Things are looking up! Paint the Cresheim Bridge! Open Call for Artists


Cresheim railroad bridge mural arts philadelphia

Before a couple dozen community members at the newly renovated Lovett Library this past Monday evening, Cathy Harris of Philadelphia Mural Arts issues a call for artists to design a mural for the rusted abandoned railway trestle over Germantown Avenue below Cresheim Valley Drive. First envisioned fifteen years ago, the project is being relaunched now that the City of Philadelphia is acquiring the former Pennsylvania Railroad trestle from PECO. Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, a project partner, provided historical information on the structure and Mural Arts founder Jane Golden encouraged attendees to "spread the word" to artists to answer the "Call for Submissions." The Deadline for submissions is April 13, 2018. Your correspondent has posted a PDF of the "Cresheim Trail Mural Project Call for Submissions" here until it becomes available online from the collaborative which also includes the Trolley Car Diner, Friends of the Cresheim Trail (FoCT), Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, Chestnut Hill Rotary, the Mount Airy Learning Tree and ChestnutHIllPa. The abandoned railroad is being converted to a trail linking Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill with Springfield Township. See reporter Sue Ann Rybak's coverage in the January 18, 2018 Chestnut Hill Local The mural’s completion is intended to coincide with the opening of the extension to the existing trail which begins at Allens Lane and Lincoln Drive. In June the public is welcomed to vote "in several community locations" to choose a winner from among a handful of proposals narrowed down by Mural Arts. After the meeting, I approached Sam Hanna who had been intently taking notes during the presentations. As a business account manager for the Center for Employment Opportunities, Hanna planned to relay what he had learned to a client. While in prison for twenty years, that client began to do art. And after getting out last year at the time of the Monday evening meeting, was at a job he had just started. Things are looking up.

(In the photo left to right -standing:  Brad Maule of Mt Airy USA, Jane Golden and Cathy Harris of Mural Arts Philadelphia, seated 2nd from left- Sam Hanna of CEO and Judy Weinstein of MALT)

Video of public meeting by  Mural Arts collaborative in call for artists to submit design for old rusty railroad bridge in Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.

Making sea biscuits (hardtack) in Alexandria, VA

Making hardtack in alexandria
​A couple blocks away from the Alexandria Virginia Archaeological Museum, sea biscuits were found at the site where a bakery stood in the early 1800s. Also known as hardtack, the biscuits were food for long distance travelers and sailors because flour mixed with water then baked dry could last without spoiling (for a long time) At the museum on New Year’s Eve day, archaeologist Hilary Huley, helped visitors like your correspondent mold and imprint our own sea biscuits to take home for baking (but not consuming) Watch video making hardtack in historical Old Town Alexandria Virginia

Iconic photos of Wissahickon in new exhibit

Wissahickon photos curator
​In celebration of its 50th anniversary the Chestnut Hill Conservancy ( formerly the Chestnut Hill Historical Society) has joined its longtime partner, the Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) to mount an exhibition of iconic historical photos of the Friends housed in the Conservancy archives. Co-curators Alex Bartlett and Giulia Morrone (shown above) were on hand at the opening of the exhibit on Wednesday September 13 and discussed how they whittled down their selection to the fourteen large reproductions that the FOW hallway exhibition space could accommodate. Among the noteworthy photographs are one of African-Americans fishing in the creek across from Wissahickon Hall, formerly an inn but more recently home to a police department district. The bicentennial photo of many revelers parading down Forbidden Drive on Wissahickon Day, some in a covered wagon, stands out because photos of one or two upscale riders were more common. A favorite is one of people skating on the frozen creek. These and the other photos reveal what Bartlett says are some of the hidden histories of the Wissahickon.

Fiammetta got angry ​ 😠 at God

Fiammetta got angry ​ 😠 at God

​I happened to be home when Fiammetta Rubin stopped by the plant exchange we have outside our house to drop off a stick plant. She had labeled the plant with the caution that it is poisonous plant but can kill cancer. Easily engaged, she time traveled to when she was nine growing up in Italy on a farm, the villa of Pope Urban the 8th. She would wander about the rows of grapes and found pieces of frescoes and marble her German mother tantalizing explained were from the civilization of the Romans. And they made a fountain. Still innocent about war she imagined how if the approaching Allied forces' bombs rained down on her house, how much more interesting rubble there would be to dig through. At some point after being shuttled off to Rome in the middle of the night, she learned the truth about war and got angry at God. More you can learn in the autobiography she is writing. Watch video here.

