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“Frankford Heroes” Were Remembered At The Historical Society of Frankford’s November Meeting!

Bob Smiley, Editor, “The Frankford Gazette”, and Richard Johnson just released their second book which contains the stories of local brave men and women in the service of their country. Each November, our hearts and minds remember all those who so selflessly gave their time and sometimes even their lives in the service of their country. Every one of them deserves our thanks and appreciation for their willingness to die, if necessary, to preserve our freedoms. “Frankford Heroes, 2nd Edition” is a tribute to them and tells their stories so that they and their sacrifices live on!

Taking us from a small 17th Century village in Philadelphia county to a 21st Century neighborhood in the city of Philadelphia, PA, Frankford has a long history of proud military service. This new edition has 142 brave men who would not return from war. In addition to their stories, those men and women who have been profiled in the Frankford Gazette as “Veteran of the Month” are also included. These were the lucky ones who made it back home yet still bore the scars, and in some cases, disabilities that killing causes.

In the early years, records are scarce, but it is known that a Frankford resident, General Isaac Worrell (a Frankford street bears his name) served in the Revolutionary War. We have the names of a few hundred men who served in the War of 1812 and it was said that Frankford sent more men to the Civil War than any other town of its size. Think about that for a moment. We also have the first documentation of deaths in service available from newspaper reports in the 1860s. Our local patriots continued their service through WWI, WWII, Korea and the Vietnam War. Service continues today with our young men and women on active duty and in the reserves.

Bob Smiley, “Frankford Heroes Remembered” at The Historical Society of Frankford

Tuesday, November 12th, was a brutally cold day, yet we were very gratified to see familiar faces and new ones who were heroes, themselves, for braving the cold and coming out to The Historical Society of Frankford which is a treasure in our community. Smiley, along with Pat Smiley and their son, Jim Smiley, the co-founder of “The Frankford Gazette” and the developer of our online presence and all things “techie”, participated in the presentation aptly titled, “Frankford Heroes Remembered”. The Smileys really like to keep everything a family affair – and we have a big, extended family – it includes all of you! We really enjoy being able to return to Frankford as needed and when we can because Frankford is a family!!

Today, most people focus on the individual but the sacrifices of these men and women and their families should not be forgotten. For that reason, Bob thinks it’s so very important to tell their stories. Here is a quick glimpse of some of the highlights of Bob’s presentation! It was passing by the tombstone of Joseph Alexander Coyle that first ignited Bob’s passion for these unsung heroes. In Bob’s words:

Back in 2014, I was working on another project, documenting St. Joachim’s Cemetery and I was taking pictures of all the headstones.  I was almost finished, when I came upon this one.  It is unusual because it is a military burial, a young man killed in the First World War and yet it is not the standard issue military headstone.  I was curious and decided to see what else I could find out about that guy. A few days later, I found him on Ancestry.  It is one thing to be looking at a stone with a name on it but it is an entirely different experience to see him as a person.  A young man, sitting proudly for a portrait, with his whole life before him, not knowing that he would die in France within a few months. 

‘Joseph was born in Frankford on January 26, 1892 and lived at 1325 Sellers and 1629 Fillmore Street. He was a shipping clerk at S.W. Evans and Son on Paul Street when he was inducted into the Army on May 25, 1918. On July 9, 1918 he shipped out on the USS America bound for France.  He was serving with Company K of the 315th Infantry, 79th Division when he was wounded on August 28, 1918. He died of pneumonia on October 28, 1918. He is buried in St. Joachim Cemetery in Frankford. He was survived by his father, John, and his mother, Anna, and many brothers and sisters.’Frankford Heroes, 2nd Edition, pg.

Stephen Paul Blanchet

I had seen all the war monuments in Frankford.  A few had long lists of names of those who served and died.  We have their names etched into stone, but we do not KNOW who they were.  That was when I decided to take a closer look to see what I could find out. That closer look lead me to find a total 142 men who died in service to their country.”

Stephen Paul Blanchett was born on October 20, 1947 and lived at 1813 Foulkrod Street in Frankford.  He enlisted in the Army early in 1965 and served as a corpsman. He was Killed In Action on March 7, 1967. He was awarded the Silver Star posthumously.He distinguished himself by exceptional valor while serving as Medical Specialist for his unit when it came under heavy small arms fire in rice paddies northwest of Dong Tam, Vietnam, on March 7, 1967.

