The Black Main Line is speaking out. And thousands – including a growing list of private schools – are listening.
Marches on Main Line streets have moved over to social media, none more prominent than the red-hot, hair-raising, holy smokes Instagram account, Black Main Line Speaks.
In less than six weeks, the account has posted hundreds of vignettes from Black alumni and students describing specific instances when they were taunted, tokenized, disrespected or otherwise diminished by teachers, administrators and classmates.
Stories about intelligence questioned, low socio-economic status assumed, history whitewashed, the N-word casually flung about, Afros curiously touched, teachers excusing blatant acts of racism – they’re all here.
No school is spared: Episcopal, Haverford, Agnes Irwin, Baldwin, Shipley, Friends’ Central, Sacred Heart, Notre Dame, Merion Mercy, Villa Maria, Holy Child Rosemont, Malvern Prep and more. Public school stories started showing up, too, but in lesser numbers. Elite independent schools are the focus here.
After each post, Black Main Line Speaks tags the offending school as if to say, Hello? This person is outing YOU!
Though unspoken, the challenge is clear: What will you do about this? How will you change?
The account has already amassed more than 21,300 followers and each post generates 600 to 1,000 likes – numbers would-be Insta-influencers would kill for.
Its founders are three anonymous Black women, who tell SAVVY only that they’re “recent alums” who “attended private schools on the Main Line for most if not all our lives.” Their identities don’t matter, they say.
Submissions are anonymous, too. If names are sent in with stories, the BMLS team removes them. A few “fake” submissions were brought to the team’s attention “by the community” and weeded out, they say.
The trio’s mission is to provide the kind of safe, no-repercussions space they say they never had in high school. “This is not a gossip page,” they say, but a platform to elevate Black voices and hold schools accountable:
“These schools use their whiteness, power, and money, to over-police Black students,” the founders tell SAVVY. “As former Main Line students, we were disciplined harshly and not believed when we spoke out against racism and prejudice at our schools. This space uplifts the voices and experiences of Black students and protects them for that reason.”
That the three women received excellent educations is not at issue. What is: the micro-aggressions and macro indignities that they and their Black classmates say they suffered and left buried, often for years.
The BMLS team explicitly urges its white followers to think carefully about their “REAL sentiments” and motives before posting comments.
When we asked the founders to expound on racism and the rise of allies on the Main Line, we received this blunt assessment:
“When people think of the Main Line, they automatically go to the elite schools, exotic cars, expensive stores, organic markets, and sprawling homes. However, we are here to show that the Main Line is the direct result of centuries of racism and it still prospers from it and it still perpetuates it. Remember, the Main Line isn’t just an area, it’s a people. A people founded off of old money (read: generational wealth) and racism. In this current moment, as many white people on the Main Line have been quick to use #Blacklivesmatter, we want them to acknowledge the work that needs to be done in their own community because the stories revealed on our account indicate that our lives haven’t always mattered to these institutions.”
In the last several weeks, Black Main Line Speaks has started planting seeds of change, even as it continues to collect and share painful stories.
The account posts schools’ responses – at times, questioning their adequacy.
BMLS urged its followers to sign a petition demanding change at 14 local private schools. (Released by the Inter-Ac and Independent Schools Black Alumni Association on Juneteenth, the petition has 4,2000 signatories and delineates eight action items, calling for, among other things: a sincere public apology and commitment to improve; curriculum changes to include Black history and racial justice; training staff in racial bias; hiring a minimum of 15% Black teachers; electing Black board members; a zero-tolerance racism policy; and an anonymous incident reporting system with retaliation protections.)
Black Main Line Speaks also uses its platform to amplify anti-racist activism by other student and alumni groups. It recently announced plans to start a Main Line Black Student Union, launching a successful $500 GoFundMe to seed the student union and fund a website that would expand access to students’ stories, share resources and track schools’ responses.
Called out – some would say shamed – so publicly, many, but not all schools, have posted brief social-media statements followed by long-form letters.
Agnes Irwin just announced a three-day Summit on Racial Justice July 19 – 21 after laying out a detailed plan for change.
Baldwin and Merion Mercy, among others, scheduled Zoom meetings, forums and listening sessions. After 160 Merion Mercy alumnae relayed their experiences and offered ideas, the Catholic academy released a four-pronged Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan.
Haverford School apologized and issued a seven-point plan. “As a school that prides itself on developing men of character,” we must work harder and do better,” wrote Head of School John Nagl.
Episcopal released a statement of solidarity. In a letter to the EA community, Episcopal Head of School T.J. Locke and Board of Trustees Chair Steven Copit acknowledged the school’s responsibility for “not doing enough to combat systemic racism.” They vowed EA would “move forward swiftly and decisively to address racism, bias and inequity in all its forms,” including the formation of a board task force.
“I am conscious of the privilege, blind spots, and insights my background presents,” wrote Shipley Head of School Michael Turner. “As a resident of Bryn Mawr, I can turn off the news feed and the pain, allowing it to remain distant. As the parent of White children, I have only discussed ‘the talk,’ not had to deliver it.” A follow-up letter from Turner and trustees apologizes “to anyone who has experienced racism at Shipley” and lays out a detailed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan.
The account’s influence appears broad and deep.
Black Main Line Speaks has spawned similar Instagram accounts including @blackvillanova and @blackathaverford.
Prompted by a student Insta account, @RadnorforReform, Radnor School Board has called a special meeting on August 4 to discuss retiring the Radnor Raiders mascot and related Native American imagery from Radnor High School.
More than 650 people have signed Radnor Rise’s petition seeking to expand diversity, equity and inclusion education in Radnor Township School District.
Inspired by BMLS, anti-racism alumni and student groups at local private schools are starting their own campaigns.
Agnes Irwin alumnae have signed a pledge to suspend donations to their schools until AIS implements all eight of the action items on the Inter-Ac petition.
Friends Central For Racial Justice demands the resignation of Head of School Craig Sellers in its #MakeQuakerWork petition.
After Episcopal Academy alum Emily Wingfield ‘18 started collecting stories of discrimination and intolerance at EA, Rebecca Archambault ’16 drafted a letter imploring their shared alma mater to take concrete steps “to make EA a more welcoming, less hateful place for its students.”
Like we said, the Black Main Line is speaking and schools are hearing them loud and clear.
