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Opera, history and politics


Dear Friends,

Good morning. In a moment, I’ll share a thought about how Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick insured that he would be reelected next year. Hint: He opposed President Trump’s racist comments.

But first, Last weekend, Mighty Betsy and I entertained several of my Penn classmates and their better halves at Victor’s Cafe in South Philadelphia (13th and Dickenson streets).

If you love opera, you’ll become devoted to Victor’s. The eight female and male servers are professional singers. In addition to serving you, they sing arias from famous operas.

MB and I asked them to sing two duets, one from Bizet’s Pearl Fishers (male), “Au fond du temple saint” and “The Flower Song,” from Lakeme de Delibes (female). To top it off, the eight servers sang “Va Pensiero,” the chorus of the Hebrew slaves from Verdi’s “Nabucco.” I brought enough copies of the lyrics so our table and other patrons could join in. They did. Can you imagine … a restaurant full of patrons singing opera? It was wonderful.

My parents courted at Victor’s in the 1920s. MB and I did too, in the 1950s. We recommend a visit to Victor’s. When you do visit, let me know about your experience.

I received a thoughtful note from Ellen Schroy who’s husband, Jeffrey recently passed away. Jeffrey was a kind, thoughtful, and caring man. There are many connections between the Schroy and Meredith families. Jeffrey’s parents, Joyce and Charles Schroy ran the composition department at the Quakertown Free Press for decades. Jeffrey’s grandfather, James Schroy, was my grandfather’s bookkeeper.

Here’s part of Ellen’s letter:

“He loved the Richland Library and books as much as he loved local history. So, we’re going to use the fund created ( now over $2,100), to purchase books and historical documents that will enhance the Richland Library collection. So far, we’ve purchased an 1812 Quaker wedding certificate, which was signed by all who were present that day. Many of them were the original founders of the library, so having their signatures is a real treasure.

“The other document is an 1800s store ledger for a shoe store in Quakertown, where Jeffrey grew up and lived. The ledger lists who purchased shoes and also where the store bought their inventory. Several listings show the amounts spent with the Freed Brothers Shoe Company, a business founded by Jeffrey’s great-great grandfather and his brothers.

“On Sept. 14, the Richland Library will be part of a day long celebration honoring Richard Moore. A Quaker, he was a very instrumental ‘conductor’ of the Underground Railroad in Upper Bucks County. One of the special events being held at the library is a presentation on Freedom Quilts, where Christine Powers will explain the meaning of each quilt block and how it was used to enable the escaping slaves to keep heading to freedom in Canada. Other events at the library will include book signings and story time for children. The day is being planned with the cooperation of the library, Richland Monthly Meeting, Quakertown Historical Society, and McCool’s Restaurant.”

Ellen concluded her letter with a loving thought: “We all miss Jeffrey but know that his pain has ended. There were just no drugs that worked on his arthritis and life was being very difficult. ”

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

By the way, earlier in this column, I predicted that Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick would win reelection next year, in spite of the Democratic voter registration plurality in his district. Why? Because Bucks County is not President Trump country.

Last week, Fitzpatrick joined the Democrats in the House of Representatives who criticized Trump for his racist remarks regarding four female congresswoman who are women of color. He told them to go back to their countries of origin if they were critical of America.

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