March 18, 2010

Chestnut Hill Dining Guide

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Hired by legendary choreographer, George Balanchine;
Flourtown resident and former ballet star reaches 100

Yvonne Patterson, seen today at her Flourtown home with her constant companion, Mitzi. Ms. Patterson is still in good health at the age of 100.

Even people who know almost nothing about ballet dancing usually know the name George Balanchine. You might say he was the Michael Jordan or Babe Ruth of the ballet world. Therefore, it was quite a thrill and an honor to interview someone who, in her 100 years of life, actually worked with Balanchine, arguably the greatest choreographer and dancer in American history.

At least that was the only thing that I, a 24-year-old reporter who danced ballet myself for more than 15 years (at Stage Door Dance Studio in Jamesburg, NJ), could think about while preparing to interview Flourtown resident Yvonne Patterson, who will celebrate her 100th birthday March 20 and who was one of the first members of George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet in New York City in 1934. (She will be honored with two parties this weekend.)

Providing health care for the uninsured
First-ever gala marks 10 years for local medical clinic

Fortunately, we chose the warmest day in the last 93 (as Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz told us later) to visit the St. Catherine Labouré Medical Clinic, 5838 Germantown Ave. (at Rittenhouse Street). Having forgotten the Germantown where one of us grew up, we were also fortunate to be guided in via cell phone, thanks to the clinic’s great front desk manager, John “Bud” Heppler. He welcomes the clinic’s patients as he did us: with charm and kindness. We were there not only to tour the facility and meet the staff, but to learn more about the clinic’s first-ever Gala, coming in April.

It’s now run by a shellfish young man
Minks escape to make the world their Oyster

Sam Mink is the third generation of the Mink family to run a seafood restaurant in center city, starting 63 years ago. (Photo by Len Lear)

In the wild, minks do not ordinarily have any contact with oysters, but in Philadelphia the Mink family has had an intimate relationship with oysters — and other aquatic creatures — for 63 years. That’s because it was in 1947 that Samuel Mink, a Philadelphia lawyer, and a partner purchased Kelly’s on Mole Street, a legendary seafood restaurant that had been in business since 1901. Sam had intended  to go into the restaurant business strictly as an investor (according to his son, David), but his partner, who was supposed to manage the restaurant, wound up running away with a cashier.

As a result, Sam had no choice but to step in and run things. Then in June of 1969, Kelly’s on Mole Street was forced to close because the entire block had been purchased to make way for the two office towers of Centre Square. Sam, who was well compensated in the deal, planned to relocate the popular restaurant to 1620 Ludlow St. However, in September of 1969, two months before Kelly’s was to reopen, Sam suddenly died of a heart attack.

Sam’s son, David, who was born the same year his dad had purchased Kelly’s (1947), then dropped out of Cornell University to help his sister, Nancy, run the new Kelly’s. However, in May of 1970, Nancy got married and left the restaurant business, leaving her 23-year-old brother to run the show. But the young man and his widowed mother, Sylvia, sold Kelly’s in 1973, where David remained a consultant. 


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