Your correspondent observed and spoke with Chestnut Hill Local Editor Pete Mazzaccaro on a busy Monday morning as he was busy finalizing stories with his associate editor, staff writer and interns, churning out the obituaries that are usually handled by the vacationing articles editor, deciding on lead stories and knocking out headlines, then laying these out with photos for the front page. The weekly, a publication of the Chestnut Hill delivers news and features to some 5000 residents of Northwest Philadelphia and neighboring Montgomery County through with its printed edition and to thousands more regular readers of its online edition, https://www.chestnuthilllocal.com
At our neighborhood train station my son and I heard lots of frantic chirping then saw a baby bird on the concrete ground. It appeared to have fallen from the wooden eaves high above. I started a live Periscope stream and solicited suggestions from tuners-in :"put it back in nest", "give it worms", "call 911". Someone encouraged me to take it I to the wildlife rehabilitation I had mentioned. And so I did after my son boarded the train. At the center, the receiving rehabilitator examined the bird, identified it as a plump baby sparrow, said that it was a little splayed but its wing were not broken, and that it would have lots of brothers and sisters for company because people had brought in about 20 some such babies in recent days. It will be cared for until it can fly and be released back into nature. Two days later I called back with the case number I had been given and learned from the woman who accepted the patient, that baby bird 2540 was doing just fine. Watch shorter video here. Watch longer video here.
On the eve before Christmas Eve, Paul Rossetti was standing in the rain at the corner of Highland and Germantown Avenues hawking “One Step Away” newspapers for a $1 each. (small photo at right) And he has been working this and other corners in the city throughout January despite the bitter cold and light pedestrian traffic. (above photo)
Rossetti grew up around the Pottstown area and got involved in drinking and drugs through the influence of peer pressure. DUIs (driving under the influence convictions) landed him time in jail. He’s now living at the Germantown Y men’s home.
According to its website, “One Step Away is Philadelphia's first street paper aimed at raising awareness of homelessness and providing employment to those in need. With each dollar received, 75¢ goes directly to the vendor. The other 25¢ covers the printing costs. The vendors are people experiencing homelessness or joblessness. While the vast majority of One Step Away vendors are living on the street or in temporary shelters when they start with the project, most are able to use the money earned by distributing One Step Away to secure their own housing.” https://osaphilly.com/
Rossetti says he’s going to NA and AA meetings and trying to stay on his feet and keep busy. Rules at the Y are strict; if he should come back high or drunk, he would be given 15 minutes to vacate his room. With janitorial and construction experience, Rossetti hopes to find work and secure an apartment of his own. Eventually he would like go into business for himself.
The name, “One Step Away” is meant to highlight how so many people in society are close to becoming homeless through unforeseen financial and personal crises. At the same time, the name honors the major step the formerly homeless individuals who are producing and distributing the paper have taken away from a life on the street.
Above: Olin and Shirley Gentry
Philadelphia Stories Presents: Local Literary Voices was one of three events hosted by Philadelphia Stories at the Chestnut Hill Book Festival on Sunday September 22, 2013. Philadelphia Stories is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a community of “writers, artists and readers” in the Delaware Valley through literary magazines, events such as the Book Festival readings and educational programs. At the Chestnut Hill fest, Philadelphia Stories local authors talked about and read from their works. Unfortunately your correspondent’s video phone battery died before the program finished and he failed to capture the beautiful funny reading by Hal Sirowitz and readings from the open mic portion of the program. So Sorry! See Bios of authors below
Daniel Torday, appearing at the Chestnut Hill Book Festival reads from his novel to be published by St Martin's Press in 2015. Forming part of the novel about the narrator's uncle , a Hungarian Jew who flew on bombing missions for the Royal Air Force during WW II is his recently published, award-winning novella, "The Sensualist." Watch video here.
Sabrina Vourvoulias, editor of 200 Years of Latino History in Philadelphia by the staff of Al Dia newspaper talks about the book. Watch video here.
These are the short bios of the presenting writers appearing on the Philadelphia Stories website. https://www.philadelphiastories.org/chestnut-hill-book-festival-workshops-kids-reading
I came across Bill Cusick in a proud moment, taking photos of his daughter’s first front page article in the Chestnut Hill Local as it appeared in the newsbox outside the Local office on Germantown Avenue. Katherine, a summer intern with the Local from Germantown Friends School, is editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper, “The Earthquake.” Earlier I had seen Cusick seriously taking photos of the newsbox outside the Chestnut Hill Bootery and when I saw him doing the same outside the Local office, I knew he was a man with a mission and asked if he might oblige with an explanation. Watch video here.
Andy Autrey, a resident of the Hill House in Chestnut Hill, has long been in professional sales – cars, life insurance – and now is pitching subscriptions to the Philadelphia Inquirer. His engaging approach at the Flourtown Walgreen’s won your correspondent over to re-upping with a subscription. An on-the-spot Walgreen’s gift card and the fact that disadvantaged youth will be treated to a Phillies game as part of the promotion clinched the deal. Autrey considers his sales work part of his mission as an associate minister involved with youth programs at the Embracing Truth Church in West Philadelphia. Watch video here.
Ed Hille, a staff photographer for the Philadelphia Inquirer was at the Allens Lane Art Center on Wednesday April 3rd taking photos for a future story about the “Vision through Art” program for the blind and visually impaired.
