...Continued from yesterday:
A reader commented on Facebook that it was too bad that yesterday's post didn't include any inside shots of The New House,
...to look for any photos I might have of the interior of the house.
In the process of my sifting I came across another good shot of the exterior of the house,
...but, alas, only a few random, not-great shots of the interior, none of which tell much of a story of the house, but which I'll post anyway:
1. Our dog Brownie in the front bay window of the living room.
2. My Aunt Mary in the living room.
3. My brother and his wife at the other end of the living room.
4. Tom and me on our wedding day in the front bay window of the other living room, which we called the far living room. My mother made the partially visible stained glass piece hanging the window behind us.
5. Me sitting at the other end of the far living room.
6. The bedroom that my sister and I shared. There was a bump in the street in front of our house and, as Byberry Road was a busy street at all hours, while lying in bed I'd feel the house rattle a little every time a car or truck passed our house
7. My brother in the dining room. I made the arty collage on the wall and the arty "Shalom" hanging on the basement door during my young, arty phase.
I don't know what became of the "Shalom" hanging, but the arty collage currently sits over my fireplace mantle. You can see the spot in the lower left corner where one of our house bunnies once nibbled off the paper ( See post from 2/15/2016: "The House Bunny").
7. Me with my prom date in the dining room ( See post from 5/16/2014: "A Tale of Two Proms, Part One: The Bad Prom").
8. My sister in the kitchen.
9. My father at the kitchen table, his favorite sitting spot in the house. Our kitchen table was a picnic table that my mother covered with a piece of linoleum. One of our childhood pastimes was setting a piece of paper on the table and running a crayon over the paper to bring out the design on the linoleum table top.
10. View from the dining room of my father in the kitchen.
11. A better view of the linoleum top on the kitchen table. That's my daughter Maria and my nephew Joseph apparently having a snack during a visit with Grammy and Pop-Pop.
12. A bunch of the grandchildren sitting on the kitchen table.
13. My sister-in-law hanging laundry in the back yard.
In late 1994 my parents moved from Northeast Philly to Seaford, Delaware.
The house on Byberry Road was bought by a hippy-esque family with six or eight children and - according to the old neighbors with whom my mother still communicated - strange and unsavory ways. The parents eventually moved out and left a few teenagers behind who trashed the house then abandoned it. According to the neighbors the house became for a while a refuge for some homeless squatters, whom the neighbors preferred over the previous hippy owners.
I don't know who owned the house when it eventually went on the market looking like this:
...but my daughter found some pictures posted online of the house's interior when the house was for sale:
A year and a half ago someone bought the house.
To be continued...
...Continued from yesterday:
...when my family moved eight miles up the Roosevelt Boulevard from Mayfair in Lower Northeast Philadelphia to Somerton in Far Northeast Philadelphia (see yesterday's post), to our new house on Byberry Road between the Boulevard and Bustleton Avenue.
Though Byberry Road was a busy thoroughfare and our new house was a short block from the Bustleton Avenue commercial district, still, compared to the population and row house density of Mayfair this new neighborhood felt downright pastoral.
The view from our Byberry Road house.
We moved to this particular house because while my mother was raising her five children in a 1300-square-foot, 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom row house she was dreaming of acquiring a big old fixer-upper of a house that she could transform into her vision of a beautiful home.
Though someone else would doubtless have dubbed the 6-bedroom, 3-story behemoth on Byberry Road a teardown – it was already over 100 years old in 1961 –
...my mother fell in love with it and, with my father’s acquiescence, bought the house on her own for $11,000, a pittance even back then, and sunk into it $5,000 worth of contractor work before my father or any of the rest of us laid eyes on it.
When we finally did lay eyes on and set foot inside the house it was still in a rough state, but all that summer long every day my mother would load us children into the car and drive out to the New House where she’d work, steaming wallpaper off the walls, spackling and painting the walls, repairing the window frames and tackling all sorts of repair and home improvement jobs that most kids’ mothers would have no idea of how to do.
My brothers and I, meanwhile, with our 3-year-old baby sister in tow, ran around the new neighborhood meeting the new neighborhood kids.
