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When my husband, Duke, died six years ago, it wasn't easy to face the
c.1757 basement of our house, which he used for his office, workshop,
and general collection of interesting things. Bit by bit, previously thought lost items have come to light.
(Like a marvelous collection of 33 rpm records of the finest jazz bands of the 30's.)
One was this wonderful article from The Reading Eagle, undated, but probably from the '90's....Ann Kahl

Up On Nanny Goat Hill
From our news staff:

It's been called many things, from "The Midnight Ritual"
to The Shamrock Serenade" to "The Tryst on Nanny Goat Hill."
On Sunday night at midnight, a group of local traditionalists
and a quartet of musicians will gather in
St. Peter's Cemetary on Nanny Goat Hill, located at 11th and South Streets,
to honor Col. Tom Hannahoe, the legendary mayor of Reading's Irishtown.

Hannahoe was a 19th-century saloon keeper who, local folklore has it,
was sharing a brew with well known cornetist Alvah Schaeffer
in Hannahoe's Stars and Stripes Saloon
in the 500 block of South 11th Street
when they sealed an agreement.:
Should Hannahoe die first, Schaeffer would render the tunes "Lass O' Galway" and "Nearer My God To Thee"
at Hannahoe's gravesite each St. Patrick's Day at midnight.

But should the cornetist die first, his friend would celebrate the holiday
by planting fresh shamrocks on Schaeffer's grave.

When Hannahoe died a year later, just before St. Patrick's Day in 1898, the tradition was born.

For 49 years Shaeffer honored his friend, playing alone for 33 years
and bringing a protege, R. Elmer Addis, for the remaining years,
until Schaeffer died in 1947.
The tradition then waned until being revived by Berksiana Foundation, Inc. in 1977.

Local historian George Meiser IX said a local brass quartet
will assemble by Hannahoe's gravesite Sunday night at midnight
and play "Lass of Galway" and "Nearer My God To Thee
and, if time and the elements permit, a couple of other songs.
"The whole thing takes place in a couple of minutes," said Meiser.
"If you get there at ten after twelve, you missed it."

Meiser said that back in the '70's, when the ceremony was first re-created,
as many as 1,000 people would turn out.
Lately it's been more like 100.

Meiser credits the Reading Musical Foundation with helping to keep the tradition alive by paying the musicians who perform. (The Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania)


"My Hometown" WEST READING

Smells. Sights. Sounds. The stuff memories are made of. Memories of childhood in one's hometown.

The smells I recall are rich and pungent. Soft, hot, sticky, aromatic creosote; oozing out of cracks in the sidewalk, cooked to puddingness by the burning sun.

Into a young eager mouth pops a tarball, wrested with stubby fingers from between cement slabs to use up the eternity that elapses as a car rounds the corner and necessitates a wait.

In the hot air a scent of chlorine lingers, wafted from the community pool still several blocks away.

The linden trees are in bloom, their fragrance rich and sweet, another signature of summer.

Across the way a familiar sight; long, bare legs, tanned and shining, topped by a bright green tank suit on an extremely pretty girl moving quickly at a slight list on her startling high heels; following her a small child in dark blue shorts, flying white shirttails, and a towel dragging behind.

A blind moves gently at a curious window.

From far ahead, the sounds of spirits unleashed; voices echoing as voices do when walled by water and aqua painted concrete.They send into the sea of hot, heavy summer, vibrating energies that reaffirm one's faith; memories of summer long ago in my home town.

A Time To Die

Lives are saved by heroes. Remember the knight in the fairytale who slew the dragon and saved the fairy princess? He was handsome and brave, and he saved lives.
It's a good idea to save lives. Certainly no one is going to argue against it.
But what is it that it says in Ecclesiastes? To everything there is a season. Sometimes, just sometimes, a life can be saved, and it's not a good idea to save it.

Imagine, if you will, living a healthy worthwhile life for fourscore years or so.. Imagine then, a flash of pain and confusion having something to do with your body that renders it no longer controllable, so that it refuses to obey even the simplest commands. Imagine, also, that early fears of death have dissipated, and been replaced by a kind of happy, quiet warmth of recognition of a process somehow remembered and familiar; a looked-for rest and an incredible and overpowering longing to let go, to die, to be born again into a newness.
How difficult that no one can understand! How difficult to have to wait for nature, to be trapped inside a body that doesn't function.
Communication isn't easy under the best of circumstances. It's hard just to be able to say to each loved one, "May I leave you now? I want to go. I am ready." Now not only will the words not come, the lips and tongue themselves won't work.
To die. A joyous relief. At least one is safe: a warm bed, needs being met-but what's this? A new machine being attached to the bed. Being attached to the body!
It takes a long time for the truth to dawn, but it finally does. They are going to keep the body alive. For how long?

It's alright to be a hero and want to save lives. But a pause in the heroics for consideration of quality of life, and perhaps of a time to die may not be remiss.
It's a class-A number one hero who knows when it's a time to die and can restrain himself accordingly, can choose not to "save this life".

