Things that drive me crazy includes when incorrect dates are attributed to old houses. The City of Philadelphia in particular is the WORST. THE WORST.
Take for example, the house that counts as my birthplace in Philadelphia. The City of Philadelphia has it listed as being built in 1860. It is a historic property that their own redevelopment authority dated to 1811! I have the sign when it was built in 1811 and for whom that hung on the house before my parents purchased it ! And a former Mayor of Philadelphia and Congressman J. Hampton Moore lived there. Documentable history.
Or my grandparents old house in North Philadelphia where my father was born. They give the rowhouse a date of being built in 1940. My father was born in 1935. There. Was daddy living in the wild, Philadelphia?
What started me on this today? One of my friends and I realized that one of her grandmother was born a few blocks from the house my great aunts and great uncle lived in at 1128 Ritner Street in South Philadelphia. The City of Philadelphia lists the house as being built in 1940. Again, one issue: photos of my father as an infant out front with my grandfather, grandmother, great aunts, and great grandmother…..in 1935.
So then I went digging around. Found instances of when this house was for rent, for sale, needed domestic help in the early 20th century. 1897, 1908, 1912, 1919. So there goes that idea of 1940 Philadelphia.
This of course led me to all sorts of other notices. For my family. When my Great Aunt Rose and Uncle Carl got their marriage license. Death notices, executor and executrix notices. And one freaking amazing find I had never seen before: when my father’s maternal grandfather, Francesco Antonio Luca, my great grandfather became a naturalized U.S. Citizen. That gave me chills.
Of course this led me to sad records, including when my Aunt Josie’s house, now sold a few times since it was sold when she had to go into a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, went into a foreclosure in 2021. I feel sorry for whomever that was and I am guessing they may have been in part responsible for the bastardization of the inside of the house.
It also led me to photos of a more recent Realtor type vintage. I have so few photos of the inside of that house, and none are scanned. And I couldn’t find them when I was starting to write this post. Inside when I was little was an old fireplace with Mercer tiles around it and a white mantle. There was a vestibule, which meant you came inside the front door and there was a little area with tiles that you could drop wet shoes, an umbrella, etc. There was also a door that then led you inside the house. My great aunts had an ancient player piano. That was left when the house was sold while Aunt Josie was alive. I actually found a photo of it but it had been moved to near the front window when it was always in between the living room and dining room when I was growing up. At some point the living room and dining room were bastardized in the 2000s and no more fireplace or vestibule or curved arch kind of entry to dining room. Oh and there is a “roof terrace” (not finished) which trust me never excisted.
I have a lot of very specific memories of the house on Ritner Street because we spent a lot of time there. I have written about that before. When you walked inside the front doors, there was a vestibule with an additional door and transom window. The vestibule had tile as flooring. Not sure it was marble, but might have been. The fireplace was closed off and completely decorative by the time I was a child and I think hid pipes or something. But when it was for sale a few years ago, the beautiful mantle and Mercer tile surround and hearth was just gone and those floors were not the original hardwoods. And I am not sure where the front window came from because it was different from when I was little and even different from when my father was growing up.
And I am not sure when the house got so unattractive with the façade because originally it was brick and other stone. I remember the steps were blue-grey marble or granite originally and then at some point before I was born a home “improvement” contractor working the neighborhood convinced the residents of 1128 Ritner that the steps HAD to change. I imagine he probably re-sold the original slabs of stone and the way the steps were situated also changed.
Being so annoyed that the City of Philadelphia didn’t even have the right year the house was built also sent me to the census records for the Lucas. Why that was cool is I saw all the places they lived after emigrating. They came in through Alabama and PJ, my Uncle Pat (Pasquale) and Aunt Millie were born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. The others were born in Philadelphia. I found the houses prior to moving to Ritner Street – 966 Kimball and 1614 Iseminger.
I will remember Ritner street the way it was when I was growing up. I am sorry the interior details that were so pretty have been lost over time. Especially those Mercer tiles in the hearth and fireplace surround.
Except for their earliest residences, these immigrants I descend from owned their homes. And if you read the census data, there was only a limited education until my father’s generation. These people worked hard. These people are my people. When so many run from what they are from, I celebrate it.
I miss my old people of my growing up years. I miss that house. No one besides me probably cares that the year it was built is wrong, or the house I was born into is listed with the wrong building year. But details matter. Or they should. But it’s the City of Philadelphia which has seemingly stopped caring about pretty much everything.
Every damn day. Every damn day there is some piece of news out of the Temple University area about crime. Violent and petty crime. Last night a Temple University Police officer was murdered. By an 18 year old out of an expensive area in Buckingham, Bucks County and yes I looked up where the kid lives. Given his photos on Instagram about his love of his Ducati motorcycle someone’s parents may have more money than sense.
The shooter as per media reports is 18 year old Miles Pfeffer of Quarry Road in Bucks County. He lives with some family on “Boxley Farm” in Buckingham. Quite the piece of real estate.
