Thursday, January 15, 2004

The Apprentice disgusts me. I sincerely hope that at some point in the show one of the losers will get mad and reach across the table and rip off Donald Trump's atrocious toupee. Why can't Trump afford a more Natural-Looking hairpiece? Somebody should venture that guy the capital to go down to Baltimore and visit Mr. Larry for a weave. Don't try to tell me it's not a hairpiece, either. There's no way a guy that wealthy would continue to patronize any barber or stylist that incompetent. Or is the secret to Trump's fortune that he does his own hair with a Flowbee?

So anyway, after a rather unsatiiiiiisfying episode of Friends tonight, I switched over to PBS and caught a documentary produced in Philly called Things That Aren't There Anymore. It was nostalgia for places like Connie Mack Stadium, and Willow Grove Amusement Park, and The Steel Pier, and Horn & Hardart, and Gimbel's etc.

It got me thinking about things from my own time that aren't there anymore. I can remember The Steel Pier in Atlantic City, too. But what I miss from old Atlantic City are Taber's Toys, The Planter's Peanut Store, and The Abracadabra Magic Shop. But I'm not going to wax nostalgic for those places, which I only visited twice while growing up. There are plenty of places here in my hometown of York, PA that aren't there anymore.

Wiiliam's Field was two little league baseball diamonds, tucked off of Roosevelt Avenue on the extreme western edge of York City, behind the Sylvania plant and the S&H Green Stamp Outlet, and The Acme Grocery Store. Those buildings are still there, But Sylvania is now OSRAM, The S&H store is now a Goodwill Outlet, and the Acme is now a drycleaner and a Runkle's Notary, Tag and Title service. But that magic place behind the buildings has been taken over by the quarry, and now houses an ash recycling facility whose tremendous mound of ash threatens the air quality of our neighborhood, and has become a bone of contention in recent elections.

Jacob L. Devers Elementary school, nestled snugly among the homes of York's Fireside and Continental Homes neighborhoods, was a benchmark for educational standards in the post-Eisenhour era. Many of the city's best and brightest students spent their K-5, or 6 years there. It had a paved playground that covered half an acre, adjoining a grass field with kickball/softball diamond that spread over another two thirds of an acre. As a 2nd grader, I can remember feeling tired by the time we trekked all the way out to the ball field, and then they expected us to play, too?
Once, at a recess back in 1969, a game of Comahead (similar to Bull Rush) got out of hand, and I got pushed head first into the brickwall of the schoolbuilding. The gash in my head required stitches, and I left my DNA sample on the pavement of the playground, right there by the corner of the library. For years, well into the mid-1990s, I could visit that spot on the playground and still pick out two small spots in the pavement where the stones were still colored red from my blood. But now they've expanded the classroom facilities, and the old paved playground has now been covered with new building. My marker has been dug up, and a patch of grass is planted there. That big ballfield has been cut back toless than half its old grandeur, to allow room for safe playground structures. I really don't feel a tie to this school anymore.
Another thing that isn't there anymore is the old empty field where all us neighborhood kids played. It stood on the south side of route 30, right on the edge of town, between Lancer Lane and Fairlane Dr. Much of the dirt excavated from the foundations of the Fireside neighborhood had been dumped in mounds on this field, and by the time I was old enough to ride a bike, these mounds had grown solid with brush and wild grasses, and some really cool bike trails wound all around the field, up and down the multiple hillocks. Often the boxes from large appliances installed in the Booming area of homes ended up in this field, the stuff of which many battleforts and clubhouses were made. Take a run across Fairlane to the dumpster behind Stan Stackhouse carpets, and you could find remnants to keep the dirt off your butt, and if you were lucky, you might get a big long cardboard tube that could become robot arms, or the muzzle of a tank, or what have you. Even the older kids enjoyed that field, if later at night, when the bushes along the Highway offered seclusion for making out.
Stan Stackhouse is still there, but in the 1980s somebody first graded the field flat and planted corn in that field for a few seasons. Then in 1985 they built a couple stripmalls, A Bob's Big Boy, and a KFC there.
Bob's is now a LoneStar Steakhouse, and most of the storefronts of the strip malls are on their third generation of tenants already.
Until a month ago i wondered where the kids in this neighborhood today went to make out. We found out on a snowy Sunday Morning in Early December. We were awakened by the Fire Engines. Apparently one of the abandoned homes on our street had become a party house, where teenagers were breaking in and meeting to drink, do drugs, and make out. It seems the kids got cold, and built a fire in the old abandoned fireplace, and left it smoldering after the party ended. At least we got our street plowed early so that the Fire Engines could get in, but that's one more place that isn't there anymore.

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