Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Trip to Philly

Esther and I went into Philly last week for V-Day.  One Billion Rising was V-Day/The Vagina Monologues' huge worldwide movement. One of my best friends helped plan OBR, so I just HAD to go.

For the sake of adventure, and also to avoid all the drama of parking in the city, Esther and I took the train. She's a fan of Thomas & Friends, so riding the choo-choo was very exciting.

Yeah... she looks excited, doesn't she?

OBR took place at Love Park, home of the famous LOVE statue.  It was the first time I'd seen the statue, and I have to tell you, it was smaller than I expected. Of course, we still took a picture!

It's in a historical and touristy part of town, right next to the Visitors' Center and City Hall. The City Hall has an archway underneath with four sculpted columns. Each column is decorated with a cluster of people holding up the ceiling at the top... they look like four stereotyped races of people. I can't decide if it looks more like historical racism or a symbol of inclusiveness, but I think it's some odd old-fashioned well-meant combination of the two. At the top of the arches between the columns were four animals, a bull, a lion, an elephant, and some other strange cat/wolf-like animal that Esther decided was a pig. She kept pointing at this thing, which truly looked like a werewolf, and saying, "Oink, oink!"

Across the street is the Mason's Temple. I kept thinking of Dan Brown and Nicholas Cage.

As we walked around the block, we came across Macy's. Macy's isn't so exciting, but it used to be Lord & Taylor, and before that, Wannamaker's. Wannamaker's was a huge department store, nine stories of retail in the middle of the city.

It's also where my great-grandmother Esther worked. She was a seamstress and dress-maker in the ladies' department. She took the train from Frazer, her family's farm, into Suburban Station. The art deco station is right around the corner, and the arrival point for many folks from the suburbs who came into Philly to work.

Esther and I went into Macy's to get a glimpse of the place where Grandmom Esther used to work. It was another place I'd never seen in Philly. It's famous, historic, and connected with my family... I'm not sure why I never went before!

Wannamaker's was in the movie Mannequin, a 1980s classic starring Kim Cattrall before she became Samantha Jones. It has this giant eagle sculpture which is also a landmark. There's an expression, "Meet me at the Eagle," which was a catchphrase in advertising in addition to being a useful way to find a friend when both are done shopping.

Mr. Wannamaker wanted his store to be in itself an adventure and a landmark and an experience. The pipe organ that Mr. Wannamaker built is the largest operational organ in existence.  It had a restaurant and fantastic tile and marble architectural features. He had President Taft dedicated the re-build, and there's a marker on the floor where he stood. Macy's has redone a lot of the walls (something about taxes and square-footage), but there are still some pretty cool historical features and fixtures. Macy's only uses three stories of Wannamaker's nine. The rest were sold as office space. It's likely that Grandmom's work space was on a higher story, and has been remodeled.

Some friends I hadn't seen in a long time met us in the city and we enjoyed a delicious dinner. Esther was a bit out of sorts after the long day, but calmed down a bit after one of those friends took her for a quick walk around the block in her stroller.

We caught the train from Suburban Station and headed home, where Esther passed out in the car just moments after pulling away.

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