Losing their land, outraged family takes T/E School District to court
Exploding with students, Tredyffrin-Easttown School District just put a dollar sign on its plans to seize by eminent domain 13 acres next to Conestoga High School for unspecified future use.
And the property’s owners are fuming.
So, what gives? Is the district making a fair, good-faith offer or a greedy grab of a longtime family business?
Depends who you talk to.
The way the landowners, proprietors of the Doyle & McDonnell Nursery on the site, tell it: T/E’s offer of $2.7 million, tendered last week, shows that the district is operating in bad faith. How else to explain an offer that doesn’t come close to the owners’ $4.5 million signed deal with Toll Brothers? they ask. Hadn’t TESD School Board director Scott Dorsey publicly assured them they’d be treated fairly after the board voted to condemn their land last fall?
“We were blindsided. I can’t believe how this went down,” says nursery owner Terry McDonnell whose mother was a Doyle and grew up on the property.
The district had previously extended via email, offers of $2.9 million in 2019 and $3.1 million in early 2020, then went silent.
Silent until a letter from T-E arrived last week. The letter gives the family ten days to agree to an “estimated just compensation offer” of $2.7 million and “surrender possession” of their condemned land or the district will pursue all “means available to it under eminent domain code to secure physical possession.”
“If we don’t agree to their offer, they’ll see us in court. That’s a hell of a way to be treated,” McDonnell says. “Meanwhile, we have to get off the grounds in 90 days even though they won’t be using the land for years.”
The McDonnells are especially miffed that T/E so far won’t say how it might use the fields – likely because it simply doesn’t know. Feasibility studies are on the horizon, no doubt.
“We’re being bulldozed,” insists Terry’s wife, Cheryl. “We have to appeal this. We have to tell our story. We don’t know what else to do.” Their nursery has fallen “victim to an overactive and overzealous school board,” she says. With a $40 million high school expansion already underway this summer, does T/E truly need to take their land and their livelihood? the McDonnells want to know. They wonder, too, how T/E can accurately predict future facilities needs when the pandemic has turned the U.S. educational model into one big fat question mark.
Terry McDonnell is so upset, he tells us he’s embarrassed to say he’s a Stoga graduate and would like to give back all the athletic letters he earned. “That’s how bitter I am.”
A multi-generational family business, Doyle & McDonnell has been growing trees, keeping nursery stock in a greenhouse, and storing equipment on the site for more than 100 years.
At age 74, Terry and Cheryl McDonnell, who met in seventh grade and graduated from Conestoga together in 1964, still work alongside their daughters. Emily runs the office and her sister, Christine, is a landscape architect. A nephew, Ash, serves as a project foreman.
“We always said the nursery was for the kids when we’re dead and gone,” Terry says.
The two never planned to sell, they say. The offer from Toll Brothers came “out of the blue” in spring of 2019 when a Berkshire Hathaway Realtor representing Toll knocked on their office door, with an offer sealed inside the envelope in her hand.
Toll proposed to build either townhouses or carriage homes, or their fallback plan: 15 single family homes, a “by right” use of the property under township zoning code. Under terms of the Toll agreement, the family gets at least $4.5 million and can continue to operate the nursery during the two to three years it would take Toll to secure township approvals, according to the family and their attorneys.
The McDonnells tell us they signed the sales agreement with Toll because their sister-in-law, Susan McDonnell, the widow of Terry’s late brother and business partner, Chick, had been battling cancer and wanted to cash out sooner rather than later. At age 78, she was anxious to have her estate settled. Susan happily signed the Toll agreement but, according to her lawyer, has joined her in-laws’ legal fight against the district’s $2.7 million offer. “She’s not signing anything,” her attorney C. Dale McClain tells SAVVY.
Susan McDonnell’s challenge concerns the land price only. Terry and Cheryl bought her share of the business after her husband passed 20 years ago but she remains a trustee of the land. Incidentally, Susan’s daughter, Libby Pechin, is a teacher in the district, and Libby’s husband, Kevin, is athletic director at Conestoga.
As soon as Toll Brothers informed the township of its plans for the nursery, TESD was alerted. A couple weeks later, the school board called an emergency public meeting and voted to condemn the property.
Of course, T/E’s take on the condemnation is poles apart.
Its offer of $2.7 is our “current valuation,” set by its highly qualified MAI appraiser, Coyle Lynch, insists district solicitor Ken Roos in a phone interview.
He asserts that Chester County Judge William Mahon “decisively rejected” the McDonnell’s first legal challenge to the seizure. Mahon’s July 1 ruling, a copy of which Roos shared with us, declares the district entitled to take the land under eminent domain.
Furthermore, T/E’s letter offering the $2.7 million was simply “the next step” in the legal condemnation process, Roos says. “We have an obligation to pay fair market value for the property. That’s our obligation to the property owners and to the taxpayers of T/E. The school district can’t expect its taxpayers to overpay for a property.”
But surely, the district didn’t think the McDonnells would be happy with their number? “We can’t get inside the heads of the McDonnells,” Roos says. “… The fact that someone is upset or not, that’s not a factor for us.”
And that $4.5 million payment by Toll – that was never going to happen, the solicitor insists. “The Toll agreement of sale contains enough contingencies to suggest the $4.5 million offer is illusory and does not support a fair market value of anywhere close to that amount.”
We asked the McDonnells if we could view the agreement of sale to view said contingencies. “Not without [Toll’s] legal authority,” the couple said, then passed along our request to Toll Brothers.
When we asked Roos to be more specific about the “contingencies,” he said he’d be violating the NDA agreement he’d signed with Toll if he did so. When we told Roos that the McDonnells weren’t sharing the agreement with us, he pointed a finger: “Why are they hiding this agreement? You can draw your own conclusions.”
We then asked local Toll executive Brian Therrien if we could see the agreement and share it with our outside legal expert. But Toll’s legal team denied our request. “We’re not going to be able to comment on the contract or terms,” Therrien replied via email, apologizing for “not being able to help out.”
So, as we write this story, the signed agreement of sale that the family stakes its claims on and the district insists is shaky, remain maddeningly murky.
The solicitor also takes issue with the McDonnells’ appraiser, comparing Piombino Associates unfavorably to T/E’s appraiser, Coyle Lynch. “I would never go to court without an MAI (a professional designation) appraisal,” Roos says. Coyle Lynch has an MAI designation; Piombino does not.
