Thursday, August 22, 2013

Neshaminy Mall - Revisited

One of my first jobs as a teenager was as a salesman at Kinney Shoes in Neshaminy Mall. Kinney's is long gone, like my hair, but Neshaminy Mall, one of the first malls in the country, is still there after several incarnations.

I too, have been through several incarnations over the years and after all this time, from Israel, to Boston, back to Philly to New Mexico to California, to Florida and back to Philly again, I have come full circle.

Recently, I took a part time job as a rep for Kitchen Saver®Kitchen Saver in Neshaminy Mall, the mall where I first started almost 40 years ago.  And here's where it gets interesting...

It's my job to stop you when you pass by and ask if you're interested in remodeling your kitchen cabinets and then set an appointment for a free estimate for a cabinet facelift. It's actually a very reputable company and I enjoy the work most of the time.  It's not difficult and, despite having to deal with a fair amount of rejection,  I get to meet a lot of nice people during the course of a shift.

One day during a break, I noticed seven beautifully crafted dioramas built into the wall outside of Macy's indoor mall entrance, each covered by a glass pane, and each depicting a scene from our country's illustrious history. The first window box shows an early settler shaking hands with an Indian from the Neshaminy tribe and a faded plaque on a pedastal in front of the window explains what is transpiring in the scene. The next one holds figurines of Ben Franklin at the age of 70 and his grandson, Temple, on their return from France; all of the characters impeccably dressed in colonial costumes in colorfully painted backgrounds.

As I was admiring the dioramas, a mom and her two young children approached to look at the dioramas. At some point, she turned to me and asked, "Do they still work?"
"What do you mean?" I countered, not having a clue what she was referring to.  The woman explained to me that years ago,  there was a button in front of each window that you could press which caused the window to light up, the characters would move and a narrator would explain what was happening in each scene.  She then pointed out that the old speakers were still there, and, sure enough, there are still speakers there; remnants from a time when the mall was young and enchanted.

SIgning of Declaration of Independence, Neshaminy Mall

She went on to explain that the dioramas were commissioned and donated by the Strawbridge family, and that what is currently Macy's Department Store was originally a Strawbridge and Clothier when the mall opened in 1967. Apparently, old man Strawbridge was were very into the history of the Bucks County and Philadelphia and somewhat of a philanthropist. The stores were noted for their great customer service and friendly employees.  This got me thinking.

Wouldn't it be cool if the current management of Neshaminy Mall, and/or Macy's and/or other tenants of the mall or members of the community got those window boxes working again.  It makes perfect sense - Recently, the Neshaminy Mall fountain and wishing well was completely refurbished.

It would be ever so fitting to get those dioramas working again and rededicate the mall once the work is complete. It could be a media event which I'm certain would infuse the area with a whole new energy and bring families back into Neshaminy and renew interest in the community at large! We Pennsylvanians are very aware of our contribution to the history of this country and our place among the thirteen original colonies. We're proud of our Quaker heritage and of William Penn, Ben Franklin, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, etc. What better way to share our pride than bringing the communities of Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County together to commemorate the renewal of those talking action windows.

I have been given the green light by Neshaminy Mall's management to look into the cost of this project. But there may be one other snag. Macy's, the current owner of those windows, may not be interested in restoring the them. So, I have created an online petition to present to Macy's and Neshaminy Mall's management to demonstrate how much community interest there is in the restoration of the display. Please click here to sign the petition

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston. Monday, April 15th, 2013

What's on my mind? Hmmm. Today, that's easy. A lot of my fellow human beings; Bostonians, just striving to be better, whose lives were suddenly ended or sent spiraling out of control by forces of a few subhumans with no regard for life. And most of the victims will go on to deal with this devastation anonymously, because, lets face it - everyone is more interested in the people who did it than the people who will forever be affected by this heinous event. My hope is that they find the culprit, deal with them swiftly and bring them to justice. Then, not give them any more press. Because that's exactly what they want. The best way to honor the victims is to go on with your life with no fear. No Fear.
Reprinted from my Facebook Status