Letters to the Editor

Regarding SHHS Band origins

To the Editor:

Your July 14 article on Swarthmore Borough Council’s July meeting quoted Council President David Grove as stating that Jack Hontz started the Strath Haven High School band with a handful of Nether Providence band members and none from Swarthmore.

My daughter Sheri, who played the clarinet, was recruited by Jack that first year, and he also recruited her sister Wendy to be a flag bearer. I believe there were several other Swarthmoreans. Jack’s influence on my children and both communities is greatly appreciated and we are saddened by his death.

Mary Lou Parker

Regarding Jack Hontz

To the Editor:

In honor of Mr. Jack Hontz: What an incredible teacher, leader and friend you were to our SHHS community. I will never forget the day you and Mr. Henry Pearlberg, with your enthusiasm, recruited my sister and her friends picking us up at “band camp” to be part of the flags. I was always hoping that we would relocate back to Wallingford-Swarthmore so our son could play trombone for you. You have touched my life in so many ways and made me a better person. Those marching skills came in handy when I joined the Navy.

My heart is broken for your family and the Strath Haven High School family. May God bless you and your family through this challenging time.

Sheri Parker, Capt., M.S.C., U.S.N.


To the Editor:

Interdisciplinary learning is a fine idea. Things are complicated and each discipline seems to get more and more complicated. Einstein said, “Things should be made as simple as possible… .” He added, “…but no simpler” and because the second part of his statement seemed to suggest the complexity of existence, he worked all his life on the first part of the statement. To combine the disciplines, perhaps Swarthmore College’s BEP program is a step in the right direction toward a unified field of learning; and the devil take the landscape — which is rather disheartening to me as I type this.

But BEP is not the correct order for the acronym. It should read BPE. Biology creates psychology, and psychology creates engineering. However, even if corrected, a problem obtains. When engineering is the result, AI will emerge. And with artificial intelligence, who knows what will be around the corner? Perhaps robots which might desecrate the landscape to further their own reproductive interests; exactly the way we are behaving.

John Brodsky for The Tomkins Institute

Letters to the Editor

SRA Summer Club 2.0

To the Editor:

This summer, SRA combined the Pre-School Camp, Summer Club and the two sports camps all in one location which led to an exciting and enthusiastic summer. Under the directorship of Dan Shaffer and the leadership of Bill Kane, Joyce Perry and Megan Richardson, supported by Linda McCullough, the camps were able to adjust to the new set up without missing a beat.

The Pre-school enjoyed many bounces and special events including the puppet show and for the first time were able to attend the Disney Sing-Along Day which was a big hit. The younger campers were a welcome addition to the “big kid” camps and all were very happy to have them join us this year.

Summer Club kept humming along with oldies but goodies like Water Slide Day, Slip and Slide Day, Ice Cream Day and Tye Dye Day. Highlights included the Franklin Institute Science Show and Carnival Day.

The sports camps had a variety of trips to Tee’s Golf where the campers had the choice of hitting off the driving range, playing putt-putt golf, and swinging away in the batting cages. Other fun trips included going to Sky Zone and Sproul Bowling. Boing Bounce kept the campers busy with an obstacle course, a giant velcro wall and many other fun activities.

Lastly, all the campers were invited to contribute food items to Philabundance which resulted in donating hundreds of pounds of food to this wonderful organization. In addition, many campers chose to write letters of welcome and encouragement to the HEADstrong Foundation and its residents.

Swarthmore Recreation Association Summer Club employs over 50 teenagers and 20 adults to make this a summer the children in this community can remember. Thanks to the parents and community for keeping the tradition thriving.

Dan Shaffer

Kids helping kids

To the Editor:

My friends Gianna Bergin and Marin Horwitz and I are Girl Scout Juniors and students at Strath Haven Middle School, working to earn our Bronze Award. The Bronze Award is earned by completing a lasting project that solves a real-world problem or need.

For our project, we have chosen to work with Cityteam Chester to create a children’s center for the waiting families at the Mother-Baby Program.

Cityteam Chester is an organization that provides hot meals, shelter, addiction recovery programs, and lots more in five locations around the area. Cityteam Chester holds a weekly Mother-Baby Program where single mothers and their kids can go to pick up essentials such as diapers, formula, baby food, clothes and more, for free!

