Not an Art Drop Off 6-28-20

…but, there is art that someone did drop off, and I found it. Read on to learn more.

After the 40-mile trek along the Perkiomen Trail, subject of the last few posts, my husband and I toned things down and did some local walks this past week. On Sunday, June 28, we decided to try a walk through a built environment – aka a journey along the main road through some Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia.

Background. This area, west of the city, is called the Main Line because in the way back, the main commuter train line connected this series of towns. The area was very wealthy, with large estates and many substantial homes. Even today, though most of the estates are gone, it is a very well-off area. Let me put it this way. If my house were located here, it would be worth twice as much.

This section of the Philadelphia suburbs is very familiar to me. I went to college at Bryn Mawr College (graduating in 1980), minutes from the Bryn Mawr train station. After college, I lived in various apartments in the area until I moved “across the river” (the Schuylkill) to the area where I now live. Though I did not grow up in Pennsylvania, the Main Line is sort of my “home town” as far as where I started out here in the state, so long ago.

Enough talking. We decided to park at my husband’s office (when he used to go to the office) in Ardmore, walk west along Lancaster Avenue through Haverford up to Bryn Mawr, then cross the railroad tracks and come back via a parallel road, Montgomery Avenue. Now I could go on and on with many extremely fascinating memories stretching back 40 years, but I will try to stick with the sights I photoed as we walked along.

We parked the car in the lot at my husband’s office, which was located behind the buildings lining Lancaster Ave. Cutting through to the street, we saw this outdoor beer garden behind a bar. Now I just have to say, this is not picturesque, but it is outside, and I guess that’s good enough in these times. Me, I’m just not feeling it, even though I see they have tiki torches.

Ardmore is a tightly-packed area with shops and restaurants built right up on Lancaster Ave. In my era it was the everyday shopping kind of place to go vs. the boutiques and specialty shops further west.

It was very quiet – we were out about 8:30 in the morning. The day was warm and sunny. As we went along, we encountered mostly runners or others, like us, walking for exercise.

I was taken by this mini-me model in the window of the video store.

Moving west, we passed through Haverford, which doesn’t have much of a presence on Lancaster Avenue – what you mostly see here is Haverford College, the Haverford School (private school), and apartment buildings. We arrived in Bryn Mawr and turned right off Lancaster to go toward the railroad. There is a small square here (really, a parking lot, used for… parking… and a farmers’ market on Saturdays, and also weekend parking for the postal service).

I’m very familiar with this area – the bank here is where I cashed my paychecks from student work (at $2.65/hour), mailed letters, and shopped at the card shop and pharmacy (the latter of which is still there). But we went toward the train station. It’s not much of a building, but my eye was caught by the decrepit control tower.

I’ve never paid attention to it before. I had to get a closer look. Now, this is a big station here – Amtrak runs trains through it as well as SEPTA, our local commuter system. I remember very well in college being warned over and over not to cross the tracks at grade. And having traveled on both types of train through here, I can tell you – do not cross the tracks at grade. The trains, especially Amtrak, flash through here and gone in the blink of an eye.

No, use the tunnel under the tracks. It is not that hard.

Ardmore walk 6-28-20 (9)

Here are some photos of the control tower. It’s in awful shape, as you can see, but what a wonderful amount of detail and care went into its building.

We were also interested in the concrete structures – the little octagonal building, and the entrance to the tower. Both look like they were cast elsewhere and brought here? The entrance structure in particular is intriguing – even the “shingles” are cast concrete, not separate pieces set on the walls. I wonder if I can find out more about these sections…

Anyway, just take a look.

Do you want to know more about this building and the station? Click the link to see some photos (click through the series). And if you want to know more about the Main Line, look here.

Moving on. We headed out of the train station, turned, and started east on Montgomery Avenue, which parallels Lancaster Avenue. It’s lined with more schools, including a small college (Harcum College), houses, and apartment buildings.

So, we’ve crossed the train line and are now walking parallel to it again, but in the other direction.

I got a shot of a power station for the line, from behind Harcum College. It takes enormous amounts of electricity to power a train, and there are complicated structures for stepping the power up (or down) as it flows through the lines. First I show you the electrical towers – in the next photo, you can see the Bryn Mawr station off in the distance.