Merry Pranskters and Pure Jerry reincarnate the Grateful Dead

Pure Jerry pays tribute to Grateful Dead with Merry Pranksters

Watch video here. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" author Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters went around the country in the drug fueled 1960s in a school bus encouraging people to decide their own reality and have creative fun. At their inaugural event On July 1 at the Alma Mater restaurant and bar, the self designated Neo-Pranksters continued that tradition. Throughout an evening that started out with the political satire of the local G-town troupe, segueing into sexy burlesque dancing and rounded off with partygoers grooving to the Grateful Dead tribute band, "Pure Jerry" as psychedelic art was projected on the walls, the colorfully adorned Neos offered facepainting, fortune telling and coloring. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merry_Pranksters

Burlesque dancer gets made up

May a shark swallow Jefferson Davis

Union versus Confederacy in Civil War Museum

Old Frederick County Courthouse Civil War Museum Guide Carol Miller recounts that Winchester Virginia changed hands many times between the Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War. And during the war, the Courthouse was used as a hospital, barracks and a prison by both sides. During restoration, a curse on the Confederacy President Jefferson Davis was found carved into the wall in the upstairs area, presumably by a union soldier,  and is on view with many rifles, swords, shot,  and  relics of the conflict. Miller read the inscription aloud from memory and says its imagery reflects influence of the fraternal organization of Masons. "To Jeff Davis may he be set afloat on a boat without compass or rudder then that any contents be swallowed by a shark the shark by a whale whale in the devils belly and the devil in hell the gates locked the key lost. And further may he be put in the north west corner with a south east wind blowing ashes in his eyes for all eternity."

Watch video here

May a shark swallow Jefferson Davis

Orphan Train - Objects, Memories, Improv

Langston Darby held an icepack to his jaw before his program on “Found Objects: Unleash the Voice of the Everyday through Performance“ at the Chestnut Hill Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. But the icepack was to ease the pain of an earlier dentist appointment and not part of his program, one of many events in the Library’s One Book One -Philadelphia celebration. This year’s selection, The Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline is about the relationship of an older woman, Vivian and a young woman, Molly. Molly is a Penobscot Indian who has lived in various foster homes and gotten into trouble. Molly is assigned community service to help Vivian sort through the many keepsakes Vivian has stored in her attic. These objects evoke memories of the older woman’s own traumatic childhood experiences after she was sent on an “orphan train” from New York City to the Midwest during the Great Depression subsequent to the death of her Irish immigrant parents and siblings in a tenement fire.


Darby led our small assemblage through improvisation centering on objects- like a certain knife from our own memories and then had us feel for and pick the thing out of a “magic bag”, instructing us to let the object choose us. A sparkly dark orange artificial pumpkin chose one of us, a large black plastic knight/horse from a chess set, another. A small book chose your correspondent. Recommended reading: The Orphan Train.

Watch video here.

Historical Society opens archives

Cu sonderskov historical societyVolunteer Shirley Hanson was on hand to greet visitors at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society on their first Saturday of the month open house. The Society’s archives house some 20,000 historical items including photos, many available digitally online.

Your correspondent asked about the history of his house. Volunteer Meredith Sonderskov located a 1916 newspaper illustration of the newly built twin houses on the 200 block of East Highland Avenue featuring then modern amenities – refrigerator rooms, trunk rooms and set-in tub bathrooms. The garage and 14 foot driveway would accommodate  the popular Ford Model T and nearly 100 years later are more than enough room for your correspondent’s machine. Watch video here.

Landscaper continues family tradition

Fifty years ago, when John Antonucci’s grandfather, Frank, immigrated from Italy and established his masonry business in North Wales, Pa outside Philadelphia, there was just a stop sign outside at the now busy intersection of Stump Road and Route 309. Frank’s son Salvatore expanded the business and now Sal’s Nursery and Landscaping has nineteen acres of nursery which is mainly a source of plant material for the company’s landscaping operation. Customers can also walk in and buy plants at retail. Sal’s specializes in upscale projects like in-ground pool, pool houses and patio installations. And, unlike the big-box stores, it offers rare varieties and very large specimens so that customers who have lost shrubs or trees say, during the recent rough winter, can match and fill in the gaps in their landscapes. On a crisp spring day, John spoke proudly about the family operation and pointed out several beautiful plants like the cluster of dark red-leafed and flowering ninebarks. (Physocarpus opulifolius)

Watch video and tour here

Accompanies WC Fields silent film with digital Wurlitzer

 keyboardistwc fields old army game poster

Moviegoers attending the Chestnut Hill Film Group’s inaugural screening of the season this Tuesday evening were delighted by the artful musical accompaniment of veteran keyboardist Don Kinnear. Kinnear improvised as he watched, for the first time, two silent short films chosen by Jay Schwartz (founder of the Secret Cinema) and employed the operatic style of playing and interweaving themes assigned to different characters for the silent main feature he had seen before, W.C. Fields’ 1926 “It’s the Old Army Game.” With his electronic keyboard and a laptop loaded with a digital version of the Wurlitzer organ of the Virginia Theater in Champaign, Illinois  he reproduced the music, sounds and special effects (“toy counter”) the original audiences  in the 1920s may have experienced. Watch video interview here.

ch hill film society social