Every day at lunch time my mother would stop working to fix us cold cut sandwiches, sodas and Tastykakes which we ate picnic-style on the bare wood living room floor, sometimes with a new friend or two whom we’d invited to join us. That was the best summer.
As it turned out my mother was never able to fulfill her dream of renovating the house the way she wanted to. Why I'm not sure, though I suppose it was a matter of expense and maybe the fact that she was the sole member of the household with any interest in home decor or improvement beyond the basic functional and structural necessities.
Still, my mother did what she could.
For example, if she couldn't get the front porch step repaired she'd just plant flowers where the step should be.
My sister Romaine. Above, with our dog Brownie.
Nonetheless my mother never tired of talking about her ideas for the house, how she wanted to extend the wall of this room, knock out the wall of that room, reconfigure one room and transform another.
But in the end, for all the years we lived in it, the New House, it stayed an old house,
...and it wasn't until 25 years after my parents moved out that someone else caught sight of the old house on Byberry Road, by now abandoned and decrepit,
...and saw in it the same kind of potential that my mother had seen in it almost 50 years earlier.
And it would be this person who would finally do with the house what my mother had always wanted to.
To be continued...
....with a stop-over in Philadelphia to attend my 50th high school reunion.
My 1969 high school year book, The Rose. Note the psychedelic color scheme, which was in vogue at that time.
Tom and I arrived in Philly on Friday evening, picked up our rental car and drove across town to our hotel, The Radisson on the Roosevelt Boulevard in Far Northeast Philadelphia.
We chose a hotel in this location because we’d decided to spend a day visiting the old Northeast neighborhoods where I grew up, and from which I drew the inspiration for my novel, “Equal and Opposite Reactions.”
In fact our hotel was located across the Boulevard from the old Lincoln Hotel, where Tom and I had our rehearsal dinner the night before we were married.
Though, in truth, The Lincoln was looking a bit more down-at-the-heels than I recalled it looking the night of our rehearsal dinner 42 years ago.
The following morning, Saturday morning, while driving down the Boulevard looking for a breakfast eatery we soon came upon an IHOP, where we found the food and service to be exceptionally good.
After breakfast we headed out to our first destination, The Old House on Barnett Street.
I grew up in two houses, The Old House on Barnett Street and The New House, though after a while The New House was no longer referred to by us as The New House, and became just our house.
The Old House on Barnett Street was located in Lower Northeast Philly - Lower referring to the most southern areas closer to downtown - in the neighborhood known as Mayfair.
Far Northeast Philly, on the other hand, refers to the most northern areas of the Northeast. The New House was located in the Somerton neighborhood of the Far Northeast.
So we drove south along the Roosevelt Boulevard, "...the great artery that pumped twelve lanes of traffic through the heart of Northeast Philadelphia," (That's a quote from my book, page 11).
...until we arrived in Mayfair, at which time we turned off the Boulevard and cruised some of the streets of my childhood, marveling now, as I never did when I was young, at the great number and variety of row houses.
We decided to park next to St. Timothy's Catholic Church at the corner of Levick and Battersby Streets, which is next to St. Timothy's school, my old elementary school, then walk from there back to the house on Barnett, re-tracing the route I used to walk to school.
I was likewise never aware when I was young of what a magnificent structure my parish church was,
...including the rectory,
...and the grade school,
In the dreams I still have about St. Tim's it's an enormous building in which I'm very small and lost among the hallways and stairwells.
But in revisiting the place 57 years later, I can see that it's not just a matter of its size having been amplified by my childhood memories: St. Timothy's- now Blessed Trinity - really is a big school.
And yet, for all its size, when I was growing up St. Tim's accommodated only the Catholic portion of the neighborhood children.
Directly across the street from St. Timothy's was the even bigger public school, Ethan Allen, Northeast Philadelphia being a teeming East Coast population center when I was young, as it still is today.
