The living there ended first.
Remember we had moved into an interesting, to say the least, cheap one-room apartment in West Philly, the area called University City.
At the time I had no steady job. I had begun to write freelance My wife took a job as a secretary at the University of Pennsylvania. We had very little money and several times I would go out and walk along the trolley stops of Chester and Baltimore Avenues looking for dropped change to provide some extra food. My lunches were quite often a bag of Philly Soft Pretzels.
We lived like that for several months before I took a job as a Circulation Manager and Book Reviewer for a magazine publisher downtown. Amazingly, I started at a higher salary than I had been making at ARCo. I was also beginning to get writing assignments from a local tabloid, being published in the "Underground" (cover of an Underground Magazine I wrote for on left, one of the few pages I could show here without gaining an X-rating.) and selling my short stories to an international publication. With our combined income, we certainly could afford something better than the small, rundown place we were living.
As good story fodder as our often exotic neighbors were it was bothersome late at night when the prostitute down the hall put her young boy out in the hall to play while she served her client. It was especially so when he began to ride his tricycle with the squeaky wheel up and down at one o'clock in the morning. It became something of a last straw when I came home one afternoon and he came running by almost knocking into me screaming, "Mommy, mommy, the cops took daddy away again!"
( Six Stories of the Sixties from Keep All the Animals Warm).
However, we still had months left on the lease. Then one evening there was a rap on our door. The elderly lady who owned the apartment house had sold it to two young gay men and they had come to call. They assured us they were going to renovate the entire building and asked us to consider staying. Thus, we signed on for another year and moved down the hall to a recently refurbished one-bedroom apartment.
In fact, do you recall the crash pad apartment with the wall-to-wall mattresses across its floor? This was where the girl who would run half-naked into the hall in drug-induced nightmares lived with her boyfriend. The new owners had begun evicting the less desirable tenants, which included this couple and the prostitute down the hall and the high-heel wearing one above us.
Here are some before and after photos. On the left are photos of our one-room apartment. (It looked worse when we moved in, but we painted it ourselves, which improved it some.) On the right is the one-bedroom apartment we moved into after the renovation.
Left: The doors are to the closet and the most erotic bathroom in Philly where you could hear all the doings of the High-heel prostitute upstairs.
The sofa is a fold-away bed, where we slept at night.
Right: Portion of our new living room.
Left: The one room was not large and doubled as bedroom-living room. The photos do it more justice than it deserves.
Right:You can see the living room of the One-bedroom was quite a bit larger. I could expand the bookcases for my growing library.
There were windows in each room. The scene that opened this Post was the view from these windows to the back of the building. The parking lot was for the students of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. You can just see the back of the Dormitory to the right of that photo.
The other buildings face Baltimore Pike.
Left: Our cramped and crowded lone window. The fan was our air conditioning, heat came from the radiator beneath. That is Ian's cage by the fan. He died here during that winter because we had no heat for a week. My writing desk is just visible.
Right: Again you see the expansion of space we had with the new apartment.
Perhaps you see the most dramatic change with the kitchen, our old on the left, the new on the right.
However, the kitchen became the center of the determinator for us leaving when our second lease was up.
For one, as nice a job the owners did in the renovation of this building, they overlooked one thing. They did not fumigate.
The rebuilding must have stirred up the roaches, for now they came in swarms at night. You could hear the click of them against the surface of the kitchen sink after the lights went out, holding their dances. I had never seen a roach in my life before we moved to Philadelphia and if I never see another it will be just fine with me. We had a few in the first apartment, but we had masses in the new. I couldn't stand them.
The clincher came one evening when I went out to the kitchen for something. I heard a strange noise. If you look at the bottom right of the photo, you will see a panel in the wall. Something was clawing the panel from the other side. I stood there staring and whatever was doing it began pushing the panel out. It was bulging.
I pushed the kitchen table against it, walked into the living room and told my wife, "That's it, we're getting out of here."
That was when we moved to a very nice apartment in Aldan in Delaware County.
When we moved from University City we left our Hippy days behind. It was at the apartment in Aldan we became hedonists entertaining either our sex-addicted friends or our drinking buddies. (Our drinking buddies are pictured to the right of us in this photo from New Year's Eve of 1974. That was in their apartment, for my wife and I had moved to New Jersey two years prior.) Does anyone look like they may have had a drink or two in this photo?
But in those last years of working in Philadelphia and living in New Jersey a lot of life changing events happened. We lost our seventh child. I became a Christian. And the first of the impossible miracles occurred.
Next time: Miracles Come in Threes.