On January 27, Garrison Keillor held his weekly Prairie Home Companion show in Philadelphia’s new Kimmel Center. You can listen to that broadcast by going to http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs and selecting the date. He talks about Philadelphia in his monologue and has several songs about the city, all in his unique style. I especially recommended it for you expatriates.
Today we are shin-deep in Delaware slush and the skies are gray, but the weather is a definite improvement over the recent sub-freezing temperatures. The days are obviously longer, and if the forecasts hold up, the slush should be gone by next week as we prepare to charge into spring.
This feeling of optimism led me to an earlier article by Garrison Keillor where he describes a trip to New York City with his father in August, 1953. They stayed in Brooklyn on a hot night. He describes:
“Across the street was a park in which I could see hundreds of people sleeping on blankets spread out on the grass, families, little kids nestled against their mothers, and on the benches around the perimeter men sat smoking and talking in the dark. An encampment of city people. We walked back to Dad’s friends’ apartment, and he spread a mattress on the fire escape and we slept there, five stories in the air, headlights passing below us, the elevated train clattering a block away.”
Although I never saw that scene, I do remember those days before air conditioning and his description was not unusual. My father often slept on our back porch glider taking only his pillow and a sheet. My grandparents lived within walking distance, and on hot evenings we would find them in their back yard where we all sat and talked until it got dark and the mosquitoes came out. When we returned from our Ocean City vacation on our way to the bridge we saw the city residents of Camden gathered on their stoops On the Philadelphia side, Franklin Square was full of people sitting in the dark. We all got through the hot nights the best we could.
You can read his articles at the home page of same web site under “The Old Scout.”