We went along the sidewalk, me full of anecdotes about this location or that one

(did you want to hear the story about how one night in the spring of 1980 as I was driving a carload of friends for ice cream, I ran over a dachshund on the lam, we stopped and moved him out of traffic, he couldn’t walk but otherwise seemed all right and not  much in pain, we got a nice older couple in a nearby apartment building to give us a box and blanket, took the dog to Bryn Mawr hospital emergency room where the staff struggled not to laugh themselves sick at us for bringing a dog to a people hospital, but duh, we knew it but where do you take a hurt dog at 10 PM? while acknowledging our good intentions and who then pointed us to an all-night vet, where we piled back in the car and hauled the dog there, and the good little guy never made a peep, just sat in the box and waited, and it turned out he had a broken leg – oh thank goodness only that! – and the next day a friend and I searched out the dog’s home from his collar tag, knocked on the door, but the people in the house said he belonged to the people who used to live there and who had moved a mile or two away, and the dog was trying to come back home, something he had done several times, it seemed, and they gave us the owners’ names and we called them and whew, it all was fine and as far as I know, the dog healed up and I hope stayed home. Oh, woops, I just told you the story, didn’t I?)

All right. Let’s move on. Near the Haverford train station, we stopped at this tiny park. It’s the Sharpe Bird Sanctuary, and it has a nice story.

Ardmore walk 6-28-20 (27)

Catherine Sharpe donated her property to the township for the purpose of creating this sanctuary in the late 1970’s. The house was demolished and the grounds planted and maintained for the benefit of birds. Though this area has plenty of trees and green, it’s quite built up – this is a nice respite.

I’d never been in the park, just driven by, so we took a look.

At the back of the property (built on what we later realized was the former site of the garage) we saw this little seating area.

Ardmore walk 6-28-20 (24)

And on the table, the art!

Ardmore walk 6-28-20 (23)

What a nice spot. I am really glad to see it in person after all these years.

But we had to keep moving. We continued to head east, until we reached Ardmore again, turning right to come up to Lancaster Avenue at the Ardmore train station.

Ardmore walk 6-28-20 (29)

I had to take a couple of photos of these interesting details:

My eye is always on alert for details. I’m not a big picture kind of person; instead I have always homed in on the small parts of the whole. Maybe it’s a function of my poor eyesight, or maybe it’s just how my mind works. In any case, these sights are the kind of things that just make my day, on a walk like this.

All right. We headed back to the car and turned in the direction of the grocery store. We’d done about 4 miles crammed full of interest. I’m thinking I’ll have to do this again – there were a lot of things I wanted to examine further…Storm grate Ardmore 6-20 #2

About Claudia McGill

A person who does art and writes poetry. That's me!

9 responses to “Not an Art Drop Off 6-28-20

  1. Diane

    A great tour of a great area. A friend of mine used to live right by the train station on top of one of the stores on the main road. I also have a funny story to tell you at some point about City “Line” Ave.

    • This area, it’s so familiar to me for so many reasons, having lived there for about 9 years if you count college. Ardmore is in particular familiar since I lived in Havertown and also I got married in the church I went to, a few blocks from where we parked the car. And of course the Bryn Mawr train station area, looks just the same, almost, as it did back then.

  2. Those building photos are fantastic! So many art inspirations! Your mention of your meager salary (compared to today’s wages) in your early employment days made me smile as I remembered when I made a whopping $3.25 an hour at my nurse’s aid job in high school and then upon graduating from RN school made $8.00 – $10.00 (depending on my shift) and I did not know what to do with all that money coming in! I felt so rich!

    • I remember when I started at the college jobs, I made $2.00/hour. They raised it after freshman year, I think. In the summers I made $5.00 for my swim coach and lifeguarding jobs… I remember my first career job I made $13,000/year and I can remember my 2-week take home pay forty years later – $343.71. Yes. I supported myself entirely on this amount. Seems very quaint now, doesn’t it?

  3. Pingback: Taking a walk through Bryn Mawr and Rosemont, July 16 | Sometimes You Get So Confused

  4. Pingback: We Keep Walking: Now We Travel Through St. David’s/Wayne on July 19 | Sometimes You Get So Confused

  5. gfhendricks

    The cement octagonal buildings are phone booths for the railroad. In the Lehigh Valley we have them on the IRT and the D&L. I’m surprised to see a wood door. Usually they are grates. Inside it was big enough for one person, the phone, and a little shelf for the dispatcher’s train sheet, charts, etc.

    • Oh, that is so nice to know. Here, I have not seen any, I’m thinking the Perkiomen and the Pennypack RTs – the former being one we just did the whole length, and the Pennypack is my “home” trail. On it we have many control boxes alongside (I often put art in them, they make great display cases) but never seen one of these octagon phone booths. I now am going to pay more attention along the SEPTA line we were following, because I am sure we will be back, because I have never paid much attention to the stations themselves (since it is still active, you do tend not to wander around…)

      In any case, the building is just perfect, I think.

  6. Pingback: At the Train Station | Claudia McGill and Her Art World

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