So since media reports say Miles Pfeffer just turned 18 so is he a senior in high school and what would a kid from a place like that be doing in North Philadelphia car jacking someone at gunpoint?
And what is his family all about that they didn’t realize what their kid was up to? Didn’t they look at his social media? Everyone else has been looking at his Instagram for example. Trying to be a gangsta, and then you wonder were the parents parenting at all?
And let’s talk Temple University. If you know anyone who works there or if you were one of the thousands of parents in the region with kids there you know every day there’s something on the news and it’s never positive in relation to Temple University and North Philadelphia. It’s 24/7/365 crime. The university president Dr. Jason Wingard and his public safety blondie Jennifer Griffin seem to schmooze and massage press releases, etc., but what are they actually doing ? I won’t bother with wondering the same with the City of Philadelphia because it’s just Crimeadelphia Filthadelphia 24/7/365.
Just a few short years ago, Miles Pfeffer posed for photos on Instagram with largemouth bass and other fish he’d caught. He was 15, but looked young enough to be in middle school.
Then it was dirt bikes, then a Ducati, and by last November, he was sitting atop a basketball hoop, fanning out $20 bills. Another Instagram photo later that month showed a male with a concealed face, displaying money in a similar fashion — but with what appeared to be a Ruger semiautomatic pistol tucked into his waistband. “Work smart not hard make stupid decisions face stupid consequences,” Pfeffer wrote.
The Temple University Police Officer who was shot was 31 years old. A family man. A son of parents in law enforcement according to other things I have read. He is from a legacy of protect and serve. Officer Christopher Fitzgerald. Say his name. He was shot in the head so there is no doubt as to the intent of the shooter is there? People love to talk about the bad people in law enforcement all over this country and then you look at what happens to the people who are good law-enforcement, and are they spoken of enough?
And now the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that this kid tried to rob the officer of his gun while on the ground, shot. The sheer inhumanity blows my mind.
Temple University has reportedly underreported crime. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on that in November, 2022. So did other media outlets:
When professor Jeffrey Doshna read Temple University’s latest crime report, he was immediately struck by a seeming omission.
The murder of Samuel Collington last November, less than two blocks from a campus building, wasn’t reflected in the statistics. In fact, the university reported zero murders either on or off its main North Philadelphia campus for 2021, just as it has for every past year on record.
By federal law, Temple didn’t leave anything out. Universities are required to report only crimes that occur directly on campus, on public property adjacent to campus, or at off-campus affiliated university buildings. The result is that killings that took place last year in what many consider Temple’s neighborhood — on the 1700 block of North 16th Street, the 1700 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, or the 2200 block of North Park Avenue, where Collington died — are unaccounted for in Temple’s annual crime report.
~ Philadelphia Inquirer 11/20/22
Temple University is a terrific school but they can’t keep their students, staff, or police force safe, can they? That has to change. It is incumbent upon the board of trustees of Temple University to act. This is the current board of trustees:
Barry C. Arkles, Ph.D., ’70 College of Science & Technology, 76′ College of Science & Technology, Ph.D. Retired
Leonard Barrack, Esq.,’65 Fox School of Business, ’68 Beasley School of Law Barrack, Rodos & Bacine
Michael E. Breeze, ’96 Fox School of Business & Management New Direction Capital
Patrick M. Browne, Esq.,(G)* , ’93 Beasley School of Law Pennsylvania State Senator
Stephen G. Charles, ’80 School of Media & Communication Retired
Joseph F. Coradino, ’74 College of Liberal Arts PREIT Services, LLC
Paul G. Curcillo, II, M.D.,’84 College of Science & Technology Fox Chase Cancer Center
Nelson A. Diaz, Esq.,’72 Beasley School of Law, ’90 Honorary Degree Dilworth Paxson LLP
Patrick J. Eiding (G)* President of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO
Judith A. Felgoise, ’87 College of Education The Abramson Family Foundation
Deborah M. Fretz (H)*,’77 Fox School of Business & Management Retired
Lewis F. Gould, Jr., Esq., (S)*, ’62 School of Pharmacy Duane Morris, LLP
Lon R. Greenberg Retired
Tamron Hall, ’92 School of Media & Communication Broadcast Journalist, Television Talk Show Host
Sandra Harmon-Weiss, M.D.,’71 College of Liberal Arts, ’74 Lewis Katz School of Medicine Retired
Kellyn Hodges., D.M.D. (G)*, ’92 Kornberg School of Dentistry, ’94 Kornberg School of Dentistry (Masters) Kellyn Hodges Orthodontics
Marina Kats, Esq.,’85 Fox School of Business & Management, ’88 Beasley School of Law, ’95 Beasley School of Law (Masters) Kats, Jamison & Associates
Drew A. Katz Interstate Outdoor Advertising
Patrick V. Larkin, Esq., (S)*, ’74 Fox School of Business, ’82 Beasley School of Law AJG Risk Management Services
Marguerite Lenfest Retired
Solomon C. Luo, M.D. Progressive Vision & Surgical Institute
Joseph W. Marshall, III, Esq., (S)*, ’75 College of Liberal Arts, ’79 Beasley School of Law Stevens & Lee/Griffin Holdings Group
Anthony J. McIntyre, ’80 Fox School of Business AJG Risk Management Services
Christopher W. McNichol (H)* Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.