After we'd looked over St. Tim's we crossed Hawthorne and walked down Levick towards Barnett Street,
...crossed Frankfort avenue,
...on the other side of which began Barnett Street, our block of which was six row houses bounded by the Devon at Frankfort Avenue,
When I was 6 years old the Devon switched from being a conventional movie theater to a porn house. The nuns at St. Timothy's told us the Devon had turned into a bad place and to cover our eyes if we ever had to pass by it. As I had to pass by the Devon every day on my way home from school and whenever I walked around the block, which was probably every day as well, I always covered my eyes, at least until I got tired of always having to cover my eyes, after which I just tried not to look at the display posters as I passed by. Sometimes I looked at the dirty posters anyway, just because it was too hard not to. However I don't recall learning anything in particular from the posters.
One time when I was strolling around the block by myself as I often did, I caught two boys lighting matches that they had wedged into the doorway. I figured they were trying to burn the Devon down because it was such a bad place. After they ran away I hurried over to the door of the Devon and, my heart pounding in fear of the building exploding into fire, quickly blew out all the matches.
And what used to be a row of businesses along Frankfort Avenue, a shoe store, a pizzeria, an appliance store and a couple other small commercial establishments, is now part of the Kingdom Life Christian Center.
...is now a Republican Party office.
However the view of the other side of Frankfort Avenue looked surprisingly the same as I remembered it from 60 years ago, though I expect the businesses have changed since then.
We walked around the corner to the alley that ran behind the rows of houses where all the neighborhood children used to play when we were young.
View of the alley across the street from our alley.
In the back yard of my old house hung laundry on lines that appeared to be strung between the same laundry poles that were there when I was young.
My father's medical practice was located in our basement, and his patients would enter his office through the partially visible white door next to the garage. The garage door now appears to be missing, replaced with plastic sheeting.
While Tom and I were standing in the alley the owner of the old house came outside. He was from Kazakhstan and spoke little English but I was able to convey to him the I used to live in his house and he was able to convey that he'd lived there for six years, and that he'd built the deck on the side of the house.
I was a little taken aback by the sight of the deck because in my recurring dreams about this house the house usually has a side door that it didn't have when I lived in it. But now in fact it does have a side door.
I would love to have seen what the old house looks like on the inside but the owner did not invite us in.
So we instead said good-bye to him and took a walk around the block,
...then crossed Charles Street and con-tinued up the next block of Barnett,
...to see if Haegele's, the bakery shop where my mother used to occasionally buy a square custardy cheesecake for our dessert, was still at the end of the block, at Barnett and Robbins Street.
Turned out Haegele's was still there,
...and quite crowded on this Saturday morning with folks buying goodies,
...among which can still be found the square custardy cheese cakes, pieces of which my mother used to occasionally buy for us,
...and of which Tom and I bought a piece,
...that the sales clerk boxed and tied up with string, just as they used to do when I was young.
Then, our Haegele's cheesecake in tow,
...we walked back, passing the Old House on Barnett Street one last time on our way back to St. Tim's,
...where we retrieved out car and headed back to the Roosevelt Boulevard, by which route we left the Lower Northeast and Mayfair and headed towards the Far Northeast and Somerton to the New House.
...Continued from yesterday:
...to an awesome breakfast place called the Yolk Test Kitchen,
...where one orders and pays for one's food at the counter and shortly thereafter one's food arrives at one's table, beautifully plated and as delicious as it looks.
Besides the wonderful food, the Yolk Test Kitchen also offers a pretty view of the 606 walking path (see yesterday's post).
Claire wanted to go to the Swap-O-Rama, a Mexican flea market on the South Side of Chicago, to buy some more pieces for her Nacimiento,
A Nacimiento is a traditional Mexican nativity scene which typically includes a variety of human and animal figurines set in a miniature environment that can include plants, structures, and bodies of imaginary or real water.
Every Christmas Claire and Miguel set up their Nacimiento in their window.
I, too, was looking forward to returning to the Swap-O-Rama, as last time Claire and Miguel took me there during a visit to Chicago two years ago I had a churro, which is a fried dough stick covered in sugar and stuffed with raspberry filling,
...kind of like a tubular jelly doughnut,
...and I was looking forward to having another one.
So Miguel drove us across town to the South Side,
...until we arrived at the Swap-O-Rama.
The Swap-O-Rama is located inside a vast big-box structure, within which one can find all sorts of neat and useful things.