Piombino’s appraisal in late 2019 came in at $4.5 million and is based, in part, on comps for land prices paid for nearby Wayne Glen, the family’s attorney says. (Citing client confidentiality, Piombino refused comment.)
According to Roos, Coyle Lynch’s $2.7 million appraisal came after a site inspection in January 2019 and was relayed to the district “verbally.” Roos says the written document will become public soon enough, during the discovery phase of litigation. He allows that valuations fluctuate with the vagaries of the real estate market and that the $2.7M is “as of July 1.”
The McDonnells, meanwhile, aren’t going down without a court fight.
Their attorney, Taras Wochok says he filed another petition July 10 asking the judge to reconsider his first order. Susan McDonnell signed on, too.
According to Wochok, the district’s unstated plans for the site are problematic. What prevents TESD from buying the land, holding onto it for a year, then, unable to find or fund a needed use, sell it to Toll Brothers for a profit? he wonders. “It’s happened before,” he says, referring to condemnations by other public entities.
When we asked her to share the school district’s potential or contemplated uses for the McDonnell land, School Board President Michele Burger did not immediately respond to our email. Did T/E need the land for parking? For playing fields? For a new elementary school? A kindergarten center? we wondered.
District solicitor Roos would only tell us that it was “premature” to share planned uses.
While Terry McDonnell concedes he “probably lost the nursery” and Wochok agrees that TESD, as a public entity, has the legal right to take it, he filed the two civil actions because “we don’t’ think there’s a concrete need right now and they’re not negotiating in good faith … What we’re suggesting is if they want the land so badly they ought to pay the price that’s established by the market. They’re trying to save money and I understand that but not at the expense of my client.”
If the judge finds in TESD’s favor again, the McDonnells will appeal the price to a court-appointed Board of Reviewers, a process likely to drag on for years. “We’re trying to shortcut everything and get it done now as opposed to having to go through that process,” says Wochok.
If the condemnation is executed, it won’t be the first time T/E takes McDonnell property.
It won’t be the second time, either.
The district condemned a half acre of the nursery in 1955 to build the new Conestoga High School.
In 1966, it annexed another seven acres when the high school expanded in 1966.
It went for the remaining 13 acres in 2002, citing a need for parking for students, but dropped those plans when neighbors voiced support for the family and the township eased its parking regs.
“I don’t sleep much at night,” says Terry McDonnell. “Last night, I didn’t sleep at all because of the school district’s letter. It’s very sad. Just be fair with us – that’s all I ask. I’ve been a resident my whole life. This property has been in our family for more than 100 years.”
School’s out for summer. Out for fall, too?
We sure don’t envy the leaders of local schools, grappling with a decision that has no playbook: whether to reopen in the fall.
A Radnor survey showed most support a physical return to school with precautions in place including mandatory masks. The district has also solicited input via two Zoom meetings and the Reopening Radnor Task Force will present its recommendations to the school board July 28.
Meanwhile T/E has given separate surveys to parents, students and teachers and continues to accept comments via [email protected]. So far, at least 60 percent of parents – more in the upper grades – indicated they’re “willing to consider” sending their children to school in the fall. The district has also formed a TESD Pandemic Committee, and last week, district leaders met with a select group of parents to discuss re-opening scenarios. (Community blogger Pattye Benson took heat for calling it a secret meeting but stands by her characterization.) The district will present a draft proposal next week and the school board will vote on a final reopening plan at the end of July.
Over in Lower Merion, Superintendent Robert Copeland has been especially transparent about reopening scenarios. A Reopening Task Force is seriously considering a plan to have half of LMSD’s students report to school on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other half on Thursdays and Fridays, with Wednesdays reserved for deep cleaning. Online learning would take place on days students are not physically in school. Copeland has said that hybrid option would most likely be chosen if Montco returns to the yellow phase. In addition, a Health and Safety Committee is preparing a plan for board approval. Although buses will be sanitized and masks will be mandatory, Copeland is already advising parents to drive their kids to school if they can, assuming it’s open. Email [email protected] if you’d like to weigh in.
Damn the Pandemic: Full speed ahead for three new (!) Main Line eateries
“People need to eat and they’re definitely sick of eating at home right now,” says Jason Gordon, about his decision, with two partners, to launch Royal Café Narberth during this strangest of summers.
Not that the owners are ignoring the pandemic.
Far from it.
Ten canopy-shaded, widely spaced picnic tables dot the parking lot, and a prominent reminder to wear masks is posted at the entry. (Our only issue: servers getting a tad too chummy around the hostess stand – at least it was outdoors.)
A nod to its Royal Bank roots, Royal Café succeeds Café Lift and takes better advantage of its liquor license, one of the few in Narberth. The marquee boasts “The Best Margaritas on the Main Line” and there’s a nice selection of craft beers, cocktails and hard seltzers and ciders.
Menu is elevated pub fare: wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, mac ’n cheese, grass-fed burgers, sandwiches and rather nicely priced entrées ($16 -$19).
During our brunch visit, the Royal Salad was lackluster but the Maine Lobstah Roll and tangy Narberth slaw were delish. The fries even reminded us of Devon Horse Show fries (sigh).
Royal Café Narberth, 724 Montgomery Ave., 484-429-2626, is open from 4 p.m. with weekend brunch. Closed Mondays.
In nearby Suburban Square, CAVA just debuted along the new Station Row. Started by three Greek buddies in the DC area, CAVA has 80+ “chef casual” locations. Build-your-own salad, pita or grain bowl with an assortment of Mediterranean dips and yummies like spicy lamb meatballs, harissa honey chicken, braised lamb and Roasted Vegetables.
And it’s open “Sesami” on W. Wynnewood Rd., also in Ardmore, for another build-your-bowl, fast-casual eatery. Sesami serves up Asian fusion fare that highlights sesame flavors and aromatics in its Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese meats, sides and sauces.
Bercy, Besito: COVID crisis shakes up Ardmore restaurant scene
Big changes at The Bercy. The French brasserie in downtown Ardmore has become a private event venue. Regular dining operations have been suspended indefinitely.
In a message to social media followers, The Bercy said it’s retooling to meet surging demand for rescheduled parties, events and weddings postponed during shutdown.
