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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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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!

 

 

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PSA 1 – Facing Tough Issues With a Lot of Heart

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L-R Pete Specos, Co-ordinator PSA 1, Lt. Duane Gordon, Capt. Anthony Luca and Ronald Ryan, WalkSafePHL and Town Watch Integrated Services

 

Captain Luca and Lieutenant Gordon from the 15th Police District met with Frankford, Northwood and Bridesburg residents last Thursday, August 25 at Aria Frankford Hospital. With a standing room only crowd, residents listened to the litany of the crime statistics which they know all too well since they live them. Several residents reported drug houses, prostitution activity, problems with halfway houses, etc.

Burglaries are up in Northwood, shootings and stabbings continue in Frankford and Bridesburg continues to work for more police presence from a District that is the largest in the city and uses what officers and resources they have as strategically as they can.

The police continue to remind us to lock windows and doors to prevent easy access. They do have a suspect they are watching but you have to do more than just arrest them. You need proof and that takes police work and neighbors’ help. A local 7-11 has been robbed 4 times during the overnight hours and most crimes are crimes of opportunity. Police use “Leads on Lines” where pawn shops now have to id those wishing to do business with them and that is sometimes a help. Captain Luca is very much aware of the drug dealers – who they are and where they are. Some recent staffing issues have been, of course, the Democratic National Convention, nationwide police shootings, where for our officers’ sakes, they’ve been assigned 2 to a car so some plainsclothes officers were temporarily reassigned.

Change won’t happen overnight. Many residents realize this and that’s why our civic groups have gotten more active and involved. Town Watch Eyes and Ears – you don’t patrol – you just observe and then call in what you see. We’ve been told if you identify yourself as a Town Watch member calling 911 – that helps. Lt. Gordon promised to come up with a different way to help us report and get action on what we see more quickly. Get trained with your neighbors. Ronald Ryan, Recruiter, for WalkSafePHL and Town Watch Integrated Services, offered to help train residents. Frankford Forward, our community group focused on issues causing violence, can provide meeting space for ongoing training.

Relations between Police and citizens have been in the news consistently. Captain Luca says his officers are motivated and he works to deploy them so they are most effective. Change won’t happen overnight.

But there are signs of hope. Aria Frankford has donated space to have a Police substation located there. This will be used for bike cops to ride up and down Frankford Avenue and some side streets. The current grid is from Penn to Duffield Sts. and from Arrott to Brill Sts. One of the areas of concern had been Margaret and Worth – site of a former drug rehab center. Bob Smiley and I were out delivering The Frankford Gazette and we saw two bike police officers pull up there and just get off their bikes. I don’t think the people there knew what to do. The bike cops have a specific route and so far they have made quite a few arrests – for guns, in particular. One of the guns confiscated was found to be involved in multiple shootings.

The meeting took an interesting turn as the people gathered started talking about what we needed to do to take back our community. The Police alone cannot solve the problem. One resident, Josue, says he comes out and talks with his neighbors. Other residents wanted to see more officers representing the ethnicities of our community. Lt. Gordon and Capt. Luca understood that but they have no control over how officers are assigned. Captain Luca recalled that the role of police officers has changed from a “warrior mentality” back in the 70’s and 80’s to a “guardian mentality” today. Who wouldn’t agree that a police officer is taking his/her life in their hands every day? We would have to admit it can very much be the same way for some of us!

There used to be several places youth could go in the community that are no longer there. Everyone agreed that there was respect for your elders. Parents were concerned that their children’s activities in the neighborhood would reflect on the family and, as a kid, you didn’t want to be guilty of that. Neighbors would tell your parents/grandparents what you were up to and then it all hit the fan. Today, parents are using their children to sell drugs to help support the family. No one really wants to live that way has been said at a few community meetings by people who know. That realization is why the Frankford CDC is working hard to bring more economic development to Frankford Avenue.

Another positive development is that the Police are looking to re-establish a PAL Center in the neighborhood and have the funding to develop and maintain it. A future police vs. youth softball game is in the works, too!

