Bucks County Herald

Charles Meredith:

A magical Christmas remembered

Dear Friends,

Good morning.

Several residents of West Rockhill Township are objecting to taxpayers’ paying health insurance benefits to township supervisors when (in their opinion) the supervisors should be supporting charitable local organizations instead.

But first, two items. When I read the New York Times article about the reopening of the F.A.O. Schwarz toy store in Manhattan (Nov. 23), I thought about the fun I had 70 years ago, when my parents set me loose in that wondrous store. It was such an innocent time.

In 1945, just after World War II ended, I was 10. My parents did not worry that I was by myself in New York City just before Christmas. F.A.O Schwarz was four short blocks from the hotel where we staying. Like most parents in those days, few thought that villains would harm children on Fifth Avenue.

For several years, I had been building a Lionel model train layout in the basement of our house on Juniper Street. I knew that F.A.O. Schwarz had a magnificent Lionel Train display and wanted to scout the new accessories so I could drop subtle Christmas gift hints to my relatives. The F.A.O. Schwartz train display took up an entire floor.

But something was wrong. The trains weren’t moving and nervous sales people were milling around, wringing their hands. I looked about the display and spotted the difficulty. One of the trains had partially derailed and shorted the entire system. I went to a sales man, told him what was wrong, and replaced the train on the tracks.

Voila! The problem was solved and the trains began rolling again. The salesman recognized his opportunity of selling lots of trains and accessories. He put me in charge of the layout and I ran the trains by myself. If a 10-year-old could run Lionel trains, anyone could. For two hours I was in absolute heaven. My parents finally found me and brought me back to the hotel.

A few years later we were in New York City again. I was about 15. My parents took me to Radio City Music Hall to see the Judy Garland show. Of course the Rockettes performed as well … 36 beauties high kicking across the stage.

In 1950, Judy Garland was only 28 years old. But her life had been a roller coaster. Although drugs and alcohol had ruined her, she could still sing. I remember her sitting on the apron of the stage singing “Somewhere, Over the Rainbow.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the house … including my own.

I think of those stories whenever the Christmas holidays come near.

And now to West Rockhill. Frederick Diseroad is a resident and former supervisor. He believes that municipal elected officials should not receive compensation. He’s a member of a group of West Rockhill Township residents, called “5 plus 1.” Its mission is to urge the three supervisors to increase the financial support of local organizations by eliminating supervisors’ salaries and health insurance costs. That’s the reason why the township has not increased local taxes for several years.

The members of the “Five and 1” group are Vera Cole, David Collingwood, Fred Diseroad, Karina Rilling, Regina Schrarneyer, and Francis Szymendera. They believe that residents don’t realize that the dwindling financial support of local causes (like the Holiday House Swimming Pool, Pennridge Senior Center, parks, and historical society) would be increased accordingly if the township stopped paying supervisors’ salaries and health benefits.

Diseroad told me that West Rockhill Township has paid more than $400,000 in the past five years for supervisors’ salaries and health care.

The three township supervisors have staggered terms. Don Duval will face re-election in 2019; James Miller in 2021, and Jay Keyser in 2023. We’ll see whether Duval will run again next year and if so, under what circumstances?

Next week, I’ll share Terry Madonna’s conclusions about the future of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania. Madonna is a professor at Franklin and Marshall College and runs a polling business on the side. His predictions are remarkably accurate. I’ll let you know what he thinks will happen to the Republican Party by 2020, the year that President Trump presumably runs for re-election.

Stay tuned.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith


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