LIFE THEN STATE STREET
The house I was born in was at the end of the Red Arrow, now SEPTA—I think, trolley line connecting my home town of Media with Philadelphia at the 69th Street Terminal. The house was a large federal colonial type house on a large plot of land. My grandfather, Judge John Martin Broome, the third owned it.
I have about seven early memories of State Street. The first is my favorite. The house was fenced off from the street with a large green and while picket fence. It was probably a Sunday, my mother and brothers were somewhere else, my father was painting the fence and baby sitting his daughter. The sun was shining, I had my father’s exclusive attention and to paraphrase the poet, “All was right in my world.”
Another good memory was one I didn’t understand for years. I was in my father’s arms and we were high in some sort of building and surrounded by light. I know now that we were at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and at the World of Tomorrow Exhibit. The memory is brief, just a picture. I was probably three years old.
Other memories were not so hot. My older brother letting me hold his rabbit and telling me to let her go. Which I promptly did.
My brother Tommy falling out of a second story window and breaking his arm.
“Finding money” in a milk bottle on a neighbor’s front stoop and being roundly spanked by my mother for stealing.
Loving the music school around the corner, but being yanked out because the teacher dared to say I was shy and her music school was helping me overcome that.
Racing my brothers down Front Street a half block over from our house. Hamilton was on roller skates, Tommy in his wagon, and I was on my tricycle. I was in front of the boys and deliriously happy to be winning. Then came the problem. I couldn’t make the turn at the intersection and instead plowed into a telegraph pole. I was knocked unconscious and remember waking up screaming in Tommy’s wagon being pulled by Hamil and pushed by Tommy. Regaining consciousness was the end of that memory, but I am sure that event delivered a subliminal message about the dangers of a woman challenging men.
The State Street house was owned by my grandfather—Judge John M. Broomall III. Nonfather we called him—his wife was Nona. She objected to grandfather or grandmother as sounding too old. Anyway, whatever name he was known by, he had made a deal with my parents that if they fixed up the State Street house, he would deed it over to them. He died in his fifties apparently of a stroke suffered during “a high colonic”. He never signed the house over and it was sold and we had to move. Heart breaking and had they been able to keep the house, their life would have been much different. Non-father was the last of the successful Broomall men. More about that later.
We moved from State Street sometime before the end of World War II. It was torn down and an ACME market replaced it. As the song goes “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” I know when be move because I know where I was when the sirens went off saying the war was over. By then we were living on Kirk Lane in Upper Providence. We called it the Farm.