A confession: I miss clotheslines. Don't miss lugging baskets of soggy clothes up the basement steps and out across the yard. Don't miss slapping at mosquitoes with a mouthful of clothespins. Don't miss convincing myself it won't rain when of course it will, and it does. Don't miss how stiff the clothes are when they're finally back inside.
I just miss seeing clotheslines when I walk the streets and alleys of my neighborhood, or any neighborhood. Nowadays, backyards look lifeless and uninteresting. Doubtless, this is a small price to pay for progress, and this nostalgia of mine is a small and silly thing, but still.
So now and for a while to come, Monday will be laundry day on Hole in the Clouds.
An old skyscraper, the Art Deco Suburban Station building from 1930, peeks out at left from behind Philadelphia's newest and tallest skyscraper, the Comcast Center, completed in 2008. Reflected in the angled blue glass of the Concast tower are the upper floors of the Mellon Bank Center across the street.
Behind the 'scrapers is lots and lots of city sprawling into the night across the Delaware Valley.
Comcast is currently building itself a newer and even taller tower, which is rising off to the right of the buildings seen here. The lower floors will be occupied by Comcast and Telemundo, and the upper floors will be rooms with a view in a Four Seasons Hotel.
To start with, very close to home, we celebrate May 17 as the birthday of our little sister Carol, as well as the birthday, on the Stein side of the family, of our brother-in-law Bob, as well as the wedding anniversary of Richard and Arleigh Stein, as well as the 480th anniversary of the annulment of the marriage of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII of England.
Not only, not only. The very day of little sister's birth in 1954 is also known to history as the day the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, knocking the legalistic props out from under racial segregation in public schools, though of course failing to end racial segregation in public schools. And there's more, at least on a technicality: the Brown decision applied only to public schools run by the various state governments, not to schools in the District of Columbia, where everything was run by the federal government and also where, it so happened, our little sister was born. The Supreme Court needed to decide a separate case, Bolling v. Sharpe, to order desegregation of schools in Washington, D.C., but it efficiently took care of that detail on the very same day as little sister's birth. Eight days later, the D.C. School Board announced a desegregation plan, and thus, had little sister been smart enough to start school as a newborn infant, which she very nearly was, she might have enrolled in a newly desegregated classroom.
The photo above shows a bit of what Sis is up to these days: mosaicking the side of her garage to suggest a door and some pretty awesome windows.
In the mid-eighteenth century, Ben Franklin's good friend John Bartram was a nurseryman, with a plant and seed business on a few acres across the Schuylkill River from Phladelphia. This is the view today from Bartram's estate, which is now owned by the city.
The oil tanks are part of the largest refinery complex in the northeast, recently acquired from Sunoco by an investment fund that operates it as Philadelphia Energy Solutions. This year's low oil prices don't seem to hurt the storage-and-refinery end of the oil business; PES says it has expanded its operation locally to employ more than 1,000 people and is trying to acquire a storage facility in North Dakota.
Bartram had an international reputation as a botanist, collecting seeds and plant specimens from all over the thirteen colonies and beyond, from Florida to Lake Ontario. Much of his traveling was by foot. He sent unique New World plants to London for the king's botanists there; they in turn sent him English plants that might or might not be suitable for American climes, including some trees and shrubs that survive today in Bartram's garden.
His son Bill continued the nursery business and also wrote a best-selling travelogue about plant-collecting adventures. Bill's niece Ann then took over the place and expanded it to include ten greenhouses and many acres of nursery gardens; in 1850, however, Ann and her husband Bob Carr ran out of money and had to sell the place.