We were just city kids looking for someplace close with an open field to play ball…football, baseball, basketball Well you get the idea. The only problem was is was a property for what we were told was an ‘old ladies’ home. This pristine unadulterated field was prime pickings sitting in the heart of our tight community in southwest Philadelphia. Right smack dab between 58th and 59th street and between Chester and Kingsessing avenues was a square city block perfect grassed for us local ball players.
So what were we to do but to create gopher holes under the fence hoping to get our game in before we were chased off by the custodian or the cops. Thank God those gopher holes ran all around the property not to mention the far side corners has other housing and storage facilities for us to duck behind.
Well the parish we lived in was Most Blessed Sacrament more formally known as MBS. It was the most populated catholic grade school in the US made up of predominantly Irish, Italian and German ethnicity. Many came from parts of west or south Philly but don’t tell anyone from our side of the tracks that. It has been said between 1965-1967 there were almost 3700 kids in the grade schools. Yes you heard right three buildings the Marion, The Pius and the newly built Annex. So as anyone with half a brain could see the ‘old ladies’ were eventually going to lose this piece of property.
I can still remember when the large building was being converted into an indoor gym and sports facility. Shortly after that the basketball, tennis courts and baseball diamonds went in followed by a large playground. The playground had a half wall that ran partially around the west and south side with a walk that lead up to the gym in the main building. It wasn’t long before the sign went up and it officially became Myer’s Playground.
Well the gopher holes eventually all disappeared as we no longer had to sneak in. The only problem now was the kids like a moth to a flame it drew from all over. Soon the grass fields we played baseball and touch football fade large patches of dirt where the 3 baseball fields now were. The grass between them creating the outfields became the football field and so most days it was hard for the local guys to just play a quiet game where nobody bothered us. I think they must have been afraid to either get dirty, rip something on the cyclone fence or just didn’t want to bother being chased in order for the chance to play ball on that beautiful grass.
So us locals still made due with old reliable Cobbs Creek Park. Home of the plateau at the top of the path that led down to the lower fields on the north side of the creek. We mostly played rough touch on the plateau as it was surrounded by large pine trees, the kind that bleed amber sap in the fall or sycamores load with monkey balls and who could forget the Johnny Smoker trees. What kid didn’t turn green and get sick from trying to smoke one of them.
The path wound down over old tree roots and large stones which seemed scattered willy nilly. They helped you work your way down the long steep incline to outfield of the large baseball diamond at the bottom. Left and center fields ran along the creek;right field ran down around to the first base side and behind the field was a steep incline up to Whitby Avenue. This hill was more formidably know in winter as the ‘nutcracker’. As half way down the slope had a double quick which made your sled hop in the air and bounce as you flew down. On a good day you could almost reach the creek and if you ever looked at a Babe Ruth field that’s quite a ride. So it was so aptly named the ‘nutcracker’ by the boys and men of the area.
The other side of the creek ran up a steep incline on the side of Indian Rock to Mount Moraih cementary and wound its way quite a distance into the far reaches of southwest Philly on the south side and the west side ran into Yeadon. I might add that Cobbs Creek is part of Fairmount Park which may only be rivaled in size by Central Park in New York City. They were both also designed by Olstead who was the architect behind building the Biltmore Estate among others.
Well I could go on and on about the life and adventures of Cobbs Creek but that will have to wait for another day.
Written and Blogged on 10/03/13
A Glimpse from Christmas Past
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