As the unit was maneuvering slowly through several rice paddies, they came under enemy sniper fire. Immediately, one of the unit’s leaders was hit and severely wounded. Private Blanchett, 350 meters to the rear, was notified, and began racing through the paddies in order to reach the wounded man. When he had come to within 50 meters of the casualty, he was urged by fellow comrades to go no further, due to the increasing amount of hostile fire. He courageously disregarded the warning and with fire all about him, ran to the side of the wounded man. He then pulled the wounded man behind the safety of a dike separating two paddies and administered vitally needed first aid. This courageous act was one of many times he unhesitatingly risked his life in behalf of his fellow soldiers.”

He was single and was 19 years old when he died. He is buried in the Beverly National Cemetery in Beverly, New Jersey.  Frankford’s American Legion Post 224 2nd floor meeting hall has been named in his honor.  He was survived by his parents, four brothers and two sisters.

Stephen’s parents were awarded his Silver Star in a ceremony at City Hall a few months later. Blanchett and Lloyd Wilson were childhood friends growing up in Frankford.  They were 2 of the 4 African American soldiers from Frankford who died in service.  It is hard to believe but it took many years for Black Americans to earn the right to fight and die for their country.  Today, the Armed Forces could not function without their participation.

Theodore “Ted” Laurer Fischer

Bob’s “Frankford Heroes” project has become very personal to him. He got to know each of these men and women by researching and hearing their stories, many times directly from family members. It becomes more personal, too, when you recognize someone from the neighborhood. Karen Mangan Lash and her husband, Cliff, were in attendance this night. Karen and I had both worked for the School District of Philadelphia and we were together in the Fairhill section of the city. Karen recognized “Ted” and told us after that she had grown up with him and it brought back many memories. We know this can be very hard for families but, to a one, they wanted them to be recognized for the sacrifice, service and courage they exhibited. And then we would hear even more stories about other Heroes. That’s why the book has grown and will continue to share examples of other Heroes we don’t even know about yet.

Theodore Lauer Fischer was born on August 15, 1943 and when his father became Rector of St. Mark’s Church, the family moved to a home on Harrison Street. He had a “Back” position on the football team at Frankford High School and a strong voice which he used in the a cappella choir. “Ted” Fischer led a very active life during his high school years. Teachers there remember the 1962 graduate as an honest, hardworking student with a dramatic flair. 

Fischer enlisted in the Marine Corps in November of 1962. Now 22-years-old and a Lance Corporal, and a radioman for Company A, of the 1st Battalion, 4th, Marines Division, died in the hamlet of Phu Bai, Quang Tri, Province, on March 20, 1966.  He was survived, by his father, Albert, Rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, his mother, Elizabeth, and his sister, Barbara. He is buried in Whitemarsh Memorial Park in Ambler, Pennsylvania. 

Joseph Coyle’s Headstone
2014 and 2019

This picture tells the story. Earlier, Bob explained how he first became interested in telling the stories of these “Frankford Heroes”. As members of St. Joachim, we have a cemetery that’s over 170 years old. It is in need of restoration and upkeep as most of our smaller cemeteries in the city are. The photo on the left shows Joseph Coyle’s headstone suffered significant damage. These are the types of things we need to get repaired.

Keep the Faith in Frankford and  Holy Innocents Parish (of which St. Joachim is a Worship Site) formed The Friends of St. Joachim Cemetery. Chaired by Joe and Maureen Taylor, they have begun cleaning the cemetery, giving educational tours and collecting donations to begin some of the restoration projects – like new benches in the cemetery. They have had volunteers coming out to help them but what’s really needed now are dedicated committee members. If you would be interested in helping to plan activities and help with fundraising, etc., please contact Joe via email at joseph.m.taylor12@gmail.com, or text/call his cell at 215-360-6818. Joe’s story is also in the “Frankford Heroes, 2nd Edition” book as well!

We would like to offer our sincere thanks to Jim Young, President, (you were sorely missed, Jim), and other Board Members Jerry Kolankiewicz, Bruce McKenzie, John Buffington, Susan Couvreur, John Hewitt, Fred Prescott and Diane Sadler who were in attendance and most helpful to us as always. Susan gathered and displayed some of the Society’s artifacts related to Veterans this evening. Thank you, Susan! They enhanced the presentation! The refreshments that follow these presentations are worth attending for sure! A double bonus! For more information about the Historical Society of Frankford, please visit their website, https://www.thehistoricalsocietyoffrankford.org/ and find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheHistoricalSocietyofFrankford/?ref=br_rs .

Enjoy the slideshow of the Presentation at The Historical Society of Frankford and also an interview with the author, Bob Smiley!! Thanks for reading! If you have any “Frankford Heroes” you would like to share with us, Bob’s email is in the next paragraph!

