The first question of the day comes by e-mail from Steven Stewart:
I thought Dr. Mattison was made rich by the asbestos company he ran, Keasby and Mattison.
Ambler was the "asbestos capitol of the world "at one time.
It does get my blood purling to be challenged before my first coffee.
Yes, there is much in what he says. Dr. Richard V. Mattison, the man who owned the estate that is the subject of today's column, was in fact an asbestos king, and Stewart was right to question whether I correctly described him as a drug manufacturer.
But my inquiry into the gentleman this week provided this sketch of the 19th C super-rich polymath:
Mattison was a chemist by training who made his name manufacturing making some great-sounding cures, such as Alkalithia for rheumatism and Cafetonique for dyspepsia and the yummy Bromo-caffeine, a headache remedy. It was that stuff that likely provided the capital to allow him to develop his asbestos business. His business began in Philadelphia, then moved to Ambler in 1881.
Apparently, he discovered by accident that milk of magnesia sticks to metal pipes, and he added some asbestos and - voila - had himself yet another fortune on the way.
In 1886, he and partner Henry J. Keasbey switched the focus of their company to produce asbestos
and industrial supplies. He brought electrical streets lights to Ambler, put in a water system, built stately Victorian homes for his professionals, more modest housing for his workers.
And he built the mansion, named Lindenwald (German for Lime-Tree Forest), that in 1936 became a home for troubled Catholic youth. Sometime over the past few decades, a group of local anglers discovered the virtues of the giant lake on the property, once called Loch Linden, and each year have given the Sisters a contribution and then fished trout from the waters. Today's column is about a few now-aging anglers, and how planned construction has shut them out of their local spot for two years. And maybe more.
The second e-mail was a little lighter -- 32 lines of fishing poetry. Or no fishing poetry.
Keith C. Britton wrote this in November, 2006, from his note. Here goes:
Ring yesterday in Pennypack Park
Saw an old man sitting
Solitaire on a rock
Out into the swollen river.
Just an old man
Of loves lost
He was still
Lost in waves
He might have
To day is not long
In a river
Forever moving onward
To the next bend
To the next old man