J. William Mills, III Retired
Mitchell L. Morgan, Esq., Chair,’76 Fox School of Business, ’80 Beasley School of Law Morgan Properties
Leon O. Moulder, Jr., ’80 School of Pharmacy Retired
Bret S. Perkins (H)*.,’91 Fox School of Business Comcast Corporation
Michael H. Reed, Esq.,’69 College of Liberal Arts Troutman Pepper, LLP
Phillip C. Richards, ’62 Fox School of Business, ’16 Honorary Degree North Star Resource Group
Charles E. Ryan, (H)* Liberty Energy Trust, Liberty Infrastructure Trust
Jane Scaccetti, ’77 Fox School of Business Drucker & Scaccetti
John F. Street, Esq., (G)* Former Mayor of Philadelphia
Christine M. Tartaglione, (S)* Pennsylvania State Senator
Honorary Life Trustees
Alan M. Cohen
Peter D. DePaul
Lacy H. Hunt
Theodore A. McKee
Patrick J. O’Connor
Daniel H. Polett
The Honorable Josh Shapiro, Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
The Honorable James F. Kenney, Mayor, City of Philadelphia
The Honorable Eric Hagarty, Acting Secretary of Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education
In the wake of this horrific tragedy and event, there are many conversations which need to be had. But the first one is keeping kids at Temple, employees at Temple including the police force, and the people around Temple University safe. That means that Temple and the City of Philadelphia need to get off their asses.
My final comment is if you care about the students at Temple being safe, make sure you follow Keep Us Safe @ Temple U . These kids are being quite brave to do this. I am sure Temple University officials wished they did not exist. They tell the truth as opposed to those in charge. Linktree here for Keep Us Safe .
I think the article below is a really cool story. People who know me, know that I don’t drink so much. And it’s not because I’m an alcoholic, I just don’t drink that much, and I’m also allergic to different kinds of alcohol like red wine, for example.
I have plenty of friends in the “program” whom I support, and applaud because I know it’s hard, brutally hard work at times to maintain sobriety, and I really respect them for it.
As a matter of fact, it was some of my friends in the program helped me look at breast cancer very differently when I was first diagnosed. They told me to look at it as my own 12 step program, and to simply take things one day at a time.
There are some people I know of who aren’t particularly sober at this point in their lives. Sadly, some of these people just haven’t been able to keep it together. I’m not here to judge them, but there are a couple in particular that I really hope get their acts together because every time they go down the rabbit hole of a bad slip or a binge you wonder if they are going to crawl back out alive.
The sad thing about gaining sobriety and maintaining as per what my friends in the program have told me, is that there’s just a lot of work you have to do by yourself, and they’re are just a lot of people who don’t want to do the work.
I have seen too many people over the course of many many years completely tank their existences because of drugs and alcohol.
As a person who doesn’t have to be in any kind of an alcohol or drug related program, I am actually all for supporting a SOBER New Year’s Eve.
As a matter of fact, when all these developers are looking for their new business models, or they want to fill out their new shopping centers, apartment, buildings, or whatever, why don’t they consider an establishment like this out here? How many breweries and pubs do we need? How about a place where you can go and get a good Mocktail?
The weather outside was frightful, but the warmth of the Main Street bar was so delightful, that one after the other, merry revelers came out of the cold Manayunk night last week to share some season’s cheer at The Volstead.
From the cozy, edgy-chic space arose the sounds of laughter, the chatter of holiday plans, and, of course, plenty of happy imbibing: a seasonal Partridge in a Pear Tree, swanky Manhattans, and, being Philly, the requisite down-and-dirty Citywide Special.
All the festivity you’d expect at a holiday gathering. Except for one thing.
None of those drinks had alcohol. Not a drop.
The Volstead is Philadelphia’s only zero-proof bar. Since it opened last March, its patrons have cheered on the Phillies and the Eagles while hoisting sober brews. They’ve dined from its modern vegan menu, toasted birthdays, and struck up acquaintances.
This Saturday, The Volstead will host a Zero Proof New Year’s Eve Party, ringing in 2023 with nonalcoholic sparkling wine and the kind of high spirits that onlycome from within. The restaurant will be open for dinner and bar snacks, there will be NA drink specials, and no reservations are required. Closing time is 12:30 a.m.
For decades we have heard about the “boy in the box”. Today we learned his name: Joseph Augustus Zarelli. If I have it straight from watching the press conference, he lived in West Philadelphia.
Apparently both parents are now deceased. They are not talking about the family. I would guess this is very hard information for relatives of the families of his birth mother and birth father to deal with.