Interested in getting a copy of “Frankford Heroes, 2nd Edition” for yourself or for a Hero in your own life, please click here – Lulu. Then email gil@frankfordgazette.com to get your free ebook which contains even more details and links about our local Heroes. 

A slideshow of the November meeting at The Historical Society of Frankford!

Here is an interview that I did with Bob Smiley regarding his new book, “Frankford Heroes, 2nd Edition”!

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Mary Carroll, You Brightened Our Lives!

Photo courtesy of Tina Dambach

Sadly, we learned another of our dear friends was called home to God recently. If you’re a member of St. Joachim or if you live in the area on the corner of Church St. and Griscom St., a very special woman lived in the first floor apartment, Mary Carroll. She knew everybody even if you didn’t know her.

Mary loved God, her Church and everyone else, too. She was a member of the St. Frances de Sales Court #2617 Catholic Daughters of the Americas as well as a member of Keep the Faith in Frankford! When she attended our 8 AM Prayer Services in front of St. Joachim Church, she would always pray for “the animals, the cops, the firemen, all the people, for us and everybody have a good week!” Mary, we pray for you and we also pray for ourselves because Frankford is a little less bright these days without you! Go in peace, sweet friend!

In the Catholic Daughters’ Newsletter, a section called “Members Spotlight” highlighted Mary Carroll in 2015. Regent Tina Dambach wrote the following about Mary:

“Mary Carroll “Call Security!” That’s one of Mary’s catch phrases to ease an awkward or dicey situation or just to bring a little comic relief. Mary recently turned 70. She loves animals, especially her cat, Rocky. She misses her mother who passed away 3 years ago. Before her death, Mary’s mother was living at Chapel Manor Home and Fr. Wetzel and Fr. Large as well as others would take Mary to visit. Mary is a survivor.

It’s anonymous, but Mary has no problem letting you know she has been in A.A. and sober for 35 years as of April 26, 2015. After 5 years of sobriety, Mary came back to the Church after hearing others speak of the peace they had found. Mary joined Catholic Daughter’s because of our own Fr. Wetzel whom she refers to as “the priest” and who helped us find a lot of our members. She likes the people, the parties and helping out. Mary helps as much as she can at all our fundraisers and meetings. She has helped at Matthew 25 on distribution days and on other days she helps pack bags. Mary has also contributed food to Matthew 25. That’s just one example of her generosity.

Mary hopes to hit it big in the lottery one day, but when Mary does hit a number, she is sure to share some with the Church or another person. The thing she shares the most though is her personality. Mary is down to earth, kind, humble and serene. I only saw her get upset once and she immediately let it go. I only saw her cry once and that was the day Father announced that our parish would be merged into Holy Innocents.

She has a great sense of humor too as her, “Call Security”, phrase indicates. Mary has worked at a few different jobs. She worked in a factory until it closed up. She did cleaning at Shriner’s Hospital which used to be on the Boulevard where the kids loved her. Mary also worked for 8 years at McDonald’s before retiring. Her work ethic extended to the Church.

Mary helped at St. Joachim as a greeter and taking the Offertory gifts up and she would help do the readings at daily Mass. Mary is often chosen to take the gifts to the altar at Holy Innocents Church which she finds to be a great honor. Another way Mary shows her faith and evangelizes is by displaying prayer cards, the cross and other religious articles in the windows of her first floor apartment which is directly across from the Church. Mary also has attended prayer services in front of St. Joachim Church every week since the church was closed. She used to attend healing prayer services at St. Anne’s Church.

How lucky we are to have Mary in our court!”

PS. Many thanks to Tammy Hartenstine for providing Rocky with a new home!!

There is a GoFund Me page started by the Court St. Francis de Sales #2617 of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas for the cost of Mary’s funeral, burial and the vet costs for her cat, Rocky! Any amount will help and is most gratefully received! God bless you! https://www.gofundme.com/mary-carroll-funeral

 

 

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A Gift of Friendship That Began At the Frankford YWCA

The Frankford Y has long been closed but to the “Young Mothers’ Club” our hearts were forever opened there. I’m sure we’re one of the only groups, if not THE only group, from the Frankford YWCA that still keeps in touch and has lunch get-togethers. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

The Frankford Y is located at 4704 Leiper St. but we know its location is also commonly referred to as Leiper and Orthodox Streets. Everyone knows about this historic site.

It was built by one of the early mill owners, John Garsed, of Richard Garsed and Brother, who were cotton manufacturers. This mansion was built sometime during 1866 and 1867. John would later fall on hard times and it became known as “Garsed’s Folly”. His brother, Richard, would buy it to bail him out. In 1941, the Young Women’s Christian Association took it over and the mansion became a neighborhood center. Something I didn’t know was that many, many USO hostesses were trained there during World War II. During the 1960’s, with “white flight” happening, the Y would be used to foster a better understanding between the races. There was even a community paper there, called “The Northeast Liberator”.

