Mr. Blue Suede Shoes Would have Turned 75 Today!

Maybe it’s because I live across the road from Chubby Checkers and have a love of ‘most’ kinds of music (mainly jazz) but I could not let today pass without a mention what many claim was the true ‘king of rock & roll’ Elvis Presley. Today would have been Elvis Presley’s 75th Birthday. A little walk down memory lane for those of you old enough to remember the ‘King’.

I was trying to figure out the tie-in of Elvis’ birthday with Community Matters and Tredyffrin Township but a friend reminded me of the obvious reason.  Each year the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust has held a spring fundraiser In the Mood.  The first year it was In the Mood. . . Jazz on the Porch & Dancin’ in the Barn and featured jazz musicians.  Last year, the theme was In the Mood . . . Bluegrass, Blue Jeans & Bar-B-Que and featured a real bluegrass band.  The decision for 2010’s In the Mood theme is Fabulous Fifties with music from the 50’s — get out your poodle skirts and dust off those blue suede shoes.  

Speaking of the Trust’s In the Mood fundraiser, it will be held in June (specific date not yet decided).  Judy DiFilippo and I will once again co-chair the event.  For all of you faithful volunteers, you will be contacted shortly and for all my new friends who would like to join this fun group, please send me an email, pattye@greatvalleyhouse.com  Each year the great evening has been held in a barn.  So the next question, are there any barn owners out there who would like to help us this year?  Again, contact me and I will give you the details.

What better way to honor Elvis than to announce the Trust’s In the Mood . . . Fabulous Fifties spring fundraiser on his birthday!

What is a Leader?

As we close out one year, and begin a new one, we all reflect on our lives.  As I watched the last few Board of Supervisor meetings, I reflected on the effect that Judy DiFillipo’s retirement would have on our community.  Having served this township as a supervisor for 20 years, I wrote the following ‘As I See It’ article for this week’s edition of Main Line Suburban Life newspaper to honor Judy and her leadership qualities that benefited the residents for 2 decades.  And as a means of full disclosure, . . . yes, Judy and I very close friends.

For those who do not receive the paper, here is my article:

    As I See It:

    Tredyffrin lost something special with DiFilippo’s departure

Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2010

By Pattye Benson

Year’s end is always a time of reflection. We look back over the last 12 months and take measure of where we are now in relation to where we were when the year began. As we begin 2010, the residents of Tredyffrin Township will have the opportunity to reflect on what will now be a “missing link” in our local leadership.

What makes a good leader? Not everyone is made to be a leader … there are leaders and then there are followers. Leaders come from all walks of life and economic backgrounds and from either gender. Leadership does not discriminate. For the last 20 years Tredyffrin Township was fortunate to have a “leader” in retiring Supervisor Judy DiFilippo. For many in the community, Judy represented what can and should be “good” about serving as an elected official. Whether you watched the Board of Supervisors meetings from home or sat in the audience, she possessed the ability to transform and command respect from others on either side of her.

Judy guided the township in an orderly and purposeful manner, even in situations of discontent and uncertainty in the community. As a supervisor she was tolerant of ambiguity and remained calm, composed and steadfast to the main purpose… to serve the residents of Tredyffrin Township. We all knew that we could trust Judy; she governed as she lived her life, with honesty, integrity and strong internal guiding principles that she did not compromise. Judy “walked the talk” and in doing so earned our respect and the right to have responsibility for this community. Her “calming of the waters” approach to governing reassured us … we just all knew that it would be OK as long as Judy was guiding the ship.

Judy understood the importance of serving a wider community. We may not have always agreed with her decisions but we could be confident that the community’s best interests were at the core of her decisions. As a supervisor Judy could wade through difficult information, comprehend what is relevant, make a well-considered decision and take action based on that decision. Judy believed her purpose as an elected official was to serve all the community and did so with genuine concern for all of the residents. As a leader Judy inspired others to follow. She led yet people did not feel that they were being led. Judy served as a quiet leader without demanding recognition and praise, a quality that is quite rare among many elected officials.

I understand all too well her many attributes; our friendship goes back nearly as long as she served as a township supervisor. For close to 20 years our lives have been intertwined … standing next to each other as members of the Noteables; co-chairing the Tredyffrin 300 celebration as well as many other events for the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust; together producing the historical documentary, “Tredyffrin … The First 300 Years,” etc. For me Judy has been the one constant friend in my life who would listen first, counsel second and never judge my decisions (even if she did not always agree with them). A true sign of a gifted leader (and close friend) is someone who really listens; the fastest and most effective way to show that you care and that you are competent. Many of us are challenged by the concept of listening but not Judy. I envy this natural talent in my friend and just another quality that sets her apart from many in the world of politics.

A good leader is committed to excellence. Second best does not lead to success. Judy not only maintained a high standard for herself but also was proactive in raising the bar in order to achieve excellence in all areas. Just her presence makes those around her want to be better people.

How will we feel that the person who “set the bar” for 20 years, who created the real “gold standard” for Tredyffrin Township, is no longer sitting on the dais? Yes, we know that Judy will stay involved in our community, and yes, I know that she and I will remain the best of friends, but I fear that the residents of Tredyffrin Township lost something very special when Judy DiFilippo decided to retire from the Board of Supervisors.

Pattye Benson lives in Malvern.

Historic Winter of 1777 — Experience a Soldier’s Story

For those that know me, you know that I am passionate about remembering Tredyffrin’s history and  the preservation of our historic properties.  Tredyffrin residents are fortunate to live in such a historic place and I encourage you and your families to take advantage of a very special experience this upcoming weekend.  Members of the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment re-enactment group, local authors, park rangers and others will commemorate the Continental Army’s historic winter of 1777 march-in to its Valley Forge encampment site on Saturday, December 19, 6-8 PM at the Valley Forge National Historic Park. The park rangers and volunteers will be dressed in period-costume and will ceremoniously march attendees from the Visitor Center one-quarter mile to the Muhlenberg Brigade area. There, around reconstructed huts on the ground where the original 6th Pennsylvania Regiment stayed 232 years ago, regimental re-enactors will share stories of soldier life during the encampment. At the Visitor Center, artist Michael Ticcino of Audubon and Schuylkill River Heritage Area co-authors Kurt Zwikl and Laura Catalano will sign books. Ticcino’s coffee-table book, “Valley Forge: Traditional Land, Contemporary Vision,” is a collection of beautiful photographic imagery of the park. Zwikl and Catalano penned “Along the Schuylkill River” to document the river’s history, moniker as the “River of Revolutions” and boundary along the Valley Forge encampment site.

At the Visitor Center a George Washington interpreter will interact with guests and the Colonial Revelers will perform period holiday songs. Refreshments will be served and the Encampment Store will be open for holiday shopping. The event is free and open to the public.   Hope that you will plan to attend and share some local history!