Merrie Landers: Girl Scouts to Europe


Here’s a wonderful piece by Margarita Cambest in the Towson Times, a Baltimore Sun newspaper, about my Girl Scout troop, the Merrie Landers, and our 1957 10-week trip to Europe.  A memorable moment in time.  I’m in the first row, far right, in both pictures. Fashion note that Cambest included: we camped in Girl Scout uniform dresses. We weren’t allowed to wear pants.

beth girls DSC04668


Nancy Drew Button Mystery: September 9

Buttons are full of mysteries, says Cynthia Bartlett, newly elected president of the New Jersey State Button Society (NJSBS). “I am amazed that after 30 years, I am still curious about buttons, still looking for clues to how each was made.”

The  NJSBS will present its Show and Competition on Saturday, September 9, 9 a.m. to 4 cynthia bartlett solves a button mysteryp.m. at the Union Fire Company fire hall, 1396 River Road (Route 29), Titusville, NJ 08560, and there is plenty of free parking. Admission is $2 for adults, free for juniors.

Members of  the 76-year-old society like to study, collect, and preserve clothing buttons, both old and new. Eager to share their knowledge with those just beginning to collect, they will present a 1 p.m. program entitled “Nancy Drew Button Mystery: clues to materials and histories.“For details contact Cynthia Bartlett at 1-732-356-4132 or, or  visit

The show attracts antique enthusiasts, quilters, crafters,  reenactors, and those seeking special buttons to wear. Anyone who pays the $10 membership fee may enter the NJSBS competitions, which are judged by popular vote. The button artwork category will appeal to quilters, and crafters might choose button wearables or button jewelry. One  competition category honors the memory of the late John Sagi; another honors the late button author Anne Flood. Featured will be buttons that show animals, Santa Claus images, and even carrots.

The Union Fire Company & Rescue Squad building is located at the intersection of Route 29 and Park Lake Avenue in Titusville, opposite the Delaware River and D&R Canal State Park (with  easy access to the canal park), a half mile north of Washington Crossing State Park in Hopewell Township, and some five miles south of Lambertville and New Hope, PA.

College Admissions: a different perspective

wongHere is a guest post by Greg Wong, co-founder with his brother Kevin of  Princeton Tutoring and PrepMaven. Engineering majors at Princeton, they began their careers as  strategy consultants and hedge fund operators. Now, as they apply their data and research-backed problem solving skills to the college preparation process, they emphasize personal development, character, and service as key components of college admissions success.

The Wongs are on the right track. Having interviewed high school seniors for my alma mater for more than 30 years,  I see too much angst over ‘resumes’ and not enough attention to what really matters. Here are some good thoughts to start the school year, no matter what age the student is.  

Admissions rates for highly selective colleges continue to fall. For example, Princeton University has had record low admission rates for each of the past EIGHT years.

Unsurprisingly, many of the families that we advise are increasingly stressed about college. These students are increasingly pressured to overload on AP classes and pack on the extracurriculars in order to compete. Many of their schedules are so over-prescribed that they don’t have any time to think about why they’re doing their activities in the first place.

Is this what colleges really want? NO.

Whether they like it or not, colleges and universities have a huge impact on millions of high school students based on their college admissions requirements. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions around these requirements.

In direct response to the ever-increasing arms race that we’re all seeing and feeling, the Harvard Graduate School of Education released a report in 2016 called “Turning the Tide” that I encourage every parent to read.

The report shares a vision of college admissions that emphasizes not just individual achievement but also concern for others and the common good. It is endorsed by over 80 college admissions officers and other key stakeholders.

Additionally, a group of 90+ institutions including all the Ivies and Stanford have developed a new alternative to the Common Application called the Coalition Application that “encourages reflection and self-discovery” through an online portfolio that students can start populating as early as ninth grade.

Pamela T. Horne, vice provost for enrollment management at Purdue University, explained in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that “the idea isn’t about how you should pad your resume, but about how you should have significant experiences as part of your education.”

Whether you think that the ability to start populating components of your college application and sharing information with admissions officers as early as ninth grade is a good idea or not, the intentions behind these new tools seem to be well meaning.

The “new” thinking behind the “Turning the Tide” report and the Coalition Application gels with the way my brother Kevin and I have been thinking about things for years. We’ve done quite a bit of research on what top colleges really want, and we’ve identified 3 major characteristics of the most successful college applicants:

  1. Academic Achievement
  2. Extracurricular Distinction
  3. Character and Personal Qualities

Many students and families focus way too much on #1 and #2.

Our personal philosophy is that students should also emphasize the things that will make them successful in LIFE – character, personal development, and concern for others.

By doing these things, students will automatically set themselves up for college admissions success (if they choose to go to college of course), which should be the happy byproduct, not their life’s end goal.