We realized that a mom and her kids could be waiting over an hour to go in the “store.” Mothers in this program commonly have multiple very young kids with them for this long wait. These kids may not have someone to play with them or read to them at home because there is no money or time for these things. Our conclusion is that by being around books and toys, the kids and mothers may be happier, feel more secure and be able to use their wait time in a positive way. To make this plan a reality, we need your help.

Please join us in helping the Mother-Baby program. We will be collecting between now and Sunday, September 17th. We will have a large plastic donation box at Marin Horwitz’s house, 223 Vassar Ave. in Swarthmore, if you’d like to drop off new or gently used donations. If you would like to make a cash or check donation, please mail to Gianna Bergin at 204 East Rose Valley Rd., Wallingford, PA 19086. Please make checks payable to Holly Bergin.
Correction – we will not be collecting at the Swarthmore Farmer’s Market on Saturday, September 16, as indicated originally in the print edition. 

Suggested donations currently needed for 0-1 year-olds are musical rhyme & discover books, activity cube, stacking rings, musical toys, rattles, links, play phone, light up/musical balls, play keys, and shape sorter.

For 1 to 2 year olds, please consider stacking cups, learning table, play doctor kit, plastic pretend play toys, See ‘n’ Say, plastic/musical tea set, animal sounds toy, wooden maze, mall plastic dollhouse with accessories; for 2-3 year olds, Duplo/Mega blocks, toddler race cars/plastic trucks, musical instruments, waffle blocks, small plastic shopping cart, play food (large plastic pieces), board books, popular movie/TV themed plastic toys, large piece wooden puzzles.

For 4-5 year olds, try Magnatiles, foam floor puzzles, trains cars and roadway rug, pretend keyboard/piano and/or guitar, non-toxic/washable crayons and markers, drawing paper pads, coloring books, and simple games like Candy Land and Chutes+Ladders).

If you have any questions about our project or would like an updated list of suggested donations, please contact me at aesthomas@comcast.net. Thank you for your support!

Jillian Thomas

Letter to the Editor

Sad news about Debbie Gavaghan

To the Editor:

I was so saddened by the news of Debbie Gavaghan’s death from cancer on July 19th — and heartened to read that she was able to meet her maker at home in the company of her family and loved ones.

I knew Debbie for many years; she gave me a 15-minute buzz cut every third Saturday at the Co-Ed Beauty Salon. She was a woman of indomitable courage and enormous resourcefulness, and gifted with a sharp and very funny sense of humor.

Along with all those who knew her I mourn her passing and remember her with deep affection.

Rick Valelly

Letters to the Editor

Scissors and therapy

To the Editor:

Before moving to White Horse Village, I lived in Swarthmore for 48 years, and for close to 37 of them Deborah Gavaghan of the Co-Ed Beauty Salon cut my hair. She died last week and I will miss her skillful sculpting of my hair, accompanied by the lively conversations we shared as she snipped away — scissors and therapy.

I always walked out of the shop looking and feeling better. Her hard work, welcoming smile, exuberant laugh, courage through troubles, and joy for the good times were gifts I will remember. Swarthmore has lost a treasure.

Peggy Thompson
Newtown Square

Ed. note: Deborah Gavaghan of Clifton Heights died June 19. She is mourned by her family and colleagues, customers and friends from nearly 40 years as a stylist at Swarthmore’s Co-Ed Beauty Salon.

WHV mourns Debbie Gavaghan

To the Editor:

Debbie (Deborah Gavaghan) of the Co-Ed Beauty Salon has been cutting my hair for years. Very sadly, she died from cancer this past Wednesday (July 19) at home in Clifton Heights. She will be greatly missed!

Customers from White Horse Village include Anne Hansen, John Hoover, Peggy Thompson, and me — all formerly of Swarthmore.

Marion Purdy
Newtown Square

Letter to the Editor

Aerial ballet, every morning

To the Editor:

“From the common barn swallow to the exotic giraffe, thousands of animal species are in precarious decline, a sign that an irreversible era of mass extinction is underway, new research finds.” (N.Y. Times. July 12)

Each of us has but a few decades to enjoy life on Earth. For Swarthmoreans, we have the privilege of seeing barn swallows emerge from beneath the bridge over the Crum by Plush Mill early each morning in order to catch insects on the wing with their lovely flutter and glide flight pattern. Soon we will be gone and after that they may be gone. Let us enjoy this beauty while we may.