I am not going to speculate. This was a little boy who died and was dumped in a box. I am guessing it will all come out now eventually.
I did record some of the press conference. It was fascinating and sad all at the same time. Think of all of the police and others who have worked on this case for decades. Just wow. Sounds like someone’s DNA from some site like Ancestry may have helped crack this open?
The media is all over this, and I recorded parts of the news conference off of NBC10. We may never know about whatever hell little Joseph experienced or why he was put in a box. I still just can’t believe no one ever missed him?
So now we can say his name. He isn’t just “the boy in the box.” Now that he has a name, is there anyone alive any longer who actually knew of his existence? I am guessing any family tied to his DNA are probably shocked as well? The 1950s was a different world, after all. I hope any surviving family are able to help, and I hope they aren’t traumatized by this news.
I would say “stay tuned” at this point because I am sure now that we know his name, we will eventually hear more.
The Union League Club in Philadelphia is this majestic building down Broad Street from City Hall. They like to boast about being occasionally ranked as #1 in city clubs in the country, but I wonder if they will get there again with their distasteful choice of Florida’s own human trafficking politician, Governor Ron De Santis for their “Gold Award.”
Founded in 1862 as a patriotic society to support the Union and the policies of President Abraham Lincoln, The Union League of Philadelphia laid the philosophical foundation of other Union Leagues across a nation torn by civil war. The League has hosted U.S. presidents, heads of state, industrialists, entertainers and dignitaries from around the globe and has proudly supported the American military in each conflict since the Civil War. The Union League continues to be driven by its founding motto, Amor Patriae Ducit or Love of Country Leads.
A striking building ….Union League of Philadelphia building stands at 140 South Broad Street in the heart of Center City. It was completed in 1865 and features a French Renaissance design.
The story of the League began in December 1862 when two weeks after the crushing Federal defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia, Dr. J. Forsythe Meigs held an organizational meeting for a “Union Club” at his Walnut Street home. Members dedicated themselves to upholding the Constitution and to supporting President Abraham Lincoln’s often unpopular policies. Lincoln’s vigorous measures to stifle disloyalty alienated many northerners already fatigued by a protracted war. Union Leagues (a.k.a. Loyal Leagues), including the Philadelphia chapter, lent their unwavering patriotism to a weary chief executive and to a grueling war effort. By the time of the Philadelphia Union Club’s founding, the pro-war enthusiasm of 1861 had dissipated. The peace wing of the Democratic Party enjoyed considerable strength in the city. Unconditional Unionists were disturbed….The Union Club sought to reinvigorate Unionist fervor. Originally limited to fifty members of Philadelphia’s aristocracy, the organization rechristened itself the Union League and expanded its membership to several thousand by the end of the Civil War. The League functioned as a society for the burgeoning business class being ushered in by rapid industrialization. Members supported many efforts on the home front, including the United States Sanitary Commission’s commitment to improving health conditions in military camps and hospitals. At the USSC Fair in 1864, the Philadelphia League raised money for wounded and disabled soldiers. Its Committee on Employment located jobs for thousands of veterans and widows.
When I was growing up, The Union League was this treat to visit for whatever the occasion. Amazing art and so beautiful inside, one of the things I remember most from growing up is one of my closest friend’s fathers used to take us to the second floor facing Broad Street every New Year’s Day for years so we could watch the Mummers’ parade from the windows of the Union League.
Other memories? Weddings, birthday parties, Orpheus Club Concerts, receptions. Tales of clubs within the clubs with men in kilts to men in diapers.
Back to Abraham Lincoln as their raison d’être at The Union League. Ron De Santis ships immigrants across state lines for shits and giggles. Ron De Santis has been described by MSNBC as a “politician unmoored from fundamental democratic principles….what makes DeSantis such a uniquely worrying character is that there is seemingly no political sewer into which he won’t wade…” He is the complete antithesis of anything decent, and has issues with the First Amendment when it comes to critics. We are also a nation of immigrants, it makes you wonder about De Santis, doesn’t it? And then there is his basic everything phobic and he should just get an award for being a general asshole and overuse of the word woke, right?
If I was feeling kind, I would say The Union League has lost it’s way. I am not feeling kind. The Union League has lost it’s damn mind.
Craig Mills is the Club President. What are his thoughts? Is he okay with this?
I am disgusted. My disgust does not matter to the Union League. I am also sad. My sadness at a Philadelphia tradition to so many generations doesn’t matter to the Union League. But this should matter to the membership. How about a vote of no confidence in their entire club leadership at a minimum? How about lots of membership resignations? After all The Union League with all of their properties has a pretty big overhead nut to crack, correct?
Clout obtained a flurry of letters from club members to Union League president Craig Mills, calling for the event to be canceled. Some members vowed to resign unless the club changes course.
One letter came from William Hangley, a local law firm founder who called DeSantis “a man who has made political and territorial disunion his stock in trade” and “has shown only contempt” for oppressed people, in direct contrast to the Union League’s original mission.
