The Police Athletic League

Organized Play Time

Most of the time, when we were children, we played in the Streets of Kensington, Philadelphia. You name it, we did it. We used old tin cans to play Tin Can Eddy and asked roofers to throw down pimple balls that, by accident, ended up off roofs so we could play stickball, half ball, wire ball and any other kind of ball. We transformed asphalt streets with chalk into bottle cap arenas, marble competitions, hopscotch events and skip rope contests. We knew how to organize our playtime.

Aside from church activities and the city-run recreation centers, there were three adult-run organizations that provided supervised activities that we just couldn’t find on the street. In my neighborhood, they include the Police Athletic League, YWCA, and the Keningtion Boys Club, which also included Lighthouse Field.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll write about each and post photos to help you remember.

The Police Athletic League

My old neighborhood police station (25th district) was located on the corner of Westmorland and Front Streets, across from the A&P store. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the building was rundown. Not long after, it was demolished, and a new police station was built. In those early days, the PAL operation was in the old building. PAL provided kids with a supervised variety of activities such as boxing, basketball, and other sports.

My favorite memory of that PAL was when they asked my dad to give a demonstration of pool playing. In 1950, Dad had won the Pool Championship of Philadelphia and was the co-owner of Circle Billiards at Lee and Allegheny. I remember the old PAL pool table being in bad shape.  It was the kind of pool table a champion player would normally never use. Still, Dad did his best and wowed the kids. I must have been around seven or eight years old at the time, and I was very proud of my good old dad.

I didn’t do a lot of PAL activities, but the ones I did were supervised by police officers and others who cared about the neighborhood kids.

Do you have any PAL stories If so, share them with us.

Next time: The Kensington YWCA
 If you want to view over 1,300 colorized images from the 1930s to the 1980s, visit my website at

Playing hoops at PAL

Crafts at PAL

izzo visits PAL

Old police/firehouse 1954. PAL was in this building.

"Rocky", wearing  PAL hat."

Presenting keys to new PAL facility.

Pingpong at the PAL

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