There was a preschool there for many years on the third floor. I even worked there for a while.

A pool would later be added. In fact, I lied about our Jimmy’s age – you had to be 6 months old for swimming lessons and he was 5½ months old. Well, of course, he was precocious. Sadly, in 2009, it closed with nearly 68 years of housing community service activities. Though a few people have tried to revive and repurpose the building, efforts up to now have not been successful. At present, the building is up for sale.

You know me in many different roles. But did you know I’m a “Young Mother”? And that there are other “Young Mothers” just like me?

Back in 1979, I’m pretty sure, there was an ad in the News Gleaner about a group starting up at the Frankford Y that was for young mothers. Now, none of us that came to the first meeting had any idea how “young” the mothers would be. We learned that, of those who did come, the first was in their later 20’s, I was second at 25, and the youngest from there down to 19 or twenty years of age. There were 5 of us at first and then we had one young mother join us soon after we started. What’s interesting is that we were not in the digital age yet, so we can’t find a copy of that ad from the News Gleaner nor did we take a lot of pictures. But in my mind’s eye, I can still see us at the Y and also “through the years”.

We were mostly from Frankford with the others from nearby neighborhoods. One of the Young Mother’s boyfriends would be the babysitter for our weekly hour or so get togethers. I would get teased because my Great Aunt Pearl lived with us and she would care for Jimmy, so at first he didn’t attend. So it was always suspected I didn’t even have a child. Once he was walking, he did come, too.

Well, we met for at least 2 years there but some of the Young Mothers would move, work, have more children so we would occasionally meet at each other’s houses. However, much time passed between us seeing each other, but we can truly pick up just like it was yesterday. We have been doing that for 39 years.

We meet for lunch now every few months and at a recent luncheon, I said a story about the Young Mothers would be a good one for The Frankford Gazette. These photos were taken at a 1999 swim at Anne Marie’s home. Looking at the cake it says “Forever Young Mothers”. Enough from me, let me let you hear from the other Young Mothers.

Let me introduce them to you:
Anne Marie Imperatore is our leader and has done much to keep us together over these years. As we reflected on what the Young Mothers’ Club meant to us, Anne Marie, said that, back then, she didn’t have a lot of friends. She and Donna became “fast friends” and would help each other and just be friends. Now we’re best friends and if some one has trouble, we would be there for that person. Anne Marie has 4 kids, Richie, Nikki, Mario and Brad. She also has 3 grandchildren that she absolutely adores, Brittany, Gianni and Sofia. Home is Hammonton, NJ.

Donna Budelis, is the youngest of the group, and she was a teenage Mom – an amazing Mom. Her role as Mom really put her beyond her high school friends as her responsibilities changed. Donna wanted understanding and new friends who knew what it was like to be a Young Mother. Donna has suffered the loss of a son. It’s still hard for many of her friends to talk to her but she finds that with us, it’s much more comfortable. Thank you, Donna. I think we all appreciate and are glad you feel that way. Donna has 5 kids and lives in Mayfair. As Donna lives closer, we travel to our lunches together and it’s been a treat to reconnect with her.

Peg McCauley is our wise one. When we first met, she had a daughter, Sarah, and I had Jim who was a little younger. Sarah would call him “Mim”. Peg and I became friends and I always admired her. She had a home on Foulkrod Street with the original hardwood floors, stairs and bannisters. She also bought a white sofa from Work Bench, if you remember them. Well, I wanted to have something nice, too. So, I bought one. But I also had day-care in my home. A day or two after I got it, somehow Jim and Philip got a hold of the Vaseline and put it on the new sofa cushion. Vaseline is oil and you can’t get that out. Well, Aunt Pearl and Bob, turned the cover over and it was some time before I learned of this!! Peg, too, wanted friendship and understanding of what it takes to be a mother. Peg remembers the fun, crafts, a summer barbecue and playground time. Most of all, it was the acceptance and no judgement space that we all needed. Peg has 3 kids and now lives in Swarthmore.

Maryann King is our positive and effervescent, ever youthful Young Mother. Maryann has two boys, and was very active in their sports and school. They are now 41, and 37. Maryann went on to be a “perpetual student”, and became a registered dietitian. The “Young Mothers’ Club” was a haven for all of us. We were able to talk about the challenges of being “young mothers”, and there was such comfort in our friendship. The fact that we’re still friends, and love getting together is a testimony of what a support/friend’s group can do.

