For the past two seasons, the A&E channel has run a series called Parking Wars that follows the enforcers of Philadelphia’s parking laws. This includes the ticket-writers, the boot installers, and those who run the impound lot. (You never, never, want to go there. It will take a full day of frustration and cost you a fortune.) It is a popular nationwide show and is one of my favorites, even the reruns. I am surprised how much abuse the ticket writers take. If they find a car parked illegally, they write a ticket—what’s to argue about? Plenty, some people think.
So, in a recent exploration trip to Philly, I recognized ticket-writer Brian, an indefatigably cheerful guy who loves his job, despite all. When I asked to take his picture, he immediately whipped out a violation tag and struck a well-rehearsed pose that he must have done hundreds of times. He posed with a threatening frown, but I asked him to smile a little because we all know he is a pussycat. We chatted briefly and he was as cheerful as he always seemed to be. He told me to watch for a new series to start in September. I was glad to see these are real people who continue on in their real jobs when the cameras stop rolling. (I need a new expression. Video cameras don’t roll anymore.)
I was in Philly to check out what I now know is the Schuylkill Banks project. I had noticed on Google Earth that all along the Schuylkill’s east banks in downtown Philly there was a path and grassy area that could be reached by stairways descending from the Walnut, Chestnut, and Market Street bridges.
My chosen route to get there was to walk from Suburban Station to Rittenhouse Square, then up on Walnut Street to the Schuylkill. Sure enough, there is a very nice park called Schuylkill Banks, still being developed, used by cyclists, runners, fishermen, book-readers, and loungers, most all from the nearby neighborhoods. There is a tour-boat dock and even a very pretty area of garden plots parceled out to city residents. I understand it will eventually connect with other park areas to form one continuous trail up past the Art Museum and Boathouse Row to Manayunk. It all adds up to city living at it’s best. (See www.schuylkillbanks.org)
From the park, I followed a path that curiously led over well-used railroad tracks to the foot of Spruce Street, which has no bridge. It was here in this tree-shaded area of fine old homes that I met Brian. From there, I continued up Spruce, past Dave Hall’s old apartment over forty years ago at 1906 (you can follow this same route and even see Dave’s old place on Google Earth’s street views), and back to Rittenhouse Square in time for the lunch crowd. By then the day was getting too sticky hot for even the lunchtime picnickers, so I continued on to Suburban Station just in time for the 12:30 train back to Marcus Hook.
That’s what I call a good day.