John Brodsky

Letters to the Editor

On a hot summer night, runners participate in the Swarthmore Lions Club Independence Eve 8K. Photo by Jim Ryan.

Another successful Lions Club run!

To the Editor:

The Swarthmore Lions thanks all of the runners and walkers who participated in Monday evening’s Independence Eve 8K. We had the usual very warm summer evening conditions but the humidity was not as oppressive as it has been for this race. Proceeds from the 8K will support Lions charities including the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Chester, Camp Kirby, Beacon Lodge, and the Lions Holiday Food Basket program.

The women’s overall winners were 1.) Tanya Clark (33:58), 2.) Meg McCoach (34:01), and 3.) Anne Nash (34:04). The men’s overall winners were 1.) Tyler Ronayne (29:58), Michael Deasey (30:20), and 3.) Michael Tiedeman (31:39).

The women’s age group winners were Katy Cattell (10 and under); Jessica Chisar (11-13); Emma Seifried, Abigail Loiselle (14-19); Jenna Szczepanski, Lindsey Krakower, and Grace Holliday (20-29); Madeline Delaney, Anna Filipczak, and Christina Gaffney (30-39); Jody Matey, Jill Bronner, and Maria Noupat (40-49); Melissa Krakower, Young Heinbockel, and Angela Waltman (50-59); Mary Kessler, Melanie Brennan, and Frances Sheehan (60-69), and Mary McCoy (70+).

The men’s age group winners were: Theo Caruso (10 and under); Jeffrey Kessler (11-13); Timothy Hoch, Christopher Stephan, and and Michael Cattell, Jr (14 to 19); Peter Grant, Matt McWilliams, and Andrew Napierkowski (20-29); Thomas Hausch, Aaron Epstein, and Michael Bobnak (30-39); Ed Shifflet, Scott Pollins, and Liam Fries (40-49); Tom Hoch, Jeffrey Painter, and Steve Melly (50-59); Bob White, Frank Kelly, and Michael Palazzo (60-69); and Terry Britt (70+).

Special thanks to Captain Conlen Booth and the EMS team of the Swarthmore Fire and Protective Association and to Chief Brian Craig and the members of Swarthmore Police Department (Sergeant Ray Stufflet and Officers Ann Bardo and Joe Maginnis) who worked the course. Thanks also to Borough Manager Jane Billings, Cuzzy Rowles from Public Works, Michael Hill from Swarthmore College; and Charles and Jacob Neulight of Run the Day who handled the time and race results. Race results are now posted on www.runtheday.com.

We are most grateful for our sponsors-Greg Milbourne PsyD., D. Patrick Welsh Real Estate, Occasionally Yours, the Inn at Swarthmore, Executive Cleaners, the Swarthmore Co-op, Bob Scittina and State Farm, the Pilates Connexion, and Harvest Restaurant for their support.

We had an outstanding volunteer effort from the Borough for marshaling intersections and working water stations. Kudos to the DiBona Family, the Graham Family, the Lausch Family, Terry Lynch, Jim Bock, Lindley Purrington, Dick Fitch, and Tony Liu for your help. Thanks also to my fellow Lion members, their families and friends — James Verdi; Paul Fischer; Tom and Kevin Dillon; and the Drew Crew (Jamieson, Laura, and Nancy Dillon) for another great job.

See you at next year’s 8K! Sincerely,

Jim Ryan
Swarthmore Lions Club

A wonderful Fourth!

To the Editor:

It was another wonderful Independence Day in Swarthmore!

Thank you for the early behind the scenes (and day of, of course) help of the borough workers, the police department, and the fire company. Thank you to SRA for overseeing the 19 thrilling bike races and Town Horseshoe Tournament. The Silver Dollar Band, this year under the direction and management of Rick Sonntag in Lee Jones’s absence, sounded great, as did the Silvertones.

The Lions Club ably contributed, as always, with its 8k race and Children’s Parade, and the Rotary Club with its free lemonade stand. Thank you again to the fire company for fire engine rides and hotdogs and getting Andy Shelter in position for our town photo. And to Larry Luder for organizing the National Bell Ringing Ceremony.

