There once was a train station here that rivaled those on the main line
two stories, full service, Tudor appearance, baggage handlers
ticket agents, railroad men. Travel to anywhere from Wissinoming
Station, across from Baldwin’s estate.
Overtime the station became run down, only morning and evening
commuters arrived, Baldwin’s long gone. In the 1970s set on fire.
Once a grand station, it was replaced by a small brick shelter. Parking
lot fenced off in the 1980s, even the commuters stopped coming.
Closed in 2003.
I think of what was in this neighborhood of Philadelphia - great estates,
the football team that played here, of the grand home for women, the
bustling industry, and shopping district. I think of the hard working class,
who lived in twins and rows that still line the streets. I think of the once
grand station and how the neighborhood slowly followed it in decline.
I stand in what now passes as a railroad station. Brick shelter scared with
graffiti, parking lot, a weedy field fenced-off with rusty fence mesh, bent
poles, platform of macadam pitted, crumbling. The cold steel rails, cement
ties, and gray ballast still carry trains, never stopping here in a part of town
long forgotten, not part of the gentrification movement.
It was a house but home it became.
It sat on the east side of Wissinoming across from the
foundry and ceramic plant. I remember cleaning dark
dust from window ledges, lingering smell of paint, watched
azaleas grow, kids sprouting, pool full, barbeque summers
sounds of trains rushing through.
Spring flowers always bloomed, heavy summer air permeated
the house and then the beautiful autumn breeze when the baby
came home, a cheerfulness engulfed the house. In winter, Christmas
lights covered the porch; ornaments and candy canes illuminated
by flickering lights on the tree. Occasion of happiness lingered on
faces of the children upon seeing stockings and presents.
We watched as families moved, much as we began the slow erosion
of relationship, noted a vacant house here and there
talk became banter
banter became argument
cheerless, the home became a gloomy house. Marriage dawdled to
a painful end.
And in our misery we found divorce, argued over the limited nothingness
of possession, watched as the Sherriff took the house. Belongings scattered
here and there. Happiness faded from the faces of the children, a melancholy
set in as the truth cast its light that in divorce both are equally at fault.
Through shadows of misery I still see the cheerful holiday dinners, pool parties
kids being kids without burdens of life. In this light I have learned the dawdling
caused the pain, the end always in sight, the festering sores of disconnect should
have been cleansed long before gloom engulfed the house on Keystone street.
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