So much good stuff this week

So much good stuff this week in U.S. 1.

Aside from the cover story, there is Richard K. Rein’s fascinating column on D-Day in Normandy.

A review of my new favorite restaurant in Hopewell (Basilico).

A primer for employees on tipping, as relates to a Princeton Regional Chamber breakfast this Wednesday.

And two intriguing revelations about celebrities with Princeton roots.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, is a trustee at Institute for Advanced Study and is donating millions for research on machine learning.  (Win Straube will be pleased; he’s been touting online tutoring for forever.)

And when you see a  Kushner name on a commercial real estate property in Princeton, you now know for sure what THAT Kushner has to do with THE Kushner, Jared. As here: 

“The founder of Kushner Real Estate Group is Murray Kushner, and his son, Jonathan Kushner, serves as president. Murray is the estranged brother of the developer Charles Kushner whose son, Jared Kushner, is the son-in-law of President Trump.”

To meet the folks who put out this paper every week, come to the Summer Fiction reception, Wednesday, August 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Tre Piani restaurant in Princeton Forrestal Village. The free event begins with informal networking, accompanied by a cash bar and free hors d’oeuvres, with introductions of the poets and authors beginning at around 6 p.m.

What if the government just gave everyone money?

8-9 Cover & Front (1-8).indd

The Guaranteed Minimum Income plan, or Universal Basic Income, is not new. It was researched by a Princeton company, Mathematica Policy Research (MPR), back in 1969. It’s the subject of Diccon Hyatt’s excellent cover story “Driven by Data” in this week’s U.S. 1 Newspaper.

Led by Paul Decker, MPR is a company I’m proud to have in Princeton.

person to person still matters

franklin corner deli

It’s 6:30 am at Franklin Corner Deli, and in walks Jerry Fennelly, one of my best ‘sources’ when I was reporting on real estate, picking up morning coffee for his 13 hour day. What’s new, Jerry? He obligingly launches into his trend analysis (I haven’t seen it, but you can order it). My take on what he said:

  • landlords should worry, businesses are taking smaller offices than their job roster warrants because many workers will be traveling or working from home.  Fennelly cited a company that is taking half the space that the workforce size would warrant.
  • retail real estate dealers should worry because the whole world of real estate is morphing into an Amazon-endangered zone.

fennellyFennelly and I enjoy a back and forth about the prospects of shoe stores and food stores. Shoe stores, he admits, might survive because bunion-sufferers like to try on shoes. The food business might be transformed by the Peapods and the Blue Aprons, but folks will still patronize the entertainment side of food – restaurants.

Today a New York Times article underlines Fennelly’s proposition. What we in Princeton know as “shared office space” began l-o-n-g ago with businesses like Princeton Office Solutions in inexpensive (now ancient) developments like Hilton Realty’s Research Park. The cheapest rental space is the mailbox they keep for you, and you can rent conference rooms if you need to meet a client.

In the ’80s and ’90s independent landlords operated these spaces all over Greater Princeton. Last time I looked (disclaimer, I retired 5 years ago and no longer track this), virtually all the Class A spaces had been bought out by Regus. 

The next new business model might be for large co-working space operators to rent large amounts of space for, according to a NYT source, “commercial landlords who want to maintain a hands-off approach with renters and not have to provide copy machines, mail forwarding and receptionists to individual tenants.” In other words, the co-working spaces will house – not just start-ups and entrepreneurs but significantly sized companies.

Yet – yet – the Wall Street Journal says the opposite. 

Employers are ending or reducing remote-work arrangements as managers demand more collaboration, closer contact with customers—and more control over the workday. But bringing workers back to the office isn’t easy.

Fennelly went on his way and I went back to Delaware Valley Physical Therapy  to introduce aJames-W-226x150.-Schorsch,-PT,-DPT friend to the ministrations of the fabulous Jim Schorsch. Seems to me these two trends will prevail — the value of chance encounters like this one, and the viability of hands-on occupations like the various therapies. You can’t massage a sore knee with TV medicine.






Bali on $300 a day: Insider Tour

Now edited — I have removed the itinerary from Princeton Comment as of 8-28-17

THIS JUST IN –  last minute chance to go to Bali on an insider tour led by Kathleen Winn.  A friend who went on this tour last year is “wildly enthusiastic” and she lives in Princeton, hence my excuse for putting it up on Princeton Comment.  It’s a last minute chance, if interested contact 

balis below: 
From my friend: I’m sure you recall how wildly enthusiastic I was about my trip last August/September.  A very similar trip is going this year, again with Indonesia expert / private guide ( with no personal profit -only a love of the the country). Several people just had to drop out for medical reasons, opening up their spaces. The trip costs ~$2,700 including local flights (Bali-Flores round trip), the boat trip – all but airfare , which is about $1,100 right now. Most such trips are double or more, without the personal home visits and connections that are part of Kathy Winn’s trip.
What I found most meaningful were Buddhist Hindi and other ceremonies/visits. It brought far greater understanding of people with different traditions, cultures and religions.

