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An Honor Well Deserved

A Lifetime Achievement Award for Merv Harris

Merv Harris, front row, center.

At their annual Preservation Awards ceremony, during the May 15th County Council meeting, the Heritage Commission of Delaware County presented a lifetime achievement award to Merv Harris for his significant contributions to preservation of the County’s history.

J. Mervyn Harris, “Merv,” is a man who believes in giving back to the community. After graduating from Nether Providence High School, Merv continued his studies at Pennsylvania Military College (now Widener University). After graduation, Merv served as a second lieutenant in the United States Army and as a major in the United States Army Reserves. Upon his return to civilian life, he became a commissioner for Nether Providence Township and served as chair of the Nether Providence Township Republican Executive Committee. He was also appointed the judge of elections for the township. In 1964, Merv was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

He is the founder of the Nether Providence Historical Society; a member of the Nether Providence Historical Commission; and authored the book, A Brief History of Nether Providence, which was published in 2010.

Merv was a dedicated and active member of the Delaware County Historical Society (DCHS). He served as president in 2002 and initiated and led a working collaborated group named the Council of Local Historical Societies.

In 2000, Merv was appointed to the Heritage Commission of Delaware County and until his recent retirement, served as Vice Chairman. In addition to his political and history related activities, Merv served on the board of COSA, March of Dimes, and the Center for Resolutions.

Nether Providence and Delaware County have benefitted greatly from Merv’s lifelong devotion to the preservation of our history.

Wallingford’s First (and Only) Air Mail Flight

1938 6¢ Bicolored Eagle

National Air Mail Week, 1938

Postmaster General James Farley and President Roosevelt proclaimed May 15-21, 1938 to be a week-long commemoration of the 20th anniversary of US airmail service in an effort to spark increased use of the airmail.

A new 6¢ airmail stamp was issued and Farley asked that every US citizen send an airmail letter during the week. The slogan was “Receive Tomorrow’s Mail Today.”

Towns were encouraged to create unique “cachets,” commemorative designs printed or stamped on the envelopes. The idea was popular and towns across the country planned events and created as many as 10,000 cachets.

Special Wallingford Cachet

Thursday, May 19, was designated as the celebration day. Postmasters headed up the planning, finding landing fields and submitting their plans for approval to their state’s Department of Aeronautics. Postmasters also sought out volunteer pilots to pick up the mail.

Nether Providence and Media held a joint celebration which began at 2:00 PM at the Media Aviation Field, today’s Wallingford Summit neighborhood (Woodcrest, Ridgewood, and Grandview Roads). The autogyro that arrived to pick up the mail was met by Judge John M. Broomall and the Media and Nether Providence High Schools’ bands. Local postmasters Matthew Fox of Media and Stafford Parker of Wallingford and Burgess of Media Crosby Smith comprised the Welcoming Committee.

The Journal, student newspaper of Nether Providence High School, reported, “…students left school at 1:00…so that they could witness the only air mail pick-up in the history of Wallingford. …After the autogyro took off, four Navy pursuit planes circled the field twice and then returned to Philadelphia.” Continue reading

Trench Art: Beautiful Remnants of War

In their free time, soldiers, especially during World War I, created folk art from discarded bullets, shell casings, and other materiel.

They kept their creations as souvenirs or gave them as gifts to loved ones when they returned from war.

Ryan Berley will share with us the history of Trench Art and show examples from his collection.

The Historical Society will also display the vase that local resident, Von Byre, brought home to his mother. The vase is part of the NPHS’s permanent collection.

Trench Art
Thursday, April 11 at 7:00 PM
Helen Kate Furness Free Library – Chadwick Auditorium

About the Speaker: Ryan Berley, Curator of the Rose Valley Museum at Thunderbird Lodge, has a life-long interest in antiques. He and his brother are owners of Franklin Fountain and of Shane Confectionery in Philadelphia.

The program is presented by the Nether Providence Historical Society and is free and open to the public. Please RSVP using the contact form below.

“What the Boys Use When They Go Over the Top”

Second only to the many brave Delaware Countians who served in the armed forces in WWI, the County’s most significant contribution to America’s war effort was rifle production in Eddystone.

Join us to learn the story of the remarkable industrial achievement of the Eddystone Rifle Plant, located on the far side of the Baldwin Locomotive Works property. It was America’s largest rifle plant and produced the majority U.S rifles, almost 2 million.

The Eddystone Rifle Plant During WWI
Wednesday, March 13 at 7:00 PM
Helen Kate Furness Free Library – Chadwick Auditorium

About the Speaker: Kurt Sellers is a retired Major in the U.S. Army, a graduate of West Point, and served in the 1991 Gulf War. A volunteer researcher for the United States WWI Centennial Commission, Kurt has received approval on behalf of Eddystone Borough for a state historic marker to be placed near the site of the old rifle factory on Route 13.

The program is presented by the Nether Providence Historical Society and is free and open to the public. Please RSVP using the contact form below.

 

An Oyster Cart on Every Street Corner?

Celebrated historian Nancy Webster will present A Brief History of Popular Street Foods, an exploration of sidewalk cuisine from American Colonial times through present day. Some will be familiar (we’ve been frequenting hot dog and pretzel vendors for ages) and others will be surprising.

Bonus: Samples of old-fashioned street foods will be available for tasting!

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: A highly engaging speaker, Nancy Webster was named Delaware County Historian in 1988. The Principal Planner with the County Planning Department for 25 years, she was head of historic preservation and won state and national awards. A Delaware County native, Nancy holds a BA from Harvard, and a double MA in American history and museum curatorship from the College of William and Mary.

Uniquely qualified to speak on this topic, Nancy is a member of the Historical Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley and chairman of the Foodways Committee of the international Association for Living History.

The program is free and open to the public: Thursday, April 27 at the Helen Kate Furness Library on Providence Road in Wallingford, starting at 7:30 pm.

RSVP:

Colonial Christmas Open House

LeiperHouse

You’re invited to The Friends of the Thomas Leiper House’s
annual holiday celebration,

Sunday, December 18th from 1:00 until 5:00 pm.

521 Avondale Road, Wallingford

Program: Helen Kate Furness – Portraits of a Life

Rogers FamilyThe library that bears her name has been a center of community life for more than a century, but who was Helen Kate Furness?

Join us for a look at the life of Helen Kate through her portraits.

Our speaker is Harwood Johnson, a member and past President of the Furness Library Board of Directors.

Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm at The Helen Kate Furness Free Library, 100 North Providence Road, Wallingford

The program is free and open to the public.

RSVP here: