We moved to Glenside in 1979, which is a long time ago unless you are watching your kids grow. Glenside is a part of Abington Township and Cheltenham Township, which are both in Montgomery County and border Philadelphia. This is the eastern part of Montgomery County. Some areas are well-to-do, where people live in big houses and don't fret about frequent oil deliveries during the winter months. Glenside is more working class than well-to-do. Oh, there are enough "knock-your-eyes" out homes in Abington, don't get me wrong. But Glenside is no Lower Merion. By working class I mean more blue collar than white collar, though those terms seem outdated now. We are, after all, people sharing the same ride. Some just take different vehicles.


Special Of The Moment

When I was a kid and living in Norristown, the county seat (the court house is there), my only brush with Glenside was fleeting. My great Aunt Minnie had a home in Seaside Heights, N.J., a shore town in the northern part of the state. Every summer my parents would load my two brothers, my sister and myself into our gray Oldsmobile and point it toward Seaside Heights. This was extremely exciting, two weeks at the shore. Aunt Minnie always yelled at us when we rushed out of the house and let the screen door slam, this being only a minor problem. The beach beckoned. The sand, and the sun... the great Atlantic was only three hot blocks away.

To get to Seaside Heights we took Route 73. To get to Route 73, Dad drove through Glenside on his way to the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge (only a five-cent toll). I always knew it was Glenside because of the fine architecture of a pharmacy that stood at the corner of Easton Rd. and Mt. Carmel Ave. This was my official signal that our vacation was only hours away. Soon we would be hopping up and down in the car as it traversed the uneven payment that sliced through the Pine Barrens.

Twenty-five years later my wife and I would own a home in Glenside within walking distance of that pharmacy. It is no longer a pharmacy, but the stately architecture still proudly stands.

Glenside today is probably best known for the Keswick Theater, which properly rests on Keswick Ave. The Keswick is an ornate building (English Tudor) whose history is well known. A wrecking ball was poised to turn it into a mess of bricks more than once. People who care about history and old theaters protested each time. Now it is host to varied events. First class acts have been to the theater. Dick Gregory has found his way to the Keswick Theater, as well as the Vienna Boys Choir, Joan Baez, rock acts and comedians. Perhaps they stopped at Rizzo's for a pizza after the show, or the nearby coffee shop for the brew of the day, as have many of the patrons.

The Keswick Theater is a centerpiece of Keswick Village, the cluster of shops that form the area. New trees, new street lamps and new bricks (sponsored by those who live here) came to Keswick Village last summer. There is a sense of community, of good will and, of course, a hope that shoppers will find the area inviting. It is a work in progress.

Although Glenside is in the suburbs, it has the intimacy of a city neighborhood where one walks around the block and chats with the neighbors. At the beginning of this century it was largely rural, with attention focused on what is now called the Glenside train station and the nearby Willow Grove Park. Today it is urban in the best sense of the word, one of the reasons we moved here. In Glenside you can walk to the stores in the Keswick area, which is Abington, or cross the railroad tracks past Mt. Carmel Ave, to the stores in Cheltenham.

Our kids have grown up in a community that cares about itself and the people in it. That alone is reason to celebrate Glenside.

Jim Gauger, Feb., 1997

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