However we were there to look for Nacimiento pieces, of which there was a great variety available,
...and Claire and Miguel were able to find several nice pieces to add to their Nacimiento. As for me, I bought a rosary for my mother.
...a super-warm hat for me,
...and, of course, my yummy churros.
After we'd made all our acquisitions we returned home and hung out with the kitties,
...until we were hungry again.
For dinner we walked back to Bucktown,
....to a Mexican restaurant called La Estrella Negra,
The walls of La Estrella Negra are hung with art pieces for sale and one of these pieces, a print of a human heart upon which was drawn a map of the Chicago "L", or elevated train, caught the eyes of Miguel and Claire.
Before we left I surreptitiously bought the " 'L' Corazon" print, which now looks lovely hanging on Claire and Miguel's bright green wall among their other maps (see post from 11/17/2018).
The following morning, Sunday morning, Claire walked me back to the actual "L,"
...my plane back to "One of Us" Columbus.
(See posts from 4/29/2018 and 4/30/2018).
...Continued from yesterday:
Our plan for the day had been to take the "L" - short for "elevated train" and the local vernacular for Chicago's rapid transit train system - to the Loop area of downtown and spend the day doing something cultural, maybe visiting the aquarium or the Chicago Art Institute. Nor were we intending to be put off by a few flakes of snow, barely noticeable by Chi Town standards.
But first on the agenda was breakfast.
We took the bus from Claire and Miguel's Logan Square neighborhood to nearby Wicker Park to one of their favorite breakfast eateries,
...a little spot called Kanela.
...while Miguel had his favorite, Pork Belly Benedict. As I'd never before tasted pork belly, Miguel gave me a taste of his. To me it tasted kind of like a thin, tender, flavorful pork chop.
...a vegan burger that was advertised as being indistinguishable from a beef burger.
I'm not sure that was the case, but with all the fixings piled on it was a darned good burger.
By the time we finished breakfast the snow had stopped, but after our nice meal in that warm, cozy restaurant the air outside felt so cold and damp that we all agreed that it might be lovely to just return home and spend the day cocooning.
So we walked through Wicker Park,
...back to Logan Square via the 606, a former elevated train route that is now a walking/biking path.
...until dinner time rolled around, at which time we again ventured out,
We started out with an appetizer of seitan barbecued ribs that were incredibly delicious.
The rest of our food, not so much.
The eggplant ricotta rolls over linguini dish that I ordered looked lovely but was so spicy hot that I could barely swallow one bite.
Claire's seitan and vegetables was just as inedibly hot.
So, except for the appetizer, dinner was kind of a bust all around.
Still, we did have a nice brisk walk back home,
...where it was comfy and warm.
...Continued from yesterday:
Chicago is not only a windy city, but a cold, cold city in winter, and in Chicago winter comes early.
By Friday, the day after my arrival, the snowflakes had begun falling outside.
But inside Miguel and Claire's house it's always warm and cozy.
...the year he and Claire were characters from “Game of Thrones”
...is one of Miguel taken when he was five years old at his kindergarten in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Their house is decorated with maps of all the places they’ve traveled to for medical missions or other work trips, or for adventure.
Colombia, where they went to pay homage to their favorite author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and visit the settings of his books.
Claire and Miguel share their cozy digs with their three cats, Sassy, Siri and Tinums (see yesterday's post).
Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that, having been invited in, the kitties have now appropriated the property, which they share with Miguel and Claire. But then cats have a way of doing that.
Claire and Miguel's house is as purposely feline-friendly as any kitty could wish, filled with comfy cat spaces,
...elevated structures for climbing on.
...and hammocks in the window,
...birds on a wire.
One evening during my visit Claire noticed that an apparently stray cat who'd been hanging around their block was outside their house.
"Should I go get that cat?" she wondered.
"And do what with it?" I asked.
"Bring it home. In case it doesn't have a place to live."
I laughed and Miguel gave her the eye.
As of the day I left they were still managing to hold the line at three.
Last Thursday, November 8, I flew from Columbus to Chicago to visit Miguel and Claire.
This was my first time flying to Chicago. In the past I'd always taken the wonderful Megabus,
...until, much to my dismay, Megabus dropped its Columbus-Chicago route.
