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Frankford Northwood Y Status Report

Neighbors were both happy and concerned when Leiper Street LLC purchased the old Frankford Y building at 4704 Leiper Street.  The building had been deteriorating for years since it had closed.

When the owners, Steve Mavrakis and Steve Ostroff, appeared at the Northwood Civic Association meeting in December of 2018, they were greeted with many questions and a lot of skepticism.  What were they going to do with the building.  (see report about that meeting at this link.)  Was it going to be an asset to the community?

The building was in poor shape at that time but in the year since, a great deal of work has been done.  It is now available for lease, details at this link.

Below are some before and after pictures showing the progress of the renovations.  It’s a work in progress but Steve Mavrakis said it would be done and looks like it is going in the right direction.

 

 

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OP-Ed from Harold Miller Jr.

I am a senior currently attending Julia R. Masterman high school. Recently, I have begun to look into who represents me on a political level. This has lead me to discover Jason Dawkins, the State Representative for the 179th Legislative District of Philadelphia.

As a State Representative, Dawkins has the power to pass and vote on different pieces of legislation which directly impact my community.  While researching Dawkins, I have found that we share similar views on multiple different societal issues; for example, raising the minimum wage, limiting the availability of firearms, and increasing funding for certain Philadelphia public schools.

As a senior in high school currently applying for college, I wholeheartedly agree with Dawkins’ stance on these subjects, as I believe both of these ideas would be beneficial to me as I move into adulthood. Despite this, there are still areas within politics where I find myself disagreeing with some of Dawkins’ political decisions.

Over the past few years, there has been a rapid rise in gun violence within schools across the nation. This has lead to an increase in pressure towards public school administrations as they try to implement new systems in order to ensure the safety of their students during the school day. The frequency of these events has lead the public to become more vocal towards this subject, leading many to propose solutions on ways to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring. One idea which has recently rose to popularity is the idea of improving the overall quality of school security by requiring certain training credentials as well as arming school security guards.

Since his election, Dawkins has been a strong advocate against gun violence within Philadelphia. However, while researching Dawkins, it came to my attention that in regards to Senate Bill 621, which is a bill that would allow the arming of security guards and require school security to present certain credentials annually to hold their position, he was one of the many Democrats who voted against its passage.

Knowing Dawkins’ political track history, I find this act contradictory as I fail to see why he would argue against this bill. Dawkins, being a very vocal figure in the fight against gun violence, has made many actions in the past to improve security within schools. On October 24, 2018, he announced a school safety grant for Mastery Charter school, which would go towards security related equipment, such as metal detectors, identification systems, surveillance equipment, etc..

Within this same announcement, he stated that “children and parents should never have to fear whether or not they will return from school”, and that these grants will “help provide a safe and healthy environment for our children to learn, and teachers to teach”. I believe that the passing of Senate Bill 621 would have helped immensely in the achievement of the goals Dawkins set out in this announcement, which leads me to wonder what reasoning Dawkins has for his vote on this bill.

While I may disagree with Dawkins on this specific subject, I am very grateful for what he has done within my community. I will continue to follow and support Dawkins’ political movements as I believe he is truly working to improve our city.

 

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Kiddie Matinee at the Roosevelt

Author

By William Mastropieri

Philadelphians have a great deal to reminiscence about.  We had our Italian dad, John Facenda, broadcasting our news. Jack Parr entertained us with thought provoking humor. He made us think of our place on earth. Philadelphia kids were blessed with Sally Starr, Gene London, Pixanne, Chief Halftown and Bertie the Bunyip.

Yes, we lived on an entirely different cultural landscape. In that era, we used to simply “discard” our unwanted possessions. Today we are “downsizing”. A man was “fired”. We did not use, pleasing to the ear and cosmetic euphemisms such as “the company downsized”. I frequently thought the discarded employee was placed on the pavement on trash pick-up day.

In the past years, we heard of something being “frozen”. That meant mom’s homemade popsicles are in the ice cube tray in the frozen compartment of our refrigerator. She used two wooden toothpicks as a holder.

I recall our mahogany encased “television set”. It was not color or black and white. It was white with different shades of gray. It was certainly too heavy to mount on our wall. In fact, at that time, we would never consider the possibility.

