Time, Time, Time. Where has all the time gone?
My first memory was when I was just three or four years old. It was when the family got a puppy. Her name was Bonnie, and she was a funny little red Cocker Spaniel. I can still see her running across the living room floor in our Wishart Street home. Over sixty years later, I included Bonnie in my novel Mercy Row Clann.
I find it odd that some memories are as clear and as sweet as a glass of 7Up soda, and others a bit flat and foggy as an orange Bireley’s non-carbonated drink. Both are good. For instance, I can vividly see the double-decker vanilla and chocolate Breyers ice cream cone Nan Scott served in her store at Front and Wishart Street. It was bigger and better than the one the store at Wishart and Howard street served.
It’s easy for me to envision my grandmother cooking in the little shed turned kitchen in the back of our two-story brick row home. I can also conjure up an image of my mom and grandfather celebrating New Years' in our living room.
When I see someone play pool, I immediately remember the two 10-foot tables and the eight smaller pool tables in my Dad’s Poolroom at Lee and Allegheny. I can also almost smell the hotdogs roasting in one of those old fashion roasters. I can hear the players cursing when they missed a shot and I can see the dollar bills they were playing for on the tables.
I can re-enact my first kiss in the Cramp Elementary Schoolyard, and dream about making out in the back of a car driving home from Wildwood. The windows were so steamy.
I can smell the saltwater and pizza cooking in the stores on the boardwalk and taste the French fries with malted vinegar. And when I try hard, I can also taste the fudge from Laura’s Fudge Shop.
Images of hanging on the corner with Phil, Billy, George, Bob, and Harry E sneaking sips of Schlitz Beer and smoking Lucky Strike or Camel cigarettes are very clear.
It is pretty amazing what memories are stuck in our minds waiting to surface when you get a whiff of something, the site of a building or product, or even when someone posts about their own memories. It’s why I love the Kensington Alumni group on Facebook.
It’s been over 70 years since Bonnie ran across our living room floor and I have a head full of memories. Some were bad, but most are good. That is especially true of the time I spent growing up in Kensington, Philadelphia.
Originally posted on The Kensington Neighborhood Alumni Group on Facebook.
Visit our curated page that provides a variety of books about Philadelphia.
Visit the Mercy Row Series of Books about A Philadelphia Irish mob family.
Russell, I am a bit older than you. Between the ages of 8-12 I used to go to the poolroom every day after school. Met some characters there. My Dad was an incredible player and also did a lot of trick shots. Perhaps you saw some. Thank you, Russell, for your kind words and I hope to see you here again and also on the Kensington Alumni group on Facebook.
The more I read of your writings the more intrigued I become. I lived at 109 E. Allegheny Ave between 1966, 70 or so, above Cataldo’s beauty parlor, owned by my stepfather Sam Maria. It was at your pops I learned the fine art of playing pool and billiards. I spent many ,many hours learning and watching the greats play for BIG $ money there. I also went to Cramp 6th grade in 64, fought there almost everyday, haha, and then on to Stetson. I lived at 3471 Dillman St then. Harry, I would guess we knew some of the same people and could probably share some of the same memories. If nothing else we apparently share some history indeed. I look forward to reading more of your story and stories to come. Take care my Brother from Kenso.