Philly: Any way you look at it

It’s funny how a picture in a magazine, or a view as you drive through a particular place, brings back memories long forgotten. This month’s issue of the Philadelphia Magazine brought forth a treasure trove of events and people I hadn’t thought about for years.

Each monthly issue is filled with events and people that only Philly residents would understand. While I don’t usually find this very interesting, the latest issue had my thinking about some special trips, taking me back to memories of the 1930s and 40s.

The front of the issue has a huge picture of Nick Foles. For those not interested in sports as my son, Doug, and I are, Nick is the current quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

I’m smiling. I just can’t help myself. Doug and I have been waiting for the Eagles to finally get “with the program” and do something to get our team out of the doldrums.

Okay, so you can take the girl out of Philly, but you can’t take the Philly out of the girl. I still cheer my team — and the Phillies baseball team — even when they are at the bottom of the standings.

Fans are fans after all, aren’t we? The article was not a disappointment, telling all about this handsome Texan; now a very rich one, and all about the great person Nick has become. However, there’s more to this months issue than that one article; and I began – as I often do – with the editorial. The editor is, like this old lady somewhat judgmental and conservative. This month’s issue brought forth a couple of interesting points.

The editor stated that not only does our Federal government waste a ton of money; they also do so in city government. A case in point was about a Philly problem, but then it talked about some millionaires pouring over $100 million into the public schools in Newark, N.J. To their dismay, it was to no avail. There was no real improvement in test results.

This got my thinking about Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly, who frequently talk about the decline of family values and how this affects students, especially in minority communities like Newark’s. This city’s recent dismal public school’s showing reinforced their point. Then I read something Doug knew, but I’d missed; that our government spent almost a billion dollars building an embassy in Iraq that is almost as big as the Vatican. Your taxes and mine totally wasted.

So much for this viewpoint, and there’s so much more in this issue. One article in particular brought back memories of those wonderful Sunday drives in the 30s and 40s that Mom and Dad Hill and the whole crew took after church. Back then, there weren’t all those super highways, only tons of Pennsylvania and New Jersey back roads over rolling hills, past farms and sometimes through covered bridges.

We’d often go from Philly to nearby Princeton, N.J. to visit relatives on their farm, where we had wonderful dinners of mixed up entrées consisting of left over roasts or canned spam, together with cans of warmed baked beans, finished off with homemade pies. Other times, it was off to Jersey City, N.J. where we’d look out of Aunt Reba’s kitchen window to see the Statue of Liberty.

There were Sundays when we’d just drive around and admire the beautiful fall scenery, the car windows down so that we’d feel the soft breezes and smell the country air. No air conditioning in those days. Also in this Philadelphia Magazine was an article about just where to drive, whether going into the Amish country to enjoy a good meal, or to the Jersey shore to enjoy the beach, or the Bucks County Fair.

One particular article made me smile. I had to show it to Doug. It was one about “water ice.” All I could think about was how wonderful the real lemon water ice was that we bought from an Italian gentleman who made it and sold it from his garage. Nothing since then has tasted that good.

I wasn’t hungry when I began reading this magazine. Then I spied a picture of a meal you could buy at a rural Amish restaurant in “Dutch Country.” It showed fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas and tiny containers of coleslaw and cranberries. Later on there was another restaurant that features — no kidding — a 15 course dinner that costs $250. I’ll take the chicken, thank you.

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment