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East Falls Historic Society Oral History Interview
Interviewee: Freda Gowling (FG)
Interviewer: Wendy Moody (WM) and Marie Filipponi (MF)
Interview: January 27, 2023
Transcribed by:
Wendy Moody, EFHS

WM: Good morning.  It’s January 27, 2023. We’re in the home of Wendy Moody.  I’m with Marie Filipponi and we’re interviewing Freda Gowling this morning. Thank you, Freda, for agreeing.

WM: So we’re interested mostly in your life in East Falls, but why don’t we start by you telling us a little about your early life. I understand you grew up in England?

FG: Yes I did. My grandparents divorced, and my grandmother married an American and moved to the United States.  She moved to Florida, and that’s really the reason why my dad wanted to come over.  I lived in Keighley. Yorkshire which wasn’t very far from where the Bronte sisters lived – it was almost in walking distance.  There was a little train from the train station to Haworth, where their house was.  I lived on a canal – I have pictures in here.  We came over here right after World War II and things were still very bleak in England.  We still rationed; it was still a dark time.

WM: I heard the rationing continued after the war. Do you have memories of the war?

FG: Yeah. We slept under the stairs a couple of times, and when we went to visit friends, we slept in their air raid shelter – they had one in their front yard.  And when we went down south to visit my dad, I slept in one of those iron beds. Oh God I hated it because I have claustrophobia.

WM: That’s southern England?

FG: Yes.

WM: So when you came here, how old were you?

FG: 12

WM: And did you fly?

FG: Yes, we flew.

WM: To Florida?

FG: We flew to Newark, first of all. My dad had met somebody who was visiting in London – they invited us to Newark. It was next door to a Howard Johnson’s and they had, what, 48 flavors of ice cream? (laughter) and every night I’d go and get a different flavor. And I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! (laughter) Then we flew from Newark to Miami, and we stayed in Miami. I went to Citrus Grove Grammar School down there.

WM: What city was that in?

FG: In Miami. And then my dad bought a car.  He wasn’t too happy with Florida – too hot for him – quite a change from Yorkshire, England to Florida.  So he bought a car and we drove from Miami to Philadelphia because our next-door neighbors in England – in Keighley – had moved over a year before, because her sister lived on Division Street. So we came up to stay with them for a couple of days and then we got an apartment.  But that’s the reason we came to East Falls – this neighbor next door to us.

WM: How interesting. What kind of work did your dad do?

FG: He was a carpenter.

WM: And he was able to find work when he came here?

FG: Yeah.

WM: Did he work for himself or for a company?

FG: He should have, but he didn’t have the right contacts. He also was an artist.  He did a lot of oil paintings. He built cabinets – he was good at his trade.

WM: So where were you living in East Falls?

FG: We lived on Indian Queen Lane in a house that we rented.

WM: Do you remember the number?

FG: 3461 – same as I’m in now, but on Tilden. Same number. And I went to Mifflin.  We came up here in the spring, and then I started at Mifflin in September and I graduated in January! I was only there for one term.

WM: What year was this?

FG: That would have been 1948.

WM: What do you remember about Mifflin?

FG: I remember Mr. Rudetsky – he was so funny, because he loved my accent. And he always had me do the reading because he loved to hear my accent, which I lost right away. I would come home and practice speaking American.

WM: What was his position? Was he the Principal?

FG: No, he was just a teacher.

WM: And how big was your class?

FG: Not that big, but I still have friends that were in the class with me. Some have died, but Jane lives up in Cathedral Village – well, Cathedral Road, not Cathedral Village, and another Jane in Pittsburgh. And they’re the only ones from Mifflin, besides Barbara and Joan, who are still friends. Then I went to Roxborough High School, graduated from Roxborough in 1953. There were 85 in our class.

WM: So going back to Mifflin a minute, do you remember any special activities or any of your other teachers? Assemblies? Class trips?

FG: Not really. I was only there for that one term so I don’t remember anything there. We had several trips at Roxborough High School.

WM: So you graduated Roxborough High.  Then what happened?

FG: Well, they had this co-op course – you worked a week and went to school a week, which is what I did.  Unfortunately I missed being in all my class pictures because I wasn’t there – I was working.  But a lot of us did that.

WM: In what field were you working?

FG: Secretarial.  We didn’t have much of a choice in those days – it was either academic or commercial. You didn’t get much variety. I mean, somebody from social services didn’t come in and speak to you or someone from the medical field didn’t speak to you.  It was just so flat – you were going to be this or that. And so I was a secretary.

WM: Do you have early memories of Indian Queen Lane? Can you describe the house and what the street was like?

FG: It was a single home with a little pathway on either side and it had three bedrooms and big rooms downstairs – dining room, living room, and huge kitchen. And a backyard.

WM: Were you an only child?

FG: Uh huh.

WM: So you would walk from there to Mifflin every day? Would you go home for lunch?

FG: Sometimes I remember going home for lunch.

WM: Do you remember any of your neighbors?

FG: Yeah, I remember the Wilkinsons.  They were very involved with the Methodist Church, and I went to that church for a while before I went to high school. There were other people – the Sherroks– they were from England too, so I became friendly with their children. I met Barbara who lived in the Abbottsford Homes and she went to the Lutheran Church (Redeemer Lutheran)

WM: That’s Barbara who?

FG: Her name then was Morris, and she had a big family and they kind of adopted me. I spent a lot of time with them. Let me see, she had 2 sisters and a brother – I think there were four of them. And then they had two more brothers when Barbara was 17 (laughter)… things like that happen.

WM: So she invited you to the Lutheran Church?

FG: Yes. She knew I liked to sing so I got in the choir.  I was there for a long, long time – I was confirmed there.

WM: Let’s talk about the Lutheran Church – you were there many years?

FG: Yes, on and off, because I took soloist positions in different churches.  I was soloist at an Episcopal Church on Lincoln Drive for a couple of years, and then I went to Church of the Holy Communion at 21st and Chestnut. I was there for 20 years. I was in the choir – that was a paid job.  So I was out of Redeemer for a little while.

MF: Were you professionally trained as a singer? Where did you train?

FG: I went to Community College and I have an Associate Degree in Music and studied voice privately with different teachers.

WM: After Roxborough?

FG: Way after Roxborough.  I started at Community when I was 50. But I had been studying with vocal teachers all the time I sang with the Gilbert & Sullivan Players and the Savoy Opera Company, and I studied with teachers who were involved in those groups. I can’t remember their names.

WM: So you know from when you were a child that you had a good voice…

FG: I always sang, yeah.

WM: So let’s go back to Redeemer Lutheran.  When you started there, who was the Reverend?

FG: I can’t remember his name – he was a younger man – not that young, he was probably forty or something – he was there for a while. Then came…I just don’t remember the names.

WM: I only remember Pastor deHeyman because he was there when I was librarian.  What changes did you see in the church over the years – I realize you weren’t there continuously…

FG: Well when I first joined, there were a lot of people and Sunday School – we didn’t have our own Sunday School building – we had different classes in the church meeting in different pews – this group was in this pew and another group was in that pew.  So they decided to build that building next to it.

WM: The building behind it?

FG: Behind it.  It was later torn down and made into apartments.

WM: So that was originally the Sunday school…

FG: I think it had four classrooms, but I wasn’t involved with that.  I never went to Sunday school in that particular building.

WM: Were there church activities that you participated in?

FG: Yes, we always had a 4th of July picnic, and Andrew Leach built this slide…

WM: I’ve heard about that slide! That was right on the grounds?

FG: Well he brought it out – it wasn’t there permanently – it was stored somewhere else.  I think Judy, his second wife, still has that.

WM: Really! So they would take it out for all the kids to play on every 4th of July.  Could you tell us about when Redeemer closed?  What happened? How did it happen to close down?

FG: Well the Synod didn’t think we had enough people.  It was unfortunate because Judy (Gotwald-Leach) just thought we could keep on going if we took out a loan.  So we took out a $300,000 loan – it would pay for a minister, it would pay for the school to open – a day school – and people would pay to come to the school – I mean it was daily – Monday through Friday.  She had it all figured out. Very intelligently. But the Synod didn’t go for it at all. And they locked the doors on us; we couldn’t even get in.

WM: So what happened with that money?

FG: We had to pay it back – the two signers had to pay it back. It was really a very ugly time, because I happened to be the only one with equity and they were going to foreclose on my house, so I had to get a lawyer to go into bankruptcy so that I could save my house.

WM: Oh Freda.

FG: So it cost me a lot of money.  Whatever my dad left me…. that went like that! And Judy lost money. We had a terrible lawyer.  I just didn’t handle things right – I should have had my own lawyer, but it was all very legal, you know.

WM: The church closed in 2009?

FG: I’m not sure of the date.

WM: I was reading they were trying to think of how to repurpose it. There were all kinds of suggestions – senior housing, art school…

FG: Well they separated the two – the Sunday school building – they separated that. Somebody bought that section. And somebody else bought the church.

I can’t imagine that church being apartments.

WM: But how lucky they kept the footprint of the church.

FG: Oh yeah.

WM: So that church is older than the library – it’s 1909 and the library is 1913.

FG: It’s a shame that we demolish so many of our buildings; don’t we?

MF:  The house that you said was your equity, was that still the one on Indian Queen Lane?

FG: No, no. Tilden Street. No, we were just renting the one on Indian Queen Lane.

MF: Was it just you and your dad on Indian Queen Lane?