Like many restaurants, Bercy struggled through the COVID shutdown and staffing has long been an issue. It didn’t help either that Bercy has very few outdoor seats – even though it added a few tables on Station Ave. in June. We were sort of shocked the restaurant closed last week to give staff “a much-needed break” after re-opening only a few weeks prior. Now we know why.
As for Besito in Suburban Square, it never re-opened and repeated attempts to reach ownership have been unsuccessful. When we asked Joy Medlock at Suburban Square land landlord, Kimco, to confirm Besito is gone for good, she said, “I can’t confirm one way or the other at this point”.
Meanwhile, nearby spots like Jack McShea’s and Marokko, like restaurants up and down the Pike, have gotten creative with space. McShea put tables out back and Marokko added outdoor tables and installed garden planters to keep diners safely spaced.
Sorry to see you go, ELLIE Main Line and Coco Blu.
Done in by the COVID shutdown, the two Wayne fashion boutiques will close permanently later this summer. Until then, hurry in for storewide sales of up to 75 percent off.
Coco Blu is staying put in Stone Harbor and just launched a fitness boutique above Avalon Fitness – both are open by appointment, owner Alicia Eger tells SAVVY. A Coco Blu online store will open when the Wayne location closes.
At ELLIE in Eagle Village, owner Diane Oliva tells us she lost the busiest months of the spring shopping season and she was allowed to reopen at “the slowest time – summer on the Main Line.” With fall merch due to arrive in early July and her lease up at the end of August, she “had to make the hard choice to cancel fall orders and close shop.” Oliva says she plans to open a new store “once the world settles down.”
Salons embrace brave new world of beauty
Your neglected hair, nails and eyelashes will love the TLC, but business is far from usual at area salons.
“My shop is like an OR,” says Lauren Kleinstuber, owner of Lauren Hair in Strafford (below). Think mandatory masks with filters, temperature checks, and an arsenal of disinfectants and sanitizers. “I’m a psycho Italian. I’d watch for cleaning products to be restocked and buy as much as I could.”
Instead of installing $300 plexiglass panels between styling chairs, Kleinstuber and her husband rigged a DIY solution that suits the salon’s industrial-chic décor and their budget: thick vinyl sheets tied to $19 garment racks from Target. Cost per divider: $25.
All in, Kleinstuber says she invested $2,000 to prepare her salon to meet state guidelines. (And that’s on top of the $300,000 she spent to relocate from Wayne to the Strafford Shopping Center late last year. )
In Bryn Mawr, clients at Salon diModa who enter nervous leave pleasantly surprised, says owner Laura Frustaci. At the recommendation of a client cardiologist at Lankenau, her stylists are wearing goggles during blowouts. Fearing that blown air might spread the virus, blow-dries were banned In New Hampshire when salons reopened in May and select salons in NYC aren’t offering them either.
Frustaci tells us she thought about closing permanently but after a pep talk from her husband and a grace period from her landlord, she re-opened.
All in, Frustaci has spent about $3,000 on safety measures, including a $280 foot-operated hand sanitizer dispenser and screens at the front desk and between shampoo bowls. Her staff have been “rock stars” about implementing the new safety procedures.
A few miles east, new sheer plastic curtains enclose all 14 styling stations at Salon Ziza, giving the Ardmore salon a vaguely space-age look.
“It’s probably overkill,” says owner Liz Stelmach. “But I’d rather overdo it and have everyone comfortable than have someone leave feeling we didn’t do enough.”
She took out all ten waiting room chairs, replacing them with a display table that she hopes will prevent clients from touching hair products before buying.
No more free coffee but you can still get bottled water.
At the shampoo station, stylists wear goggles or face shields with their masks and idle chitchat is discouraged. “Think about it. People are most vulnerable when they’re leaning back to get shampooed.” Stelmach says.
To keep transactions cash- and contact-free, clients credit cards are being kept on file in an encrypted cloud. Receptionists are getting full contact info for all clients just in case virus contact tracing become necessary.
The re-opening of The Hairdresser Inc. In Paoli has gone remarkably well, reports Jay Martosella, who’s owned the Paoli Shopping Center salon for 38 years.
“We were totally prepared for re-opening in a safe environment,” say Martosella, who stocked up on gloves, masks and disinfectants and installed acrylic shields at the front desk. Towels and capes are changed after each client and a special anti-covid spray that kills germs instantly will sanitize stations between use. (Martosella’s son is a senior scientist at J & J, which developed the spray.)
The salon is operating at half capacity, spacing out stations and rotating staff in and out.
And one brand new hair salon is completely private: Beth Forte Hair, which just took the last private suite at Sola Salon Studios in Devon Square (below). A veteran stylist at John Andrews and AME salons in Wayne, Forte holds down the fort alone. So no need to interact with a receptionist, shampoo girl or styling assistant.
Your friendly neighborhood nail salon looks a lot different, too.
Cuticle Corner (below), a popular Tredyffrin salon since 2006, is operating at half capacity, with nail techs in face shields and masks, and sneeze guards at nail stations.
After a deep clean of her salon, owner Uni Park invested in PPE, cleaners, forehead thermometers (she checks temps of all arriving clients), and special germ-killing UV lamps that she turns on before she closes each night.
Early on, Park considered calling it quits for good, fearing customers wouldn’t come back. “I was panicked and debt was piling up … But what else am I going to do? This is the only business I know.” But her fears were unfounded. The day we visited Park was turning women away. Best call for an appointment, she says.
And the latest beauty hotspot – eyelash extension studios – were ready to go when PA gave the green light.
At Wink Lash Studio in Wayne (below), clients arrive alone and are called in from their cars, which is now SOP at many salons. When they enter, they receive fresh masks and have temps taken and are asked to wash their hands, says Wink’s permanent makeup artist Tanya Buzzetta. Handbags are stored in disposable bags. Blankets and free beverages are gone. Technicians wear face shields and masks.
To ensure six-foot spacing, only every other bed is being used. Pillows now have disposable covers and bed coverings are changed between appointments.
Like other lash studios, Wink is giving returning clients a price break: 90-minute lash refills for $75 to $85, a huge discount from the $350 charged for a full set.
