Blogging Along the Brandywine

Several months ago I was shopping in the Giant at Dilworthtown,
when I saw a lady coming towards me seemingly carrying on an animated
conversation with herself. I began to feel a bit uncomfortable,
thinking perhaps she was deranged. But as she got closer I noticed she was
wearing a Bluetooth headpiece, a wireless phone earpiece.

About 12 years ago, while on a rare visit to Broadway
to see a taping of the David Letterman Show, I had time to walk around
mid-town Manhattan. My sheltered Chadds Ford mindset was shocked to watch
businessmen and women crossing streets against the lights with cell
phones to their ears, totally absorbed in higher finance and business
strategies, oblivious to the taxi cabs, buses and vans coming towards them en

I get the same feeling when I am ready to pull out onto Route 1
in the morning watching the trucks and cars hurdling down the hill from
Route 202. I often see people pulling into my road, making a one-armed
cross-traffic, left hand turn or even an illegal one-armed U-turn blissfully
gabbing away holding a cell phone to their ear.

Recently I was in Happy Harry's while a lady in the next aisle
was carrying on a very loud cell phone conversation about who was going to pick
up the kid from soccer practice. The conversation then drifted into some
issue with her neighbor and the problems she was having with her husband.
I'm wondering what made her think I was so interested in the dreary
details of her life. 

And until two weekends ago, I merely regarded all of this as a
display of somewhat harmless, albeit boorish behavior.

My friend was taking me to dinner that evening at the new “1906
at Longwood Gardens” followed by the season’s final concert of the Kennett
Symphony. But this evening he seemed unusually quiet.

He told me the college-age daughter of a long-time childhood
friend had been hit by a car that morning while walking with her friend in
front of the Delaware County Hospital in Drexel Hill. Christine Bochanski,
a young dancer, had suffered severe trauma and multiple injuries including
a broken back after being thrown 30-35 feet. Her friend, Nicole Gallo, a
sophomore at Lebanon Valley had been killed instantly.

The driver of the car, also a young girl, had evidently been
fiddling with her iPod and had crossed two lanes of traffic hitting the two
young ladies.

The summer of my 16th birthday I enrolled in drivers education
classes at my high school. One day I was driving up Bear Hill Road
near Paoli when Mr. Lawrence reached over and turned on the car radio. I
think it was the Dave Clark Five or Gerry and the Pacemakers
know, primitive music from the Dark Ages.

As my attention was drawn to the strains of my favorite music, I
realized the radio was distracting me from this new skill of propelling a
3,000 pound piece of steel along the road at high speeds. I asked him to
turn it off.

What’s the answer?

Do we legislate away the freedom to use cell phones in our cars?

The next time you pick up your cell phone, iPod or Blackberry
while driving through the Brandywine Valley, just remember Christine Bochanski
and Nicole Gallo. Maybe that will help.

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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