I, Pat Smiley, have one son and I have always worked with children, so Jim has always been around children. When I had child care in my home, he would wake up and ask, “Where are the friends?” I, too, wanted friends who would have similar interests and could understand that kids change your life in many ways but so enrich your life as well. I didn’t keep in touch with high school friends, college I went evenings and Saturdays, many work friends I didn’t keep in touch with but these Young Mothers were special. And they still are. I am very happy to keep in touch with them. I’m the only one who still lives in Frankford. We lived at 2961 Fairhill St. – the house is not the re anymore. But Great Aunt Pearl and I were always riding over here to Frankford on the bus from Rockledge (right outside Fox Chase) so I really feel I grew up here.

L – Pat Smiley, Maryann King, Peg McCauley
R – Anne Marie Imperatore, Sally Wiley, Donna Budelis

Sally Parham Wiley is the funniest and lots and lots of fun. She describes herself as a suburban brat from South Philly (South Philly is suburban?) but she loved Frankford. Sally needed something in her life like the Young Mothers. First we met with our kids; now we meet without them. That’s coming full circle.

The Forever Young Mothers’ Club is very special to each one of us and when we first met at the Frankford Y, who knew where we would go or who we would be? Given all the changes in our lives, we are still Young Mothers from the Frankford Y and that’s a gift that grows more precious each year.

 

 

 

Resources for this article
http://www.preservationalliance.com/endangered/new-frankford-y/

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Post Season Football Continues Sunday; Let’s Get Behind Coach Andy Reid!

 

We asked Mike Betz, a local Philadelphia Eagles Fan and Sports Analyst, to reflect on this year’s Eagles season.

Kansas City Chiefs’ Andy Reid

Well, the Eagles’ luck has unfortunately run out. The last 2 seasons have given us incredible thrills to last us for as long as we live. We’ll always be indebted to Nick Foles for taking over and ending 57 years of frustration. Finally, that dark cloud was lifted! Nick Foles should never have to pay for a meal in Philadelphia ever again.

Now that the Eagles finally won it, how about we root for the guy who drafted Nick Foles back in 2012? That’s right, I’m talking about Andy Reid. Love him or hate him, Reid is the winningest coach in Eagles’ history. Many Eagles’ fans, myself included, have criticized him for his play calling and time management, or lack thereof. We were all scratching our heads when he’d call a pass play on first down, when he would burn time outs, and especially at the answer he’d give at his post game press conferences. “I gotta do a better job.” “It’s my responsibility to put guys in position to make plays.” 

Andy Reid is indirectly responsible for the Eagles Super Bowl victory. After all, he recommended Doug Pederson to Jeff Lurie after the Chip Kelly debacle. So far, so good! So, let’s root for Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs to win it all! He has a nice young quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, a solid tight end in Travis Kelce, the younger brother of Jason Kelce. Reid finally seemed to have figured it out. Come on Andy, we got our first title. Go out and get yours. Like you always say, “Time’s yours! Go get it!”

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Frankford Civic Association Meetings Update

October 2018 Meeting

The Frankford Civic Association meets monthly on the first Thursday of each month. Meetings are held from 7 -8 PM at St. Mark’s Church, Frankford, 4442 Frankford Avenue, with convenient parking in the lot which can be accessed via Frankford Avenue or Griscom Street. We’re on the main strip!!

This month, we held a meet and greet with Ellie Vamos, the Commercial Corridor Manager for the Frankford Community Development Corporation. Welcome, Ellie, and we’re glad you’re here! Ellie joined the staff there in September. She comes to us with a varied range of experiences and skills that she developed as a community engagement specialist. Ellie has done much to build partnerships using effective communication strategies to further foster a sense of community. Ellie shared with us her vision and what she is currently working on in her new position.

Ellie is a great listener and endeared herself to the group at large immediately. Ellie would like to build and develop our local business organization by recruiting new members and helping them to see the importance of their investment in Frankford and how it can improve their own business success. Partnering with the greater community, the Frankford Civic Association agreed to co-sponsor the Monster Bash on Halloween which was held at the Pause (Pink) Park. Due to a recent fire on Paul St., the planned movie had to be canceled unfortunately.

Ellie is scheduled to return for this month’s meeting, too, to continue our discussions of how we can support the CDC’s effort to revitalize our commercial corridor.

We also discuss upcoming issues for the Neighborhood Advisory Committee such as zoning, expansion of existing properties and other issues directly affecting the community. Christine DeJesus serves as Co-ordinator of the NAC.

So join us at our next meeting on Thursday, December 6! There’s always something new to learn about Frankford!