April 24, 2008 Issue
Chestnut Hill Local
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In 1925, the Wissahickon Valley was in ill repair. Refined citizens were avoiding the park. Hooligans were carving their initials in trees and making whoopee in the bushes. Since the park was in their own backyard, a few wealthy eastside landowners decided to take action. They formed the Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW), and using their own money, planted over 100 varieties of poisonous sticker bushes on the west side to keep the hooligans out. This was considered charitable work, since the hooligans themselves were being paid to do the labor.
Okay, maybe that isn’t exactly how it happened, but something along those lines. In any event, for the next 75 years or so, the Friends’ activities generally consisted of plantings, cleanups, anti-graffiti and occasional social get-togethers. While not technically a branch of government, they had enough money and manpower to be the favorite special interest group of the Fairmount Park Commission (FPC).
It was during that era that I virtually grew up in the Wissahickon; it was my backyard too. My friends and I played, swam, ice skated, built forts and generally lived our “Lord of the Flies” existence there, free from adult intervention, save the occasional mounted “parkie,” who kept us honest. I never dreamed it could be anything other than an idyllic setting for boy and beast.
The food is so good at Caliente, the Mexican food outlet in the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market, that customers occasionally ask, “Where’s the Mexican lady who makes this wonderful food?”
It turns out that the “Mexican lady,” Nancy Heridia, 45, is no more Mexican than Betty Crocker (despite her Hispanic last name), but her food is as healthy and tasty as anything we have sampled during trips to Mexico City, Ixtapa and Acapulco. (It’s not that unusual anymore for chefs to prepare ethnic food that is foreign to their own ethnic group. For example, Vince Viola, an Italian-American, is the executive chef at Yangming, an upscale Chinese restaurant in Bryn Mawr, and Lassine Sylla, who is from Mali in West Africa, is the executive chef at Kaizan, a Japanese-French restaurant at 1420 Locust St.)
‘Crossing’ into fine music at Hill church Friday
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave., will open its 12th annual Festival of Music and Art on Friday, April 25, with a wine and cheese reception starting at 6:30 p.m. followed by a choral concert featuring The Crossing at 8 p.m., which in turn will be followed by a second reception.
Mark Anderson, organist and choir director of the church as well as the music director of the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, explained that the annual festival was one of the first fruits of his tenure and that of senior pastor Cynthia Jarvis.
“It was part of our collaborative efforts to revitalize the congregation by getting people involved in activities that reached out to the entire Chestnut Hill community,” he said. “Over the dozen years we’ve hosted the festival, we’ve focused on various themes, with art being an equal component with music. This year we’re featuring the work of five young art majors from Arcadia University.”
Doggedly determined not to be a ‘Dummy American’
In the two weeks since we had to say goodbye to our pet ferret, my wife Kara and I have confirmed beyond a doubt what we already suspected to be true: being petless is not for us.