October 22, 2009


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Flourtown’s recycling craftsman creating treasures

John Duffy III (right) poses with his father before the 1973 Airtsream trailer John often uses for wood-gathering
searches — almost the vintage of the Ford station wagon dad used for dumpster-diving in John’s boyhood! (Photo

by Richard S. Lee)

When we met Flourtown’s affable and enthusiastic John Duffy III, we hardly expected an economics lesson — at least, not right off the bat. But, sitting next to this 46-year-old wood craftsman in his historic Dutch Colonial home, that’s just what we got, complete with bar graph and bell curve. With a few deft strokes of a ball-point pen on the back of a piece of used computer paper, he imparted a graphic lesson in the virtues of the small (as in few-people) business.

His direct engagement in every aspect of his own business, run with the equally hands-on help of his brother-in-law, Roger Learned of Chestnut Hill, keeps productivity up and overhead down. (Roger is also the long-time bartender at Campbell’s Place when not planeing, glueing or sanding.) John Duffy’s business, Stable Tables, creates hand-crafted tables, benches and related furniture almost entirely from recycled wood that otherwise would be consigned to a landfill. And their workshop is a onetime stable at the rear of John’s home.

In John’s case, the apple hasn’t fallen (pardon us!) far from the tree. The eldest of seven children, John was raised on the Hill. He attended Our Mother of Consolation School and LaSalle High School and has a degree in economics from LaSalle University. His father, a retired engineer, economics professor at La Salle University and “dumpster diver” who would take discarded furniture from dumpsters and rehabilitate it, still lives on Gravers Lane, and siblings dot the area.

Awesome new CD by acclaimed Hill singer/songwriter

In 1955, Frank Sinatra released what might be his greatest record. “In the Wee Small Hours” was a collection of intimate ballads, all selected for the record — a practice that was practically unheard of at the time. It was a record of singular theme and purpose, a melancholy rumination on love and the hurt love’s end often causes.

Eighteen-year-old boys are a maddening and delightful mixture of innocence, bravado, insecurity, orneriness and experimentation, elements that are fueled by those pesky raging hormones with which we are so familiar and about which they are so mystified.

The eight 18-year-olds who are the subject of Alan Bennett’s magnificent “The History Boys” demonstrate most vividly all of those characteristics, making their teachers realize just how special those young men are and how blessed they are to be able to help mold them into adults.



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