To replace a lost key to the house of her neighbor whose dog she walks, Ardleigh Street resident Sarah Bettien-Ash made a trip to Killian’s Hardware Wednesday afternoon. Exiting the store, she realized that she had forgotten to pay for parking and quickly pulled out her phone, an iPhone12, to pay using the online app. It flew out of her hand and down through the storm sewer grate next to the store. Her daughter bought a pole and a net at the hardware store and, with a friend, tried without luck to fish it out. Bettien-Ash contacted the water department and was told someone would come out but she had no idea when. (They called the next morning) She was hopeful the phone was still working because it was still ringing when her daughter dialed it. Your correspondent came upon a small group of helpers, neighbors and friends, early that evening and learned Bettien-Ash had returned for another go at it with a newly purchased steel rake. A workman who had been repairing cement outside the hardware store was so impressed with Bettein-Ash’s determination that he retrieved tools from his truck and with help, pried off the grate. By then the local beat police officer was lighting the area with his flashlight. Bettein-Ash reports she pulled out the phone, wondrously illuminated with text messages and Instagram notifications. According to iPhone 12’s specs, the phone cannot last in water more than thirty minutes. Bettien-Ash appears to have beaten all odds. Watch video of neighbors rescuing iPhone from sewer and interview here.
Hilltop Books, the bookstore of the Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library, now has on display historical ledgers of the Chestnut Hill Library and other historical records of the Free Library of Philadelphia system. Two ledgers contain daily counts of circulation by subject area at the Chestnut Hill Branch appearing to date back as far as 1937. A large, dried-out leather edition “Registration Book Vol 1” of the “Chestnut Hill Branch” with ribs on the spine contains 1476 numbered and handwritten names and addresses and appears to date back to 1897. These, possibly, are individuals who had borrowing privileges at the branch. Among these are a number of prominent Chestnut Hill family names. The Free library of Philadelphia Annual Report of 1896 indicates it was the first such report. It appears that this book is preserved in electronic format. See the worldcat record here.
Interim bookstore manager Laura Lucas indicates that the Friends are working with the Chestnut Hill Conservancy to preserve these and other historical treasures.
Brothers Max and Zachary Frankel are scions of E J Frankel Enterprises started by their great grandfather. (Grandfather shown in picture courtesy of Legacy.com/Inquirer. ) The firm developed the Philadelphian and other properties of note and has diverse interests in Florida. They plan a dense development at the site of the former Sunoco station at the highest point in Philadelphia, Bethlehem Pike and Summit Avenue just off of Germantown Avenue in the tony Chestnut Hill Neighborhood. Doing business apparently as TPM LLC or 10 Bethlehem Pike, they plan a 4 or 5 story 34 unit luxury apartment building which their architect Sergio Coscia says will preserve sight lines of the historic Baptist Church of Chestnut Hill. Neighbors expressed alarm at the size of the project at a well attended community meeting on February 16. Chestnut Hill’s major property owner, Richard Snowden of Bowman Properties whose own multi-story residential complex a few blocks away had met similar community push
back, expressed reservations about the aesthetics. See photos of building and site plans, elevations, schemes etc here.
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, most businesses along the Germantown Avenue business corridor (excluding some of the vacant ones ) had been securely boarded up in the wake of widespread protests and looting elsewhere in the city. The Weavers Way Coop market, which has a wide expanse of windows, was a notable exception. (The Coop's General Manager, Jon Roesser, explains its decision not to board up below.) When asked why he was boarding up the Wells Fargo Bank a workman replied "It's a job. Do you think I like doing this? It's sad."
Joe Pie of McNally's Tavern, was putting a new coat of dark green paint on the entrance door (No boarding up to do because the tavern hasn't had windows on the narrow facade for more than fifty years.) He said that businesses along the Avenue had been "cased" the day before and was very alarmed should any photos be posted on social media. Bohemian Pink owner Monika Schermer said her store was boarded up based on the advice of the Chestnut Hill Business Association and the 14th District Philadelphia Police. Schermer directed questions to the Business Association. Its Executive Director Phil Dawson could not be reached for comment.
Outside the Fresh Market at 7 pm, a market employee stood outside watching two workmen prepare to board up the doors. He relayed that the CVS, farther down the street, had been broken into. Talking on the phone, one of these workers could be heard saying he would be back at the store in the morning to take the boards off so the store could open for business. "Hopefully I'm going to be putting these boards on and off for a couple days."
Large, delicately lettered chalk messages have already appeared on some of the boards. "Love lives here" on one and "Community" on another. Hillary O'Carroll proprietress of Isabella Sparrow, captured in a photo in the below tweet, is behind the heartwarming words. She says she wanted to add non-political messages of love and home by writing on the the boards. The one shown above "Black Lives Matter - donate: NAACP.ORG & phillybailfund.org" she attributes to an employee of Caleb Meyer.