Thank you to BSA 112, and all the community groups who marched in our parade. We enjoyed seeing some new groups, but it seemed we were a little light on antique cars this year — please invite antique car-owning friends to show theirs off next year! Jane Billings and Gerhart Keller did a lovely job announcing our parade and program, and thanks to Mayor Tim Kearney and Pastor Jennifer Casey for their contributions. Congratulations to the award winners!

A special thank you to Marty Spiegel, who has helped with our celebration so much in the past and is enjoying a well-deserved retirement now. Thanks to Anita Barrett of the Town Center for helping with our sound system this year.

Finally, the Independence Day Committee welcomes suggestions — and, in fact, new members!

Looking forward to seeing you next year.

Ellen Pierce
Swarthmore Independence Day Committee

Letters to the Editor

Join the pride in Lions run/walk

To the Editor:

The Swarthmore Lions Club invites all runners and walkers to join us in the 20th annual Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K and 2 ½ Mile Walk on Monday, July 3, at 7 p.m. Bring a friend, and make new ones.

On-line registration is available at www.runtheday.com through Sunday night, July 2. The race fee is $25 and $30 on the day of the race. Race day registration will start at 5 p.m. at Swarthmore Borough Hall on Park Avenue. Awards will be presented to the first three male and female runners and to the first three male and female runners in 9 age groups. Special prizes will be awarded to the overall male and female winners. Refreshments will be served after the race.

For those of who have run this race before, we have had to make several adjustments to the course at Whittier near Hicks and at Dartmouth and Oberlin due to construction at the College. The route will be well-marked.

We are in need of volunteers to direct and cheer on the runners along the course and hand out water at the four water stations. The Lions will provide the water and the cups for the water stations. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Jim Ryan at (610) 909-3127 or jdryan17@gmail.com. Sincerely,

Jim Ryan
Swarthmore Lions

SB 22 and HB 722: Accountable alternatives

To the Editor:

Last week’s excellent article about the League of Women Voters’ lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s congressional district map quotes an aide to State Senator Thomas McGarrigle (R-26), whose district includes Swarthmore, saying that the independent redistricting commission, created by Senate Bill 22 and House Bill 722, would not be accountable and that “we need a process that is more transparent, more accountable to the voters, not less.” In fact, nothing could be less transparent or accountable than the current system. Using voter registration data and voting histories, politicians are picking their voters. In Pennsylvania’s 2016 state races, 86% of incumbents ran unopposed in their party’s primary and 46% of incumbents faced no major party challenger in the general election.

Our legislative boundaries are drawn by a commission composed of the majority and minority party leaders in the House and Senate. The commission adheres to Pennsylvania’s open meetings law but this does not prevent the backroom dealing where the real decisions are made. As for accountability, party leaders are known to punish legislators who show too much independence, by eliminating or moving their districts.

The congressional process drawing districts through legislation is even worse, giving exclusive power to one party if it controls the House, Senate and governorship (as in the 2011 redistricting round.) The final version of Senate Bill 1249 describing the current congressional district boundaries, which are considered the most gerrymandered in the country, was only made public the same day it was finally voted on and passed by the Senate. The bill then went to the House where it passed only six days later. There were no public hearings and minimal opportunity for public comment.

By contrast, SB22/HB722 requires the citizens’ commission to “[c]onduct an open a transparent process enabling full public consideration of and comment on the drawing of district lines.” The eleven-member commission consisting of four Democrats, four Republicans and three neither D nor R, who have been continuously registered that way for at least three years prior, would be drawn from a list of applicants screened for potential conflicts of interest. They are prohibited from seeking elected public office and other conflicting activities for 3 years after service.

The commission is must adhere to a strict timeline. Before creating a preliminary plan, it must hold four public hearings in different parts of the state. Once completed, a preliminary plan, along with maps must be must be made public and four more public hearings must be held before a final plan is adopted. The final plan must have 7 votes, at least one from each group.

Information used to create a plan must be made available to the public. Any aggrieved party can appeal a plan directly to the PA Supreme Court. SB22/HB722 would amend the PA Constitution. For more information and to get involved go to fairdistrictspa.com. Join the conversation on Facebook (facebook.com/fairdistrictspa) or Twitter (@fairdistrictspa).