“Exactly what quality or tradition of our League is he thought to emblematize?” wrote Hangley to Mills, also an attorney….Clout had questions. The Union League did not have answers.
“The Union League is a private club,” Mills told Clout. “And this is a private event.”
Yes, The Union League of Philadelphia is a private club. But this is now what they will be known for. They are to be known for going forward as how far the Republican Party has fallen and how there quite literally is no longer “The Party of Lincoln.”
Somewhere, Abraham Lincoln continues to roll in his grave. And on October 13th, I hope protestors greet people entering the event. But I predict membership will not do much more than blunder and bluster. Clubs are like the embodiment of a huge FOMO (Fear of Missing Out.) Social status for so many will always outweigh doing the right thing. It’s sad but for some, it will just be too hard.
Cheers to The Union League of Philadelphia for killing the ideals and values of President Abraham Lincoln in one fell swoop.
I am sure Radnor Township and many other municipalities are thrilled that I have decided to “phocus” on Philadelphia today.
It’s always hard to say what the most negative thing is about Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at present. And as a native born Philadelphian, I don’t say this lightly.
Filthadelphia and Crimeadelphia are two of my favorite nicknames. I was born in Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. We lived there with my parents until the mid-1970s. I saw a lot even as a kid, and one of the things that finally drove my parents from the city in the mid-1970s was crime. And it was crime in part that happened to a friend of mine and myself. We were riding our bicycles in our neighborhood and we were jumped by a gang of kids from elsewhere. We were literally two little girls riding our bikes. And because we didn’t have anything worth taking, including our bicycles, they instead smashed the glasses of my friend into her face.
As a grew up I watched Philadelphia have fits and starts of a renaissance. During the Bill Green years (94th mayor), the Ed Rendell years (96th mayor), and with the Michael Nutter years (98th) you often felt better about the City of Philadelphia. A fun, unrelated fact is one Philadelphia mayor, J. Hampton Moore, who was the 83rd and 86th mayor and a member of Congress lived at one time in the house we called home in Society Hill when I was little. The current lame duck mayor is Jim Kenney. He is the 99th mayor of the City of Philadelphia.
To me, Jim Kenney is like the Dr. Oz of Philadelphia mayors of recent history. Started out talking a big game, but there’s nothing to back it up. And now he’s just a lame duck who limps along. And then if you look at what else is happening today, it’s like every day you wonder if someone else resigned from Philadelphia City Council to run for mayor?
Philadelphia is a major city in shambles. Crime literally runs the city, and the city is also literally filthy. There is trash everywhere and then if you look at the streets within the city of Philadelphia, and the sidewalks, they are like a giant hazard every day. From potholes to broken sidewalks, random holes in sidewalks to where grates are missing and someone could actually fall in some kind of a hole and really hurt themselves, Philadelphia is disgusting. And this is so horrible because Philadelphia is the birthplace of America!
So today when I saw a post on Facebook from a friend of mine it was like I can’t keep my mouth shut any longer. This friend of mine is an artist, he is one of the premier portraitists in the United States today, and probably extending as far as different parts of the world like Europe.
His name is Garth Herrick. He is not some kind of flashy, showboating artist, he’s a working artist. He is a gentle soul and a kind person and humble. He’s the kind of person that would stop to help you if you were in distress and he would do it even if he didn’t know you. He’s just a good person. Because he lives in the city he often rides his bike because look at Philadelphia? Do you ever try to park on the street Philadelphia? Or what happens if you give up a space? Also, he is an avid cyclist in general and he cycles everywhere.
He was going down the street in the right direction, sounds like a smaller street or something like that, and he encountered a cab coming the wrong way. What ensued is absolutely nuts, and essentially the cab driver beat the crap out of him.
After ramming Garth on his bike with his cab, it was recounted that then the cab driver got out of his car and went after Garth and his bike. Garth had nowhere to go and had warned the cab driver he was going the wrong way on a narrow one-way street. I think the cab driver sounded like he was screaming at my friend to get out of his way. The only problem with that is there were actually cars behind my friend as well proceeding in the proper direction. I don’t think he had much of anywhere to go?
According to what he said, and a statement that he and apparently another witness gave to the police it was a cab driver from Germantown Cab Company. The witness actually got the license plate according to what Garth posted.
Now let’s get to the rest of this. Germantown Cab Company has been in the news before. Not positive.
Philadelphia Business Journal and NBC 10report that the Philadelphia Parking Authority has shut down Germantown Cab Company, taking 150 taxis off the streets for allegedly failing to turn over proper documentation and background checks on the company’s drivers.
But that’s not the only thing. Apparently the Philadelphia Police Department didn’t show up for an hour and a half to the scene and how is that even possible????? My friend turned down their offer of medical assistance and friends took him to a local hospital to be treated that he was comfortable with. (Because that’s the thing in addition that makes this hard, when they send an ambulance or whatever to take you to a hospital it’s not necessarily where you want to go.)
