The Hope of Frankford

The third in a series entitled ‘Frankford Needs You’

So what is the hope of Frankford? It is the efforts of groups of concerned citizens. Those who realize that there are no free rides. There was a time when streets were swept and cleaned on the city’s dime, but those days are long gone. These residents have adopted the mindset: ‘We live here and it makes sense to protect and preserve our dwellings.’ I am talking about the residents of 4800 Penn Street and the tender-loving-care exhibited day in and day out by these and various other persons of well kept communities in Frankford.

I am new to the area (that is, if you call 6 years new) and I have observed the remarkable diversity of persons and communities. Sometimes on one block squalor, crime, and drug-running reigns at one end while the other is home to clusters of model citizens. The scene changes are dizzying. You round one corner and you will fine beautiful homes, well kept lawns and sidewalks free of litter. While a block or 2 later one can encounter the burnt out shells of former industries.

There was a time when most of the citizens of Frankford had work and ambitious persons could hold 2 jobs. Many of us remember when positions for the working class were plentiful. That was before many jobs were sent overseas because of cheap labor. It was a time when workplace health and dental plans were the norm and not the exception; when people, even those with limited education, could make a living. However, in the perpetual search for bargains, big businesses moved the jobs away. And sometimes they had to leave our shores in order to stay competitive, but we the people had to make ends meet. This exodus tore at the heart of America. It decimated neighborhoods and weakened families. Additionally, it was about raw greed, for they ( Big Business) wanted tax breaks too, so by and by, few remained to pay America’s bills. And then decades later came ‘sequestration’, and this was long after many city services felt the sharp edge of the fiscal ax. I wonder then, Is capitalism dead? Have we ridden it to this crossroad? I don’t have the answers, but I am certain, that capitalism without a heart is the eventual path to societal death. And the decay of so many inner cities demonstrate this. Some would say bailouts are governments’ jobs, but how can this be sustained with massive tax breaks, shelters, off-shore businesses and cloistered accounts. Governments are supposed to be ‘We the People’ but governments are broke. And here is a sad fact: it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between big business and daniel gardengovernment.

Well…. where does that leave us? What is the remedy for ‘We the people’? We must create a more perfect union amongst ourselves. We must look out for our neighborhoods. We must create more perfect communities. We see the squalor around us. We must mobilize cleaning corps. We have seen the proliferation of the drug trade in our communities. And while we understand this scourge may be the manifestation of capitalism in a depressed economy, we can curtail these activities. We can ward them away from our communities via a variety of methods both tradition and novel.

veronica franlin nate (4)webOk….I have strayed a little. But (if you please) let me explain. The folks on 4800 Penn have done this. They have taken in-hand their own destiny. This is a well kept block. Sure, there are challenges, but that does not hold them back. There are 2 properties on the block that are for sale and these would be dream acquisitions for an investor. I spoke with Mr. Franklin Daniel recently and he spoke of the stability of the neighborhood. He and his wife are active members in the community and work tirelessly maintaining and enriching the block. Without people like Franklin and Veronica the luster would certainly fade. Also, on any day you will find Bob Smiley chief editor of the Frankford Gazette out and about tidying up and covering civic events in the area. On another day, you might find Veronica Daniel and her daughter-in-law tending to the garden on Penn near Harrison street. On yet another day, you’ll find Nate, a resident of the apartments at Oxford and Penn, dutifully shuffling about. He is, often, hard at work on a maintenance project, but never too busy to offer a pleasant greeting. There are ( no doubt) many other neighborhoods that benefit greatly from community pillars like these. A thousand of these efforts can and will make a difference. The difficulty is getting people involved, especially our youth. Franklin Daniel said it best “those who know….know and those who don’t know (too often) don’t want to know”. My interpretation? Apathy is a terrible thing, but an once of precaution is worth a pound of cure.

To the residents of the 4800 block of Penn street in Frankford:

We appreciate you!

Al Houston