Blogging Along the Brandywine

Until recently, my mother would voice concern when I told her I would be driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike or I-95 to get to one of my 18th century re-enactments.

I always explained there was a much greater chance of being involved in a fender bender every morning while pulling into Chadds Ford Village to go to the post office, the Keystone Bank or the Wawa. It was like weaving through a maze of possessed cars and demonic delivery trucks massing in attack formation.

But that doesn’t happen any more does it?

When I stop by the post office on my way to work now, I have a choice of over a dozen spaces.

Why is that?  Someone help me out here.

Of course we miss Sondra Eisenman at the Keystone Bank. How strange to go in the bank, look in her office and not see walls covered with prints of Brandywine Valley artists, and every other square inch of office space covered with her collection of foxes of every shape and form.

But the effervescent Patty Burns is still there, as well as the same team of able tellers under the management of Fran Gill.

Then we have the Chadds Ford Post Office.

True, everyone misses the ever-popular Ron Coates who recently retired, but we have Ric, Barb and Choon to take care of our special mailing needs and stamp purchases.

Then in 2008 all of Chadds Ford went through Wawa withdrawal when the store closed its doors, and rejoiced almost a year later with the news that the void would be filled with another convenience store –The Cattie Shack.

I looked forward to once again getting my coffee in the morning and hoagies on the weekends when I was guiding at the Sanderson.

And the Cattie’s addition of the tables out front was great. Most mornings between 8 and 9 a.m., one can see Charlie Cuno, who has now appointed himself “Mayor of Chadds Ford” and Phil Oberly who Charlie has appointed “dog catcher”, meeting for coffee and conversation.

But when I walk into the Cattie Shack, I am often the only one there.

Where are the double lines around the cash register island? Where are all the people waiting for cold cuts or freshly made hoagies?

True, ounce for ounce, Cattie Shack’s coffee is 5 cents higher than Wawa’s. For example a 12-ounce cup of Wawa Coffee is $1.15 while at the Cattie Shack it is $1.20.

And to be absolutely fair, Wawa lists their hoagie sizes in inches while the Cattie Shack as small, medium and large. But even with a 4” Wawa hoagie listing as $2.89 and a 6” Wawa hoagie as $3.99, the Cattie shack’s “small” Italian hoagie still comes out on top at $4.49. A large Cattie Shack Italian hoagie is $6.99.

Sorry to say, the difference is significant.

The Cattie Shack is clean and their employees friendly and I am firmly committed to supporting local businesses, especially the efforts of a family that takes a leap of faith to make a dream come true.

But it is a rare family that can compete with a corporate giant like Wawa. Nor do they have the luxury of this summer’s “Wawa Hoagie Fest” which has now been extended through August 9.

What’s the answer Chadds Ford?  How do we get our village back?

About Sally Denk Hoey

Sally Denk Hoey, is a Gemini - one part music and one part history. She holds a masters degree cum laude from the School of Music at West Chester University. She taught 14 years in both public and private school. Her CD "Bard of the Brandywine" was critically received during her almost 30 years as a folk singer. She currently cantors masses at St Agnes Church in West Chester where she also performs with the select Motet Choir. A recognized historian, Sally serves as a judge-captain for the south-east Pennsylvania regionals of the National History Day Competition. She has served as president of the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates as well as the Sanderson Museum in Chadds Ford where she now curates the violin collection. Sally re-enacted with the 43rd Regiment of Foot and the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment for 19 years where she interpreted the role of a campfollower at encampments in Valley Forge, Williamsburg, Va., Monmouth, N.J. and Lexington and Concord, Mass. Sally is married to her college classmate, Thomas Hoey, otherwise known as "Mr. Sousa.”

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One Response to “Blogging Along the Brandywine”

  1. racford says:

    How do we get our village back when the township does not want to allow the people of the township to meet at the Cattie Shack and sit down with a cup of coffee and talk or eat a sandwich together? How can the village survive when the rules for signs are so strict that no one knows we have businesses here? The signs are so small and obscure you can’t see them…except for the REMAX sign at Rt1 and Creek Road…it is so big, you can’t even see the intersection! The Cattie Shack was told they could not have the chairs and tables and they were not allowed to have signs showing they serve coffee and sandwiches. They had to be taken down. The Chadds Ford Gallery was told they could not have balloons. Don’t know the answers.

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