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By Rebecca Price Janney, Sep 1 2017 02:21PM

By Guest Blogger Christopher Black


(Two weeks ago my friend Christopher Black wrote about the Bachmann Players, who perform colonial dinner theater in Easton, Pennsylvania’s historic Bachmann Public House. Now that we know more about the B.P., I’ve asked him to introduce us to the men and women who make up this fascinating troupe.)



The Players themselves are an interesting bunch. They are very involved in the community, which always makes scheduling rehearsals and performances a challenge. It is however, an honor and a compliment that people who have so much going on in their lives make the commitment to do Bachmann Player shows.


Two frequent players are Michael Hollingsworth and Bob Thena.Michael has played Easton’s Founder William Parsons in two separate productions. Likewise, Bob Thena has done the same with Jacob Bachmann. It’s interesting to see the actors develop the personas of men who represent Easton in 1752 at its founding, then only three years later at the sudden outbreak of the French and Indian war when Easton was almost abandoned for fear of a massacre.


David Rose is Easton’s official town crier and has played a nice variety of roles, from the Theophilus Shannon, who ran the Bachmann Tavern for George Taylor, to the arrogant and aloof Thomas Penn and the blood thirsty preacher-turned-Indian killer, John Elder. David is a Quaker and has been generous with his time in helping me begin to understand Quakerism, which is of course a huge part of the history of Pennsylvania.


My family has kicked in as well with my wife often playing small roles, supervising the food and serving and stage management. She also oversees our web site’s graphic design and publicity. Her brother Doug Burton has played Easton’s Ferrymann in two productions, and Paul Strikwerda, who is a professional voice over actor, has graced us with renditions of Thomas Paine, Conrad Weiser, and the Moravian story teller William Edmunds.


The support and enthusiasm of the players really keep the project going.


Although I often portray Benjamin Franklin, I think the role I personally enjoy the most is actually “director.” There’s something almost magical about floating in and out of the piece, weaving its creation. Being the author, as well as an actor in the production, allows for a deep familiarity with the material. When it gets to the point in the process when I am able to work with other individuals to add their creativity and talents to the pot, that is where the whole thing really takes off. I believe I enjoy the after-tone of a true collaborative moment of creativity, even more than the applause of an engaged audience.







Some of the 2017 Bachmann Players
Some of the 2017 Bachmann Players

By Rebecca Price Janney, Jul 6 2017 06:02PM

You can imagine my excitement as this weekend approaches, and I prepare for the formal launch of my new novel, Easton in the Valley. On Saturday morning I’ll be appearing at the 265th birthday celebration of Easton’s Farmers’ Market, which is the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in the country. Just think, this market started the same year Easton was founded under the supervision of the Penn brothers and their agent, William Parsons, in 1752. The market is a place in which my ancestors shopped and visited with one another from the very dawning of this winsome city. What an honor for me to represent them this Saturday when I share my new book with the public and give a brief presentation in the Great Square at 11:30!


In the evening, the Sigal Museum/Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society will host a literary tea featuring three authors, myself and my friends Jeff Finegan and Richard Hope. Jeff will be discussing his children’s books about George Washington, and Richard will share from his several volumes about Easton history. Of course I will be talking about my new novel, the second in my Easton Series with Elk Lake Publishing. Built in 1753 by Jacob Bachmann and his wife, the stone tavern is located at the corner of Northampton and Second Streets and was a place where business and politics intersected for many early Easton residents. It often served as a venue for the courts before the courthouse itself was built in 1766, and some of the most famous people who stayed there included four signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, William Ellery, William Whipple, and Easton’s own George Taylor, who once owned the tavern. The Bachmann is open to the public for tours, including Heritage Day, and there’s a museum located inside dedicated to the culture of the Lenni Lenape. Many of my friends who make up the Bachmann Public Players do engaging colonial dinner theater productions in which Easton’s history and people come to life. You can be sure the Bachmann makes a few appearances in my Easton books!


