Monthly Archives: January 2015

Join me 2/7/15, my talk on The Road to Valley Forge, King of Prussia Historical Society

The_March_to_Valley_Forge_William_Trego (1)Please join me on Saturday, February 7, 2 p.m., as I speak about The Road to Valley Forge, to the King of Prussia Historical Society, Christ Church (Old Swedes) Church Hall740 River Rd, Swedesburg, PA 19405.

I’m excited to talk about the six days in December that General George Washington and the Continental Army spent on Gulph Mills and Rebel Hill, where I grew up, from December 13 -18, leaving on the morning of December 19 to march to Valley Forge as depicted in this iconic painting, The March to Valley Forge, by William Trego.

I was scheduled to speak about this time last year but my talk got snowed out in one of those epic snow storms we had during the winter of 2014.  I’m praying for good weather this year!

What happened to the Continental Army in those six days is a microcosm of so much of what happened during the Revolutionary War–the hardship, the bravery, the conflict, the thankfulness, the celebration, and the determination, among other things.   You can read more about what happened in a day-by-day description in my blog posts below from December 13 – 19, 2014.  Or, you can read my ebook, Six Days in December: General George Washington’s and the Continental Army’s Encampment on Rebel Hill, December 13 – 19, 1777.
You can find the ebook (31 pp., $2.99) on Amazon at
The ebook is a prequel to my novel, Becoming Valley Forge, due out late May 2015, which I also discuss in blog posts below or at my website,
So, please join me on February 7th when I talk about these important six days in American and history, and answer one question that led me to all of my writing and research about the Revolutionary War on Rebel Hill, in Gulph Mills, and in many other communities in the Philadelphia area during what’s called the Philadelphia Campaign of the Revolutionary War :  what happens when the war comes to your backyard?

Vivian Vance Cherry to be honored by Upper Merion Twp. on January 14, 7pm

lg_vivien%20vance%20cherryUpper Merion Township is honoring posthumously Vivian Vance Cherry as part of its 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Celebration, Wed., Jan. 14, 7pm, Upper Merion Middle School, 450 Keebler Road, King of Prussia, PA.  Cherry was the first African American teacher in Upper Merion (and also my aunt)!  She died in September 2014 at the ripe old age of 102. She was honored in 2013 as Cheyney University’s oldest living alumnus.  And, she was Upper Merion’s oldest retiree.  As she would have said, she was “a pistol.”  I loved her and learned so much from her.

Please read more about her remarkable life here:


Former Teacher Honored as Cheyney University’s Oldest Alumnus

October 20, 2013

101 year old Vivien Vance Cherry graduated from Cheyney in 1960. CUNAA honored her with an award as CU’s oldest alumnus at the President’s Legacy Brunch on Sunday to conclude Homecoming Week.

Vivien Vance Cherry was honored by the Cheyney University National Alumni Association (CUNAA) Sunday, October 20, for being the University’s oldest living alumnus. The longtime Ardmore, PA native with a magnetic personality, was unable to accept the award in person but her nephew, Television Anchor Jim Vance, who graduated from Cheyney in 1964, accepted on her behalf. He and his cousin, Cheyney Univeristy Chief of Staff and Deputy to the President Sheilah Vance, have set up a scholarship in their aunt’s name to benefit Cheyney students.

“I feel very fortunate to have reached this stage of the game,” the centenarian admitted, when contacted by phone.  “And I’m honored that Cheyney has given me this award.”

Looking back over the years, Cherry has quite a story to tell.  After graduating from Lower Merion High School in 1929, she enrolled in West Chester State Teacher’s College (known now as West Chester University) to pursue a teaching degree. Unfortunately, she had to drop out of college after a year because of the Great Depression.

“No one could afford college back then,” she recalls, especially an African American family with so many children.  She pursued a number of jobs after dropping out of school, eventually settling in as a clerk for the U. S. government.

Then, in 1956, at the age of 42, the wife and mother of two decided to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher.  Instead of resuming her education at West Chester, she decided to apply to Cheyney.

“I called the Admissions Office and asked them if they would accept someone as old as me,” she recalls.  Cheyney accepted all of her credits and Cherry spent the next four years commuting back and forth from the Main Line to complete her degree at America’s first institution for higher education for African Americans.  “It was the best thing that could have happened to me,” Cherry insists.

She went on to become Upper Merion School District’s first African American teacher.  “I wanted to help kids learn how to be better in the world,” she says, and that is exactly what she did.  Always upbeat and positive, Cherry taught for 18 years at Candle Brook Elementary School in Upper Merion Township under Principal Shirley Fine and Critic Teacher Carol Aaron, both of whom told the superintendent of schools  that Cherry was the best teacher in the building.  Cherry retired from teaching in 1977.

She has spent her time since doing civic duties in her community, attending Bethel AME Church in Ardmore where she was honored as Woman of the Year, cooking, knitting and enjoying her family and friends.

On November 8, Cherry will celebrate her 102nd birthday with her two surviving siblings—her 87 year old sister, with whom she lives, and her baby brother who is 80.



Here’s to the crazy ones…and I’ll take

Twice during the holiday season, people have told me that I’m crazy.  But crazy in a good way.  I told them that, yes, they were right–I was crazy.  I said that all writers, especially fiction writers, are a bit crazy because we hear voices in our head with our characters talking to us, demanding that we put their stories on paper.  So, having written three novels and always thinking of the next one, yes, I get that I’m a bit crazy.

Still, that little girl part of me that always looks for acceptance took the “you’re crazy” comment as a bit of criticism, even though the people who said it went on to put a positive spin on it.

But then, I remembered that Apple commercial from 1997 that talked about the crazy ones as a good thing.  So, I looked it up.  And I said, yes, I’m crazy.  Yes, I’ll take it.  Yes, I’m claiming myself to be crazy like the people in the Apple commercial.

You can find the commercial on YouTube or any number of other places on the internet or read it at the end of this post.

As I start my 2015 work year, I promise myself to bring in all of my crazy, just like the words of the commercial:

Here’s to the crazy ones.  The misfits.  The rebels.  The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.  They’re not fond of rules.  And they have no respect for the status quo.  You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or villify them.  About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.  Because they change things.  They push the human race forward.  While some people see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.  Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Here’s to a crazy 2015!