Kathy's Corner

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The Kids Corner Garden
Saturday & Sunday, July 27 & 28

@ The Camden Children's Garden
Camden Waterfront, NJ

Join Kids Corner host Kathy O'Connell as we plant ourselves inside the beautiful oasis that is the Camden Children's Garden - Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28- and proudly proclaim it the KIDS CORNER GARDEN, part of the XPoNential Music Festival 2019! 

The Camden Children's Garden is designed for children and families. It is a special place to explore and discover the natural world. The four-acre garden provides horticultural experiences for creative and imaginative play.

  • This year the Kids Corner Garden is made possible by our friends at The Franklin Institute, who will be on hand to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission - where man first walked on the moon! Our cool astronomer Derrick Pitts (chief astronomer of the Franklin Institute) will join his colleagues in their tent during the weekend with science to go activities! 

  • The Franklin Institute will also be supporting the Kids Corner Bookmobile tent, staffed by Kids Corner Librarian Joe Hilton! He'll have a bunch of book for kids of all ages - look through the piles and take one to give a good home! Also, in celebration of the Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes exhibit now at the Franklin Institute, we're launching the first-ever Kids Corner Comic Book Swap! Bring gently used comics with you to donate (kid-friendly, please) and feel free to take new ones home! 

  • Music returns to the Kids Corner Garden ... showcased as it should be, unplugged and pure! Joining us will be The Cheddar Boys who showcase an amazing old-time folk style that will please the ears of both young and not-so-young! Since they are playing without electricity, you never quite know when/where you'll stumble upon them while strolling thru the garden grounds! 

  • Additionally, Kids Corner friends at Schulmerich Bells in Hatfield PA will join us to showcase their musical creations! Innovators since 1935, the craftspeople of Schulmerich have brought the glorious sounds of bell music to more people and places than anyone else in the world and are the world's largest producers of handbells and more! They will be on hand to teach kids the art of playing bells - and will perform a bell concert hourly, between 1-4pm. 

  • As we do each year, WXPN/Kids Corner will offer FREE face painting and glitter tattoos - direct from the creative hands of Jane at Fabulous Faces - on site both days Noon-3:30pm so get their EARLY!

  • Also, our friends from the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education will be on hand to help you find your way thru the maze of nature at the Garden.  

If you've never been, the Camden Children's Garden includes three indoor attractions: the popular Philadelphia Eagles Four Seasons Butterfly House, Plaza de Aibonito (the tropical exhibit) and Ben Franklin’s Secret Workshop.

Other exhibits include a Dinosaur Garden, Maze, Tree House, Picnic Garden, CityScapes Garden, Storybook Gardens and the Fitness Garden. Visitors can round out their visit by riding the Carousel or taking a trip on the Garden Train!

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A great joy of gathering together as a family is sharing stories and memories. Every Thanksgiving brings an opportunity to learn more about your own history and fill in more leaves on your family tree.

Social media enables families to connect in all kinds of ways. That’s how I connected with my cousin Maureen.  I was able to share memories of her parents and grandparents when she was a tiny baby. We formed a bond over memories of our Aunt Millie, who both of us remember as “The Party Aunt.”

Through genealogical digging, I connected with distant cousins researching our shared ancestors. I learned that my great grandfather worked on building the locks on the guns on the ironclad ship The Monitor during the Civil War. I learned that my mother’s name is mangled in census records going back to when she was a baby. I even learned that my father changed his middle name! Why he did this remains a mystery.

The more facts we learn about our family histories, the more well-known family legends may change. My mother’s cousin was always told that her grandfather (my great-grandfather and Grangree’s father) was “lost at sea.” I found a letter from the mayor of Seattle to Grangree’s mother (my mother’s Grandma Wakely) saying he had tracked him down and he would not return to their home in New York. We joke that he was “lost at See-attle.”

Sometimes sharing family stories confirms that some ancestors were not exactly nice people. My mother’s cousin confirmed for me that her Grandma Wakely was unpleasant. One story says that Grandma Wakely sat in a rocking chair and waved her arm back and forth. When she was a little girl, my mother asked her “Grandma, why do you wave your hand like that?” And Grandma Wakely answered “so I can reach out and smack you whenever I want.” And then Grandma Wakely smacked her. She was not nice.

My mother’s Grandma Camp was a very nice lady, and I loved hearing stories about her teaching my mother how to cook. Even though I have said my mother wasn’t a very good cook, her stories of learning from Grandma Camp fed me in ways her cooking could not.

Please take the opportunity to learn your family stories when your family gather together. It’s great to ask questions, but it’s also a good idea to be quiet sometimes and listen. You might learn a whole lot about your own history!

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Food And Family

My mother was not a good cook. That is why I am very skilled at going out to eat. My family loved going to the diner, especially on Friday nights when my mother and grandmother got their hair done. Since they didn’t get done at the beauty parlor until after 8pm, we loved going to a place that had a lot of food to feed several hungry O’Connells with very good looking hair on two of them! I didn’t know my mother wasn’t a good cook until I had dinner at my friend Nancy’s house and discovered how food is supposed to taste.

My family had some food traditions around Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving morning always smelled like onions and bacon sizzling together while Grangree put together her stuffing. Before dinner, my mother served frozen shrimp cocktails that came in packages of three, sold in glass jars. That was how we got our supply of juice glasses for the year. Mom didn’t always defrost the shrimp cocktails before she served them, so it was like eating a shrimp popsicle.

My mother’s most controversial Thanksgiving tradition was creamed onions. Her cooking them was controversial because every year we complained and didn’t eat them, and every year she made them anyway. She explained “my grandmother made them and my mother made them, so I make them.” Long after Grangree and my mother had passed away, I continued to make creamed onions at Thanksgiving, until my friend Dennis asked one year “why do you make them if nobody ever eats them?” That was the last Thanksgiving I made creamed onions.

Thanksgiving is at my house again this year, as most holidays are with the mix of friends I call my “framily.” We’ll have our traditions of turkey and cranberry orange relish. I have made sure someone is bringing corn pudding: a food tradition I never heard of until two Thanksgivings ago, but now I must have. We will have pumpkin and pecan pies from MANNA. This year we’ll have a vegan fruit pie as well, since some of the framily follow plant-based diets. Most of all, we will share food and laughter and gratitude for being together on this very special day.

(And later we’ll watch The National Dog Show on TV!)

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