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Charles Meredith: Being where you’re supposed to be


Dear Friends,

Good morning. For me, one of the most important pieces of advice came from my father. “Charles,” he said, “Always be with the person that you’re supposed to be with.”

Last week, we held the first meeting of “Grumbles” at the Piper Tavern (I remember it years ago as the Pipersville Inn at the intersection of Routes 611 and 413). Fifty years ago, the Pipersville Inn was owned by Bob Brueger. It was a popular watering hole, attracted the rich and famous … and still does today.

I remember 1970, when two of Bucks County’s row office holders were the object of a sting operation. Ward Clark was the Bucks County District Attorney. The two office holders had terrible reputations and were accused of bribery. The DA set up a sting at the Pipersville Inn and sprang a trap. One was caught redhanded accepting a bribe. The other escaped because he was late for lunch. When he arrived at the tavern, he never got out of his car because the parking lot was full of cops and detectives.

But I stray.

At our Grumbles meeting, The six of us were discussing Bucks County politics and predictions about President Trump’s next two years … if he lasts that long. Next week, I’ll share with you why I think he’ll resign before the year 2019 is over.

Anyway, as our meal ended, Mighty Betsy and I bumped into Jill and David Moyer from Quakertown. They live just four blocks from us on Juniper Street. Here we were in Pipersville and we ran into our neighbors.

“Always be with the person you’re supposed to be with.” We told our Grumbles’ friends about what happened to us in New York City 20 years ago … and how true Father’s advice was … and continues to be.

The Philadelphia Orchestra plays several concerts in New York’s Carnegie Hall each year. New Yorkers have been in love with the Philadelphia Orchestra for a century. Twenty years ago, MB and I used to sing with the Philadelphia Singers Chorale, the orchestra’s resident chorus at the time.

The orchestra’s rehearsal ended around 4 p.m. We had a relaxing snack before reassembling for the evening’s performance. Mighty Betsy thought we should leave via the stage door exit and walk around the block to the entrance.

She wanted to see what was appearing at Carnegie’s future performances.

The front doors were open and the ticket area was packed with patrons. Suddenly, M.B. urgently whispered in my ear… “Charlie, we have to leave … look over there!”

I looked. Standing less than 20 feet away was a couple. One of Quakertown’s older physicians was standing in line with a beautiful young woman. It was not his wife. “Charlie,” M.B. demanded, “we have to get out of here!”

“No we don’t,” I replied. “We’re legit. We’re married. They’re not.”

“Charlie, we must leave right now,” M.B. hissed.

We left before the couple noticed us. I’ve never felt so guilty in my life.

And we weren’t guilty of anything. The physician must have been escorting his niece. Eh?

Anyway, the story proved that my Father was right. He always was.

And speaking of small worlds, I remember being with my parents in a San Francisco restaurant when I was about to enter college in 1953. An elderly couple was seated next to us, eavesdropping on our conversation.

“You sound like you’re from the East,” the older man began as he introduced himself to us.

“Yes, Father replied, “We’re from Pennsylvania.”

“I have a friend who lives in Pennsylvania,” the stranger replied. “Where do you live?”

“We live in a small town north of Philadelphia … Quakertown, a town that is just barely on the map.”

“That’s amazing,” our new acquaintance continued. “My friend is from Quakertown too.”

“What’s his name?” Father asked.

“Joseph O’Donnell,” the stranger answered.

Joseph O’Donnell was our next door neighbor.

“Always be with the person that you’re supposed to be with.” That’s my advice for the new year.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

By the way, did you see that Alice Bentley died? She was 84 and a well known member of the Bucks County community. “Alice was an artist, adventurous traveler, avid reader, and modern thinker,” her obituary observed. “She was also a soft touch for animals, from her horse to a multitude of dogs and cats.

“Alice was very involved with Planned Parenthood of Bucks County (served as president), Phillips’ Mill, the Michener Museum, and the League of Women voters.”

Alice Bentley was quite a force. Her college years were spent studying French and Fine Arts at Hollins College, the University of Michigan and the Sorbonne in Paris. We’ll certainly miss her.