1714 Orchard Avenue, Folsom. How well I remember that address. Zip codes were not being used when I lived there, but just before I started writing this post, I looked it up. In case you’re interested, it’s 19033. I have no use for the address or the zip code, because, now, I don’t know anyone who lives there. A girlfriend did, named Elaine McKay, someone I wish I had kept in touch with, but didn’t.
Although, to me, it seemed like a long time, I only lived there about four years, between the ages of eight and twelve. The rest of my family, two brothers Donald and Richard, my mother and father, Edwin and Ada Britt, also resided there, and just a few years before moving from the area, a sister, Ada Mae was born.
I think it was sometime in the late 1960’s when my husband and I drove through the small
cluster of streets, called Folsom, and rode past the house on 1714 Orchard Avenue. It was the first time back in many years. By then, I was a mother of five children, residing in Sweet Valley, PA. I looked for the Fire Company, Annie’s Hoagie Shop and the place that had the most influence on me, Folsom Presbyterian Church. My heart sank when I saw it standing vacant and boarded-up. When I lived there, it was a vibrant ministry with many caring, loving people reaching out to the community.
Some of the towns near the sleepy town of Folsom were Upper Darby, where I traveled by bus to the dentist, by myself, I might add. I remember, well, biting my numbed bottom lip all the way home. Something I was very sorry for a few hours later. There is Prospect Park, and Swarthmore is close enough I could walk there to visit my Aunt and Uncle Morgan Kishpaugh. These areas are larger than Folsom. Even bigger and more of a city, is Chester, which is 3.8 miles away. What I remember most about it was the dirty, smelly, Delaware river and what seemed like lots of industry. My dad worked there at Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., a business that closed after World War II. It’s said that Chester is the birthplace of the hoagie sandwich.I was frequently sent to carry home hoagies from the shop near us. Philadelphia was only 14 miles away, but I don’t recall the family ever visiting there.
I remember well, the layout of the house at 1714 Orchard Avenue. It was a double block, meaning built into the same structure was another house, side by side. Once neighbors moved in who had a young child who rocked a lot in her heavy wooden high- chair, a sound heard clearly on our side of the building. Entering by the front door you were in the living room, which had a brick fireplace that we never burned, then walk right into the dining room and on into the kitchen. The kitchen sink had no cupboard underneath until dad built one that was curved on the end. How he did that I’m not sure. He also screened-in the small front porch, a feature I was determined to have in my own home, some day. (and I do!) Steps going upstairs were in the dining room and there is three bedrooms. I had my own and my brothers another one and the third one was for my parents. My room was just large enough for a double bed and a dresser, but it was my own private domain. Mom always kept dresser scarves on all the dressers and arm and head doilies on upholstered furniture. This you don’t see very often today.
Does 1714 Orchard Avenue still remain today? We had no plans to travel there so you
can imagine my delight to learn that, yes, it is still standing. This was accomplished through the miracle of the internet when my husband and I typed the address into Google Earth. There it was pictured, with the double dormer upstairs in the front bedroom, the porch was no longer screened-in and the front hedge was gone, but amazingly it truly is the home in which our family resided. The house was not recently built when we lived there, so we can only imagine the sorrow, pain and joys experienced there, to this day. Mine was the experience I shared with you, in this week’s Shirl and You.
Any one of you familiar with 1714 Orchard Avenue? Did you enjoy going back home with me? I hope you’ll write to Shirl and You.