Philadelphia Fillies

Yesterday I took an early morning road trip to Philadelphia with Erin, Joy and Joy's friend, Adam. Adam snapped this photo in one of Philly's lovely parks lying directly south of Independence Hall.

I have to admit that aside from the city's historic structures I knew little about Philly. It was interesting to see the stark socio-economic dynamics of the urban areas. A few times it was likened to SE or NE, DC. Yet, as this photo reveals the "Old City" is well maintained with manicured parks and a pedestrian-friendly "mall."

We began the morning by dropping Erin off at her gun show. She can explain the logistics of a gun show better than I, so I will leave that to her. It was interesting to observe her in a professional arena, providing information about Beretta products to people twice her age. For the record, I was impressed. She possessed a confidence with and around firearms that I will never have. I think I jumped every time I heard a gun shot.

Instead of hanging out at the gun show Joy, Adam and I decided to kill time in the Old City. Our morning was invested in a NPS film, titled Independence, getting tickets for Independance Hall, visiting the Old Christ Church cemetery (Ben Franklin is buried there) and the Free Quaker Church.

Around noon we fetched Erin and grabbed some Philly cheesesteaks at Gino's. Although I had never heard of Gino, apparently he recently made national news. Gino has established a controversial policy that only english-speaking customers will be served by his establishment. To support Gino and his crusade, hundreds of people line up daily to consume Gino's less-than-impressive (that's what I was told) cheesesteaks and freedom fries. As I was standing in line I couldn't help but wonder with a name like Gino, how many of Gino's ancestors immigrated to America unable to speak english. I wonder how he feels about past discrimination against Italians. Are his actions any different than those of generations past who segregated themselves from Italians and refused to extend certain services to them based on race? I don't think so. While some individuals may applaude Gino and his creed, I think its an unsettling reminder that, given the opportunity, people will discriminate and segregate themselves from those perceived as less-American or less like themselves. One of the beautiful aspects about living in America is that Gino is free to serve who he pleases and when he pleases. God bless America.

After picking at half of my cheesesteak we strolled through the Italian market, which according to Joy's guidebook is the largest outdoor market in America. My favorite store was a candy store, I can't recall the name, whose cases were filled with chocolate covered pretzels, turtles, cookies, truffles, etc. Adam took a few pictures of the candy counter that are pretty impressive.

Our Italian market excursion was cut short by a pre-planned date with Independence Hall. A NPS ranger explained we needed to be in the security line, no later than 45 mins before our tour began, to make the tour. Deciding its better to be safe than sorry, we rushed down and managed to breeze through security in five minutes. This left us forty minutes to spare. As we joined fellow tourists in the courtyard it began to rain. One downfall of Independence Hall is, lack of shelter and toliets. Erin and I both had to use the restroom and no one was caving. Eventually I found a young man (about our age) who fell for my "I am a woman and need a restroom" act and led me into a small bathroom. In the necessity of having to pee and the excitement that victory brings, I forgot to lock the door. This bathroom, I should mention was located just to the right of the entrance. Everyone entering the building could see this door and when opened, the person using the facilities. A security guard, seeing a light on, flung open the door before the kind man who had just helped me and who knows how many tourists, to turn the light off before locking up for the evening. Imagine her surprise, when instead of seeing a vacant restroom she saw a stranger in a Hawaiian print dress (and who knows what else) hanging out on the john. Needless to say, I was mortified. My embarrassment was impacted by her prolonged gawking, allowing Mr Helpful a peek as well. In situations such as this, I always repeat, "you'll never see them again." I just hope I'm right.

My embarrassment was soon replaced by excitement as we entered Independence Hall. For over a year, Dr Longstreth has lambasted me and my fellow hp students with slides depicting Philadelphia's historic structures. It is not surprising Independence Hall was often among them. Known less for its architecture than its association with our founding fathers and Revolutionary events, Independence Hall is not only a National Historic Landmark but a UNESCO world heritage site.

The building is lovely inside and out and our docent was not only informative but entertaining as well. As I climbed the staircase to the second floor I couldn't help but marvel over the stairs. Looking down, it was obvious the wood planking was authentic. Knowing these stairs supported men like Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Sam Adams, and General George Washington was awe inspiring. Running my hand along the banister, I couldn't help likening the building to a woman, perhaps Liberty herself. The banister became her spine, and running my hand along it I could sense her fatigue and strength. It was a connection I hope to remember years hence, especially as I work to save other historic buildings & sites.

Following the tour, Erin, Joy, Adam and I climbed into Erin's fabulous new car and did a drive-by of the Rocky stairs before heading home. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. I was not only reminded of my American heritage but developed a stronger "brotherhood" with my friends, Erin & Joy, than I previously had. I can see why Elton John was so enamored with her. There is an underlying romance to the city that seems to attract everyone who's walked its cobblestone streets. Crossing over the river (don't ask me which one) I vowed to return to Philly where freedom is king and history its companion.

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1 comments:

Sherpa said...

Bravo


Hey, if you get a chance, could you e-mail or send me a link to an online photo gallery of all the photos. I'm playing with the trip creator feature on yahoo and I'd like to put all these photos in one place.

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