WHAT’S GOING ON AT THE INKY THESE DAYS? “We can’t talk about that, sorry. Everything at the Inky is, we’re up and running and we’re still publishing and we’re all happy we have jobs.”
A young woman who realized in college that, without a doubt she wanted to become a chef, grabbed the offer to start as the dishwasher in a famous Boston restaurant and she loved it, covered in butter, chicken fat, sweat. One morning, on a morning jog before work, she was hit by a car and among other bad injuries, had shattered her skull. Two weeks later, making a recovery at her father's house, she made a bad discovery - her sense of smell was gone. Heat was all she sensed of the cinammon-laced apple crisp, a favorite dish, when it was just drawn from the oven and held under her nose.
Birnbaum went on to study the sense of smell and her experiences with its loss(a condition called "anosmia") and wrote about in her 2011 book,"Season to Taste." Along her journey she spent much time with the olfactory scientists the Monell Chemical Senses Center with whom she presented "Forgotten Sense: Exploring a World Without Smell" as part of the Philadlephia Science Festival.
Also attending the event is a doctoral student in information sciences at Drexel University, (shown below) who speaks about her own experience with anosmia.
At the National Mechanics Bar and Restaurant in Old City, Philadelphia.
Garland Thompson was monkeying around with a large camera on the bench just outside the Allens Lane Art Center when, as I was about to go in, I paused to talk with him. Thompson who took his first photography class at Allens Lane 42 years ago, is a professional journalist. He had just recently purchased this, his first digital camera, and was saving the first shot to capture his grandson’s two year-old birthday celebration that same day. Soon he would be traveling to Panama from where he will report for the Philadelphia Tribune and WYRP radio in Baltimore.
YOU’VE BEEN DOING PHOTOGRAPHY SINCE… Since 1969 when I learned here at Allens Lane Art Center with a photographer named Larry Kanefsky. He taught us how to do the lab stuff as well as composition tricks and all kinds of nice stuff. OK, so this is my camera, it’s a Canon single lens reflex camera. I bought it because it is an SLR Seeing is the difficulty with a camera rather than hearing (oops, let me get the dot) You can tell I’m not real familiar with it, I just got it! (There we go) I bought this camera so I could shoot my grandson but also because I’m going to Panama. I’m going to be doing some reporting for WYPR radio in Baltimore and, among other things, I helped to convince them that radio in the Internet age is really TV, and they had to do pictures. too. So I’m going to do some stories for them and also bring back some stories for the Philadelphia Tribune, one of my old papers and, some probably who knows, some will be souvenir shots. So that’s my big thing. I bought this camera so I could get back into photography which I used to truly love ‘cause it’s so fascinating. Now I’m really quite fearful that it’ll be too absorbing. So that’s my story. YOU’RE GOING DIGITAL TODAY? I’m going digital today. AND THE FIRST THING YOU’RE TAKING WITH THIS YOU SAY IS? My grandson Joshua Monk is two this week and we’re having a celebration for his birthday. So I’m going to go, be grandpop, and shoot his pictures. HAVEN’T SHOT A SINGLE THING YET? No, I haven’t shot the first thing. I’ve been very careful to not shoot anything so that Josh is the first thing I do. Journalist and author Garland Thompson.
Epilogue: “What I like about it is it has a diopter adjust. I can actually look through this camera and not use my glasses There’s a diopter lens adjustment."
“’Nobody dies at the end of this book. Try not to let this fact mislead you. As far as my Mother is concerned, it is important to distinguish between what death actually is and what it isn’t. There’s a body and there’s a soul. One dies, the other doesn’t, ever. And then there’s how I feel about it, which is complicated.’”
“My name is Susan Morse and I have written a book called, “The Habit” which is the story of my Mother who at age 85 in the middle of a health crisis which I was shepherding her through the medical system, became an Orthodox Christian nun. And it’s the story of our relationship…
She was on a quest. She was spiritually hungry her whole life. In the 1940s during the wartime she met my father and married him just as many people did -married a man who was about to go off to war. It was a relationship that was never really a true, passionate romance and there was a lot of trouble there. But they stuck it out. They raised four children together and end up actually quite content with each other by the end.
After the kids moved, out she started experimenting with lots of different religions and kept changing, Episcopalian to Roman Catholic to a different kind of Roman Catholic back to Episcopalian, all these different things. And she’s an artist and at one point she began taking these workshops painting Byzantine icons. And that is something you have to pray when you’re doing it, the workshops tell you. The whole system is really, really strict technique. And she discovered that her icons which she was feeling very satisfied with the process of doing those, were not legitimate in the Orthodox Church because she was not an Orthodox Christian.
My Mother really believes in- if you believe in something you really have to throw your whole self into it. So for her to be a Christian is not enough. She needed to go all the way.
She says now she dreamt about being a nun from when she was a little girl. She was 85 when she became a nun and she was frail. There was no question of her taking on a job. For the frail and elderly ones – she became, literally, she’s called a ‘house nun’, which means she stays in her house, and she prays. And that’s what she does!”
Susan Morse, reading from the preface to her newly published book, “The Habit.” Morse will be reading from her book on Wednesday, January 25th in the Bombay Room at the Chestnut Hill Hotel and on January 26th at Headhouse Books in Society Hill. Both events are from 7:00 to 8:30.