarthmore, respectively.
Warm Up with ‘Wanderings’ at Scott
Scott Arboretum launches a season of its “Wanderings at One” series of informal presentations in which gardeners share their observations and learning from travels.
The Thursday afternoon series begins on February 2 with Charles Cresson and Sharee Solow, who traveled in Italy following the Scott Associates’ Tuscany garden tour, exploring yet more gardens and absorbing Italian culture.
On February 9, Jeff Jabco retraces his 2016 trip to old and new gardens in East Germany, East Berlin and Poland, with the International Clematis Society.
Talks — at 1 p.m. on Thursdays — are free and open to all at the cinema at Lang Performing Arts Center on the Swarthmore College campus.
Homemade Soup & Sandwich Sale
at Wesley A.M.E. Saturday
This Saturday, January 21, enjoy comfort food in your own home, or in the company of neighbors at Wesley A.M.E. Church, 232 Bowdoin Avenue in Swarthmore.
Church members are cooking up homemade soups, including chicken noodle, vegetable beef, 15 bean, chili, and chicken and dumplings. (Each $5.50 a serving, including cornbread.) Sandwich options are grilled chicken ($4) and grilled cheese ($2.50). A meal deal with soup and sandwich, brownie and soda is your best value, at $10.
Order ahead at (484) 479-3259; come pick up your meals between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the church.
Seek Inspiration in the Wild
When the weather outside is frightful, garden thoughts can be delightful. To bring some spring into your winter, plan to come to Claudia West’s upbeat garden talk on “The Inspiration of the Wild,” Monday, January 30, at 7:30 p.m. at the Old Mill in Rose Valley.
As co-author of Planting in a Post-Wild World and an ecological sales manager for North Creek Nurseries, West will share ideas and optimism for a sensible, sustainable, aesthetically pleasing approach to design.
The Gardeners of Rose Valley present the talk at 9 Old Mill Lane. All are welcome; admission is $15 ($5 for students) for the talk and a reception and book signing following the lecture. Copies of West’s book will be available for sale that evening.
Snow date is Monday, Feb. 6. Check rosevalleyborough.org if weather is inclement.
Faith and Life: The ‘American Dream’
This Sunday, January 22, at 11:15 a.m., the public is invited to hear retired Penn State religion professor Bruce Stephens of Swarthmore and Shipley School English teacher Christine Hutchinson of Wallingford discuss the “American Dream” speech which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered at Lincoln University in 1961.
The talk is part of the Faith and Life class held at Swarthmore United Methodist Church, 129 Park Avenue.
You, the Painter!
Get in touch with your artistic side at the Saturday, February 4, fundraiser for the Swarthmore Public Library from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
You’ll paint a lovely picture of sunflowers, with the help of Artsy Gal on the Go; socialize, eat and drink (BYOB; snacks and cups provided) with friends and neighbors.
Dress to get messy! Tickets are $35 apiece and can be purchased at the library or online at swarthmorepubliclibrary.org. Deadline is January 31.
What’s Cooking at Helen Kate?
Cookbook Club returns to the Helen Kate Furness Free Library on January 31.
It’s a delicious riff on book club: choose a recipe from either Michael Solomonov’s Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking or Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food. Make the recipe at home, bring it to the library at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday the 31st, and share delicious dishes with other local curious cooks.
Register in advance by calling (610) 566-9331, or at the library’s circulation desk, where you can browse the display copies of each cookbook. HKF Library is located at 100 N. Providence Road in Wallingford.
One More River to Cross
Racism and Heterosexism: what are the similarities? The differences?
Reverend Dr. Jamie Washington of Baltimore speaks to the challenges faced by society today in the face of these forces. He will present a free talk entitled “One More River to Cross: The Intersection of Racism and Heterosexism” on Friday, January 27, at 4:30 p.m., at Chang Hou Hall, 101 Science Center on the Swarthmore College campus. All are welcome.
Election Post-Mortem at The Gathering Place
Raymond Hopkins, Swarthmore College professor emeritus of political science, will wrap up the recent Presidential election in his talk at The Gathering Place on Wednesday, January 25.
Hopkins’s talk at 12:30 p.m. will follow a light lunch at noon of soup and bread from Occasionally Yours (your donation will help defray costs), dessert and beverages.
The Gathering Place is held in the Swarthmore United Methodist Church, 129 Park Avenue. Call (610) 543-7810 with questions.
How to Run for Local Office
Tired of sitting on the sidelines? Learn how to run the race. Citizens with curiosity and drive can learn how to turn their ideas into action as candidates for school board and municipal offices, aided by a program sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Delaware County on Wednesday, February 1, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The workshop, presented by the LWV and the Penn State Cooperative Extension, provides an overview of elective government in Pennsylvania and covers the nuts and bolts of running for office. A panel of local officials imparts lessons from the trenches in a Q & A session.
The session will be held at the Media Borough Hall Parlor, 301 N. Jackson Street in Media. Cost is $25 per person; for information, call Peter Wulfhorst at (570) 296-3400 or e-mail email@example.com. (Snow date: Feb. 6.)