On Sunday, the ninth, Easton’s biggest festival of the year commences with Heritage Day, which was first celebrated during the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976. Easton is one of three places in which the Declaration of Independence was first read publicly, on July 8, 1776, and every year now, the city commemorates this rich legacy on the Sunday closest to July 8th with an interfaith service, town crier competition, a historic parade to the Great Square, the reading of the Declaration, music, pageants, activities for kids, tours, reenactors, lots of vendors, and fireworks at the Forks of the Delaware. I understand the famous Budweiser Clydesdales will be coming this year. Oh, and let’s not forget an appearance by Colonel Kichline, one of the two main characters in my Easton series. I’ll have the honor of marching with him to the Great Square for the Declaration of Independence.


I look forward to sharing the joy of this festive weekend with many of you! For more information go to http://heritageday.org/music-event-schedule/.



By Rebecca Price Janney, Dec 15 2016 03:15PM

What was your favorite sweet shop when you were a girl or boy? Where was it located? I’d love to know all about this special place and what your mouth always watered for there.


When Erin Miles returns to her hometown of Easton, Pennsylvania in my novel, Easton at the Forks, reminiscences of her youth flood her spirit as she drives through Center Square. However, it’s the Carmelcorn Shop that fills her with the sweetest memories.


“She recalled hot dog lunches at Woolworth’s and sweet treats from the Carmelcorn Shop with its surgary aromas that pulled her inside and forced open her relatives’ wallets.”


Naturally, Erin decides to stop and get her son a treat. After visiting my dad in the hospital late last week, I also stopped by the Carmelcorn Shop, to purchase Christmas stocking stuffers for Scott and David—shhhh! Oh, how I love that quaint little store nestled in the corner of Center Square—or “the Circle” as my family called it when I was a girl—in a row of sturdy but quaint, very early 19th century buildings. Actually, Easton historian Richard Hope says portions of the structure very possibly date from as early as the Revolutionary War period. In 1931 John and Ruth Doherty opened The Carmelcorn Shop there, and my parents had fond memories of happy times spent inside choosing what to buy. Of course, they couldn’t afford much, growing up during the Depression. I can imagine my mother as a small child, walking with her family across the Northampton Street Bridge to services at the German Reformed Church, passing by the shop, visions of the shop’s sugar plums dancing in their heads.


A generation later, I would beg to go there when my mom and grandmother took me shopping, craving the store’s signature carmelcorn, letting the sweetness melt on my tongue before crunching into the popcorn. My mom loved the freshly-roasted nuts in the display cases on the left of the narrow shop, but I would wander through the stacks of bagged candies on the right and at the back. At Christmastime, the shopkeepers would bring out their famous barley sugar candy shaped liked toys and houses and, oddly, a hand, which remains my personal favorite. They also sold ribbon candy, coal buckets, rock candy, fudge, and a rainbow of licorice flavors—I liked the chocolate best.


In 1977 when Sia Bassil was a high school student, she found out the Dohertys were hiring, and she got the job. She was so hard working and dedicated the owners apprenticed her, teaching her to make homemade fudge and varieties of nut brittles, eventually entrusting their business to her while they spent more time in Florida. The Dohertys decided to sell the shop in the mid-1980s, but Bassil wasn’t in a position to purchase it. She did continue working intermittently for the new owner, Richard Baskin, while she raised her own family. In 1996 Bassil and her husband bought the Carmelcorn Shop. Over the years she has become as beloved a figure in Easton as the shop itself. It’s hard to imagine anyone else running the place, except she recently announced she’s looking for a buyer, making it clear to a reporter, however, she wouldn’t sell to just anyone. The new person needs to be as devoted to the historic candy and nut store as she is.


If you go to Easton, do yourself a big favor and treat yourself to a visit to the Carmelcorn Shop. When I was there last week, I told Sia Bassil and her son, “I’ve been coming in here since I was this high,” and I lowered my hand to indicate a small child’s height. He said, smiling, “You’re about the millionth person to come in and say that.”





