Bucks County Herald

Charles Meredith:

The Bulgari Center and Museum

Dear Friends,

Good morning. In my Nov. 9 column about Maurice “Maury” de Angeli, I mentioned that if I ever got the chance, I’d like to visit the Bulgari Center and Museum in Allentown. It’s a subject that he often addresses.

Maury is a fascinating fellow who’ll be 90 next month. Spry and alert, Maury is a craftsman extraordinaire. He restores antique automobiles and lives near Pennsburg.

Mighty Betsy and I met Maury several years ago at the Karlton Cafe in Quakertown. We see him most Sunday mornings before church. His mother, Marguerite de Angeli, wrote and illustrated books for children in the 1950s.

A few weeks ago, I attended a meeting of an organization called Lifelong Learning, where Maury gave a talk about Nicola Bulgari’s collection of antique American cars in Allentown. Bulgari also owns an antique automobile museum in Italy with 100 classic cars.

Bulgari is a famous international name, especially in the fields of jewelry and perfume. So many of Maury’s listeners were intrigued by his topic that he organized a visit to the Bulgari Museum. I tagged along.

Located midway between Allentown and Bethlehem, the museum is on the 27-acre site of the former drive-in theater on Union Boulevard.

Maury’s close association with the Bulgari family began decades ago because Maury restores antique cars. Bulgari collects antique cars. I’ve seen a Rolls Royce and Jaguar from the 1940’s that he restored. They look brand new.

Maury’s talk attracted 36 of the Lifelong Learning Club to his tour of the Bulgari Museum. I think that “Unbelievable ” is the best word to describe the museum and the 155 old cars in it. Here’s just a sampling: a 1941 U.S. Army Packard; two 1934 Nashes; a 1934 Buick convertible; a 1928 Studebaker; a 1941 De Soto; a 1936 Pierce Arrow. Every automobile looks brand new.

There are 12 buildings at the facility, each with its own purpose. One building has five lifts and specializes in mechanical repairs. Another building serves as an upholstery shop. The floors are waxed and so clean that you could eat from them.

Nine employees work at the Bulgari Center and Museum. I saw one of them cleaning a speck of oil on the floor. Hundreds of trophies from all over the world lined one of the walls. Employees use 10 passenger golf carts to transport guests around the property.

As we drove around the facility I noticed five or six coyotes. They weren’t real. Their presence is to chase Canada Geese. It works. I didn’t see a goose anywhere.

The last building that we visited was called The Lodge. It’s a huge structure constructed from recycled lumber and stone from two barns in Lancaster County. The workmanship was impressive.

Alas, the only way to visit the Bulgari Museum is by invitation. Maury de Angeli was the key for our tour. If you ever get the chance for a visit, be sure to jump on board.

At the end of last week, I attended the memorial service for Walter Farley, the former Bucks County commissioner who served with me in the 1960s. I wrote about him last week. He and his wife, Maggie, lived at Ann’s Choice in Warminster, the site of the service. About 100 attended.

Walter was 91. Fifty years earlier we had learned a valuable lesson … how to get along politically. Walter was a Democrat and the minority member of our three-man board. Joseph Canby and I were Republicans.

The purpose of the board of commissioners in Bucks County is both executive and legislative. The board passes ordinances (laws) and also administers them. The judges on the Court of Common Pleas would overrule us if the board exceeded its authority. Fortunately, that seldom happened.

Walter was 41 when his eight years as a commissioner began. I was 32. We seldom had fights in public, preferring to resolve any differences we might have had behind closed doors.

Years after our service to the county, former state Sen. Ed Howard would ask Walter and me to participate in Ed’s weekly class about county government at DelVal College (now Delaware Valley University). Those sessions were great fun.

As I listened to those who spoke during Walter’s memorial service, I thought about our days 50 years ago. Maggie Farley had the chapel set up in a square. It reminded me of Richland (Quaker) Meeting which Mighty Betsy and I attend.

About 20 of Walter’s family and friends spoke. There was a one-word common denominator that wound through most of those comments. Whenever people greeted Walter and asked about the state of his life and health, he’d respond, “Fantastic.” He was a positive fellow.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith



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