I decided to take the opportunity to show him where in the big city I had lived once upon a time, as well as one of the locations I had worked. I was driving so he had little choice but to go where I went.
I really wanted to take a couple photographs of these milestone of my past because I took none at the time they occurred. There are many old haunts of mine left unrecorded by me. I didn't take so many pictures years ago because it was both a hassle and an expense. There were no digital cameras, no computers, no little memory cards and no multi-task phones. You had a box or reflex camera and perhaps an eight millimeter movie camera.
I had a number of cameras during my youth, beginning with a little Kodak Brownie as a boy. You
This was certainly a leap forward in technology. It had a lot of settings and even had a timer allowing me to be in photos, too. Color film was more available and affordable and you got 35 prints on a roll, not just 8 or 12. You still had to buy the stuff and then pay to have it developed and wait to see if your hand was steady when you pushed the shutter. I took more pictures, but still not a lot and I remained very choosy about what it was I shot.
I did own in that time period a Kodak 8 millimeter movie camera, with three lens that you could spin
eliminated going to some processing service and waiting for results, but these brought their own set of drawbacks.
At any rate, there were a number of places I lived and worked that I simply never bothered getting a photo of and later regretted not having one. Thus I thought I could rectify this a little bit on our drive into Philly.
Within three months I was promoted to Assistant Controller and I had complete responsibility for the General Accounting. In 1976 I was promoted again and took on in addition to my accounting duties the position of Computer Systems Operation Manager. (On the left is me at my accounting desk in 1974 and on the right [or at least most of me] in my office as Computer manager in 1978.)
I liked my jobs at Welded, but in 1978 times grew tough in the steel product industry and a decision was made to move all operations to Chicago. I was offered a fairly large raise to go along, but we didn't want to leave the Philadelphia Area, so I went to another employer.
So yesterday Ron and I want to visit the site on Weccacoe Avenue in South Philly, not far from the docks along the Delaware River or the sports stadiums complex off Packer Avenue.
Well, I found my way to the area easily enough, but driving out Oregon Avenue I could not spot Weccacoe. I ended up on Columbus Avenue and thought I would look for the back entrance to the
Weccacoe looked kind of shabby and my old
And so a lot had changed here, different company, something missing inside the gates and a certain shabbiness to building and street that hadn't been there once upon the time. And where some shabbiness and desolation had been, was now a bright and active purveyor of goods and food and life.
We drove on from there and back a few years in time, back before I ever heard of Welded Tube when I was busying myself with being a writer. I and my wife had moved from the suburb of Drexel Hill to University City in West Philadelphia. My wife got a job in the Chemistry Department of the University of Pennsylvania and I tapped out articles and stories all day on an old Underwood Typewriter.
Number 106 and later a one-bedroom Number 112, which was at the rear of the floor. (On the left is Lois and on the right am I in Apartment 112 near the end of our residency there.)
This location proved much simpler to find. No shopping mall had replaced anything in the area off Baltimore Avenue between 41st and 42nd streets. Frankly, the whole area was little changed from what I remember from my Hippie days. O'Malley's, the little grocery on the corner of 41st and Baltimore, where I often picked up a morsel or two of food, was something else now. There was a little deli on the block of Chester Avenue that had not existed then. Otherwise it was like we just stepped back to that period. The old Number 13 Trolley, which I sometimes took to Center City, even rumbled by while we were there.
The park was deserted, except by two men camped out on the side of the path near the statue. I assumed they were homeless given the amount of stuff they had piled about, but perhaps they were college students just taking a break. They didn't approach us or ask for anything, just sat and watched these two silly men snapping photos of themselves.
We then walked up the block of Chester Avenue between 42nd toward 41st, where Lois and I once
I took a final shot through the glass of the doors
Around the bend lived a prostitute with a young boy. She would put her son out into the hall when she had a customer. I would awaken at 2:00 in the morning to the sound of a Big Wheels clacking up and down the hall. Another prostitute lived directly above us. There was clacking there as well, for it seemed she never removed her high heeled shoes and had no rugs. I don't think she took those shoes off for anything. When you were in our bathroom you could hear everything that went on in her place. We had an X-rated bathroom.
Many of the tenants were college students living off-campus from Penn or Drexel. I don't know who rents there now that it is The Lexington. Perhaps there is no more clacking and no more screaming in the hall. Perhaps it is a quiet clientele of elderly ladies and gentlemen.
Doesn't matter, I got my picture.