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Happy to Be Here: Volume Four is on store shelves

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William Donahue, managing editor for Neshaminy Journal, a publication of the Doylestown Historical Society and the Writers Workshop, says in the introduction to the first issue of Volume Four, “Not an issue of this journal passes with me learning a few new things about people and places I thought I knew so well.”

That’s what the journal does – introduce us to experiences we didn’t know existed, things about Bucks County and people and events tied to Bucks County.

The cover of the latest issue is appropriately a winter scene, not just any snow picture, but one by Alan Fetterman, who just opened his 50th solo show. Editor Donahue interviewed Fetterman, a painter in the style of the Pennsylvania Impressionists, for “Passion, Suffering and Hope on the Tip of a Brush.” I’m a Bucks County man,” Fetterman tells his interviewer and that he is, through and through. But he was inspired to be a painter during a trip to Paris. He came home with the mindset, “I think I am an artist.”

After starting her career as an illustrator in New York, deb hoefner found her way to living in Bucks County and creating “soft portraits” of children and animals. She’s profiled by Melissa D. Sullivan in the Journal.

Don Swaim, founder of the Writers Workshop and Neshaminy Journal’s executive editor, contributed two articles to the latest issue, “Perilous and Thrilling Adventures: The Delaware Canal Story,” and a fiction account, “American Bandstand,” that ultra-successful television enterprise of the 1950s and ‘60s.

“The Delaware Canal Story” focuses on Willis M. Rivinus, who might be called “Mr. Canal,” he was so long tied – and is still tied – to the almost two century old man-made Pennsylvania waterway. Like so many other, Rivinus worked in New York but was drawn to Bucks County, to a farm in Solebury Township. In 1962, he walked alone on the Delaware Canal Towpath, then wrote a book, “A Wayfarers Guide to the Delaware Canal.”

That book has gone through nine printings and since that time, Rivinus has guided thousands of hikers on canal walks. Of “The Wayfarers Guide” and later books, he said, “They go on forever without earning a lot of money, and the original objective was merely to pay the printing costs.” He became a board member of the Friends of the Delaware Canal and eventually was named as the first chair of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Canal Commission, which was formed in 1988 and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

Swaim’s “American Bandstand” is a lighthearted trip into the past, when high school students from around Philadelphia hopped on the El after school and danced their way into local stardom.

Donahue contributed another story, “Rising With the River,” which details 2002 signing of the treaty to commemorate the original signing of the treaty made between William Penn and the Lenni Lenape in 1683 at Pennsbury Manor, Penn’s home. The ceremony was part of a three-week Delaware River Sojourn made by today’s Lenape Tribe, from Hancock, N.Y., to Cape May, N.J.

There’s more fiction in Jill Lupine’s “Meet Me on the Towpath,” and Bobby Cohen’s “Fat Boy.” And there’s poetry by Greg Probst about the Pennsylvania State Fair in 1998. There’s a tribute to poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who worked for the abolitionist journal, The Pennsylvania Freeman, in 1839. While working in Philadelphia, he lived for a time on Greenhill Road near Lumberville. To add to the history focus, illustrator Pat Achilles profiles a historic home in what appears to be a regular Neshaminy Journal feature.

Lest I forget, veteran newsman Daniel Dorian wrote a story about the Bucks County Herald and its evolution into a regional newspaper, “Small-town Newspaper Thrives in the Digital Age.”

“Having covered the major events that shaped the latter part of the 20th century as a foreign correspondent based in New York, why would I possibly set aside a moment in my precious time to read stories about an inn being sold in some remote New Jersey Hamlet, a public pool opening in a small Pennsylvania community, repairs of a local bridge or the introduction of a new township supervisor?” Dorian wrote.

Bur he ends on a positive note about the Herald: “Its future is ensured because it has secured the trust of the community.” That’s a statement worth remembering.

Neshaminy Journal can be found for sale at local bookstores and at the Doylestown Historical headquarters, 65 S. Main St., Doylestown.


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