We used to dance in front of our RCA TV when WFIL’s Dick Clark’s American Bandstand aired. I think Philadelphians’ never forgave him for moving to Los Angeles. When we started school, we could safely walk home for mom’ home cooked meals. The days seemed slower and the atmosphere quiet.

One on my most cherished memories was the Saturday Kiddie matinee at the old Roosevelt Theatre. For a quarter you could see a double feature. Sometimes they had one movie with ten brand new Popeye cartoons. We never imagined that a cartoon character would star in a full-length feature film. An added entertainment feature was the “Races”. Along with our ticket stub each kid would be given a number. Before the main feature, there would be a showing of various races. This could be a car, motorcycle, dog, horse, boat or a foot race. The kid who had the number corresponding with the winner would be awarded a prize in the movie lobby.

Photo from CinemaTreasures.org

At that time, space and science fiction films were popular. There would be interesting space plots. Martians would arrive on some dusty desert. The term “alien” came later. The Martians would arrive, invade or simply show up and proceed to cause mischief. I recall these “Space Guys” were played by short Japanese in motorcycle helmets.

Looking back on it, it may not have been politically correct. But you could think of it as Inclusive. I guess we should keep the films the way they are and allow future generations to decide how appropriate it was. I often wondered whether those Japanese actors were awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

I recall one film which made a deep impression on me. It was a science fiction film set in the future. The plot deals with the results of a whole section of a once proud neighborhood going to pot. Yes, figuratively and literally. The streets are no longer safe. You could hear random gun and rifle blasts. Streetlamps have become a scary shade of yellow. Homes are not refurbished, lawns hold debris of trash and are unkept.

Police hesitate to respond because they themselves have become frightened and realize the hood rats have more ammunition and newer and better weapons. A once proud shopping Avenue which once welcomed the likes of George Washington and Marquis Lafayette now sees rows of abandoned shops or house private care facilities for drug users. They have become addicted and we should feel sorry for them. They are called Drug Victims.

Meaningful, respectful and decent occupations are at a premium. Booths under the entrance of the “Sky Train”, which once sold pretzels and the daily newspaper, are now well-known areas for “Pushers”. Future people, who can read, find reading a chore. The remaining papers find they can only sell when sport stars squeak across the masthead. Europeans who notice this would deduce that this paper is “not for serious readers”.

The school districts are having “issues”. Another future euphemism for the word “trouble”. Future students must pass through a metal detector in order to prevent guns and/or knives from entering the school. Surveillance cameras are positioned throughout the school. Any activity is monitored by a team of “security personnel”. They are housed in a makeshift trailer outside the school. Teams of security personnel monitor the hallway. Alarms have been installed in the lavatory in order to prevent or alert any violation.

The pool of qualified teachers, those who took the self-defense course, have become a vanishing breed. Those who study Elementary or Secondary Education at university have dwindled. It has become widely known that the profession has become a politicized, dangerous and thankless occupation. The school district fills the many openings with poorly trained teachers who do not care about academic quality.

Many teachers keep their home computers open for quality positions in the suburbs. It started with “casual Friday”. This left an opening with the remaining four days. The future teachers dress no better than custodians. Future custodians experience better pay than teachers. The principal was dismissed because he forgot he did not have proper credentials.

Students, who arrive from feeder schools are at a “slight disadvantage”. They are either years behind grade level or simply cannot read period. Here is where we see the future school library. We see a stock shot from the film “Time Machine” The actor Rod Serling inspects library books and becomes emotionally shaken as he finds books crumble in his hand. He shouts “what have you done! What have you done!”

Students become only interested on the playing field or the school cafeteria when they practice martial arts during lunchroom food fights. Future kids have plenty of energy since big business installed unhealthy sugary drinks on the premises. Teachers look the other way in order to stay uninvolved and not get involved in inner city school politics.

Again, they need to keep their status quo until a suburban position opens. Why should they exert themselves breaking up a fight and justify their act with lengthy paperwork. Future school kids don’t care about food waste. They don’t pay for their meals. The money comes from the government. Teachers count the years before retirement. Shape young minds? Forget about it! Teachers could barely keep their own!

