Monday, September 1, 2008

Welcome to the Neighborhood

A recent meeting of our homeowners association included a protracted discussion about the sign in the front of our development. It is a fine sign, made of wood and engraved in gold letters, it is welcoming and attractive. That doesn't seem to be the mindset of a significant number of residents and it was decided to replace the sign with something more in line with "the flavor and distinctive character" of the community. It will be constructed of stone and will therefore fare better in storms and that sort of thing. That is fine with me too, I really don't care about the sign too much but I do take issue with the "distinctive character" of the neighborhood. There is really nothing very distinctive at all and that is exactly why most of the residents enjoy it here. Sleepy, suburban, upscale and boring. I grew up in a neighborhood that had a distinctive character and lots of flavor. There was the neighbor on the corner who put grease on her fence to keep the kids out. It didn't keep us out but instead created a laundering nightmare for our mothers. The other neighbor whose arguments created an occasional visit from the police. There were Apple Taffy on Halloween. If I gave those away here I would probably be arrested for criminal negligence. There were pick up baseball games played in the middle of the street. There were dogs. Not modern dogs on long, retractable leashes, but neighborhood dogs. Dogs that hung on the corner with the kids, dogs that strayed onto every one's lawns. On Winthrop Drive two houses shared steps to their front doors, except number 13. They had their own steps. I guess that was a way to make buying an unlucky number house somewhat appealing. Sharing steps turned the people next door into instant family. You overheard their conversations, smelled dinner cooking and shared space on the steps during long summer nights when it was impossible to stay inside an un-air conditioned house. Our neighborhood didn't have a sign in front. Our neighborhood didn't even have a name. When it was first built, it was advertised as "Lansdowne Park Gardens" but very few people called it that even when I was small and the neighborhood fairly young. If someone asked where I lived, I'd say "Winthrop Drive. The neighborhood between the cemetery and the woods." It was enough, my world was small. The mundane things that happened during my life in the neighborhood seem much more significant in retrospect. I was reminded of this today, when Lisa, an old neighbor (and resident of that special #13) commented on another blog. So, I thought I'd put this one out there for all the folks from Southridge, Clarendon, Winthrop, Ashbourne and Crestview. This is our blog. Feel free to comment and if you'd like to write a full post, e-mail the article to me and I will post it with you as the author. Photos also welcome.


Faith said...

Hi. I am one of the girls who was fortunate enough to have lived on Winthrop Drive.I was 2 years old in 1951 when my parents moved into this Brand New Home at # 12. I have some great memories while living there.Once I told a sob story to an elderly neighbor lady on Crestview about our family not being able to afford a pool, One day the Sears Truck arrived at our house with a large package that our Mother had to sign for....It was a NAVY BLUE VINYL Kiddie pool and it was A FOUR SEATER!!! Wow, I'll never forget that day. When Mom found out how we got it she had a fit and almost sent it back but finally she accepted it and went to speak with our benefactor to apologize for my rudness etc. She ordered me then to write a thank you note.We(including many of the neighbors had wonderful hot summer days of fun in that pool! The Lady in questions name was Jean Engelhart.We all thought that she had no children but years later we found that she had one son.Most of the folks on Winthrop Drive are gone even my parents have moved on. We had parties in the front yard, back yard and our basements hold many secrets. My sweet 16 party was held in our basement and I received my first "REAL kiss there. He was 19 years old.... Gone now for 41 years, killed in Viet Nam. When my sisters and I were packing up our parents life, I could not help but feel saddened by the fact that our home of 50 plus years would no longer be there for us to visit and have our Sunday dinners but we will always have our sweet memories. I hope to hear from the others who were my neighbors.

Lisa Frat Minto said...

Thanks for mentioning that lucky 13, oh and me. I now live at 413 in one of the cookie cutter, sleeping, boring, upscale neighborhoods that you speak of. But no matter where we have moved onto in life, we still keep those Darby/Delco/just outside of Philly roots alive. And that's a good thing. Glad to see we all share in that.

You also mention the frequent cop visits to a "certain" neighbor - one comment - glad we didn't have to share those steps. But it sure made it exciting.

And the mention of Halloween also reminds me of the great Haunted Houses at #12. I loved those, and wish they were commonplace today, but that might get you locked up too. Likewise, I remember the Christmas Caroling orgazinized by our Miss Lorraine DeLuca as well as the stick ball and wireball games.

And I long for those Sunday dinners as well...I only wish that I could bring my children to them.


I think we the way our neighborhoods and lifestyles have changed over the years, our kids may not have those same type of neighborhood memories, so let us appreciate them even more and never forget...and of course, give our children plenty of other great memories.

The middle sister said...

I am the middle sister from #12 Winthrop. I remember playing at the end of the street with what seemed like 50+ kids. I really think it was. We had so very much fun then.

I also remember sitting on #13 with Lisa's brother. He was like a brother to me. I could always depend on him to be out when I got home from the dance or a date and we would talk for hours.

The thing I most wonder about is why I moved so far away. I live in South Florida, hurricane city since 1976. When I look back I was just a baby when I moved away.

I love living here with my husband and my dog Schatzi. I guess you could say it's boring but we have a boat outside the back door and the weather is almost always nice.

My memories of Winthrop Drive are good. We played outside with no worries and could always knock on a door if we need something.

I don't remember that pool story. That is hysterical. I do remember our sister Faith ?? going to a cousins house and not letting anyone know and the cops and everyone were out looking for her and she just marches up the street like nothing happened.

Roe DeLuca Webb

Lorraine DeLuca Placido said...

Lisa, I think that you point out something important in your comment. Sometimes we romanticize the way things were in the past without considering aspects that were not as good as they are today. Our children have many opportunities that we did not and access to so many wonderful experiences. I wonder what we could have accomplished with such resources! Our lives were much simpler but so were our dreams and goals. We have accomplished much more than perhaps, even we, expected and there is a satisfaction in knowing that the world we present to our own kids is full of promise.