Visits to Amazing Lash Studios in Wayne and Ardmore, where technicians work in private “lash suites,” have always been socially distant. “We felt confident about reopening because our customers only have contact with one or two people, says Amazing Lash franchisee Joey Orr.
New safety measures include curbside check-in, staggered appointments to allow for deep cleaning of rooms and equipment between use, and touchless checkout with credit cards kept on file.
Arriving lash techs have their temps taken and ozone generators that “kill 100 percent of airborne viruses,” are turned on nightly, Orr says.
Further east, the new Lash Palette at Image Studios 360 in Rosemont Square also offers killer summer lashes in a one-on-one suite.
Main Line-born Mt. Joy band scales new heights
So what if its monster arena tour – with the Lumineers, no less – was short-circuited in March. Mt. Joy is riding higher than ever.
Started by Stoga grads Matt Quinn and Sam Cooper, the alt-rock band released its sophomore album, “Rearrange Us” last month. And it promptly shot to the top of the Billboard vinyl charts, besting Lady Gaga and Billie Eilish. Hot damn.
Spotify was so smitten with the fab five’s new tunes, it put their mug on a billboard in Times Square last month.
With George Floyd’s murder very much on their minds, Quinn, Cooper & Co. had tried to delay the release of “Rearrange Us.”
Alas, it was too late.
So the band decided to donate the album’s first-week profits to Campaign Zero, a nonprofit that works to end police violence. (A generous move, considering Mt. Joy’s bread and butter – concerts – had dried up for the foreseeable future.)
Long politically active, Mt. Joy wrote “Sheep” about the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. With over 35 million streams, “Sheep” is the band’s second most-streamed song to date.
In the last few months, Quinn, Cooper et. al. played on Late Night with Seth Meyers and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, recorded a collaborative video of their new single, “Strangers,” for World Café Live, and hosted a livestream fundraiser (below) with other recording artists and Philly sports stars, raising $30K for Philabundance and Music Cares, which helps struggling musicians.
When he was sheltering in place with Mom and Dad back in Tredyffrin in the spring, Cooper tells us he passed the time giving virtual guitar lessons to fans. In early June, he and Quinn headed back to LA for the release of Rearrange Us, but – local fan alert – the two are moving back to the Philly area soon.
With concerts and big music festivals on hold until 2021, the band rented recording space close to home for a while.
Mt. Joy back near Mt. Joy. Oh, Joy.
Admitting to racial profiling, Anthropologie apologizes, vows to change: ‘There is work for us to do.’
The word would go out to Anthropologie sales associates via headset: Nicky spotted. Keep an eye out.
Employees were expected to follow that customer who was, more often than not, Black, to make sure that “Nick” or “Nicky” wouldn’t shoplift.
According to published reports, staff was instructed to be extra solicitous. Offer extra service; keep watch but don’t be obvious about it.
Shortly after the code-word policy was raised, first by @Diet_Prada on Instagram, then in an extensive report in Buzzfeed, Anthropologie issued this statement:
“Our shoplifting policy previously instructed associates to use the code names ‘Nick’/‘Nicky’/‘Nicole’ to identify potential shoplifters. It has been brought to our attention that this policy was misused. We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the reports of racial profiling in our stores, and we profusely apologize to each and every customer who was made to feel unwelcome.”
The bad press comes at a particularly bad time.
Clobbered by the pandemic shutdown, Anthro’s parent company, Urban Outfitters, furloughed staff, cut pay and shelved capital projects but still suffered first quarter net losses of $138 million. A silver lining: surging digital sales in May and June that helped stop the bleeding.
While we couldn’t find former staffers from Anthro’s relatively new Devon and King of Prussia stores to share their stories, Buzzfeed found plenty of women in other cities.
Black/Puerto Rican employee Angelika Robison told Buzzfeed she would come home from the Boston Anthropologie in tears because she was “told to follow around a person who wasn’t stealing that happens to look just like me.”
A Black former employee in NYC, Naomi Abrams said she’d respond, “Copy that,” when she heard a Nick alert in her headset, then ignore it. In the last year of her “exhausting” tenure at Anthro, she would “look at my fellow Black employees and we would just roll our eyes in solidarity,” Abrams told Buzzfeed.
The employees were never told explicitly to single out Black shoppers, but said they were uncomfortable with the word, Nick, British slang for shoplifting, because its use in this context was too close to a racial slur.
Several staffers agreed that Anthro promoted a vision of “the ideal customer” and it wasn’t a woman of color. They allege that the company didn’t train them or managers to be conscious of racial and ethnic biases, which they say were obvious in their stores.
In its statement to Buzzfeed, Anthropologie says it’s taking steps to change its employee handbooks and policies:
“Anthropologie absolutely rejects racism, racial discrimination and profiling of any form and we have revised our shoplifting prevention policy to eliminate the use of any code words.”
Anthropologie is not the only higher-end store caught profiling shoppers. A 2017 report, “Shopping While Black,” in the Journal of Consumer Culture, found 80 percent of Black middle-class shoppers in NYC reported racial stigma and stereotyping, particularly in high-end clothing stores. Among their complaints: being followed, directed to the sale section without asking, skipped over for service in favor of non-Black customers, and told the price of an expensive clothing item before asking or trying it on.
Could your breast implants be making you sick? Time to consult Bala Cynwyd plastic surgeon Kirk Brandow.
By Dawn Warden
When the FDA acknowledged last year that Breast Implant Illness, or BII, was, in fact, a real thing, women everywhere screamed, “Finally!”
Among them was Carol [last name withheld], 64.
For years, she’d had severe chronic insomnia and a strangely persistent, itchy rash. Doctor after doctor dismissed it as contact dermatitis, prescribing only steroids and creams.
“They did absolutely nothing for me, and quite honestly, frustrated and infuriated me,” Carol recalls.
Then Carol started thinking about her 30-year-old silicone breast implants and reading about the myriad symptoms of BII: immune problems, rash, extreme fatigue, memory issues, hair loss, depression, body pain and disrupted sleep. BII took so many forms, it seemed anyone with implants with undiagnosed complaints might have it.
But when she suggested that her implants might be the problem, she got nowhere. You’re allergic to Prozac, doctors told her. You’re menopausal. Try medical marijuana; it might calm you down.
After three years of suffering, she knew what she needed to do: find a sympathetic, skilled surgeon who specializes in breast explant surgery.