On the Tailored Home store, O'Carroll's message is simply "This is home"
Comments of John Roesser, GM of Weavers Way Cooperative Association
Janae Davis, an apprentice at Ace Shoe Repair shop in Mount Airy was outside the store on a fine summer day cleaning boots and shoes sitting at a low wall which served as her work table. Asked about her favorite job she answered unhesitatingly it was dyeing a pair of shoes dark brown. It involved cleaning the shoes first, stripping the original color, then applying dye, which sometimes requires several layers to get the perfect effect, she added. Davis would love to learn how to fix heels. Of Ace Shoe Repair she glowed. "They do a lot of great work." Watch video of shoe repair apprentice cleaning boots, talking about her aspirations.
After heavy weekend rains, Mohammad Bepary was on site at the Luk Oil gas station he operates through lease at Bethlehem Pike and Montgomery Avenue where a newly installed 10,000 gallon diesel tank had nosed upwards out of the soggy ground. The tank needs to be hoisted out and the ground re-excavated before it goes back in. Bepary expects the renovation of the mini-convenience store, which is being enlarged by conversion of two former garage bays, and addition of a diesel pump will be welcome by the community when he reopens, if all goes according to plan, in early March. Watch video interview about diesel tank excavation problem after heavy rain.
On New Year’s eve day, four young women newly arrived from South Korea for government-sponsored internships in Washington, DC browsed the "America" store in Alexandria Virginia with bemusement Your correspondent asked if they were interested in purchasing any of the merchandise - a jolly mix of seriously patriotic and comically political clothing, accessories and knickknacks. People don't buy or wear such things in South Korea they explained. When one jokingly vamped with a patriotic T-shirt emblazoned with Donald Trump's face against an American flag background, I asked what she thought of our dear leader. "If I say frankly, Trump will shoot me." To be honest? "I think he’s crazy.“ Watch video of young Korean women browsing "America" patriotic and parody store.
Hearing that WAWA convenience stores were giving out free coffee in celebration of International Coffee Day, on Friday morning your correspondent headed over to the Mt Airy store to grab a cup. The scene in the coffee area was crowded, festive- and a touch frenzied. The barista, who was refilling large coffee canisters non-stop, expected the store would serve about 4000 free cups that morning and said WAWA observes NATIONAL Coffee Day each year. He wasn't sure where WAWA coffee is sourced from but assured me all l needed to know was that it is the "best possible quality." It tasted just fine to me but, actually, I did want to know more so a little bit later that morning I visited the High Point Cafe in the Allen Lane train station Their barista wasn't acquainted with the unofficial holiday but quipped that every day is International Coffee day at High Point and comped me a delicious cup. He elaborated that High Point's "ethically sourced - locally roasted" coffee comes from small farms in Guatemala, Ethiopia, Sumatra and elsewhere. Watch customers crowd store for free coffee on National Coffee day and interviews.
The Reverend Paul Adler, installed just last summer as rector at the Episcopal Church of Saint Alban in Roxborough, Philadelphia prays for people who come across him seated and collared in the nearby Starbucks coffee shop. An occasional customer is drawn to his table by the license plate size "FREE PRAYER" sign atop it. When he's not engaged in an impromptu prayer session, he will address email correspondence or work on sermons. A medical student seeks God's help with medical exams about to begin. A young woman who has a newborn child and also a very ill, hospitalized mother-in-law seeks prayer for her family. Adler believes that prayer is a way of spending time with God and spending time with God is worthwhile, even if prayer doesn't always work in the ways supplicants are expecting. Watch video here.
At the Best Buy electronics store in Plymouth Meeting, PA, salesman Bill Kuhn employs a new, huge touch screen to show off the features of Samsung appliances and a miniature working model of an LG brand washing machine to demonstrate LG's "wave force " technology. Watch video interview here.
A tall chain-link fence recently appeared dividing the narrow walkway between two buildings on Germantown Avenue in the posh Chestnut Hill shopping district in northwest Philadelphia. And now, next to it a sign that reads "Snowden's Spite Fence." George Hobe says the fence went up between his antiques store and a building owned by Richard Snowden/ Bowman Properties after Hobe refused to sell his building to Snowden. Hobe maintains the walkway has long been a public thoroughfare, that the fence is illegal and that the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections has not addressed complaints against the fence. During our interview Hobe retrieved a working Monopoly boardgame from inside his store called "The Game of Chestnut Hill." Snowden, who owns a large and ever growing proportion of the properties along the corridor, is presumably the inspiration for the unique Chestnut Hill version of Monopoly. Watch video interview here.