‘Reefer Madness’ Hits Swarthmore
Prepare for a smoking good show at the Players Club of Swarthmore next weekend, as Reefer Madness grips the area.
This musical comedy is based upon the 1936 propaganda film that became a cult classic, admonishing Americans against the the perils of marijuana use.
A cast of Philadelphia and suburban actors make merry in this satire of political, religious and social propaganda against the “evil weed.” Expect strong language and adult humor in the musical, which is directed by Thomas-Robert Irvin, with Pat Damato as music director.
Reefer Madness will be performed at 8 p.m. on Fridays, January 27 and February 3; Saturdays, January 28 and February 4; and two special shows: a 4:20 p.m. (oh, wow) matinee on Sunday the 30th, and at midnight on Saturday the 4th.
The show is on the Raymond W. Smith stage and is not handicap accessible. The Players Club is at 614 Fairview Road in Swarthmore.
Information and tickets ($15, in advance or at the door) are at pcstheater.org or (866) 822-4222.
Shakespeare In Media
Where art thou, Romeo? At the Media Theatre, as of next Wednesday’s (January 25) premiere of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, directed by Bill Van Horn.
The lovelorn teenager is played by Brandon O’Rourke; Lexi Gwynn is his Juliet. The play runs through February 19. Tickets and information are at mediatheatre.org.
Media Theatre Opens Disney’s ‘Cinderella’
The classic fairy tale Cinderella is lightened and enlivened in Disney’s musical treatment, Cinderella KIDS, which opens Saturday, January 21, at the Media Theatre on State Street in Media.
The cast includes professional actors and students from the theater’s school. Performance are Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at noon through February 19. More information at mediatheatre.org.
‘The Raising of America’ at Hedgerow
Child’s World America presents a screening of the first episode of The Raising of America, with a conversation to follow the documentary, on Wednesday, January 25, at 7 p.m., at the Hedgerow Theatre.
Why has child well-being in America fallen to 26th out of the 29 richest nations? What are the consequences, and how can the future be made brighter?
Explore and learn in this session led by Child’s World America. Tickets are free, but you must reserve in advance with Hedgerow at (610) 565-4211.
Play’s the Thing for
Hedgerow’s Youngest Students
Experienced young actors and newcomers as young as 5 can be members of Hedgerow Theatre School’s next classes. The school is now accepting registrations for the spring semester, which begins March 11.
“Hedgerow believes in training creators,” said Brock Vickers, a Hedgerow Theatre Company member. “We pride ourselves on enriching our students’ lives through the joy of play.”
Children ages 5 and up bring energy and wonder to the Winnie the Pooh group that will play and learn together on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon.
Led by Robert Pellechio, with guest teachers from the Hedgerow Company of resident theatre artists, the youngsters create narratives as they inhabit all of A.A. Milne’s beloved characters, from Eeyore to Winnie. A presentation at Hedgerow House on May 19 caps the semester. The cost of the class is $200.
Older students will be off to see The Wizard of Oz come together as a stage play. Children aged 8 and above (and younger students by audition) collaborate to try on roles, learn skills and techniques, polish performances, and build a play from the ground up.
The wonderful Wizard of Oz will be staged in four performances at the end of the semester, debuting many young actors, and continuing the careers of others. Classes will be taught by Penelope Reed and members of Hedgerow’s Company on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. Cost is $350 per student.
To obtain more information and register students in Hedgerow Theatre School, visit hedgerowtheatre.org/education, or call (610) 565-4211.
During the first week of January, 2017, the Swarthmore Fire & Protective Association responded to the following alarms:
Emergency Medical Services (EMS): There were 21 calls for medical assistance within the Swarthmore, Wallingford, Morton and Rutledge area.
Building Fires: Three alarms from residential/commercial buildings were for fire/smoke detector activations and smoke in a building. The smoke in the building call was to assist the Morton-Rutledge Fire Company with a laundry machine malfunction in the Borough of Morton.
Auto Accidents: Two calls: One accident was in Springfield Township along Baltimore Pike; the other on Avondale Road in Wallingford.
Wires Down: One alarm, along the 300 block of Vassar Avenue.
Hazardous Materials: Three alarms for gas leaks on Marietta Avenue, the 400 block of Rutgers Avenue, and the 500 block of North Chester Road.
Registration is open now for children’s programs to help families grow, share time time together, and shake off cabin fever during the remaining winter days. Call (610) 566-9331 or register at the circulation desk of the library at 100 N. Providence Road in Wallingford.
For kids 5 to 12, the Lego Challenge on Saturday, February 18, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. includes “Drop Test” and “Build Your Own Name.” More challenges await in March.
Toddler Tales, a Monday morning session for 2- to 3&1/2-year-olds and their caregivers to share stories and activities along a weekly theme, from 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m., beginning January 30 and running through April 3.
Children aged 1 through 3 (and siblings through age 5) are invited to bring parents and caregivers to the Family Place library for Chat Play Learn on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., from March 16 through 30. Kids will dig the toys; adults can talk with community experts about bringing them up. You are asked to commit to attend all three weekly sessions.