On Tom's and my previous visit to Chicago last May we tried traveling via Greyhound Bus, which turned out to be a vile experience (See post from 5/13/2018, "Greyhounding It To Chicago").
As I hope to never again have to take a Greyhound bus, this now leaves us two options for traveling to Chicago: driving or flying. I once drove to Chicago by myself years ago and found driving in that city to be the first ring of Hades, the second ring being trying to find a parking spot anywhere on the streets of my daughter's urban neighborhood.
And so this time, as I was again traveling alone, I reluctantly opted for the pricier but oh-so-much quicker and more convenient flight option.
Thus I started out the morning in my favorite airport, Columbus John Glen International, where one is still reminded at every turn that here in Columbus we are all One Of Us (see posts from 4/29/2018, "What's So Funny At The Columbus Airport" and 4/30/2018, "One Of Us! One Of Us!").
Though I expect one bagel would have been sufficient for me, I bought two because when I attempted to buy one the server, whom I would guess form his accent to be from an African country, warned me that the bagels there were very small and advised me that if I wanted a big bagel I should go across the way to Starbucks. When I hesitated in my decision he became quite insistent about the insufficiency of a single Bob Evans bagel and the superiority of the Starbucks bagels. So I asked if I could have two bagels, to which agreed, finally seeming satisfied that this customer wouldn't go hungry, which, in fact, I didn't.
Then, more than satiated after my two-bagel breakfast, I boarded my plane. 56 minutes after take-off I deplaned at Chicago O'Hare.
Having insisted that I did not wish to be picked up at the airport by my daughter or son-in-law, but preferred to find my way to their house via public transport, I followed the signs through the airport to the trains to downtown,
...then joined my fellow passengers,
I then walked several blocks through the neighborhood,
...where I was greeted by Miguel, who was quite relieved that his mother-in-law had found her way from O'Hare, and their three cats, Sassy, Siri,
...and Tinums, a little cat,
...who was hanging around the school auditorium in Texas where the disaster response team Claire was part of after Hurricane Harvey had set up an emergency medical center.
The members of Claire's medical team called the orphaned cat Rosie, but after Claire brought the cat home with her from Texas she and Miguel changed the kitty's name to Tinums because she was so tiny. (But isn't anymore).
After I settled into my cozy guest room,
...Miguel suggested that he and I - Claire was at work - drive over to an awesome little Italian Deli he knew of called Bari's to get a couple of their famous subs for lunch.
Inside there was a line of people with the same idea as us waiting at the deli counter.
After we procured our subs - I ordered a veggie sub with eggplant, which was quite delicioso - I suggested we pop into the bakery next door.
...where we found all kinds of yummy-looking things.
We also picked up a loaf of bread,
...then headed back home.
I love Chicago.
If there's one thing the chain of events that's been unwinding since the midterm elections last Tuesday has shown people like myself - who had been hoping against probability and the polls that a blue wave might wash over both chambers of Congress - it's that now is no time for wallowing in visions of what might have been.
What is yet to be is far, far more important.
It was the day after the elections that I first heard the term Rainbow Wave. I heard it from my daughter Maria, who'd been a valiant campaigner during the midterms,
...even my grand poochie Pinky Poo getting in on the action.
...who succeeded in defeating Republican 30-year incumbent Dana Rohrabacher.
...into making a video promoting arming toddlers).
Anyway, the day after the elections, when I was feeling a weence funky, taking more of a "half-empty" view of the Democratic Congressional victory, I talked to my daughter, who was feeling considerably more upbeat.
She explained to me that even though the Blue Wave hadn't been as sweeping as we'd hoped, more important was the rising up in this country of an electoral Rainbow Wave: Over 150 - a record number - candidates of color, LGBTQ candidates, Muslim, Native American and minority candidates won their midterm elections.
And this, said my daughter, was in the big picture an even greater cause for celebration than a total Blue Wave would have been.
In fact, said my daughter, it was maybe better for the Democrats that they didn’t achieve a complete Congressional sweep because, as she put it, “This way we’ll stay hungry.”
I believe that what my daughter said is true.
Many of us are still still hungry. But these days it's doubtless better that way.
