Two Fallsers return to their old stomping grounds (Krail & Ridge Ave), and take us on a neighborhood tour through their eyes. Photos, memories, old friends — and new — on a day trip spent with East Falls Local.
Seems with Facebook, we can all go home again. Or at least find the people who share our memories of home, and even rekindle old friendships.
This Spring, we were lucky enough to tag along as two dear childhood friends toured the neighborhood, revisiting homes and storefronts from many decades ago (although you’d never know it, to keep up with them!).
Our “Falls Flashback” started with an email we received from Mary-Anna Harvie:
“I grew up on Ridge Avenue; two years ago, I met my childhood best friend on Facebook through the I’m From East Falls page.
I now live in Delaware, and my friend Dolores Steinberg Miller, lives in Center City; we meet once a month for dinner.
Dolores and I are meeting for a tour of East Falls. I still get back often, but she hasn’t been to EF in decades. Would you and Carolyn like to meet us for lunch?
Dee moved when she was a preteen to Haywood, so we’re driving all over. Hope the Bathey will be open by then. We would love to meet with you two.”
The Bathey? Lunch on Trolley Car’s beautiful patio? Count us in! Trolley Car’s manager Jasmine Fields was also psyched to learn more about the area’s history from old-school Fallsers! Everyone enjoyed the old photos of the Bathey she shared from Trolley Car’s archives.
Dolores & Mary-Anna took us right back to the days when the Trolley Car structure was a bath house with a public pool behind it. And boy were these two experts — both lived on Ridge across from what’s now Dobson Mills Apts.
In fact, Mary-Anna’s dad was in charge of draining and filling the pool daily! In those days, city pools often had no filtration — instead of measuring micro-units and balancing levels with chemicals (like we do today), they simply started with fresh water every day.
“Open six days a week,” said Dolores, “boys and girls on alternating days. Used to line up right in the building before they came out to swim.”
Mary-Anna remembered putting her wet swim suit on the trolley tracks after a swim session so it would dry in time for her to get back into the pool that day (you couldn’t get in with a wet suit.)
Outside the Trolley Car she casually mentioned seeing the twin bridges being built. She even had a vague recollection of the houses that used to stand in that area.
We turned onto Ridge and another amazing memory — Dolores pointed at the driveway of Dobson Mills Apts & said “Crawford street used to run right down here to Ridge.” She recalled a (not so) parked car once rolling all the way down into traffic! We knew Crawford had been shortened by Route 1 but never realized how much.
After seeing their houses on Ridge (only a few doors apart), it was off to Haywood Street and an unexpected reunion with an old neighbor, Tim Gramlich. They swapped stories with him about when they were kids playing in the ruins of Plush Hill til the sun went down.
They reminisced about pranks and first loves and good friends lost to drugs and time. They waved at neighbors crossing the street — called over a few for an impromptu mini-reunion. Tim pulled out a memory scrapbook and they all lingered over the old pics.
“Musta had fifty kids on this block from these few families here,” said Tim, pointing at a few houses near the corner of Krail and Haywood.
Next stop Saint Bridget’s and a memento pic in the garden. Big thanks to these two ladies for letting us tag along (and to Tim for a marvelous tour)! What a wonderful community East Falls has been, for generations of families.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS: East Falls Oktoberfest!
We’ve been told Dolores and Mary-Anna can make a return trip this Fall for a very special event — Attention East Fallsers near and far — Castle Ringstetten’s opening up for a neighborhood blowout on the river Saturday October 1st. (Castle Ringstetten is a historic boathouse on Kelly Drive, in sight of the Falls Bridge).
Beer, grilling, catching up with old neighbors — and meeting new ones. Details are still coming together, we’ll follow up soon with more info and a sign-up link.
GET INVOLVED! Input of all kinds appreciated, email us or chime in below, thanks!
PS — DID YOU KNOW..? Dolores is an author and inspirational speaker, specializing in healing from loss and tragedy. Her recent book “Rising Above” sends letters of love to her mother during the years following her death, and also uplifting poetry to soothe a hurting soul.