Get our newsletters

Juniper Street in the 1940s


Dear Friends,

Good morning. Last week was the commemoration of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, I was 9 and remember it well. During World War II, I’d walk the seven blocks to school and pass hundreds of homes on Juniper Street in Quakertown … the very street where Mighty Betsy and I still live.

From every home window, there was a flag denoting that some young person was fighting in the war. A soldier, sailor, marine, airman, WAC or WAVE was serving America.

I thought about what Juniper Street homes look like 75 years later. Today, not one window flies a service flag.

In my view, our nation would be better served if Congress created compulsory service for every young man or woman. For two years, each would have the option to serve in the military or non military (VA hospitals, park service, etc). What do you think?

The members of my book club agreed. Seven of us met the day before that D-Day memorial on the beaches of Normandy. At age 83, plus, I’m the youngest member. Several of us are in their 90s.

One of them, Minturn Wright, is 92 and in great physical and mental health. For more than 50 years, Minturn, a former Philadelphia lawyer, has been a birdwatcher …chasing and photographing birds on every continent. But on December 16, 1944, Minturn was just 17 years old and in the U.S. Army fighting in what was to become “The Battle of the Bulge.”

It was also known as the Ardennes counteroffensive and lasted from December 16, 1944 through January 25, 1945. It was the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front. Allied offensive plans were delayed by six weeks as the German offensive exhausted their resources. The German collapse opened the way for the Allies to ultimately break the Siegfried line and smash into Berlin.

Years later, Minturn wrote a memoir about the Battle of the Bulge so his grandchildren would have a record of his service. Our book club meets five times each year. One of us selects the book to read and another becomes the host for dinner. I suggested that we should have Minturn tell us his story about that battle and invite our wives to share the meeting. We’ll see.

Incidentally, I also told my book club that one of M.B.’s and my caregivers bought an ear trumpet for me. A few months ago, I suddenly became deaf in my left ear and a $20 ear trumpet held more appeal than a $1,500 hearing aid. Alas, the ear trumpet didn’t help but it has become a conversation starter … especially now that I’ve had it painted in the rainbow colors of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual& Transgender Queer community.

On a different subject, a former Quakertown native made the news in Florida because she gave $500,000 to the Naples Therapeutic Riding Center (NTRC). Here’s what the organization had to say about Nancy Wykcoff.

“She is a strong independent woman with a passion for the arts and giving back.” the NTRC began. “Having no children of her own, she has a soft spot for children’s charities. She enjoyed a 35-year career in the Intimate apparel industry where she traveled extensively in the U.S., Asia, and Europe for luxury retailers and manufacturers. When she wasn’t traveling, she enjoyed riding and jumping horses.

“Nancy, now 77, has lived a full, active life. She fell in love with ballroom dancing later in life, competing and winning in the U.S. and Puerto rico. She combined her love for dance and travel and enjoyed dance cruises in the Caribbean and Europe.

“When Nancy heard the news last year that she had Stage-4 pancreatic cancer, she was determined to fight and keep moving. She began the delicate dance of fighting the cancer head on and living each remaining day to the dullest…all while careful planning the legacy she wants to leave behind. Despite her unknown future, she booked a cruised to Polynesia and New Zealand next year, just so she has something to look forward to through the rigorous chemotherapy treatments.

“Nancy chose to donate $500,000 to NTRC. In honor of her generous gift, NTRC’s first-ever endowment gift, the original red barn now bears her name.”

“Like the dance did for me, equine therapy brings happiness and peace of mind,” Nancy wrote. “The movements of a dancer begin with balance and a strong core and that’s what riders strengthen in lessons. Being able to see the joy on the participants’ and parents’ faces and the magic these horses bring to their lives, is very rewarding. Making this endowment gift was one of the best days of my life. It brings me a lot of joy knowing my life will have meaning after I am gone.”

Brava Nancy Wyckoff!

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.