Lora Lavin

Waste not, want not

To the Editor:

Many in Swarthmore are aggrieved. The issue, it seems, is dog excrement, both bagged and unbagged; arousing the most ire is the bagged variety left indiscriminately in other people’s trash, recyclable, or garden waste bins. Making matters worse is the often displeasing color of the bags — lime green, for example (we use royal blue bags). I’m sure everyone agrees that the disciplinary screws must be tightened for offenders. I have four suggestions for ameliorating the indiscriminate dumps.

• Set up voluntary watch patrols to apprehend wrongdoers.
• Have borough council establish substantial fines for lowlife dog waste depositors.
• Once caught and fined publish the transgressor’s picture and address in the Swarthmorean with a public letter of apology.

Require second offenders to wear an identifying badge when in the Ville — DOG WASTE MISCREANT.

These proposals are intended to start a conversation about an issue that is close to a crisis and one that is disrupting the daily lives of many. Perhaps the mayor could convene a meeting to launch the dialogue.

Allan Irving

Letter to the Editor

Memo-rable meal

To the Editor:

Dinner w Comy. Asked if he wanted tea. What kind, he asked. Loy Al tea, I told him, I expect Loy Al tea. He asked if we had Honess tea. Mix ‘em, I suggested. He responded “Honess – Loy Al tea.” He said he would like flan for dessert, if the WH had some. I told him, “Hope you can let that flan thing go.” We had ice crem 4 desert, one for showboat Comy, two scoops 4 me. Mussed tell him he’s a nut job for still wanting his job. May put in memo.

Bill Menke

Letters to the Editor

Sing or swim at SSC

To the Editor:

This summer, the Swarthmore Swim Club (SSC) and the Chester Children’s Chorus (CCC) are excited to partner for two Friday afternoon Free Swims on June 30 and July 14.

Members of the Chester Children’s Chorus at SSC.

Members of the Chester Children’s Chorus at SSC.

Many in our community already know and support CCC by enjoying concerts or volunteering as a reading buddy or swim instructor. Now, if you’re at the Swarthmore Swim Club during the Free Swims, which are part of CCC’s 5-week Summer Program, you can welcome the children, who range in age from 9– 8.

Kevin Haney, SSC manager, says, “This partnership presents the perfect opportunity for members of the CCC to continue developing safe pool/swimming practices. We are certain that the children will have a positive experience, and we are excited at the possibility of continuing to foster this partnership for many seasons to come.”

Learning to swim is a public safety issue. Since pools are few in Chester, many of the children in the Chorus haven’t had as many opportunities to learn how to swim. Seeing the possibility to teach this life skill four years ago, CCC volunteer Charlotte Brake developed a learn-to-swim initiative, and CCC executive director, Kirsten Halker-Katz, enthusiastically added it to the Summer Program.

Swarthmore College provides Ware Pool, and now swim lessons are an integral part of the weekly schedule and one of the children’s favorite parts of the camp day. In 2017, over 60 children will be learning to swim on Mondays and Wednesdays at Ware. Many returning campers, now in their third summer, are swimming a full lap of the pool! The Free Swims at SSC will provide an opportunity for children to practice their swim skills and enjoy cooling off in the pool. During the Free Swims, more lifeguards will be on duty and additional CCC volunteers will help make the time fun and safe.

Over the past three years, dozens of volunteer swim instructors have helped make CCC’s Swim Program a success. Thank you to SSC instructors Rachel and Max Carp, Hunter Clements, DJ Shelton, Eleni Pappas, Spencer Seaman, Sophia Foglio, Frances Resweber, Virginia and Peter Foggo, Annika and Elisa Kruse, Mary McTernan and Susan Brake.

Thank you to Wallingford instructors Jack Thomas, Cole Wirth, Zack Irons, Kate Lyons, Megan Quon, Ben and Claire Wolters; And, thanks to Rose Valley instructors Jenny and Chris Rowan and Creekside instructor Carly Glassford.

If you’re interested in teaching lessons, and have your lifeguard certification, contact Volunteer Coordinator Charlotte Brake at (610) 883-2661. Camp begins June 26 so it’s not too late! Finally, CCC thanks SSC for the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful pool during its 2017 Friday Free Swims.

Susan Brake

Class of ‘82; reunion in June

To the Editor:

Attention Swarthmore High School Class of 1982: Can you believe it’s been nearly 35 years since the pomp and circumstance of our graduation? Come join the class this summer; see how 35 years have changed everyone but you.