My elderly mother has been accosted more than twice in front of her building in what is considered a good neighborhood by mentally ill homeless vagrants. The last time it happened it was so bad that someone kindly jumped out of a car on the street and pulled the homeless man off of my mother who was sitting on a bench next to the front door of her apartment building. When I asked my mother why she didn’t call the police she told me because when you call the police in Philadelphia a lot of the time they don’t show up or they show up hours later.
You hear horror stories about crime everywhere. But in Philadelphia it’s extra special. They have a police officer shortage to begin with, and a lot of controversy over what they call “extended tours“ for officers.
And I think a lot of this as far as the total deterioration of Philadelphia can be laid directly at the feet of lame duck Mayor Jim Kenney. He is what my great aunt from South Philadelphia would have referred to as a “bum.”
So Kenney, what are you going to do here, yo.? Why am I writing about this? Because this isn’t the end of the story. And I think this also needs airing.
When my friend was waiting for police to arrive, he posted about what happened including a photo of his battered face in his local Facebook group in Germantown. Some people were sympathetic, but others were downright terrible. He was accused of being like the living embodiment of white privilege to being called a “Karen.”
I have screenshots of these comments, but I am choosing not to share them. I think they would only serve to inflame tensions in a very beleaguered section of Philadelphia which is just tired of crime.
But victim shaming/blaming is just something I find reprehensible.
I have to ask have we stooped so low as a society that we can’t exhibit any compassion or kindness? And again my friend is a salt of the earth kind of human being, he is just simply a really good guy. I also wonder if in this instance if he wasn’t a guy reporting a crime within his local Facebook group while waiting for the police if it would have made a difference?
So that is it for this sad story of crime and victim shaming straight from the streets of Philadelphia.
I think we all need to do better and try harder no matter where we live. And here’s hoping that the City of Philadelphia does something about this. Enough law and disorder.
A lot of times I ignore the posts which appear on the social media app NextDoor. But recently one kind of stopped me in my tracks because it was talking about a growing homeless encampment along the Schuylkill Valley Trail which so many people in our area use.
This post was from someone who am I guessing is a cyclist or a runner who uses the Schuylkill Valley Trail. And then I wondered where did this encampment come from? I have been aware of the ones that come and go in the Pottstown area along the river.
So I called up a friend of mine who runs a food bank in Montgomery County and asked her what was going on. And she said things have gotten so bad that even her food bank on the Main Line has waiting lists to take new people. Between average every day Americans having the ability to get decent jobs and landlords who jack the rents whenever possible and then just evict people, she said there’s a growing crisis for the unhoused everywhere. And in Montgomery County it’s a real crisis and it’s pretty damn big.
My friend told me a story of a homeless person at a Main Line train station. He actually had a job, but he was trying to save enough money so he could find a permanent place to live and insure his car. Thanks to my friend finding out about this guy from another mutual friend, a very nice pastor from a church nearby was able to give this man a hand up and get him off the street.
But that’s just one person helped. And in areas like densely populated urban areas, homelessness is at such a crisis point that it’s overflowing into everyone’s communities. And then in our suburban communities, including Chester County to a degree, homelessness exists and food banks and food pantries are being stretched unbelievably hard. There are a lot of people in need right now. My own personal belief is people were barely getting by before Covid hit, and Covid has quite simply decimated so many peoples’ lives in some way or another.
Back to this encampment on the Schuylkill Valley Trail on the Montgomery County side. It has been caused by the city of Norristown and Montgomery County.
An activist named Bill England said in June:
With the closing of the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center – CHOC – Montgomery County no longer has a year-round shelter for single adults. A new facility could take up to 2 years until opening. A temporary shelter needs to be opened now to provide a safe place for those in need of housing.
The Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center was on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital. Their lease there ended at the end of July.
A land transfer agreement for the 68 acres was initially reached back in 2017, according to Norristown Municipal Administrator Crandall Jones. An agreement of sale was unanimously approved by council members five years later during a work session in February.
While the land is slated to be conveyed to the municipality, the actual agreement was listed between the state and Montgomery County‘s Redevelopment Authority.
So this is quite literally Montgomery County and Norristown‘s fault. So where is Val Arkoosh the great bungler of things COVID in Montgomery County and Chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners?
Where is Congresswoman Madeline Dean who has a district office in Norristown at 101 E. Main Street? The Congresswoman literally has a rather large homeless population that’s outside her office within a stones throw pretty much all the time now. And I know for a fact that people have gone to that office trying to ask them would they please do something to help the homeless that are right in front of them. It’s kind of political crickets all the way around.
And then there is this other thing that literally happened a couple of days ago. Norristown as in the borough of (because it’s a city but it’s actually a borough) passed some ordinance keeping people out of borough parks and other places from Dusk until Dawn. This means they’re further abdicating responsibility for their homeless population, and basically pushing them out to other communities and even the Schuylkill Valley Trail because they have no housing, and they seek no solutions. Norristown probably won’t like that opinion but I’m entitled to have it.