The advent of handheld computers have become a great aid to educators. No 1960 IBM cards here. This has become a great way for teachers to slap on a program and skip out on their duties. Computer lesson programmers wrote a program in which students, with the use of a mathematical formula, can figure out how to dunk a basket. This is when they are not surreptitiously watching a movie.

There was an episode where old alumni hands return to the campus and are amused, if not baffled, to find various signs which read, “THIS IS A DRUG, ALCOHOL AND WEAPON FREE ZONE”. One old alumnus says, “Well that’s just dandy”. Another recalls that he saw similar signs posted next to a nearby elementary school. The group of alumni, now very senior citizens, decide to head to a well-remembered drug store for a prescription refill and a coke. They decide to abandon the coke when they find the store closed years ago and is now an abortion clinic.

One of the old timers ask a passing student where he could get his prescription filled. He is directed towards a dirty inner section under the Sky Train. The group has become thirsty, and not just for new ideas. They decide to go to a local tavern. They laughingly recall that they could not come into this place when they were students. They hear the familiar roar and screech of the Sky Train overhead. As if on some kind of emotional cue, the aged alumni sing, without any emotional feeling, the high school fight song. There is total silence at the completion of the song and memories. The lighted overhead fans dance a flickered shadow on their bewildered faces.

I recall leaving the Roosevelt and our walk down Foulkrod Street. I looked up at Dad and asked about the plot. Like all science fiction films I asked him of the possibility of something like that actually happening. He looked at me and serenely said, “No that only happens in the movies”.

I think the name of the film was, “Return to Frankford”.

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Veteran of the Month – Leonard W. Stephens

Leonard W. Stephens was born in 1943 and was the oldest of three children, of the late Leonard Lee Stephens and the late Ida Knowles. Leonard attended schools in the Philadelphia school system and graduated from West Philadelphia High School in 1961.

He knew he wanted to travel, so after graduation joined the United States Air Force, where he served for four years. After coming out of the service with an honorable discharge in 1965, Leonard decided he wanted to serve and protect his community, so he joined the Philadelphia Police Force.

While on the force, Leonard decided to go back to school to further his education. He attended LaSalle University where he received his Bachelors and Masters degrees. He was promoted to detective and served in that position for over 21 years.

During his career on the Police force, he received a commendation for bravery in 1986 when he apprehended an armed bank robbery suspect while he was off duty and unarmed.

After retirement from the force, he changed his occupation and joined the Philadelphia school system. He served as a long-term substitute teacher for 10 years at Henry R. Edmunds Elementary School at Large and Dyre Streets in Northwood.

Leonard loved food, people and challenges in life. His mother Ida was his best friend and he called her every day. Everyone he met admired him for his humor, wisdom, jokes, and friendliness.

Leonard was well versed in many subjects and a Jack of all trades. His hobbies were playing cards, performing magic tricks and writing poetry. For several years, Leonard tutored many Korean children in English as a second language.

He lived on the 1600 block of Kinsey Street for over 30 years and had many friends along Frankford Avenue that he made over the years. He was a fixture and made the rounds greeting his friends with his trademark phrase, “Dilly Dilly”.

On Tuesday January 29, 2019 God called Leonard home. He leaves to mourn his brother Raymond Stephens (Helen), sister Gloria

Stephens Frazier-Green, a niece Lisa Kim Frazier (preceded), 4 nephews: Jerome Frazier Sr. (Shanel), Michael Frazier, Damien Stephens, Quincy Stephens (Kia), 10 Great nieces and nephews and one Great-Great–Niece Lisa Nichole West and many family and friends.

He is also mourned by his Friends on Frankford Avenue who feel the loss of his friendship and good humor. Thanks to Gil Pons and Stephen at the video store with helping with the preparation of this story.

Leonard W. Stephens –thank you for your service!!!

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Happy 70th Birthday to Tyrone “Big Poppa” Forrest

Happy Birthday Tyrone

A life long resident of Frankford, Tyrone has been married to Loretta Forrest for 30 years and is the father of 3 (Tyrone, Quinten Sr, (Neva) and Dawn) and  Grandfather of 4 (Quinten Jr., Sean, Jasmine, and Mya).

He is a retired Philadelphia Police Officer and in his younger years, he coached Football for the Frankford Chargers.

His family wishes him a happy birthday and many more to come.