Everyone realized that it must be a “grassroots” effort that takes a community and its people. Would you like to get involved? Here’s just a few of the groups that would warmly welcome you, your friends and family to support their efforts:

  • Neighborhood Advisory Committee Meeting (Zoning), Thursday, Sept. 8, 7 PM, Second Baptist Church, 1801 Meadow St., 19124
  • Frankford Forward, Meets every 2 weeks, Monday, Sept. 19, 6 PM, Presentation on Mental Health First Aid and training that we may be interested in, St. Mark’s Church, 4442 Frankford Ave., 19124
  • Northwood Civic Association Meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 7-8 PM, St. James Church, Castor Ave. and Pratt St., 19124
  • PSA 1 Meeting, Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 PM, Bridesburg Boys and Girls Club, 2901 Bridge St., 19137

There will be a Community Bike Ride in Frankford on September 24 beginning at Aria Frankford Hospital. All are invited! Details below!

Bike Rally Frankford

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Frankford Business and Professsional Association: Taking Care of Your Business

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Heather Hanowitz, PIDC, addresses the April 2016 meeting of the FBPA

Bob and I have been to the last two meetings of the Frankford Business and Professional Association (FBPA) and I have been duly impressed with the content and resources of the bi-monthly programs. This is an organization that is serious about business and yours in particular! The FBPA meets bimonthly at Aria Frankford and I expect they need to be thinking about larger space because the meetings are overflowing. Today’s economy is so volatile that I’m convinced we have to be able to create our own jobs and our children will, too! Thus, connecting with others and learning what resources are out there is critical to your success. The FBPA is “a membership-based coalition of stakeholders that strive to stimulate economic development and provide support to the local business community of Frankford”.1 Members are business owners, entrepreneurs (a growing group), community organizations (Keep the Faith in Frankford), the service industry, religious leaders and neighborhood residents. That’s quite a coalition! You fit in this group!

April’s meeting agenda:

  • A presentation by Heather Hanowitz, Vice President, Market Manager, Commercial Business for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, (PIDC), whose motto is “Driving growth to every corner of Philadelphia”. Well, we have a nice long stretch of avenue and we’re ready. There are workshops for legacy businesses – family businesses passing on to the next generation and working capital and equipment financing monies at relatively low interest rates – 6.25%. In 2014, PIDC reports that they financed area businesses with over $1 billion.
  • Alice G. Dungee-James, MCA, Assistant Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) in Philadelphia explained how to do business with the City through contracts and bids for work and selling your goods and services. Do you know what the city spends and all the different types of materials and services they buy? There’s a good chance the city needs what you have and you want a piece of that pie!! To get started, here’s the link – and if you’re a woman, a minority or disabled, there is no registration fee. City Registration Process! Once you’re certified and registered, the City’s department refers to the this list for procurement purposes. Ms. Dungee-James was very informative and her contact information is on the registration link if you need help. Alice also gave us two tips:
    • Here’s the list of agencies that will certify your business. It pays to shop around, it was mentioned New Jersey charges $100.00
    • It’s important to know your NAICS code for your industry because procurement (buying) orders are based on that code. It’s a good idea to put that code on your business cards.
  • We also heard from Jonathan Synder, Senior Manager, Commercial Corridor regarding the Storefront Improvement Program. Jonathan was “pitch hitting” for Giana Lawrence who had a scheduling conflict. I was really impressed with the transformation of some of these buildings. The program will reimburse you up 50% for exterior improvements that you make up to $10,000 for a store front and $15,000 for multiple addresses or a corner store. Your property must be between 1200 – 3100 Frankford Ave. and 4000-5300 Frankford Ave. There is also an InStore Program that is a “loan forgiveness” plan loaning you the money for equipment and supplies to expand your existing business or adding another location. Their latest online application states 4000-5300 Frankford Avenue businesses are eligible. 6200-8500 Frankford Avenue in Mayfair is eligible, too, if you would like to pass that on. Several Avenue businesses have taken advantage of this program. Once you’ve decided to apply, you’re assigned a Relationship Manager who will walk you through the process. If you want to take advantage of these programs, don’t do any work until you’ve been approved for it. Giana’s contact information is on the website.
  • The new 15th Police District Captain, Anthony Luca, along with Officer Matt Crosson, Community Relations, and Officer Sean Kennelly, who just received a PDAC award for his work solving crimes with a focus on burglaries. There was much discussion regarding loitering that businesses much cope with, recent robberies at fast food restaurants. The Captain responded that if 911 calls are not getting responses after several calls, ask for a supervisor. I know that the city establishes a priority response system and what you are calling about might not demand the quickest response. So you’ll have to use your judgement. But this is good to know for the times that require immediate response and it’s not happening.
  • The FBPA is hosting a Spring Networking Mixer on May 19, 5:30 – 7:30 PM at the Historical Society of Frankford. For more information , contact Ileana Garcia at igarcia.fcdc@gmail.com
  • There will also be a 3 mile fun run fundraiser in October to benefit the Northeast Frankford Boys and Girls Club and avenue businesses. More details will be forthcoming.

