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An Experience Like No other


We all seem to expect the common. We seem so positioned that nothing can surprise us. We have become so complacent that nothing astounds us. I held this view until the evening of Friday, September 27th, 2019.

The 50th reunion of the Frankford High Class of 1969 school kids took place in Warminister, Pennsylvania on that date.

My Frankford High School years.  How could I forget? Teachers’ have seen the look of a child face when he realizes the answer to a problem.  That child’s face was our own that evening. We were all baffled by the speed of life.  Indeed we hurdled that bar.

One reaction was, “Dear Lord, we are getting old.” Another would be, “It may be better TO call OUR LIVES a success and move to Florida.” A further thought would be to retire that eager beaver desire to become a “success”. We all wanted to “do well”. We all dreamed of going back to the old neighborhood,
straighten our three piece Italian suit, perfecting that knot in the tie and proudly announcing to mom and dad, “look at me I am a success”

That great post war effort no longer seems relevant. The ambition to “make it” seems as out of date as a 1969 Oldsmobile. We have realized that meaningful success is not measured on how well we have achieved financially or how well we have acquired materially but how much we gave. True assets are the spiritual ones of generosity, compassion, sharing and kindness. These are the contributions we will
pass on to future generations.

Our “alumni kids” told me of their compassion. Some started a foundation for disabled children, for the homeless, for disabled veterans. They have started scholarships for the less advantaged. They have become teachers, doctors lawyers and motivational speakers. Students who were athletic became coaches and yes, health teachers.  They contributed their time in fostering student growth and assisted in promoting healthy relationships.

Reuniting with this 1969 crew was a blessing. I knew these kids when they were shopping for Clearasil. Today we look for soap which promises a more youth appearance. Yes, we have all aged, but we have gotten better. Those juvenile hang ups of putting someone down in order to feel better about ourselves seems something out of an “I Love Lucy” script. Reminiscing with this squad I could not help hearing Hy Lit or Joe Niagria announcing a new release. Who turned on the frequency for Wibbage? Friday’s night game could have reviled “The Dating Game”, “The Newlyweed Game”or “Supermarket Sweep”. We should call it “ The Alumni Game.

The object was to remember someone face and name without glancing at their 1969 graduation photograph. It was also not to react to their seasoned appearance. Congenial responses were as follows:
“Oh yes, I remember you. You were on the Frankford Highway” “ Oh you were dating so and so
Have you heard from so and so recently?” “ I remember you from Edmunds. What did you think of our teachers?” “Oh yes, you were on the ping pong team. No, I played varsity football! You fool!
“Oh yes, sorry Yes, I recall you made that winning touchdown at the Thanksgiving Game against North Catholic. Weren’t you the player who got confused, went in the wrong direction and scored the winning point for North Catholic?” “Oh sure, I remember you. Didn’t you belong to a club called “Ye Spooks”.
“Absolutely no! I would never belong to a club with that kind of name! If you ever repeat something thing like that I will sue!

Some things should never be brought up. Some topics should be left in “The Land of the Forgotten”
The kids should of had a weekend retreat with free beer. Who has the medical Marijuana card? Their was too much to catch up on! We could not recall 50 years of life in four hours!

I wondered about the others who did not attend. Those with the poor grades. Those who felt they did not achieve in their careers. Those who could not get along with people. The loners who felt the world was against them. Those who felt too important to attend. Those who felt a reunion was not important
and wanted to keep that part of their lives compartmentalized.

I have heard Frankford High is not the school it used to be. Nothing ever is! We see inner city hopelessness, high crime, and crumbling neighborhoods. Low expectations seem to be the norm.
Their used to be a large display cabinet in the Frankford Hallway. I recall this was next to the auditorium. It showcased photographs of those Frankford students who were accepted to university. This was their first stop on their way to the Rainbow Land called “The American Dream”.

That cabinet has now been downsized to one the size of a suitcase. Too many of today’s Frankfordites are not meeting their potential. Too many teachers’ cannot relate their educational material into
practical everyday needs. But I am confident that a new and dynamic educational curriculum will be forged!

Our class has had a remarkable run. We had many challenges that, at the time, seemed insurmountable. We had the unpopular Vietnam War, political corruption, bad economy, racism, sexism, family breakdown,  political assassination, and general political disillusionment and America’s role in the world. But we did succeed! Not individually. but collectively!