Very few media outlets talk about this homeless crisis in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. And there’s not only Norristown, there’s the Montgomery County side of Pottstown. There have been homeless encampments along the river off and on for years.
WHYY is one media outlet which put out a rather in depth article recently:
Each time Tony Morano and Anne Douglass find a new place to pitch their tents, they face the threat of being forced to pack up their homes — and leave.
Recently, they say, a borough officer told them to get out of Riverfront Park, in Norristown, Montgomery County. When they moved to a spot along the Norristown bike path in late July, a park ranger ordered them to vacate.
Without vehicles, each removal — which they say feels like an eviction — means hauling their belongings by foot, and if they don’t, they risk getting their things thrown out.
Now, Norristown Borough, one of the poorest municipalities in Montgomery County, is considering a new “dawn-to-dusk” ordinance, which would make it officially illegal to sleep overnight in the borough’s parks. The ordinance comes during an affordable housing crisis in the county, and homelessness is 118% higher in Norristown than this time last year.
“I’m tired of us feeling like we’re at the bottom of the food chain, that we don’t exist and we don’t have feelings,” said Morano, who has been in Norristown for 10 years. He has a disability and has struggled to find stable, affordable housing. Douglass has lived in Norristown for two years with her daughter, who has a job in the area that she commutes to via public transportation…..When asked about the lack of shelter in Norristown for unhoused people, Lepera said, “There’s 53 municipalities, townships, and boroughs in Montgomery County. Why does it have to be in Norristown?”
“There is no place to be…They’re going to be outside for the foreseeable future. That’s the reality in Montgomery County,” said Boorse.
And unhoused people tend to “stay close to their roots,” Boorse and other housing advocates said. Many people have been in Norristown long enough to have a network of support that they rely on, are connected to necessary services, and basic needs like transportation.
My research has indicated that most assistance to these homeless people is coming from churches and other bon-government organizations. My research also indicates that most elected officials are just literally looking the other way. Especially in Montgomery County.
Why am I writing a post? Because when I saw the thing about a homeless encampment on the Schuylkill Valley Trail I just wondered where this all came from. And now that I know I figure I’ll put a post out there because PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running for governor and he’s from Montgomery County and he is a former Montgomery County Commissioner. He needs to give a damn about this and now not at some vague point in the future. He and Leslie Richards used Montgomery County as a steppingstone to State careers and other opportunities. She went from PennDOT to SEPTA. He became Attorney General and is running for governor.
The homeless population within the City of Philadelphia is off the hook too, but I can’t even begin to cover that because the City of Philadelphia is so corrupt that nothing is going to happen there anyway unless there is some sort of crisis Jim Kenny can’t wiggle his way out of before he lame ducks his way out of office.
I remember years ago they would bus homeless people from the city out to Bryn Mawr and they would let them off right by the A+ gas station across from Ludington Library in Lower Merion. I am told it still happens? I don’t know if it’s by bus or by train but it still happens as per my sources.
But now, suburbia has its own homeless crisis. And at present Montgomery County is abdicating its responsibility for its homeless crisis and sooner or later they’re going to start moving into other counties as well. We are seeing that as the homeless start to move into the Schuylkill Valley Trail.
I am not saying any of this to be some NIMBY person, but we’ve had issues in Chester County and I remember when I first moved to Chester County there was a shell of an old restaurant on route 30 in East Whiteland that was eventually demolished that used to have homeless people that would break into it and live there. These people need a place to go. These people need some sort of government assistance no matter how you feel about that.
If you look at this in other ways, there’s also not very much affordable housing in a lot of places. You can count Chester County among those places. There’s lots of development, however. But that development pushes up real estate prices and rental prices and it pushes people out of their communities, sometimes making them homeless.
And then there is just the lovely economy. Superbly painful amounts of inflation, and a global pandemic have put us in a pickle. And nobody wants to say recession but as it may be worse than a recession at this point? And this did not start with the current administration, either. It is simply a big, nasty can kicked down the road.
I don’t have the answers, I wish I did. But friends in Montgomery County when I spoke to them about this asked me if I would write a post because Montgomery County and the various municipalities like Norristown dealing with homelessness are very petty towards people who speak out. And apparently Congresswoman Madeline Dean doesn’t want to deal with it either although her office literally looks at the Norristown homeless/unhoused pretty much every day? Nice job, Madeline.
So here I am, just putting out a curtain raiser. I really wish the rest of the media would look at this and I thank WHYY for looking at this. And Josh Shapiro? Tag you are it, you really shouldn’t ignore this.
And one last thing. Republicans and Democrats alike like to espouse they look after all of their constituents, only they don’t seem to see certain sectors of the population. Montgomery County and Norristown with their burgeoning in homeless/unhoused issue are a glaring example of this. Also the Pottstown area, where there are also significant homeless issues, and there is social media chatter about the Borough of Pottstown (Montgomery County) fining churches etc for feeding the homeless? And the borough council won’t allow discussion at meetings?
