Blogging Along the Brandywine

At the end of my July 23
blog I wrote:

“And there’s something
else about that [concert]. It got me involved …well…maybe that will be the
subject of another blog someday…maybe…we’ll see.”

Well, “someday” is here
and so I offer my Valentine’s Day story to you.

They were born the same
year, in hospitals less than a mile apart. Her mother once lived in an English
Tudor a few blocks from his childhood home.

As children they loved to
ride the carousel at the old Lenape Park.

His father was a fiddler
who knew Chris Sanderson. The boy even met Chris at the Old Fiddlers Picnic at
Lenape Park.

But these young people
didn’t meet until their freshman year at the School of Music at West Chester
State. She thought he was really cute, especially his incredible dark brown
eyes and smile. But she was too shy to say anything.

He used to watch her from
his favorite desk at the back of their classrooms. He thought she was
“sophisticated and pretty”. But he was already promised to a young lady from
the parish high school.

After graduation he went
on to a career in teaching and performing.

But when his marriage
shattered, he alone was the parent left to raise his four children—all who
would become beautiful, loving and successful adults.

She went on to teach for
14 years and later to help raise non-profits to a higher level.

And although they didn’t
know it, they would both move into new homes in August 1979.

Once they performed at the
same church on the same weekend—he at a Saturday wedding, and she at the Sunday
service. They saw one another’s names on the programs. He noticed she still had
the same last name.

And then on May 17, 2009,
she received a forwarded email from the curator of the Sanderson Museum where
she was president. The curator wrote:

“I'll let you respond to
him unless you want me to do so.”

The sender inquired about
any archival material the museum had on John Philip Sousa.  But there was a PS.

“I think you and I might
know each other. Did you attend West Chester State College as a music major in
the 1960s? I was a trumpet major at West Chester and graduated in 1971. Just

Oh come on, she thought!
What did he mean? “Just wondering?” She had a very unusual German name. She
responded with one of her typical 1000-word emails.

And so he invited her to
his concert at Longwood Gardens. She went up on stage to say hello. His dark
brown eyes and smile were exactly the same.

He came to the Sanderson
Museum and together they discovered the original Sousa material.

They went to dinner at the
Chadds Ford Tavern.

They walked for hours at
Longwood Gardens.

They went back to West
Chester U. and in the sunset, stood under the Old Main Arch.

They traveled to old Cape
May and to Chincoteague Island.

And then, almost nine
months after the “college reunion” they returned to the Chadds Ford Tavern to
“their booth” where he slipped a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring on her
left hand.

“Grow Old Along with Me,
the best is yet to be” ~ Robert Browning (1812-1889)

(And yes, it’s me!)

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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.”



2 Responses to “Blogging Along the Brandywine”

  1. anibas says:

    But who is he? Maybe next week’s column?

  2. brandywinebard says:

    He is Thomas J. Hoey.

    School of Music, West Chester U, ’71. Taught in Garnet Valley for 33 years.

    In 1987 he founded the 90- member John Philip Sousa Band out of the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center.

    They are amazing!

    Most are professional musicians.

    He is also an awesome trumpeter and can play anthing from Bach to Harry James with equal excellence!

    Thanks for reading!


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