Students need hands on, real world educational experience which utilize their talents and interests. This energy must be channeled into the actual needs of our occupational workplace!
“Students are wise, they can detect a teacher who does not care! I am confident that future Frankford High graduates will return to the old neighborhood wearing their three piece Italian suit, fix that knot in their tie, and at the door of their childhood home, proudly announce. “Look at me mom and dad. I am a success!”

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A great community is always within reach

My brother Seán was the last of the Rowley Family on Herbert Street. He sold the house back in about 2005.  When the Rowley Family lived there it was an Irish house through and through. It was a sea of green featuring shamrocks, leprechauns, and St Brigid’s Crosses. My Ma even talked funny like one of the Irish in the movies.

We had family come over from Ireland from time to time and they had very fond memories of their time visiting on Herbert Street.  It was a great house with awesome memories.

One family member, Regina, was visiting just 2 years ago from Ireland and wanted to take a visit down to the old neighborhood. As we were making our way up and down the streets of Northwood, we noticed that one of the main differences was the absences of the trees on the streets. Many trees had died off or been removed. You don’t realize what type of character trees add to a neighborhood until they are no longer there.

Anyhow, we went up and down Herbert Street a couple times rubbernecking out the windows with each pass. We were noting what had changed and what had stayed the same.

On the last pass down Herbert Street – out of “my” front door pops a woman with a smile on her face. She asks “can I help you. It’s like the 5th time you passed by the house and you seemed to slow with each pass of my house.”

Regina, spouts from the car, “no – it’s his house”. Now I had to pull over and explain.

I believe her name was Ms. Gwyn.  As I walked towards the house, I explained my history with the house. She invited us in for a visit.

The house was no longer Irish. There was a new history to the house one that was brilliantly African. The walls were colored with new patterns, shapes, and colors. Celtic images were replaced with those from another continent. Walking through the house you could see the pride of a family and the new character and stories that would forever be imprinted within those walls.

She let us have free reign of the house. I explained to her the events and the stories unique to each room. Ms. Gwyn seems curious about the Rowley family’s love for Caribbean Beach wallpaper murals that was one or two layers thick in the master bedroom. I told her that was not part of any “Irish” culture you’d find on Google. Just a crazy Rowley thing. As I shared each excited utterance of happy memories, she had a similar story to share.

When I left Herbert Street that day, I felt a good family had continued a tradition between those walls that included love and laughter. This seemed to be just the type of family that made Northwood such a great place to live the years I was there.

One of my fondest memories at St. Joachim with Cardinal Krol and Father Silvestri at the consecration of the new church.

Keep on loving and caring for the neighborhood and a great community is always within reach.

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Old Frankford Reunion 2019

The Frankford area and Deni Playground were well represented at the Old Frankford Reunion. A great time was had by all  on Friday night, Sept 27th, 2019, at the FOP Lodge.
Jim Barry, Judy White,Standish, Doug and Gloria Morrison, Jim Margiotti, and myself and others who helped signing in, you all did a great job!! Also thanks to Bob and Pat Smiley and the Frankford Gazette for the advertising of the event.

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Thanks for coming out, hope you all had a great time, as we did?    This party came together in about 4 months, as a birthday party for about 15 people who were 70 years young and became a Old Frankford Reunion. Some people have not seen others in about 40 yrs.
John Hewitt.


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Chaos on 1100 block of Dyre Street

Local residents and parents picking up students at String Theory School in Northwood report chaotic conditions on Dyre Street at dismissal time.  This is reported to be a a long term problem that has only gotten worse.

What is a quiet block most of the day,

turns into a major traffic jam at dismissal as drivers refuse to pull into parking spots by the curb for fear of being blocked in, so the double and triple parking thereby causes gridlock for everyone else.  Tempers flare and soon you have more than a traffic jam.

Residents have contacted the school authorities but see no improvement.

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Veteran of the Month – Walter B. Rice

Walter B. Rice was born on July 19, 1942 in Frankford Hospital and was raised in the Tacony section of Philadelphia.  Ricey, as he was known, attended Hamilton Disston Elementary School and Lincoln High School. Ricey joined the Army National Guard and worked at different jobs such as Myerstone Basin Company, Nesbitt and worked at Frankford Hospital for over 20 years and retired.

Ricey, while serving in the National Guard, served on disaster duty in many places and and some of the island countries.   During his service, he received his paratrooper wings while at Fort Bragg jump school.

Ricey loved his job at Frankford Hospital and was well liked.  He knew just as much about hospital problems, you would think he was a doctor.  Ricey passed away on October of 2018 and will be missed very much.

Walter B. Rice – Thank you for your service!!!