According to Chestnut Hill Staples store manager on duty Scott Clark, the staff is scrambling to make up for the loss of Mark Carver, the store’s print Manager for over 10 years. Carver is well known in the community (and your correspondent) for his astounding service and commitment to customers. Testament to his dedication and laments about the restructuring that led to his severance have been steadily pouring in on the NextDoor platform. Clark says work is becoming difficult because the store’s general manager is being called to fill in the gap in the print department to make up for the work that Carver had been so ably managing. “Who’s going to manage the store when she does?” Clark asked rhetorically. Moreover, 75% of the print staff are new hires. He reports that a lot of people have been coming in to the store to express support for Carver. And he had no reservation about speaking publicly. In fact, he says, the staff has been actively and collectively pushing the clamoring of customers back to Staples management. Your correspondent is awaiting a response from Staples corporate communications
Your correspondent participates in a Scrabble group which used to meet at some place where we could eat, drink, talk and, yeah, play some scrabble. We've made the switch to online Scrabble and although there are digital options for multiplayer scrabble games such as through POGO, we have been sticking to the tactile experience and playing via Zoom. There has been some contention about the play of certain words such as "jew" as a verb, especially since the "j" is worth 8 points! In the 2020 version, "jew" is gone as is "wop" and "wog" from the handy 3-letter word list.
Nearly 9 AM this morning your correspondent went to the corner of Ardleigh Street and East Highland Avenue, the time the water was due to cut off to all the houses on our block. They were making the switch from the new water main they had laid on Ardleigh Street to our existing water connector line beneath Highland Avenue. A foreman and the workers amiably indulged my questions and so I share what I learned.
The large crew was assembled working into tow teams on different sides of the intersection. First they took diameter measurements of the existing connector pipe now exposed lying 4 feet down. Excavation had preceded by a day or so. According to the foreman, connector pipes can range from 6 to 8 inches in diameter. I believe ours measured 8 inches. “Feeder” or distribution mains can measure 12 to 16 inches in diameter. ( Before excavation began, I saw large black pipes staged excavation along Ardleigh Street; the ones farther south between Southampton Ave and Gravers Lane, appeared considerably larger than the ones, the next block up, between Gravers Lane and Highland Ave)
A worker then began abrading the existing connector pipe at the point it would be cut. Meanwhile another worker was sawing sections of new pipe to adjoin the existing connector pipe on or street with the main. Pipes are now made of ductile iron said the foreman because they are stronger and more durable than the existing cast iron pipes. He relayed that the stretch of Ardleigh Street north of Highland Avenue was more challenging to excavate because there were a lot of stones in the ground. This Wissahickon schist is commonly seen in our 100 or so year- old homes. Your correspondent saw connector pipes being hoisted, removed then rehoisted into the trenches. A pump was put into place to pump out any water that might accumulate during the process. I could not approach close enough to see the worker affix the collars to complete the pipe connections.
Farther down Ardleigh street, after the main had been laid, workers were replacing connections from individual houses along the street to the new main with three-quarter inch copper piping by snaking it through to the main. The workmen looked like prairie dogs popping up and down from the small pits outside each house by the curb. A worker said people may complain that their street gets dug up three separate times because they might not understand the the multi step process. Temporary, large stone asphalt is used at the preliminary stages before the final fill. When all pipe laying and connection work is done, a layer of sand will be poured on top of the pipe followed by a couple feet of soil. Then comes a layer of stones, then a layer of concrete and finally, the street is repaved with the a finer asphalt material and smoothed down with a roller.
I editorialize: for the customer, the only inconvenience is a few weeks of stepping around construction equipment and navigating some muddy streets. A City of Philadelphia Water Department postcard stuck in our door advised us that water would be shut off on December 22, 2020 from 9 am to 4 pm but in actuality, the water was shut off well after 9 and restored much before 4. Considering the size of the project, interruption to our service was a mere few hours. The true value of a consistent supply of clean water for our health, for our lives, is far beyond the very modest water rates we pay. Rates are so low that some of us think nothing of watering our lawns water or filling our swimming pools with water that is good enough to drink!
East and West Mt. Airy Neighbors jointly hosted a jolly Christmas tree recycling event this first Sunday after New Year’s at Upsala mansion. Dampness and near freezing temperatures didn’t keep people away. Car after car arrived with trees lashed to their roofs. A large, m ostly youthful contingent helped unload the trees and stage them for the chipper. Alex Aberle, president of WMAN and who lives at the mansion will use the chips in his his garden at the historic site. Recyclers were asked to donate five dollars towards the cost of renting the chipping machine. Any remaining proceeds will be split between the neighborhood groups. For those who didn’t make the January event, the Philly Goat Project at the Awbury Arboretum will welcome the trees for their goats to snack on. And the Streets Department has 13 tree drop-off locations, also. Your Jewish correspondent has a very large potted solstice evergreen he drags inside and then back out again at this time of year and hopes someone might resuscitate the rent-a- Christmas-tree drop off and pick up program initiated by a neighborhood high school science teacher some years ago. Watch video here