Where is the heart of Glenside?
They call me “The Glenside Kid” (title of my last book, of course) so I was recently called upon to settle a motherdaughter dispute over where exactly “the heart” of Glenside is.
Lynn Bortman (a Cheltenham High classmate of mine) and her daughter were at the diner in Keswick when the daughter said, “This is the center/heart of Glenside.” Lynn had other ideas and asked me what I thought. I was ready to expound on my thoughts when I decided it might be better to ask my Facebook friends for their feedback.
(ODLnH GrLIfin 0RWW JrHw XS Ln GOHnside, though she no longer lives in the area. When I was a college freshman teaching Sunday school at Carmel Presbyterian Church (in Glenside), Elaine was in one of a small group of teenage girls that I got to teach. As an aside, my girlfriend at the time wasn’t pleased with the lovely competition.
Elaine and I agreed on the basic premise that the question is much more complicated because Glenside encompasses two townships: Abington and Cheltenham. (Really three, if yRX FRXnW 6SrLnJfiHOG, wKLFK WRXFKHV part of North Hills.) She felt that kids who grew up in Cheltenham saw it one wDy, $ELnJWRn DnRWKHr. (6SrLnJfiHOG kids didn’t consider that they were even Glensiders, I guess.) Elaine added that all things considered, the heart of Glenside is in the area of the Railroad Station (Easton Road and Glenside Avenue). She also points out (and I agree) that there was and is only one “Glenside School,” and it is in Cheltenham Township.
There’s also only one Glenside Fire Company, and that’s near the railroad station. There was one Glenside TheDWrH DnG WKDW wDV Rn 0RXnW CDrPHO Avenue, plus one Glenside Pub. Now there’s a Weldon Fire Company, Keswick Tavern and Keswick Theatre, but they are all in Weldon or Keswick ... which is it?
There was a lot of Keswick section sentiment, though. But you’ll note I called it “The Keswick Section” because that’s how we, as kids growing up in Glenside, thought of it. We saw Keswick as a separate entity like Edge Hill, Roslyn, North Hills, Ardsley, even Weldon — where the “GlensideWeldon School,” now doomed to be demolished, stood for decades. So to complicate matters, then, Keswick was really in Weldon, not Glenside.
Lynn also mentioned that she Googled the question and the omnipotent web informer said the heart of GOHnVLGH LV DW WKH SRVW RIfiFH. 6HrLRXVOy? 7KH SRVW RIfiFH LV DW (DVWRn 5RDG DnG 6SrLnJKRXVH /DnH. 0DyEH LW’V WKH geographical hub, but it sure isn’t the emotional heart of anything.
0y YRWH, VLnFH , JrHw XS KHrH, would be in support of the Glenside Railroad Station area (Easton Road and Glenside Avenue on the in-bound VLGH, (DVWRn DnG 0RXnW CDrPHO — the township dividing line — on the outbound side). It’s where commerce was centered when the town grew up. There was (and still is) a large bank there, food stores and restaurants (the legendary Rizzo’s for decades). On the out-bound side are several churches, DnG rLJKW GRwn 0RXnW CDrPHO VWRRG the old Glenside Theatre. Dan Loney votes for Ralph’s Barber Shop as the heart of Glenside. It also falls into the railroad station area. Growing up, that barbershop, for me, was called Fanelli Brothers; I am still a customer.
Charlie Boice, who grew up in Wyncote — close enough by to have his vote count — said that the railroad station area is truly the heart of Glenside. Paul Dougherty who grew up on Oak Road, with me, concurs.
The legendary Glenside Fourth of July Parade begins in Abington and marches down through Keswick, but it ends at Renninger Park, which is, of course, in Cheltenham Township. All the Glenside semi-pro baseball teams played at the park as did the Glenside Gorillas. When I coached midget baseball, my team, Glenside, played a team based in the shadow of the Keswick Theatre, the Weldon team.
The emergence of Keswick Village as an entity, a great job of marketing by WKH wDy, LV rHflHFWHG Ln WKRVH yRXnJHr people who cast their votes for that area, and I get that. Linda Stein, Trish Buckley, Steve Suder, Jim Gauger and -Dn 0FGHH HHJHGXV YRLFHG WKH RSLnion that this is really Glenside’s heart. Betsy Blumenthal Derr chimed in that she thinks it’s Keswick because her DDG RwnHG WKH GOHn )RRG 0DrW. 1HHG I point out it wasn’t called the “GlenVLGH )RRG 0DrW.”
The Keswick Theatre, of course, draws people to the Keswick section but really not to downtown Glenside. Ads I’ve seen (that they place) identifiHV WKH .HVwLFN 7KHDWrH DV D 3KLODGHOphia showplace, by the way. Of course, Keswick Avenue originates at Waverly Road (at the park) in the Cheltenham Township part of Glenside.
As the grandson of a man, Philip Roth, who settled, at age 11 with his folks on Limekiln Pike (at Church Road) in 1874 before there even was a Glenside (it was called Harmer Hill where he lived, Glenside by the time Py 0RP wDV ERrn WKHrH), , VDy WKH heart of Glenside is at the Railroad Station. It straddles both townships and is wKHrH ,’G ORRN firVW LI VRPHRnH VDLG, “0HHW PH Ln GOHnVLGH.”
But the real center of Glenside — assuming that you were born here or even just grew up here — is in your heart and mind. It was a great place to grow up, a great place to live and loads of great people (in both townships) have called it home for more than a century. The Glenside Kid rests his case. Listen to Ted Taylor every Tuesday from 8 a.m. until noon on WRDV FM 89.3 or write to him at ted@tedtaylor. com.