Glenside column sparks mixed reactions
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.