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Civility, slavery and family

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Dear Friends,

Good morning. A critical reader from Quakertown sent an email to Editor Bridget Wingert who forwarded it to me:

“Having read all your columns since I sent you my letter dated July 15, I notice you have not responded to the issues I raised in that letter.

“Just like the Democrats, you want a new president because you hate President Trump, but have no solutions to the problems which face our country. You do not seem to understand that most Americans look at results, such as the economy, unemployment rate, legal immigration, etc.

“You want a more civil president but who is more uncivil than the Democrats, who call President Trump a racist every day 24/7? I realize it may take more time for you to come up with a credible reply, but I will continue to read your columns with anticipation.” The letter was signed by Leornard L. Messina.

First, Mr. Messina, I did not receive a letter from you, so if you’ll send a copy to me, I’ll be happy to respond. Second, I remain a registered Republican although I am unsettled by Donald Trump. And I certainly won’t help his re-election bid.

Second, a recent letter from former state Rep. Paul Clymer should please Mr. Messina. The Republican lawmaker from Sellersville remains a fiercely loyal Trump supporter. Here are Paul Clymer’s most salient paragraphs:

“Unfortunately, the stiff-necked Democrat Socialist chairman refuses to accept the outcome of the 2016 election. Even though the Mueller hearing devastated their impeachment efforts, their hate and intolerance for this president moves their radical agenda further to the left.

“…Meanwhile, President Trump and his administration are involved with issues important to the American people. The surge of illegal border crossings, the devastation of illegal drugs on our society, the human trafficking of young girls, lowering drug prices, building a strong economy, rebuilding our military, protecting Medicare and Social Security. Another top priority is the Iranian threat in the Middle East and re-negotiating a fairer trade agreement with China.

“…It seems to me that when the enemies of President Trump seek to destroy him, they stumble and fall into their own nets of destruction.”

Although the Paul Clymer letter should please Mr. Messina, it gives me considerable heartburn.

Paul was first elected to the state legislature in 1980 and left office in 2014 after a career lasting 34 years. In those days, the Pro-life, anti gambling, anti same-sex marriage, former representative was the perfect mirror of his constituents in the 145th legislative district. I wonder whether those voters still feel that way?

Craig Staats, 58, and a fellow Republican, succeeded Paul Clymer in 2015 and continues to this day. We expect him to seek reelection next year. If Staats, and any other Republican for that matter, can survive what Donald Trump has done to the Republican Party, Craig Staats will be able to remain in the state legislature for as long as he desires.

Turning to other topics, be sure to reserve Saturday, Sept. 14, for the dedication of a state marker at Richard Moore’s home at 401 S. Main St. in Quakertown. In the 1850s, Richard Moore was a Quaker educator and businessman who conducted a station on the Underground Railroad to help runaway slaves on their way to freedom in Canada. I’ll have more about the Sept. 14 festivities in next week’s column.

Meanwhile Perkasie lawyer J. Lawrence “Larry” Grim Jr. and I are writing a book. Its title is “Across the Street,” and it is almost ready for print. The reason for the title? The Grims and the Merediths have grown up together since the late 1880s. Our fathers’ generation literally grew up across the street from one another at Sixth and Chestnut streets in Perkasie.

Larry and I have also grown up together. Even our birthdays are three days apart (Aug. 14 and 17, respectively). Over the years, Larry’s family and mine have traveled together, played golf together, skied together, raised children together. Our daughters were high school roommates. Larry’s son and our son are fraternity brothers at Penn.

Larry’s maternal grandfather was Walter Emerson Baum, the famous Impressionist painter from Sellersville. His daughter, Marion Baum, married Larry’s father Jacob “Jake” Grim, a very successful attorney and banker. Jake was my father’s best friend, neighbor and classmate from Perkasie schools. Jake went on to Lafayette College and Penn Law School; my father to Penn’s Wharton School.

I’ve written about 10 chapters about the Merediths who emigrated from Wales in the 1690s to escape the Powis County hangman (horse thievery). Simon Meredith had the option of staying in Powis County and be executed or move to the New World. The Merediths’ early career in America was checkered. Hugh Meredith was Benjamin Franklin’s printing partner in 1726, which sounds quite respectful. It wasn’t. Franklin abandoned that partnership because Meredith was lazy, an alcoholic and a womanizer.

I devoted one of my chapters to Mighty Betsy, with several funny stories. To this day, she remembers the White House phone number (NAtional 8, 1414). Why? In the 1950s, MB was the medical secretary to Dr. I.S. Ravdin, the CEO of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and Penn’s Medical School.

Dr. Ravdin was President Eisenhower’s surgeon. Ravdin had MB call the White House several times each week so National 8, 1414 remains vividly in MB’s memory bank.

Some day, I’ll share a story about how MB and one of her pals crashed a White House reception when President Lyndon Johnson was entertaining German Chancellor Willy Brandt. But that will have to wait.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith


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