To readers of this post if you have photos of the Schuylkill Valley Trail unhoused encampment or the various ones that pop up around Pottstown, please message them through the blog’s Facebook page. I will publish them and you will have to tell me if you want any kind of attribution. Otherwise I will just say “submitted photo.”
Montgomery County, it’s time for you to stop abdicating responsibility.
Please consider a donation to your local food bank or similar organization.
4th of July. Our country’s annual birthday party. It’s not just about fireworks.
On July 4, 1776, the United States gained independence from Great Britain by the Continental Congress when 12 of the 13 “colonies” voted for the separation from Great Britain.
However, a lot of people don’t have a warm and fuzzy feelings about the 4th of July. Some people are ambivalent. Some people like myself don’t like the overt commercialism that tends to follow American holidays around.
I like and appreciate the history. I think we need to remember and appreciate our history. Is it perfect? Were things like slavery and indentured servitude acceptable during part of our history and world history for that matter? Were most women treated like chattel? Yes and yes and yes. Those things are part of our history and were (again) also part of world history at that time. We need to acknowledge that past as a different time, yet part of what formed this country.
BUT it doesn’t diminish what our founding fathers accomplished because times were different.
Yesterday I celebrated part of my 4th of July weekend at Historic Harriton House in Bryn Mawr. I have loved this magical and historical place since I was introduced to it when I was 12 by a neighbor.
Harriton House was originally known as “Bryn Mawr”, and was once the residence of Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress. This was originally built in 1704 by Rowland Ellis, a Welsh Quaker, and was called “Bryn Mawr”, meaning “high hill.”
The history of Harriton is undeniable, as well as the connection to the founding of our country. So it was an absolutely perfect place to celebrate part of the 4th of July weekend! People were invited to picnic (and we made ice cream with an old fashioned and fully functional ice cream machine!) and there was a lovely program and music.
The program was introduced by a wonderful man I am lucky to know because we have mutual friends. Chef Walter Staib. He was proprietor of The City Tavern for decades, and most of you know him as the host of A Taste of History which you can find streaming or on PBS. A Taste of History is one of my favorite shows. I love cooking, I love history, including the history of cooking. (They are filming a new season now.)
Born in Germany, Chef Staib emigrated to America many years ago. He became a citizen, started his family here. He became a US Citizen a couple of years before the Bicentennial. And as well as loving to cook, he is a perpetual student of history. His love for the United States was the perfect was to kick off yesterday’s program which also featured this truly amazing brass ensemble called Festive Brass. I have included two snippets filmed with a phone. Sorry, not the best but I wanted to share their sound with my readers. Beautiful and festive music.
Yesterday at Historic Harriton House the program was free of charge and they asked for a free-will offering. These beloved historic sites need and deserve our support. Look no further than to the historic sites owned by the National Park Service that are either closed to tours or just closed and moldering.
Closed to tours would include the houses of my childhood in Society Hill like the Bishop White House and the Todd House, places I actually gave tours of leading up to the Bicentennial as a child. I love those houses and I helped plant the kitchen garden in the Todd House way back when. It was there I learned a deterrent for cabbage worms in the garden were marijuana plants. Seriously. Fun little fact of historical gardening.
Also closed is a place I remember being saved and restored as a child. Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s house on 3rd Street in Society Hill. Most of you probably have no clue this place exists or the historical significance. And I swear that place has been closed more years than it has been open. Also owned by the National Park Service.
The City Tavern for that matter, also owned by the National Park Service. Also shuttered now that Chef Staib is not there. That in particular, is truly prime real estate, so one would think they would be polishing up the tavern and marketing her for a new chef and restaurant in residence, right? But are they? Or will The City Tavern go the way of the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion?
Do you sense a theme? Sorry for the segue, but literally every time I go to Valley Forge I think of all the wasted potential of the historic structures. Not all have to be open for tours, but the National Park Service should be more open to restoration and adaptive reuse. I also feel the last administration in Washington harnessed the red, white, and blue of American patriotism for their own selfish ends (including abject ugliness and tyranny) and did nothing for preservation or true patriotism of any kind. And the current administration should get on the ball with preserving more of our history.
History is not something to be neglected and erased. It should be embraced, even the less savory and inconvenient parts because it is all part of how we got to be quite literally.
History, metaphorically speaking, is a living breathing thing we need to embrace and preserve. Even the parts we don’t like because when people try to erase history like it never happened, we are doomed to repeat past mistakes. Look no further that two world wars for proof of that.
Today on the 4th of July, I hope you all pause and think about our history. Think about our founding fathers who bled and fought and died for us. What they accomplished was no small feat.
And remember your favorite historic sites with even a small donation. Like Historic Harriton House in Bryn Mawr. Remember your local historical societies that help preserve our history and keep it alive.
🪶🇺🇸In Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.🪶🇺🇸