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Charles Meredith: The year we toured the West

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Dear Friends,

Good morning.

Here is the last sentence of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address given on March 4, 1865, just four weeks before the end of the Civil War and five weeks before his assassination.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Last week, when Mighty Betsy and I received an email from our former Swedish exchange student (from 1975), I thought of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address. Forty plus years ago, Anders Nielson was a Rotary International exchange student assigned to the Quakertown Rotary Club. He lived with us for one year as he attended Quakertown High School. Our three children would have been 13, 11 and 8 at the time.

That summer, MB and I took our three kids and Anders to the West Coast by automobile via New Orleans, the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rushmore, and San Fransisco. We’ll never forget that visit to Mt. Rushmore. It was dark and the electric storm had knocked out the power and lighting of the four giant faces of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. However, lightning bolts, close at hand, illuminated those faces theatrically.

We used flashlights to see the presidential inscriptions in the viewing area. Anders Nielson studied President Lincoln’s words intently. They weren’t from the more famous Gettysburg Address. No, they were from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural. Anders didn’t understand the words “malice”, “charity” for all, and “bind up” the nation’s wounds. With a bit of explanation, Anders quickly comprehended its meaning.

Decades later, Anders wrote to tell us why his father chose to change their last name from Nielson to Sverke. Anders’ mother’s maiden name was Sverke. Her family’s name was fast disappearing from use. On the other hand, Neilson was a common name, like Smith or Jones. So Anders’ father asked his three adult children if they approved of his suggestion to change the Neilson name to Sverke? They agreed so the Sverke family name survives.

Turning to other family lore, Sunday Pappas is the proprietor of Sunday’s Delicatessen in Quakertown. The other day, Sunday asked if we could find the story in the Quakertown Free Press about how the family dog saved his house from burning and his son from perishing? Here’s the background.

Sunday and Elaine Pappas have three children – a son Alex and two twin daughters Melissa and Nicole. About 16 years ago, Alex was 15, resting in the family living room with his 2-month old puppy, Luigi. Alex fell asleep while the micro wave was cooking. Smoke filled the room followed by flames. Fortunately, Luigi was alert and awakened Alex, thus saving the day.

We told Sunday that there were two locations for Quakertown Free Press archives … at the Quakertown Historical Society headquarters and the Bucks County Historical Society in Doylestown.

Last week, former Quakertown Councilman Ed Scholl introduced me to the developer of Quakertown’s major project, the Trolley Barn on the East side of the railroad. I met Chris La Bonge, a resident from Yardley. He has big plans for the Trolley Barn and the former freight house next to the newly remodeled train station.

La Bonge hopes to raise $1.5 million to renovate the former freight house and revitalize the building into a museum and information center. He also told me that the Trolley Barn will open with food courts in the spring of 2020. La Bonge expects that the project will employ more than 200.

When that happens, the east side of Quakertown will be able to compete with the businesses on West Broad Street. Stay tuned.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

By the way, Here’s some Latin for you Eagles fans: The song is number 8 on the 10-best fight songs in the National Football League! Thought you’d want to know.

Fly Eagles Fly,
On the road to victory,
Fight Eagles Fight,
Score a touchdown 1, 2, 3
Hit ‘em low,
Hit ‘em high
And watch Eagles Fight.
Fly Eagles Fly
On the road to victory.
or…
Aquilae musca fugere,
Victoriam iter
Pugnare, certare
Aquilarum, ustulo a
touchdown unus, duo, tres.
Percute ‘em humilis,
Percute ‘em altus.
Et videte casside
unguenta volant.


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