From time to time, the writer of this weekly column receives letters from various parts of the United States, from former residents of Radnor township who remain subscribers to “The Suburban.” A number are in a nostalgic vein, since the column often arouses memories of late happenings of bygone days.
Such a letter was recently received from O. Howard Wolfe, well-known former resident of the township, from Naples, Fla.
Since leaving Radnor some years ago, Mr. Wolfe has been making his permanent home in Milford, Pa. The letter was written following the appearance in this column, on February 22, of the picture of the old Pechin spring house, in Radnor. Mr. Wolfe says:
“Your picture of the old spring house in Radnor gave me a sort of double dose of nostalgia, first because of the mention of two well-loved childhood friends, Bessie Frame and Mary Brooke, although Mary may object if I include her name as belonging to my generation. And then the old spring house – old even as I so well remember it, 70 years ago. We always went in for a drink of cold, pure water as we passed it on the way to visit my grandfather’s farm, half-a-mlle away.
“The overflow ran parallel to the King of Prussia road, then rippled across Eagle road into the Pechin meadow. Wonderful mint and water cress grew along the banks of the little stream, which flowed into Gulf Creek.
“Jim Donaldson was indeed a well known character. He looked like General Grant, and he was always held in awe by us youngsters… It is my recollection that it was Jamaica ginger he used as a substitute for stronger liquor.”
In a letter sent to this columnist about three years ago, Mr. Wolfe gave other interesting data about the Radnor of his youth. At that time he wrote:
“Tryon Steele is probably one of the very few of us now living who knew intimately such old timers as Pete Pechin, Jim Donaldson and Oscar Dillon – just to name a few. Oscar Dillon was an unusual character in his own right, and deserves a column of his own. He was the last of the old-time country store keepers who took keen delight, not in being able to advertise the endless list of merchandise he had for sale, but in producing articles which you didn’t know he had.” He was a unique and remarkable man in many ways.
“Did you know how Morgan’s Corner got its name? If you look at a map of Delaware county, you will note the shape of the northeast section which is Radnor township, and see that it is a straight line right angle. This, I was told many years ago by George Righter, another old time character, was Morgan’s Corner, and the name did not derive, as many think, from any road meetings or intersections.
“I believe it was the Penna. R.R. which named Radnor and St. Davids and other stations along the line (Perhaps Wayne, too, instead of Louella as it was formerly called). In my early days it was “Ithan,” which was known as Radnor and, after the railroad came, as “Old Radnor.”
So much for Mr. Wolfe’s informative letter of several years ago. To return to his recent one of a few weeks ago, he tells of his pleasure in meeting an old time Wayne friend, still remembered by many in this community as the first woman member of the Radnor School Board, Mrs. Humbert B. Powell.
“She served with me on the board some 40 years ago,” he writes. “You can imagine how glad I was to find her living in Naples. We have had many interesting visits, talking over those difficult and dramatic days when the community was bitterly divided. If I am not mistaken, all of our colleagues of that period have passed on.”
Mr. Wolfe is remembered by all of Wayne’s old timers as the only resident of Radnor, and a graduate of its high school, who served both as president of the school board, an office which he held for 11 years, and also as president of the Board of Commissioners, where he was for eight years a member and for another eight, its president.
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Such letters as Mr. Wolfe’s are always gratefully received by the writer of “Your Town and My Town.” All such letters will be published in the column when possible. – E.C.P.