By Rebecca Price Janney, Sep 12 2016 12:57PM

Last Friday evening I attended the Sigal Museum’s reception for their newest exhibit, “Cabinet of Curiosities” featuring unusual artifacts from the collections of the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society. Included are an 18th century scale used to weigh prisoners at the old county jail in Easton, a Civil War diary, and a purse made of monkey fur. Of greatest interest to me is a pair of cuff buttons that belonged to Colonel Peter Kichline, one of the main characters in my new novel, Easton at the Forks.


A few years ago I learned about the existence of the “buttons” while conducting research at the NCHGS Library. They are an unusual shape, octagonal, for the 18th century, and the pattern isn’t like any I’ve seen on other buttons from that era. They were discovered around 1900 at the time the Colonel’s remains were dug up and reinterred; the old German Reformed Cemetery land was about to be used for a new library, and most of the graves were removed to the Easton Cemetery about two blocks away. From the information I’ve cobbled together, the person responsible for the removal of the Colonel’s grave found the cuff buttons and gave them to one of Peter Kichline’s descendants, who handed them over to the historical society for safe keeping.


This exhibit marks the first time this unusual item has been put on public display. My husband and I have the honor of sponsoring them, and if you’re in Easton before March 2017, please stop by the Sigal Museum to see not only the cuff buttons, but many other “curiosities.” (In the photo below the cuff buttons are in the middle on a white card.)




By Rebecca Price Janney, Sep 8 2016 03:38PM

Welcome to my new website and blog! Whether you’ve been following me for many years or this is your first visit, I’m very happy to greet you.


People often ask me, “How many books have you written?” Since my first mystery series appeared in the mid-1990s, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing 18 books in print, most of them dealing with the people, events, and culture of America. Now I’ve just had my 19th book published, my first novel for adults, Easton at the Forks (Elk Lake Publishing). The story is about two people, two hundred years apart, joined by loss, blood ties, and Easton, Pennsylvania, a winsome place that beckons “come home.”


In honor of the novel’s launch, as well as my new website, I’m conducting a give-away. Until September 16th, everyone who posts a review of Easton at the Forks will be eligible to receive an autographed copy of the print version. If you already own one—thank you very much--you may choose from my other titles.


Here’s a description of the book from my press release:


New Novel Gives Readers a Home Town to Love


Easton at the Forks by Rebecca Price Janney


Plymouth, MA Elk Lake Publishing is proud to announce the launch of its latest release, Easton at the Forks: A Novel, by muti-published author Rebecca Price Janney. Written in the tradition of Jan Karon’s beloved Mitford series, Easton at the Forks is a heart-warming story featuring two characters, two centuries apart in the winsome city in eastern Pennsylvania that has been undergoing a renaissance of popularity in recent years. Publication of the novel promises to push Easton’s renown beyond the Keystone State toward more national exposure.


According to Mayor Sal Panto, “In her book, Easton at the Forks, Rebecca Price Janney captures a story that is both historical and entertaining as her main character, Erin, strives to learn everything about her ancestral family lineage. Rebecca takes you from the present quest to search the family tree back to the 18th century with actual happenings of Erin’s ancestor’s role in the establishment of this great country we call America. The book is thoroughly enjoyable reading and presents an interesting format between then and now.”


In Easton at the Forks, both Peter Kichline and Erin Miles are trying to make sense of life after losing their spouses. As Sheriff of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, he’s on the trail of an elusive thief, finding that challenge much easier to deal with than running a household, although several Easton ladies are more than a little willing to help—which poses its own challenges.

Erin doesn’t have her work to turn anymore to after being denied a promotion she counted on, nor has she been close to her family since leaving Easton after college. When she stumbles upon a TV show about ancestry, Erin’s inspired to search her own mysterious roots. Discovering Peter Kichline completely changes her life, even as she starts drawing closer to the family and the place she only thought she knew.

For more information about Easton at the Forks, please visit www.elklakepublishing.com or contact Deb Haggerty at 508.746.1734 or Deb.Haggerty@ElkLakePublishing.com. To schedule an interview or personal appearance, contact Rebecca Price Janney at rebeccapricejanney@gmail.com or through her website, www.rebeccapricejanney.com.





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