These are terrific ways to increase your business and your profits. Wouldn’t it be better for you to be there in person hearing about it? Membership is $60 annually and we would love to see join!

 

 

 

 

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PSA1 Meeting – Frankford and Bridesburg Join Forces

The PSA1 meeting is usually held at Aria Hospital on the last Thursday of the month at 7 PM. It had been mentioned during the December meeting that moving it to Bridesburg would bring out more folks from Bridesburg who hesitate to come to Frankford. In truth, parking is harder around the hospital. It was decided to try this idea at the January meeting. The meeting for February 25 would be held at the Bridesburg Boys and Girls Club. This would also be a Captain’s Town Hall meeting as Captain McCloskey would be attending.

For those of you unfamiliar with the PSA1 meeting, this is an opportunity to meet directly with the 15th District Police to discuss your concerns and hear what the police are doing in the community.

You know that while Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, we tend to stay within our own boundaries. But soon you realize that the concerns we share are the same. Over 40 people attended the meeting.

Captain John McCloskey, Pete Specos, Officer Crosson and Officer Kennelly

Captain John McCloskey, Pete Specos, Officer Crosson and Officer Kennelly

We heard about the lack of police presence and how long it takes for officers to respond to 911 calls, fights in front of bars where patrons are told to go home by the police but come right back or are there the next night again, for sure, and parents’ concerns walking kids home from school passing cars where the oldest and, probably, first business is being conducted in parked cars. Squatters in homes, illegal parking, drug dealers scurrying inside when police are near but boldly outside again once the coast is clear continues. Cars going way too fast in the neighborhoods and people wonder why nothing ever changes.

A good crowd of Bridesburg and Frankford residents together

A good crowd of Bridsburg and Frankford residents together

These meetings can get heated and people want to make phone calls and protest and that will get attention. But does that only work for the short term? The attention span of the news media is even quicker than ours moving on to the next “big” story.

So, great ideas are born and take shape. Let us be real – the 15th Police District is the largest geographically in the city and it has the most crime. Maybe those DistrictMapThumbnail-15thtwo facts are related but either way, we know our problems won’t get better left alone. What can we do to support the 15th Police District and its officers? Bill Lorch of Bridesburg, Veronica Daniel of Frankford and myself, Pat Smiley, suggested we involve all of our stakeholders in a larger meeting. Let’s see if PSA2 and PSA3 are interested in working together. Let’s invite our community and elected officials to work on real strategies and solutions to our problems. It seems we talk and tell our concerns but never get to real resolution. What will that take? All of us working together. Before leaving, those gathered shared their contact information for future follow-up.

Left Bill Lorch speaks with Rep. John Taylor as the police officers talk with another participant.

Left Bill Lorch speaks with Rep. John Taylor as the police officers talk with another participant.

State Representative John Taylor was there that night and he was scheduled to meet with Mayor Kenney on  Friday, 2/26, in the afternoon. We drafted a letter in time for him to deliver it personally to the Mayor. Letters were also written and mailed on Friday to State Senator Tina Tartaglione, State Representative Jason Dawkins, City Councilman Bobby Henon, City Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sanchez and Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

We know the power of the Frankford Gazette. If anyone from PSA2 and PSA3 is reading this, please reach out to us. We have calls in to contact you.

We’re sharing our letter because we want you to be a part of this, too. If you would like to read it, click here. We’re convinced, like our Founders’ were, that the power lies with the people but we must use it. Our power lies in our united voices. We will keep you posted.