I spoke with my grandmother recently about celebrity sightings at The Cow. She remembers the celebrities but wishes my grandfather was here to answer as well. He remembered every politician that visited.
Kitty Carlisle of What’s My Line fame and husband Moss Hart visited once, probably in the 1950’s. Mr. Hart owned a farm in Bucks County until 1954. He and Ms. Carlisle met as actors at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope.
Claude Rains, famous for his roles in The Invisible Man, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and Casablanca, was a West Chester resident at Chuch & Dean Streets in the 1940s and 1950s and owned a farm in West Bradford township. My grandmother never saw him come into The Cow: “He always sat in the car while his wife came in to pick up caramel containers.”
Doris Day came in The Cow one day in the early 1960s. She was there with her husband Martin Melcher and another couple. She wore sunglasses. My grandmother recognized her and asked the men, “Is that Doris Day?” Melcher said, “No.” The other man said, “Yes, that is Doris Day.”
While the men used the restroom, several of the waitresses started recognizing Ms. Day. My grandmother spoke to her and said, “Doris, take off your glasses so the girls can see you.” Ms. Day complied to the delight of the staff.
My grandmother remarked, “She was very sweet and nice but I guess that could have just been acting.”
Ms. Day had caramels shipped back to her home in California.
Aunt Saundra reports:
In 1965, when I was travelling cross country, I saw a great opportunity to meet a celeb and took two buckets of caramels with me to deliver directly to her (Doris Day). When I hit LA, with her address, I searched for hours to find her home to no avail.We ate the caramels and missed our date with destiny.
Kitty Carlisle & Ross Hart via NYMag
Doris Day, Martin Melcher via DorisDay.net
If you recall other celebrities — Hollywood or otherwise — leave a comment on this post.
My mother, Wanda Polite, #1 daughter of Ilario and Gladys, reports her own ‘world famous’ tale.
Once upon a time during the summer of 1957 two friends and I were staying in an elegant hotel on a Switzerland mountaintop. (Audrey Hepburn, her husband Mel Ferrer, Sophia Loren and her future husband Carlo Ponti were also staying there.) A gentleman approached us and asked for our home towns. All summer long while touring Europe we would reply to that question, “Philadelphia” or “Pennsylvania”, rather than Cathy saying “Upper Darby”, Barbara saying “Shenandoah” or my saying “Exton.”
But this gentleman would not settle for anything but an exact answer. When he heard the word “Exton”, he said that they drive out there for ice cream at The Guernsey Cow. The man was Mr. Biddle of the highly regarded Bailey, Banks, and Biddle jewelers in Philadelphia.
Growing up I would see the word “famous” on the all the Guernsey Cow packaging. I’m assuming I believed it. By the time I was a doubting teenager I knew it was true.
My aunt Saundra Polite Schier — Gladys & Larry Polite’s #2 daughter — sent me a couple of stories about The Guernsey Cow’s “reach” in this world.
In 1960, just out of college, she was swimming in the Adriatic Sea along the coast of Italy near where her father was born and raised before coming to America as a young teen.
“…my American accent was overheard by an apparent native Italian. Since he was mighty attractive, I engaged in a conversation leading to the inevitable….where in the States did I live? When I said near Philadelphia (who ever heard of Exton back then?), I was pressed to be more specific.”
When she replied “Exton”, the Italian asked, “We go to Exton every Sunday for ice cream, do you know the Guernsey Cow?”
It turned out he was a first generation Italian Upper Darby resident who spent every summer in his second home in Abruzzi (now Abrruzzo).
This kind of coincidence was known by my grandmother as “Murray’s Law”. My grandmother kept a clipping of a column written by a Philadelphia Inquirer or Bulletin columnist by the last name of Murray. His law, as he described in this column, was that no matter where you are in the world, you will always be sitting next to or near someone that will know someone who knows you or someone from where you live. This was a decade or two before the whole Six Degrees of Separation concept became popular — but our grandmother, Gladys, was always hitting on that anytime a story like Saundra’s came up.
[I did some quick searching for Murray and his law but could find nothing on the web … guess his wisdom didn’t make the leap to info-space.]