A Google search and several phone calls later, she drove 140 miles to meet plastic surgeon Kirk Brandow in his Bala Cynwyd office.
“It was obvious he not only had empathy … but he was fully behind the notion that silicone breast implants were wreaking havoc on women,” Carol says.
“BII is a very real thing and I’ve been speaking up about it for nearly 30 years,” says Brandow, who last used silicone in 1992, when they were taken off the market for 14 years. “It took another 13 years for the FDA to finally support patients claims that silicone implants were making them very, very ill.”
Women who come in with implant issues get graphic validation. “All I have to do is show a silicone-implant patient my photo gallery and they’re instantly horrified and ready to try an explant,” he says.
While many choose to swap out silicone for saline implants, women are increasingly opting to have them removed and reconstructed with a breast lift instead.
Before 2017, Brandow had only done two explants total, neither with a lift. These days, he’s performing two a week. (Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover the procedure which can cost as much as $8,000 or more.)
On Sept. 11, 2019, Dr. Brandow removed Carol’s silicone implants, which had silently ruptured and had been leaking into her system for years.
“I feel 100 percent better,” she says. “I would tell anyone considering implants … to really think about the consequences. Saline is the only way to go, but after what I went through, I don’t think I would do it again. Healthy is a thousand times better than busty. And as Dr. Brandow proved, there are other ways to get perky breasts.”
Consistently named a Top Doc, Dr. Kirk Brandow specializes in artful, natural and age-appropriate aesthetic surgery of the face and body and innovative, non-invasive cosmetic procedures. The Brandow Clinic has offices at 191 Presidential Boulevard in Bala Cywyd and 741 Bay Ave. in Somers Point, NJ.
From pussy scarves to PPE, Ardmore bridal couturier pivots again
When her couture business fell off the covid cliff in mid-March, designer Janice Martin (above) could easily have pressed pause. No one would have begrudged her the R & R. She’d been creating bespoke wedding gowns on Cricket Ave. nonstop since 2005 and running a private label cause-related company since 2017.
Instead, in a classic pandemic pivot, she started stitching face masks. But, true to her couture roots, Martin’s masks would stand out – and not just for their interesting fabrics.
With N95 and surgical-grade masks easily soiled, uncomfortable to wear, and in short supply during the pandemic, Martin endeavored to build a better mouse trap.
After consulting with textile engineers, she created a three-ply medical-grade fabric mask with a pocket to hold N95 masks. Covered in fabric, the N95s would be less irritating to skin and would stay clean, extending their wear.
She gave away samples for local hospitals to vet, and after getting an enthusiastic thumbs up, went to work. She rustled up 17 out-of-work seamstresses and fired up the idled sewing machines in her Ardmore studio.
To date, Martin and sewers in Ardmore and homes from Brooklyn to Coatesville have made and donated more than 3,000 masks to Lankenau, Beaumont at Bryn Mawr, and Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, among others. “Janice is not only helping to protect our staff, but raising morale as well,” says Einstein spokesperson Lisa Borowski.
Mask sales to the general public and donations from Martin’s clients pay seamstresses’ salaries and buy supplies.
Masks aren’t Martin’s first civic venture. Under her Sewn for Good label launched in early 2017, she sells “Pussy Power,” “Eco” and “Made in America” scarves to benefit causes like the ACLU, Covenant House and Planned Parenthood. Visit sewnforgood.com, call 610-645-4540 or email [email protected] to order masks or scarves or to donate to her mask campaign.
Cowabunga! Meet Marjorie the Berwyn Bovine, small-business ambassador extraordinaire
A fixture at Eadeh Enterprises, Marjorie has been on the moooove since Berwyn Village started reopening.
Keeping quite the cowlendar, she been spotted schmoooozing at Handels, gassing up at Jim’s Sunoco, making a pig of herself at EMJs Café and Sweet Jazmine’s, downing Cowronas at Neapolitican Deli and cowrafes of sangria at Casey’s.
To atone for her gluttony, she even stopped by St. Moooonica’s for Cowmooonion. Holy Cow!
“The cow puns are udderly ridiculous and it’s keeping folks amoooosed in spite of COVID, Tiger King, shutdown and murder hornets,” says Marjorie’s proud owner, Eadeh president and civic booster Stacey Ballard. “She’s named after my grandmother who would have loved this. Seriously, it’s just for fun.”
Can’t get enough? Follow Marjorie’s latest mooooves on Instagram and Facebook and post a pic with her for a chance to win gift cards to local businesses.
After the rain, a rainbow of well wishes
Putting mere lawn signs to shame: this banner over Lancaster Ave. in Berwyn.
It comes courtesy of Stoga Class of 2020 parents. “I got the idea from Radnor! Tredyffrin Township was great to work with,” says parent leader Tracey Prestipino. “They didn’t charge for the permit or to hang the banner and bumped others to give us the dates we wanted.”
The banner was funded with leftover money raised for memorials for two students from the class of 2020, Aidan Heron and Oliver Feldman, who died in the same week in January 2019. Upper Main Line YMCA has two engraved benches in memory of Aidan and the Chester Valley Trail sports a bench – pricier to install – memorializing Oliver.
“So when we say this class has dealt with a lot, we mean it!” Prestipino says.
An Ardmore instituttion, Merrick’s is no more
One of Ardmore’s longest running businesses has called it quits – sort of.
J.B. Merrick Apothecary on Cricket Ave. has closed after 80 years. But owner/pharmacist Joe Annarelli and assistant Danielle Gerace aren’t going far. They’ve headed to Tepper Pharmacy, another non-chain pharmacy less than a mile away in Wynnewood. Customer records moved with them.
Annarelli started working at the apothecary as a student in the late 60s. Original owner J.B. Merrick started the business in 1938.
Wayne Senior Center pivots to meet unprecedented need
Its headquarters on North Wayne Ave. remains closed but Wayne Senior Center (WSC) never stopped serving our seniors.
Indeed, it’s helping them in record numbers.
“Our meal program has doubled and close to tripled in three months,” says WSC Executive Director Katie Mahon. Last year, the Center gave away 1414 lunches from mid-March to mid-June. During the same period in 2020, it distributed nearly 3,400.
