Glen­side col­umn sparks mixed re­ac­tions

Public Spirit - - OPINION -

My re­cent col­umn about Glen­side be­ing a great home­town sparked a fair num­ber of emails. I even got some more com­ments when I spoke at a Jenk­in­town hi­wa­nis Club lun­cheon. The gen­eral opin­ions were mixed, but an un­der­cur­rent of dis­ap­point­ment in the town, it­self, was pretty clear. “It’s a great place, al­right,” wrote one cor­re­spon­dent, “But it’s really got­ten pretty shabby and needs a facelift.” Wow, Oh what do you really think? An­other writer said she had pre­sented sim­i­lar con­cerns to a lo­cal com­mis­sioner and “pretty much got blown off.”

I get that, too. A few years ago when I did a col­umn and de­tailed the stag­ger­ing num­ber of empty stores in the Greater Glen­side area Eboth town­shipsF I got a call from a com­mis­sioner who told me that there was money to spruce up the Glen­side EChel­tenhamF busi­ness district and it would be done “soon.” Well, un­less it was a stealth im­prove­ment, it never hap­pened. I guess it’s a lot like Wil­low Grove that has been “im­prov­ing the down­town” since I was a fresh-out-of­col­lege re­porter cov­er­ing com­mis­sion­ers’ meet­ings for th­ese news­pa­pers. Lots of plans, lots of meet­ings, many news sto­ries, too. ko re­sults.

One Glen­side-re­lated email pointed out peel­ing paint on the front of Eof all placesF the paint store. A win­dow you can’t see through at the jew­elry store, a façade that was new Eand “is now aw­ful”F on a lo­cal phar­macy E“I wouldn’t buy any­thing there” she saidF and a block of stores at the train sta­tion that looks like it is go­ing to fall down any minute E“ab­sen­tee owner, won’t do any­thing.” she wroteF. She even took a shot at my fa­vorite hard­ware store won­der­ing how they could be sell­ing “FOHDn uS, fix uS” VWuII DnG VWLOO OHW WKH out­side of their own store de­te­ri­o­rate. EAs an aside, I was a small boy when the hard­ware store was last re-mod­eled to look like it does to­day — of course it was new then, to­day it isn’t so much.F

An­other emailer took a swipe at “all the nail sa­lons and thrift shops” dot­ting the Eas­ton Road mar­ket­place in Chel­tenham Town­ship Eor down­town, as I call itF part of Glen­side.

I have noth­ing against nail sa­lons En­ever went to oneF or thrift shops Ebeen to manyF but I’m bet­ting that most of those shops she’s tar­get­ing are leased from ab­sen­tee land­lords who are thrilled to have any oc­cu­pants at all. ECheck out the ghost-town-like look of Roslyn’s shop­ping area for a look to the fu­ture.F

In one of the emails I de­tected a cer­tain de­gree of snob­bery about the shops. I don’t know about nail sa­lons Eyou could ask my wife, though, she’s goneF but as­tute shop­pers of­ten haunt the thrift shops for gen­tly-used ex­pen­sive brand name items and, from WLPH-WR-WLPH, WR finG D UDUH DnWLTuH WKDW, some­how, ends up there.

For ex­am­ple, my wife and I needed to re­place a piece of fur­ni­ture in our din­ing room. The orig­i­nal piece, pur­chased new from an area fur­ni­ture store about a decade ago, was lit­er­ally fall­ing apart. The only thing worth sav­ing was the heavy mar­ble top. We hunted for a re­place­ment for months. We shopped on­line, at high-end fur­ni­ture stores, farmer’s mar­kets all to no avail. The de­ter­rent was the size of the mar­ble top. And then, one day, we stopped at Pres­ley’s thrift shop in Hat­boro and there was the ta­ble we needed. Clearly it was old, a bit dusty even. The mea­sure­ments were per­fect for the mar­ble top. It cost about 50 bucks, was solid as a rock Emade of oak ac­tu­al­lyF and we brought it home. The piece it re­placed, PDGH RI flLPVy SDUWLFOH ERDUG, KDG FRVW IRuU RU fiYH WLPHV WKDW PuFK. , NnRFNHG it apart with a ham­mer. Peo­ple have ad­mired the new piece and are amazed when we tell them it came from a thrift shop.

Each oc­cu­pied store, whether the emailer likes the ser­vice they ren­der or the prod­ucts they sell or not, rep­re­sents an en­tre­pre­neur who is try­ing hard to make a buck. For that we should ap­plaud them, not de­mean what they do or sell. Un­em­ploy­ment is to­tally out of con­trol in this coun­try and if sell­ing used items at a thrift shop helps the store­keeper stay off the pub­lic dole, what could be bet­ter? It also helps peo­ple on a lim­ited bud­get get things Ecloth­ing, house­hold items, fur­ni­tureF they oth­er­wise couldn’t af­ford.

AnRWKHU TuLWH WURuEOLnJ VLWuDWLRn LV WKH park­ing. Ev­ery­body talks about it; no one seems to do any­thing about it. Oh, the zon­ing boards make noises about it, but no one seems to un­der­stand that if you can’t park your car you can’t pa­tron­ize a busi­ness or eat at a restau­rant. Park­ing for heswick The­atre events is usu­ally a hor­ror show. We some­times have some­one drop us off and pick us up when the show is over. The Chel­tenham com­mis­sioner I men­tioned ear­lier promised a multi-level park­ing garage at the Glen­side Train Sta­tion — and this was sev­eral years ago. Where is it? Did you HYHU WUy WR finG SDUNLnJ IRU D WUDLn ULGH Ln to town af­ter the morn­ing rush hour? It can­not be done.

So, like they said in the mu­si­cal, “We have trou­ble, right here in River CLWy (HUU, GOHnVLGH)” EuW LW’V D fixDEOH SUREOHP. BuW WR fix LW UHTuLUHV SHRSOH get­ting in­volved. One emailer sug­gested that “you EmeF should get it done,” like I have some kind of magic wand. I’ll write about, and do what I can. But when I sug­gested that she or­ga­nize a group to pe­ti­tion for Glen­side im­prove­ments there was no re­sponse.

I still love Glen­side. But, per­haps, I’m see­ing it through nos­tal­gic glasses.

Ted Tay­lor can be reached at ted@ ted­tay­lor.com.

Ted Tay­lor

At Large

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