The festivities will get under way on Friday, June 30, with hoagies and cocktails beginning at 5 p. m. and ending at 11 p. m. at the home of Dan and Diane Shaffer (308 Rutgers Avenue).

On Saturday, anyone that can, will meet at 1 p. m. at the Swarthmore Community Center to spruce it up a bit. The Dinner/Dance will commence thereat 6 p. m.

Finally, on Sunday, at 12 noon, we will dedicate a bench at our old high school for classmates we have lost, and then head over to the Swarthmore Swim Club, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., for a pizza party in the picnic grove.

For those interested, but haven’t been contacted yet, you can reach me at dshaf48@gmail.com or call me at (610) 283-9267.

Parents of the class of 1982 are welcome to stop by and catch up. Any SHS teacher of our classes are also welcome on Friday. Sincerely,

Dan Shaffer
SHS Class of ‘82 Reunion Committee

Letters to the Editor

Another bar exists in Swarthmore

To the Editor:

Recently the liquor referendum passed by popular vote, but the pro-alcohol supporters do not get the final word. Nor does Borough Council have the final say in this issue. Both may yet be thwarted by Mr. Clement M. Biddle (1838-1902).

In 1891 Swarthmore College sold a tract of land to Mr. Biddle, who was on the Board of Managers. He soon sold the tract to Rev. John A. Cass, who was owner of The Swarthmorean [The Swarthmore, 1893] newspaper and secretary/treasurer of the College Tract Residence Company. Mr. Cass subdivided the tract and created what are now the separate parcels in the core of the business district. Mr. Biddle’s deed had numerous restrictive covenants including prohibition of making, selling, or distributing alcohol, except when prescribed as “medicine.” Any breach of the covenant provides for “forfeiting the title” to “Mr. Biddle his heirs and assigns.”

Restrictive covenants run with the land and are legally enforceable, so ultimately it will be for a judge to decide whether alcohol can be sold on the Biddle land parcels even if all property owners are in agreement. Covenants in the non-Biddle commercial zones, if any, are concerns for those deed holders. But the sobering reality is that the community and borough council may only sit in the rear of a courtroom, while the Biddle property owners negotiate among themselves and wait for a judicial decision. Only when the first action is taken to remove the Biddle covenant will the debate be renewed, but for now there exists a prohibition of making, selling, or distributing alcohol on the Biddle tract and the Biddle property owner does risk forfeiture of title, at worst, and the cost of a legal challenge at a minimum.

The public debate has ended, but a legal bar still exists on the Biddle properties to be settled in court. But before expending large sums of money on a liquor license and legal fees, perhaps the 10-15 Biddle property owners should just walk across the street and discuss the matter over a drink (or not) in the Broad Table Tavern?

Patrick Flanigan

‘W.H. Auden Would Be Proud’
Swarthmore Liquor Referendum Four to One Vote

From 1942 to 1945 W. H. Auden lived in Swarthmore
Leaving his native England during the Second World War
He arrived in the village of Swarthmore
A Professor teaching poetry to the Swat students
His classes were very popular
Writing a poem every three weeks
His favorite place to eat and write was the corner pharmacy and luncheonette on the corner of Park Avenue and Myers Avenue
As he ate and wrote daily his poems the juke box kept playing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”
Driving him crazy during the holiday season
The college of 500 students loved his class
His great disappointment living in the village was lack of a movie theatre and liquor store
Frustrated, Auden would take his suitcase to Philadelphia on a frequent liquor run
An English tradition of Happy hour had to be honored
Gin and tonic with a slice of lime
Accepting a poetry class to the young ladies of Bryn Mawr College
This weekly class helped maintain his liquor supply from that town
Why did it take so long for a public vote on liquor?
Now four to one vote in favor, seventy-two years too late!
Anyway! W.H. Auden would be proud!
Now a referendum on a new movie theatre would be nice!

 Kenneth E. Gelzhiser, Pastor
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church

Bob Holm (top left), Millard Robinson (top right), and Hannah Mathews (bottom right) were an integral part of Swarthmore High School’s “Golden Age” in the second half of the 20th century.

Bob Holm (top left), Millard Robinson (top right), and Hannah Mathews (bottom right) were an integral part of Swarthmore High School’s “Golden Age” in the second half of the 20th century.