“It’s a scary time for a lot of our seniors who are immune-compromised and have health issues,” Mahon says. “Some are lower income; some can’t cook meals on their own. They’re incredibly grateful.”
Meals need only be reheated up and cost seniors nothing but the gas to get there for drive-thru, contact-free pickup. (Homebound seniors can have meals delivered.)
With so many older folks isolated from family and friends during this crisis, the Center has worked hard to reach out via phone calls, live Zoom programs and weekly activity packets – “anything we can do to dry to keep them engaged and using their brains to prevent cognitive declines,” Mahon says.
Green doesn’t mean go at WSC, which is taking a conservative approach despite the easing of restrictions in the green phase.
“As a small, cozy home in the center of Wayne serving a vulnerable population, we have concerns about safe social distancing,” Mahon says. A first step: The Center has summer socials planned at the new Wayne Picnic Grove tent and Willows Park.
This and that
Cooking up a storm these days? Here’s a handy but little-known fact: Devon Yard has a farmer’s market. Or at least its parking lot does. It’s not nearly as big as the Lancaster County Farmer’s Market in Wayne but it IS outside – a huge plus these days.
Open on Wednesday mornings from 10 to 11:30, the Devon Yard market includes 20 rotating farmers and food makers. But there’s always farm-fresh Amish produce, locally sourced grass-fed beef and heritage breed pork, handcrafted whole grain breads, local artisanal cheeses and more.
There are two ways to buy: browse and buy on the spot or order and pay online and pickup from a table at the market on Wednesdays.
Since the market launched in June, 70 percent of transactions has been contact free, says Lisa O’Neill who runs five area markets, including the popular Saturday afternoon market in Malvern’s Burke Park (below).
Goes without saying that you must mask up and stay 6 feet from shoppers and vendors.
At last, the feds are letting some sunshine in. We can finally see who received PPP loans but only loans over $150K. According to last week’s Trump Administration data dump, the Main Line’s many beneficiaries include:
- $5M-$10M went to Bryn Mawr Medical Specialists, Delta Group,
- $2M-$5M went to Friends Central, Shipley, Agnes Irwin, Baldwin and Cabrini U, Beaumont Retirement Services, Harcum Junior College, Charles H. MacDonald Electric, Daniel F. Young Inc., Daniel J. Keating Co., Daniel Martin Inc., Deacom, Forcine Concrete, Rajant Corp.
- $1M – $2M went to Academy of Notre Dame, Jack Barrack Hebrew Academy, St. Joe’s Prep, Bryn Mawr Terrace, ESF Inc.
- $350K-$1M went to St. David’s Episcopal Church, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian, People’s Light, Villa Maria Academy, Hilltop Prep, Holy Child School Rosemont, St. Aloysius Academy, Gladwyne Montessori, Aronimink Golf Club, Devon Prep, Surrey Services,
- $150-$350K went to Bryn Mawr Film Institute, St. Norbert Parish, Wayne Hotel, Berwyn Fire Co., La Cabra Brewing, Archbishop Carroll, Blank Aschkenasy Properties, Church of the Redeemer, Sabrina’s Wynnewood, St. Thomas of Villanova Church, The Bakery House, Christopher’s-Malvern, Montessori Children’s House of Valley Forge, Bulldog Yoga Holdings, Cornerstone Cheese & Charcuterie, St. David’s Nursery School,
Paoli Pharmacy was just caught with its fingers in the coronavirus cookie jar, admitting to price gouging N-95 masks. According to PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the pharmacy sold the masks for as much as $25 each. (We spotted them online for $4.) The pharmacy has agreed to pay $5,300 in fines, return $2,000 to gouged customers, and set fair prices going forward.
Supermarkets are booming, right? Not necessarily. The underperforming Wynnewood Acme will close by the end of month, a year and a half after it closed its Gladwyne store. Staff will be absorbed at Acme Markets in Bryn Mawr, Narberth and Bala Cynwyd.
With their kids grown – and NOT because he’s deserting us for the Knicks – Villanova Coach Jay Wright and wife Patty just sold their Berwyn home for a cool $2.32 million. The Wrights paid $1.6 mill for their 6,200 square foot home on five acres in 2009. The couple have said they want to move closer to Nova’s campus.
Wayne Bed & Breakfast Inn is certainly getting #coronacreative. The Inn is renting out its pool for $15/hour per person. But no solo swims – there’s a three-person minimum. The B & B is also marketing itself as sweet little micro-wedding alternative – a smart move when so many larger events have been cancelled. Here’s their new video:
Willows Mansion’s roof is restored; time to fix up the outside. Willows Park Preserve just launched the Great Slate Challenge to raise funds to refurbish the mansion’s blue slate terrace and build Whispering Terrace, an outdoor programming space overlooking the pond. Buy a tax-deductible slate ($250 for a half, $500 for one) on the nonprofit’s website.
More vacancies in Bryn Mawr. Bryn Mawr Trust is shifting 40 percent of its 700 employees to permanent remote work and will shrink its footprint in Bryn Mawr. Seems folks were happy working from home and the bank’s upgraded IT can support the change. The bank’s stately headquarters on Lancaster Ave. stays put, but it’s vacating two leased properties nearby and selling a building across the street.
First responders and grocery store workers bowl free at Devon Lanes weekdays from noon to 4. The bowling center re-opened June 29. Owners are longtime local realtors, Brett and Scott Furman.
Main Line Art Center just threw open its doors July 13. The center plans preteen and teen camps during the day and adult classes at night. It’s also offering virtual camps all summer long for kids ages 5 to 9. Adult online classes begin July 22.
How’s this for a timely side hustle? While some young adults sheltering with mom and dad might turn to Fortnite and Tiktok, the Malvern-bred Mannion brothers got down to business. “We’re just cooped up here with our parents. This is how we kept ourselves entertained,” says Patrick Mannion, about the genesis of Safety Pulls, hands-free door openers for offices, retailers and restaurants.
Similar products that operate with the touch of a toe or elbow are out there, but the Mannions thought they weren’t user friendly and plastered with ugly logos.
They engineered their own version, which James Mannion makes to order in his metal fabrication shop in West Chester. Open a couple months, Safety Pulls have already caught on, with orders coming in from across the country.