Reading: The Town To Which I Returned

In the town of Reading, PA., on the banks of the Schuylkill River, there is enough to satisfy whoever chooses to live there. The town is compact, and the houses are in rows. Many of them are old, but in perfect condition, because of the thrifty care of the Pennsylvania Dutch people who have inhabited them. People are beginning to discover the value in maintaining the integrity of this lovely old town, and are buying these homes and restoring them where necessary, creating a downtown that is a joy to walk though, and a glimpse into the past.

The center of the town is intersected by Penn Street and Fifth Street, creating what has come to be called the Callowhill District. Rows of homes, constructed during the Federal Period, provide a genuine air of history, bringing it alive and making it fresh, like seeing layers of time superimposed in present reality.

Many of these old houses have windows of leaded glass above their heavy, panelled entrance doors. Often the glass is stained, and when the sun shines through, the entrance halls are alive with dancing rainbows. Old knockers and hardware often complete the picture; long iron hinges suggesting the old forges in the countryside nearby.

Reminiscent also of the forges are the occasional iron fences and gates, many of them elaborate, with clusters of grapes at appropriate intervals, and intricate leaves and other shapes creating impressive patterns.

Between many of the old houses are walkways to the alleys and yards behind. To wander through these narrow archways, through old wooden doors onto uneven walks of ancient brick, or cobblestone, into gardens perhaps entangled with wisteria, or bright and elegant with roses planted half a century ago, is a rare treat. Alleyways are often narrow; sometimes two lines of brick or cement settling in the middle to a trickling trough of gentle rainwater, overhung with berry bushes, and vines, that have stood the test of time.

In the center of Reading are the old Reading Railroad yards, an oasis of many square blocks of abandoned track and huge buildings erected to hold and repair whole trains. The heartbeat of a nation once pulsed here, and standing among these monoliths one can still feel it. It was a mechanics dream. Paul Bunyan might have used it for his toolbox. It now stands lonely and forgotten, a monument to a time when one hundred miles an hour was a terrifying concept.

Several blocks off one end of the railroad yard is the old Seventh Street Station, where one could always find a doughnut and a hot cup of coffee before boarding the train for Philadelphia, a ride that just a few years ago took one on a dream trip along the banks of the Schuylkill through tangled woods, and the rich patchwork quilt into which Pennsylvania Dutch farmers rendered the land.

A bit farther off in the other direction stood the old Outer Station from which steamed the proud Queen-of-the-Valley, twice a day bound for New York, whose conductor placed a fresh rosebud in his buttonhole at each end of the trip. It has only been gone for a few years, so there are still many who remember, and their memories are enriched.,

Special to Reading is The Pagoda, which can be seen from any point in town, standing high on the peak of Mt. Penn. Pagodas, metaphysics, and incense aren't an invention of the Sixties. They have been popular before, in days when there was lots of money to spend on whims; days when railroad and steel barons ruled the land. The Pagoda in Reading is such a whim, and there it stands, a paeon to one man's eccentricity. I have met people in many parts of America who have said to me, when I told them I was from Reading, "Oh yes, the Pagoda."

To reach The Pagoda, one climbs a long, winding, very steep hill where once a year a race takes place: the Duryea Hill Climb, and people come from miles around to watch. The rest of the year it is just a nice drive, through fragrant pine forests up,up to the long winding road that runs across the top of the mountain. In the winter, after the high school proms, or on any late night, cars are lined up along the overlooks, their windows steamed with romance.

At the other end of town stands the museum in its beautifully landscaped park, with its river, and ducks quacking loudly, ignoring the quiet, respectful traffic that passes through. The museum is an unusual treasure for a city the size of Reading. It boasts paintings by Corot, Degas and Daubigny, and has its own observatory as well

Reading has a lot to offer. It is richly satisfying in many ways. It is history itself, contemporary, and yet a walk into the past. A richly woven tapestry.

My Obit

Moselem, Pa, Dec. 1st-Ann Kahl, a local housewife, died here this morning after having eaten four banana splits. A spokesman, who saw the body, said he was sorry.
Mrs. Kahl had been having trouble with her appetite for several days, her family was reported as saying, but "We just never thought it would come to this."
Mrs. Kahl had been the caregiver for three large dogs, who had been disturbing her sleep with slurping sounds that apparently went on incessantly at night during the recent flea season. Flea season was heavy this year, according to the A.S.P.C.A., due to an unusual spell of warm weather late in the fall.
Mr. Kahl, Mrs. Kahl's husband, said he had noticed that Mrs Kahl had been unusually restless lately during the night, sometimes calling out loud to the three dogs (who share the Kahl's bedroom), "Stop that!" He felt that her agitated state may have contributed indirectly to her death.
The Kahl's four children; Candy, Polly, Michael and Jamie, said that they had seen Mrs. Kahl eating banana splits, and that she had tried to get them to eat one too.
The burial service will take place Monday at Our Holy Lady of Charity Church.
A collection will be taken up at the funeral.

(continue to Little Stories I I )


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