Bob Holm, the Pied Piper of Swarthmore

To the Editor:

Today, whenever I listen to music, which is often, I can tell what instruments are playing, when they are playing, and why they are featured at that moment. In my mind’s eye, I can picture each of them. At one time I held some of them in my hands. It is immensely satisfying to have this insight. Music feeds my soul and enriches my life.

From 1945 to 1974, Bob Holm, Swarthmore High School’s legendary music director brought the joy of music to the students of Swarthmore schools. He was unflagging in his efforts to get us involved in his comprehensive music program. For those of us who were members of his high school band and orchestra, it was an opportunity to experience music as it is performed, under the direction of one of the best.

Upon his discharge from the Navy in 1945, Bob was hired as the band and orchestra director for the Swarthmore School District. He would remain there as director of music until his retirement in 1979. Before he left, he would have the virtually all of Delaware County, playing (on their instruments), listening, marching, or dancing to his music. Bob Holm was part of the triumvirate of some of SHS’s greatest educators, who together ushered in what was to become the golden age of the Swarthmore school system. Millard Robinson, Phys. Ed director, and Hannah Mathews, chair of the English Department, were the other two. Each one of them infused their students with a love of learning and the importance of hard work and thorough preparation.

Upon his arrival, Holm started recruiting music students in Swarthmore’s two elementary schools, establishing orchestras in each school, which although a little hard on the ears, were wildly popular with parents. In high school, his band and orchestra concerts featured classical and popular composers, filling the stage with musicians and the auditorium with parents.

Some of his football halftime shows were legendary. On Saturdays, Bob wore another hat and led the Swarthmore College band onto the field at college games. On Friday and Saturday evenings, his dance band “A Family Affair” including his son, Bob Jr., and his wife Ruth, played at weddings, concerts, and galas throughout the entire tristate area, from Wilmington, Del., to Egg Harbor, N.J. Bob played melody on his sweet sounding trumpet. Even after his retirement from Swarthmore, Bob kept the music going as director of the Chester City Band.

In 1998, at the age of 86, his dance band gave its last performance at an Abington retirement home. Two months later, he died suddenly at his home in Marple Township.

He was beloved by his students and was my mentor and friend. We would have followed him anywhere.

Barry Gwinn
Goodland, FL

Barry graduated from SHS in 1956. He was captain of the SHS marching band in 1955-56.

Think music, think Swarthmore

To the Editor:

While we try to find ways to increase attendance and businesses at our Town Center, maybe we need to look at what we already have and build on it. The May 28 concert at war3house3, featuring Bohemian Mule and Mostly Kosher (LA), was packed. Every show at WH3 I’ve been to has been well-attended and word of mouth suggests this is usually the case. Both bands knew how to rock, though each vibe was totally different.

Bohemian Mule was founded in Philly in 2012 and describes its music as “timeless psychedelic rock.” As someone who lived through the original Psychedelic era, there was enough in their music to provide flashbacks of groups experienced at the original Electric Factory, etc., while also hearing their new original tunes. For more information, see their Facebook page.

Mostly Kosher is an LA-based klezmer band making their first East Coast tour. The war3house3 gig was their only suburban gig. Their music includes a wealth of influences and goes from rock to “My Yiddische Mama.” The seven members allowed for various instrumentation including accordion (when was the last time you heard rock accordion. When was the first time?), with one of the standouts being their female violinist, Janice Martner Markham. This group reminded me of, among others, Blackthorn, in that you couldn’t not move to the music, even if you weren’t Irish. Same deal here. For further information, see www.mostlykosher.com.

Some suggestions to build interest:
• There could have been some cards or flyers from Town Center (I know printed stuff is old school but it still works) and, possibly, the latest Swarthmorean for visitors to pick up.
• There could have been a mention of any other events coming up in the Ville, especially the excellent upcoming Thursday Night Music Series (is this the Parking Lot Music Series?).
• There could also be a rebranding, something along the line of “Think Music, Think Swarthmore.”

We know Hobbs also presents music from time to time, along with the Farmers Market music series, and music sponsored by the library. We do have a unique brand of music and venues here and one thought is we should build on this. Possibly there could be a website and/or Facebook page devoted to music in the Ville as one suggestion.

Bob Small