Preschool/Kindergarten story sessions meet weekly beginning on February 2 with the theme Groundhog Day, running through Coyote Tales on April 6. Children 3&1/2 years through kindergarten age can come at 1:30 p.m. or 4 p.m. to accommodate varied preschool and nap schedules.
For the smallest library guests, Thursday Infant Lap Wiggle sessions are “a joyful celebration of babies and books,” running February 2 through February 23. Infants from birth through 23 months of age are invited — sign up or drop in to the children’s library for intergenerational bonding and chat with your neighbors.
Seeking support for liquor referendum
To the Editor:
During last week’s Borough Council meeting, both Mayor Kearney and Council President Grove commented on the possibility of a referendum this year to make Swarthmore a “wet” town. As the group ready and willing to lead that effort, we thought this would be an appropriate time and venue to share our plan and rationale.
A group of Swarthmore residents have formed “Swarthmore21” whose objective is to end our town’s dry status. Specifically, we are taking steps to initiate a referendum in 2017 to allow the sale of beer, wine, and spirits in accordance with Pennsylvania law. We fully recognize that this alone won’t solve all of the challenges of the business district, but believe it to be necessary to attract entrepreneurial investment here. Every member of the group is passionate about Swarthmore; we believe this is the right thing to do now for the future prosperity of our town.
To secure the issue as a referendum on the ballot in the May, 2017 primary, we must first collect at least 1,000 signatures on a petition. This will take place during a 3-week period in February and March. Swarthmore21 will provide more details as we move forward about our planned actions here.
Some initial public comments were made this past week about this licensing. We invite community businesses and residents to visit www.swarthmore21.com to learn more about our intentions, the facts about the referendum and license process (both for now and the future), and how to support us in this endeavor.
In closing, we fully appreciate the importance and history of this issue to the residents of Swarthmore. We look forward to having an open, honest, respectful, and fact-based examination of this option to ensure our community makes the best possible decision this year. Thank you.
Vince Barrett, Ben Berger, Rob Borgstrom, Patrick Francher, Bill Furia, Billy Hodges
Mel Jurist, Dean Michelson, Linda Montgomery, Clair Oaks, Martha Perkins
Lora Pietrangelo, Will Randall, Ines Rodriguez, Andy Rosen, Carol Savery
Tread lightly, please!
To the Editor:
As a longtime resident of my beloved town, I ask those pushing a liquor referendum to think very carefully before making any decision that might compromise the long history and uniqueness of “our town.”
First, a little background. In the year 2000, when “revitalizing” the town began, I was the Borough Council member who was responsible for a survey that showed the number one choice of the community to be an inn, which had been my wish ever since the Strath Haven Inn was destroyed. I worked toward an inn for many years since that time.
(And a little side note: under the picture in a recent Swarthmorean, which showed me enjoying the first drink at the new Inn, the caption read that “I had waited a long time for this.” Yes, I had waited a long time for the Inn, not necessarily the drink.)
As much as I felt that any sort of bar in our village could hurt our history, our uniqueness, and also our children, I realized that we could never have an Inn with fine dining, without liquor. Therefore, as a Council member, I went out and acquired the last names needed on the petition for a license “for liquor served only in an inn on a college campus.” We got the license but had no inn. Then the College took over and the rest is history.
I have also lived through a number of other liquor referendums. They all lost, and we have survived. I realize that some of the merchants are hurting, but do we really need to solve our problems with liquor? The children see liquor in their homes and on TV, but they do not walk past what could become a darkened bar with intoxicated people inside, five years from now. It may bring more people into the village, but who will those people be? Will they go shopping in town?
And as malls are closing to give way to more specialty shops, how hard have we really worked to bring some unique shops to Swarthmore? I realize that there is a barrier to people who can’t afford the rent, but how hard have we tried to appeal to “love of community” with the “powers that be?” Some rent is better than a vacant store.
I am not an old biddy who is against liquor (I may be an old biddy, however). I loved champagne and a glass of wine occasionally, but we have such a special town where children can walk uptown freely and safely, and we do not know what the future could bring. Don’t tempt it.
Let’s be that town of Quaker values and traditions, and go elsewhere if we want a drink. Is the Inn not enough? Let’s be different. We always have been, and look at the town we have. Respectfully submitted,
Alice “Putty” Willetts
Thanks so much for your donations of school supplies in honor of Martin Luther King Day. With your generous donations and the Store’s matching gift, we were able to provide over $1,270 in school and craft supplies.
I’d like to give a special shout-out to our Swarthmore Rotarians, who enthusiastically kicked off the project.
On Martin Luther King Day, Swarthmore College students sorted and distributed these much-needed supplies to nearby after-school programs, including Chester Boys and Girls Club, Chester Eastside Ministries, Norris Street Shelter, Male Achievers Program, and Chester City Teens Ministries.
Thanks to your generosity, the kids served by these programs will have notebooks and paper, drawing pads and crayons, pencils and calculators. Thank you, Swarthmore!
Paula Dale, Director
Campus and Community Store Swarthmore