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Letter to the Editor: Trip down memory lane

Wow, 75 years! That is how long the South Philly Review has been delivering community news to our neighborhood. That means, if my math is correct, that it originated in 1947. That year, I was between 6 and 7 years old and living with my twin brother and family on the 1600 block of E. Passyunk Avenue where I spent my whole young life until my marriage in 1972. After that, my new husband Stan and I moved just around the corner to the house where I have lived alone since he passed in 2010. We raised one daughter Claire who is married and lives in Delco.

Basically, what that means is that I have been in this Southeast of Broad Street neighborhood longer than the Review. I recall a world before television. Besides radio, all we had for visual news were movie houses, many of which no longer exist, like the Alhambra, the Savoia and the Broadway.

I am also old enough to remember the huge Gothic-style Moyamensing Prison, which was built in 1835 and demolished in 1968. That prison reminded me of a huge haunted castle. It spanned Reed Street, 11th Street and East Passyunk Avenue. Today that area is occupied mostly by the Acme Market and its huge parking lot.

Lots of other South Philly places came and went or changed in the past 8 decades. I recall the original St. Agnes Hospital built in 1929 at 1900 S. Broad St. and later converted to a modern St. Agnes Medical Center. Even my old Catholic grammar school, Annunciation BVM, was finally sold. Our blended parish of Annunciation, St. Nicholas and St. Rita now hosts a single regional school, St. Anthony of Padua. It makes your head spin sometimes.

My favorite memory of the founding of a special place was watching in 1954-55 the complete construction of my alma mater, St. Maria Goretti High School for Girls. I entered as a sophomore and graduated with the first class in 1958. Now it is co-ed Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti High.

I could go on and on about the many changes to my East Passyunk Avenue neighborhood over the years. Thanks partly to the pandemic, the rate of change has actually increased. Retail stores and restaurants come and go. Even the population has changed to all kinds of ethnic blends reflected in the variety of restaurants that cater to different palates. It is a dynamic neighborhood, and I am happy to live and be a part of it.

 – Gloria C. Endres

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