The event was advertised as a “tea" -- but there was no tea in sight.
Instead, attendees of the Milford Garden Club's “An Afternoon with Ethel” were treated to wine and “Ethel’s Elixir,” an excellent libation created to honor Ethel Noyes Barckley. It was prepared with champagne, Old Tom’s Gin, St. Germain liquor, and lemon-flavored sparkling water.
An extensive selection of delicious cakes and pastries were also served at the Sept. 7 event, held at St. Patrick’s Hall. It paid tribute to Barckley while raising funds for continued improvements at the park named in 1975 in her honor.
Barckley Park is situated at the end of Ann Street and overlooks the scenic Delaware River. Once colloquially known as "Green Swing Park," it now has stately stone pillars emblazoned with its new name and, in its center, two decorative pagodas. The park has a swing seat and other seating for anyone seeking peace and inspiration. It's a wonderful setting for quiet contemplation and for admiring nature’s beauty in all seasons. A privacy fence is being installed along one side.
Guest Phyllis Fernandez donated some money for a picnic bench in memory of her brother James Fernandez, who died four years ago.
“He lived here many, many years and always wanted to be by the river," she said. "It’s a perfect view. The picnic bench is going to be located where you can see right down the river, which is something he would have loved. From the time he was about 19 until he died, he always gravitated to Milford. He loved it. This was home. He was a merchant seaman, so he was out a lot, but he always came back here.”
The guest of honor was William Tuscano, Barckley’s step-grandson and the grandson of her husband, Dr. William Barckley. He left Milford when he was 11.
“I’m happy I came," he said, adding that he has a lot of good memories of the place. "I kept thinking about Milford and I decided I would come."
Linda Pinto, president of the Milford Garden Club, emceed the event. She spoke about Barckley as an extraordinary woman who contributed much to Milford and its history. She was an artist, a writer, and an activist who added greatly to Milford's beautification.
Councilwoman Annette Haar presented an overview and update on the park project in a slide presentation. Also in attendance were Pike County Commissioner Matthew Osterberg and Milford Borough Council President Frank Tarquinio.
“It’s a really wonderful event for the borough," said Osterberg. "It’s special when we take parks that are named after women who put such great efforts into this borough, even if it is 80 or 90 or 100 years ago. And it’s a thrill to have her grandson here with us to celebrate this. This is what Milford is about — volunteerism. It’s about the garden club, it’s about the borough council, it’s about the county — just all coming together to make this a real special place.”
The renaissance of a park
The park "has always been a very special place for my husband and me,” said Pinto. “On Sunday mornings, we’d get some pastries and coffee and we’d go down there. It’s a very serene, calming, beautiful bucolic place. You can see the river, the eagles. It was just a very special place.”
She said her husband, Ralph, recognized the park's potential. He kept telling her, "You really should do something."
After meeting with Haar, who is also the borough's parks chair, the two realized some funding was available. Pinto applied for a matching grant from the Pike County Scenic Rural Character Preservation Program for improvements. The grant was administered through the borough, which was delighted to partner in the project.
“That award, together with several generous contributions, enabled us to create the Park," said Pinto.
Other contributors included The Greater Pike Foundation; Verizon's TCCGives; the Borough of Milford; the Milford Garden Club; and other local donors.
Haar said that this year the borough council acquired that portion of East Ann Street from homeowners Lynn Anne Walsh and Adrienne Wesol, whose property flanked both sides of that portion of East Ann Street.
“Consequently, we were able to double the size of the park and give it a sense of entry, intrigue, and visibility as one drives down Ann Street," she said. "Barckley Park is now the largest of Milford’s seven little parks -- all meticulously groomed and cared for by the Milford Garden Club."
The event also included a sneak preview of a first edition book titled “Into the Garden" by Christian Peltenburg-Brechneff. Marta Hallett, publisher of Glitterati Editions, offered copies for purchase. It includes illustrations of his plein air paintings and thoughts about 200 hidden gardens from around the world.
“His paintings capture some of the most exquisite yet private gardens around the globe,” Hallett said.
The author will visit Milford in October.
The Milford Garden Club and Barckley Park continue to make Milford an extraordinarily beautiful place. For more information or to inquire about making a donation, email email@example.com or write to the Milford Garden Club, P.O. Box 764, Milford, PA 18337.