Sick of the four walls? Get outside to support Willistown Conservation Trust this month. Take a self-guided wildflower tour of wild meadows and planned gardens in the Malvern/Newtown Square area that just might inspire you to create a wildlife habitat in your own backyard. Registration includes tour map, garden stories, plant lists, planting guides and a package discount at a nursery in Media. Register ($10 and up) no later than Sunday, July 26. OR Hop on your two-wheeler and “Cruise for Conservation” to support the Trust. Cyclists choose either a 10-mile coaster course or a 28-mile intermediate course. Both routes cruise by three Trust preserves. At the end, sip a cold one from sponsor La Cabra Brewing. The ride is unsupported so you can pick your day, anytime through July 26. Register here for $40.
Valley Forge Park Alliance just added some star power to its board: “Stone House Revival” host/carpenter Jeff Devlin. The hope is that Devlin will draw attention to the park’s historic structures in urgent need of TLC perhaps for adaptive re-use, like say, the park’s Philander Chase Knox House, which Robert Ryan Catering refurbished into a charming event venue. Sadly, the pandemic forced the postponement of the Alliance’s first big fundraiser, “An Evening with George Washington,” now set for Spring 2021. To help make up for $150,000 it hoped to make that night, the Alliance has scheduled several virtual events, including a virtual run, walk or bike race. Register your team by July 19.
Radnor is celebrating the grand reopening of Bo Connor & Warren Filipone parks with an in-person concert featuring Melissa Knight & the Might Rhythm Kings. Bring the family (and no one else) to Bo Connor Park July 22 at 6:30 p.m. Social distancing and mask rules apply. It’s free but you must RSVP to [email protected]. And Chico’s Vibe returns to Tredyffrin’s Wilson Park Thursday, July 23, weather permitting.
Another sign of the Main Line tiptoeing back to life: Valley Forge Flowers is bringing back its popular in-person workshops. Next up is a terrarium class on Thursday, July 23 at noon. $45 fee includes plants and materials.
And finally, thanks for hanging in there. We know this double issue was a long one. If you didn’t have time to gobble it up in one reading, hope you’ll come back and snack on our words again. Lots of tasty morsels in here, we think:) As always, we’d love to hear from you. Don’t be shy; post a comment!
Michael DeFlavia p says
Caroline – I applaud your comments and reporting on BLM and the issues involved with minority students. Well done and these conversations are long overdue. Decades overdue.
I will take issue with the positioning on the McDonnell Nursery property. I was present at the school board meeting where this was discussed. Mr. McDonnell himself stated that the school board had the right to purchase the land. The disagreement was solely over price. The family was unhappy over the 2 appraisals received – the one by the school board which was $2.1m and the one the family had completed which was approximately $2.9m. This meeting was taped. You can see for it for yourself if you wish. I would like to see this family treated fairly as well. The land doesn’t necessarily become worth $5m because of an offer from Toll which would have had to have variances approved to actually construct that plan. It was for over 100 towns homes if I recall correctly. Again, it was all taped. There is no question that the land is needed by the school. Having a child in that school, I can speak to the crowding issue that exists today and gets worse every year. I do not reflexively defend the school board on every issue. However, on this issue they need to balance the interests of the residents, students and the family. It is my hope they can come to an agreement.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks, Michael. A few words of clarification, if I may. Our story does quote Mr. McDonnell as understanding that T/E has the right to take his land. We are not accusing the school district of anything- the family is – we are reporting how one family feels it’s being treated. We did our best to present the school district’s rebuttal, which becomes a challenge when an issue is being litigated, no one can talk, and reporters are referred to attorneys. By training and to protect confidentiality, attorneys tend not to say too much – which is SOP and totally understandable. And we explain why the family’s attorneys say they’re challenging the seizure – they hope to forestall the long, drawn out dispute over price, which, yes, is absolutely what this dispute is about. They lost round one. Also, I am quite familiar with at least five different appraisals of the site, but in the interests of brevity, did not get into them all. I asked to view all appraisals but because of ongoing litigation, was denied. The plan for 90 townhomes was pie in the sky. It NEVER would have been approved on 13 acres – all parties recognized that. The $4.5 million offer was for 15 single-family homes – that is the number all parties agreed is in the Toll agreement. As I said in the story, I was not allowed to view the agreement of sale – I would have shared the contingencies that the district’s attorney referred to. I also would have run the agreement by an independent legal real estate attorney, who, by the way, carefully reviewed this story prior to publication. I applaud your civic mindedness, Michael. We are of like mind.
Michael DeFlavia says
Thank you for the prompt reply. We do have some of the same goals in mind for the community. You and I can talk off line at some point. I do have some issues with some of your reporting on this site but do not want to hash them out here.
I do sincerely applaud you for the reporting on the issue of the experience of minority students in our region. It makes me incredibly sad that we have not progressed beyond this stage. We have so much work to do. It is an issue of tremendous importance to not only our community but to our entire country. I do not see how we can move ahead without making real strides on these issues.
Be well and I hope to talk soon.
Liz Tankel says
As always, you deliver what we need to know. And we need you more than ever. Thank you for this informative reporting.
Caroline O'Halloran says
And we need supportive readers like you, Liz, to read our words. “If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it…” Thank you for hearing our trees fall.
Paula Singer says
Thanks for your important coverage of BlackMainLineSpeaks. As someone who has worked on racial justice issues with Main Line youth for years, I heard many of the same stories from students of color in our public schools as well, with administrators and teachers turning a deaf ear to the complaints. Kudos to the Black student alums for finally airing the stories, “outing” the offending schools and holding them accountable. I’m optimistic that real improvements in our school climate for Black and Brown students will take place as a result
Caroline O'Halloran says
We share your hopefulness. The wheels of change are rolling faster now. Thanks, Paula.
I am glad you said something about the fact that the stories are coming from accounts at all of the Main Line schools — private and public, not just private which has been reported in this story. The creators of @blackmainlinespeaks attended private schools; however if there is one public school story (which there are many), that is too many in my opinion. All schools are being called to action to make significant changes at this time. I am hopeful that the time is now as well.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Yes, as we reported in our story, the account was created as a forum for independent schools. A few weeks in, after receiving a few, the administrators decided to allow pubic school stories to be submitted as well. But the overwhelming majority have been submitted by alumni and students from private schools. I do believe that all schools – public and private – are rethinking their racial policies, albeit in different degrees.