American Thinker: Try as I might, I can’t get the mass shooting on Fathers’ Day in Southwest Philadelphia’s West African community out of my mind.
The party at Finnegan Playground, 68th and Grovers Ave., was to celebrate recent graduates of area high schools. One man was killed and five injured, including four teens. A week earlier, another man had been fatally shot a block away on row-house-lined Dorel St.
I think of those victims and want to cry.
You see, I grew up on 65th St. in that Southwest Philly neighborhood, a three-block walk from Finnegan Playground. My younger brother and I spent countless hours playing baseball and touch football at Finnegan. We had friends on Dorel St. An girlfriend at the time lived at 69th and Dicks Ave. My father worked at the sprawling General Electric Switchgear facility at 70th and Elmwood Ave. Heavy industries like GE, Westinghouse, and Baldwin Locomotive were backbones of the local economy.
Violent crime was unheard of. Often, we forgot to lock our doors at night.
Many families were first- or second-generation Irish and Italian Catholic. My family’s parish, St. Barnabas, was a block from our house.
I hadn’t revisited the neighborhood in decades. An invitation to a St. Barnabas parish reunion a half-dozen years ago prompted my return.
Arriving on a crisp January Sunday, the neighborhood was simultaneously the same yet different. The sensation was one of passing through a once bustling town that had seen better days: quiet streets with little traffic, few pedestrians, abandoned cars, vacant storefronts, once lovingly cared for homes abandoned or in disrepair.
A cyclone fence surrounded the St. Barnabas compound of church, elementary school, nuns’ convent, and priests’ rectory. Doors to parish buildings were locked.
St. Barnabas was no longer the St. Barnabas of my youth. Like the neighborhood, it was the same yet different. more
Out of curiosity, what are your *home towns like today, compared to your youth? Better? Worse? The same?
*Don’t add the name of your home town in your comment if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.