Random Acts of History, January Edition

The January program page will take you through the middle of next week. Then the February page takes over.

Some weeks there's a theme, some weeks [shrug]...

L to R: Ephrata Cloister Curator Kerry Mohn, Site Administrator Elizabeth Bertheaud, Historical Society of Dauphin County Board Secretary and Facilities Chair Ruthann Hubbert Kemper, Office Manager Courtney Inblum, and Executive Director Christine Turner (via Facebook)
This past week, a large (I mean, person-sized) rye straw basket made its way home from Harrisburg to Ephrata. It had lots of help from the staff of the Historical Society of Dauphin County (HSDC), where it had been living, and Ephrata Cloister, where it has now taken up residence. The basket's history traces back to the Gorgas family, prominent householders in the Ephrata community (they weren't living with the celibate brothers and sisters of Ephrata but worshipped and conducted business with them). Many thanks to HSDC for this important donation.

Kerry Mohn shows the newly returned basket to attendees of this year's Winter History Class (more photos of first class of 2018 and full list of this year's sessions)
Last weekend, the Anthracite Heritage Museum marked the 59th anniversary of the Knox Mine Disaster with a program that included speakers Bob Wolensky, Erika Funke, and David Brocca and musician Lex Romaine (see a preview of Brocca's forthcoming documentary film). I'm told it was standing room only for this annual event, which remembers the 12 miners who died when the Susquehanna River broke through the roof of their mine and the 69 others who escaped.

PHMC marker gets its closeup (photo courtesy Karen Arnold)
This one's really random. Wednesday night's episode of The Goldbergs (a sitcom set in 1980s Jenkintown, PA) ended with a shot of a PHMC historical marker. If you're not familiar with the show, it's based on creator Adam Goldberg's childhood in the Philly suburbs (and my sources tell me it's extremely accurate). In the show, the Goldberg kids attend William Penn Academy (complete with a mascot wearing a huge William Penn head). The vanity card at the end of Wednesday night's episode (actually a pilot for a 1990s spinoff that wasn't picked up) showed a photo of the historical marker for William Penn Charter School, which Adam Goldberg attended. The text of the marker reads: "Founded by Philadelphia Quakers in 1689 and first chartered by Penn in 1701, it was Pennsylvania’s first public school and is the oldest continuously operating Friends school in the world. Pioneering educational initiatives were based on public charity and inclusion: free tuition to the poor, education for both genders, and acceptance of all races. Quaker roots and Penn’s vision have been maintained. It moved to the present site in 1925." You never know what you'll learn watching tv.

Even more random. With an eye toward starting a "This Day in History" feature for this blog (sometimes you just have to shake things up a bit) I was trolling around for Pennsylvania history-related events or what-have-you for January 26. On different websites, I found separate but interestingly (to me, at least) juxtaposed items related to Chubby Checker, who grew up in Philadelphia (and appeared on American Bandstand there). On Jan. 26, 1962, Chubby Checker's mega-hit "The Twist" fell out of its #1 spot on Billboard's "Hot 100." On the same day, according to the interwebs, Bishop Burke of Buffalo, NY, declared the song "impure" and banned it from Catholic schools in his diocese. Also on this day, Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness over the eagle as America's symbol (1784) and General George McClellan ignored President Lincoln's General War Order #1, which called for a Union offensive (1862).

That's it. Have a great weekend!


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