Cross your fingers: health news

Today’s healthcare news:

I’ll start with Juliet Eilperin’s coverage of the healthcare bill in the Washington Post, “From hospitals, doctors, and patients, a last gasp of opposition to the Senate health-care bill,” A Daily Princetonian alumna, the Post’s senior national affairs correspondent, she tells of how hospitals have mounted unusual lobbying efforts. ‘While McConnell had been pressing for a vote on the measure before the end of June, the delay gave opponents more time to marshal their arguments and make their case to lawmakers. This final lobbying push represents opponents’ best chance of derailing McConnell’s final drive to passage, which continues to look uncertain.’

Today the CEO of Incyte, Herve Hoppenot, speaks at the Princeton Regional chamber lunch. Look for me in a striped jacket. At age six I ‘worked’ in my parents’ cancer research lab and 70 years later I have a vested interest in new cancer cures.


Welcome to Princeton!


tom welcome
Tom Shelton, children’s choir director at Princeton United Methodist Church, welcomes three and four-year-olds to musical fun during Sunday morning Sunday School.

Dear new neighbors! Welcoming people to Princeton is one of my favorite things to do. For families with young children, here is a sprinkling of not-so-obvious opportunities that are good to know about for this summer and fall.

Music Together, for your 3 year old and even your new baby, is a cost-effective activity for families. Did you know that children get all their tone discernment before the age of 5? With this program, the parents learn the songs (with weekly classes of fun activities with the kids) and the tunes are integrated into your daily life. There are classes everywhere including at my church at the corner of Nassau, opposite the Garden Theater). Which brings up —

Princeton United Methodist Church – we have excellent music programs for all ages, even as young as three. Pictured above, our children’s choir director, nationally known, is Tom Shelton. We welcome a new preacher, Trey Wince  on July 16 and begin monthly alternative worship services on July 23. If Sunday morning attendance isn’t for you, but you’d like to meet some families with kids, come to a ‘fun night’ on July 16, 7 p.m. and on later dates this summer, details here.

Another good place to meet families with kids is Marquand Park. Playgroups seem to congregate there.  Harrison Street Park has good 3-year-old opportunities (sand box, good swings) but gets fewer visitors. And then there’s the little Sigmund Park, named after a beloved mayor, opposite Westminster Choir College or Mary Moss park, if it’s reopened, in the Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood. In the fall, try the events at Cotsen Children’s Library, part of Firestone at the university but you can also just browse. And of course the story hours at the Princeton Public Library are probably the most populated.

Newcomers may not realize that the “go-to” newspaper for local news is an unassuming little paper called Town Topics. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s generally accurate. You’ve been getting it on Wednesdays. I’m very interested in newspapers because I was editor, for two decades, of U.S. 1 Newspaper known online as PrincetonInfo.  The sister monthly paper is the Princeton Echo. U.S. 1 has newsstands and pick-up points in town (the closest to us is Bank of America or Whole Earth) but its major distribution is to businesses – retail and corporate – in greater Princeton, which encompasses three counties and 27 municipalities. People love it for many reasons but an important one is the “go-to” event calendar. I’m retired, but am still on the masthead thanks to an ever-loyal boss.  Here is his account of the area newspaper scene.

When visitors come to town (you will get plenty, Princeton is a draw), they’ll want to see Einstein’s house, but there are several other Einstein-mania sites: the mini museum in back of Landau’s and the sculpture. a good photo-op, at the intersection of Bayard and Nassau.

If you have concerns about social justice, I work with Not in Our Town Princeton, and we do first Monday “Continuing Conversations on Race” at the Princeton Public Library. We will also have a booth at the – mark your calendar – Community Night at the community pool, free admission, bring bathing suits, August 1, 5 to 8.

Other town-wide parties: the Thursday night concerts at the Princeton Shopping Center and McCarter Theatre’s open house on August 23 (food and free entertainment). Students at Princeton University put on a rip-roaring kids show in the summer, apparently suitable for age 3 as they encourage three-and-under to attend free; this year it’s about Amelia Earhart, 

And so you know what I look like, here is a picture of me, featuring my button collecting interest, used here at Princeton Comment.

Whew! Now that I’ve done this I’m going to post it on my blog – without your names of course – to help other families with kids. Do comment on anything that you’ve found. First impressions of a new town are priceless and easily forgotten, so pass them on!

Your Jugtown neighbor, Barbara Fox