Among conservatives her name is thrown around as synonymous with evil, and even quite a few Democrats hiss at the sound of her name. But it's never been clear to me specifically why.
Last August NBC News posted a list of 35 Democratic House candidates and incumbents who publicly stated that if the Democrats took back the House they wouldn't vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House even though she's been the leader of the House Democrats for most of this century. None of the Democratic candidates opposing Pelosi gave any particular reason for their opposition other than a vague pseudo-quotable - apparently agreed upon by the lot of them - about it being time for a chance in leadership.
Never mind that Nancy Pelosi is the highest-ranking female law-maker in the history of the United States government and that Barack Obama has called her the best Speaker the House of Representatives has ever had.
In fact Nancy Pelosi is a strong Progressive who has championed health care, civil liberties, LGBTQ and women's rights, education, and the environment, just like Bernie Sanders. Who, of course, nobody hates. Everybody loves, or at least respects, Bernie Sanders.
In fact, politically speaking, I see only two main differences between Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi: (1) Pelosi is a woman, and (2) she gets things done, and it's these two differences that make her the target of the right, whose members have done such a good and thorough job of generating free-floating generic hatred against Nancy Pelosi that the hate has bled across the aisle and villainizing her has become the norm among much of the American populace. Which is the real reason why jelly-spined Democratic candidates have been slinking away from her. They've been afraid that the toxicity that the right strives to paint her with will rub off on them.
But that was before.
The chain of events that has been unwinding since the midterm elections last Tuesday has changed everything.
Or at least I hope it has.
Because it's become clear that last week's midterm Democratic victory in the House of Representatives,not to mention the "Rainbow Wave" of candidates of color, LGBTQ candidates, Muslim, Native American and minority candidates and women who won their midterm elections,
...has so greatly riled Donald Trump that he has since been behaving like a viper provoked in its nest, rearing up, baring its fangs, and striking.
There was Donald Trump the day after midterms at his press conference, agitated, bellicose, snapping and snarling at journalists, insulting them, shouting them down, calling them enemies of the people.
There was his press secretary Sarah Sanders spreading a lie that Jim Acosta had assaulted a female White House aide, a lie she attempted to substantiate with a doctored video.
...and replacing him with a personal sycophant with a history of bigotry and a fraud accusation hanging over his head,
...upon whom Trump is counting to block Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's meddling - and possibly Donald Trump's collusion in that meddling - in our 2016 Presidential election.
And there was Donald Trump declaring war on House Democrats via tweet, threatening retaliation if they ever dared to launch an investigation involving himself or his administration:
...as if the Presidency of the United States were nothing more than a glorified game of one-upmanship.
There was Donald Trump and his nest of vipers condemning the counting of absentee and mail-in midterm ballots Arizona and Florida, crying that counting these ballots was "stealing" the election from his party.
But then there was Nancy Pelosi, the day after the midterm elections, calmly but in no uncertain terms assuring the country that the House of Representatives would uphold its responsibility of oversight of the Executive branch, and that when it came to conducting investigations,
The prediction is that those Democrats who before the midterms vowed to oppose Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House will rally around her now.
We can only hope. Because, hate Nancy Pelosi if you must, if there was ever a moment that our country needed a Congressional leader unafraid to go after and de-fang the vipers' nest that the White House has become, that moment is now,
If there ever was a moment in history when our nation was in sore need of an All-American prophet, that moment is upon us.
Thank goodness we've been sent such a prophet in satirist Randy Rainbow.
...who cries out from the wilderness of his small recording studio/apartment in Queens, New York, calling down shame in catchy musical parody on those who merit it,
...and providing the rest of us with some solace in the midst of woe.
Today is midterm election day in the United States, the outcome of which, according to political analysts, will determine whether Donald Trump will subsequently be reined in or enabled to drive on with his agenda.
By the end of the day there may be millions among us in need of solace in the midst of woe.
But in the meantime, on this day when so many of us may be in a state of anxiety, I suggest watching Randy Rainbow's current video - "Voting!" -
...that he released as a reminder of why it's so important for Americans to vote: Because we can.
So, whatever the result of today's elections, we'd all do well to heed these words of wisdom:
Listen to Randy Rainbow. And vote.
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.