FG: And mom.

MF: And your mom.  Just the three of you.

WM: And then you bought the house on Tilden?

FG: My cousin was coming over to visit us, and I do things on the spur of the moment – I’m that kind of person, you know, and I was the one who bought the house. And I wish I’d bought two at the time because there was one up the street – on the other side of the street – up a little bit – and Sigmund Freud’s sister lived there (note: perhaps his daughter).

MF: Really!

FG: And I was looking at that; it was for sale.  And I wish I had bought it, because it would be on the historical register.  But it just disappeared – the history of Sigmund Freud’s sister is gone. She taught at the Junto School. She taught French. It’s not there anymore.

WM: What’s the house like on Tilden?

FG: The house I’m living in? It’s a row house and it’s got three bedrooms. It’s very nice, now, because there’s plenty of room. But my parents were living there and I was living there and my son was living there – it was kind of crowded.  I had my kitchen done – another one of these spur of the moment things I do.

I got this man who was walking up the street and I thought he was working on a house below, and I got him to do the kitchen for me and he did a lousy job. So anyway it has a living room, dining room, and small kitchen. Very small, like a galley.

WM: A Tudor house?

FG: No.

MF: When did you move from Indian Queen to Tilden?

FG: My cousin was 21 when she came over and that’s when I bought the house.  She’s 12 years younger than I am… so it was in the 60s.

WM: Along the way, did you get married?

FG: No.

WM: And your son was born what year?

FG: 1970.

WM: And what’s his name?

FG: John. He’s an artist.

WM: So let’s talk about your affiliation with Old Academy. When did that start?

FG: Oh yeah! What would I have done without Old Academy! (laughter) That was when I was living on Indian Queen Lane.  The neighbor a few doors up the street was talking to me one time and said “Oh you’d like Old Academy. If you want to join, you have to have two sponsors” (at that time).  So she sponsored me and so did Ruth Emmert.

WM: Oh Ruth Emmert! And who was the other lady?

FG: I can’t remember her name. She had a daughter who was a little older than I am. It was right after high school. I was probably 18.

WM: When were you born?  I forgot to ask.

FG: 1935.  I just turned 88. I don’t believe it!

WM: Oh I loved Ruth Emmert – what a delightful lady. So tell us about when you first started at Old Academy.

FG: Well we had to audition. You had to audition to even join. They did a melodrama – Gold in the Hills or the Dead Sister’s Secret (a play by J. Frank Davis).  And I was young so I got the ingénue role.  And from there – in those days, we didn’t audition for a show, they’d call and say “We have just the part for you.” And you were in. So I was in one show after another. It was my life.

MF: So pretty much every season you were in one of the plays?

FG: Oh yeah.

MF: If not all of the plays?

FG: Mostly, yeah. In those days, yeah. But then I went away – I was a stewardess for a year and I lived in San Francisco for a year.

MF: Were your parents still in the house on Tilden?

FG: No, actually, when I was a stewardess they were still in the house on Indian Queen Lane. And when I was in San Francisco they were still on Indian Queen Lane. So, yeah, I was very involved with Old Academy when I was in my 20s and early 30s.  And then I started doing things with Stage Crafters, Germantown Theater Guild, and Plays & Players.  I was also in Savoy and Gilbert & Sullivan. I was spread out. But I’ve been a member there.  I’m the oldest, longest, living member of Old Academy.

WM: Is Bob Freed still living?

FG: Yeah, he is. I talk to him every once in a while. In fact I was thinking of him – he’s having balance problems; he’s a couple of years older than I am. I think he must be 90 now.

WM: Were you ever on the Board of Directors?

FG: Yeah, I was secretary for a while. I did all kinds of things – prompter, painted sets, whatever.

MF:  Did you ever work with Grace Kelly?

FG: No, she was gone by then. She was not involved with Old Academy when I came. But we used to – this is interesting – Elmer Hirsch – did you know Elmer Hirsch? He was director of the choir and he worked for John B. Kelly. And every Christmas Eve he would take the choir to the Kelly house to sing a couple of carols outside their house. I’m sure Grace came out then, but I didn’t know her – I didn’t know who she was.

MF: Did you ever see her?

FG: I thought I saw her in the audience at Old Academy one time to see one of the plays. I was in the play – I was onstage – it’s so small – you can see everybody in the audience and I looked out and I’m sure it was Grace Kelly.

WM: What about Lizanne (Kelly)?

FG: Oh Lizanne; I was in a play with her husband, Don Levine. And I stayed with them in their house down at the shore.

WM: Really!

FG: Did you know Buzz Smith? He just died a year ago or so.

WM: What were some of the challenges that Old Academy faced over the years?

FG:  don’t really know because they got over them.

WM: Wasn’t there a fire there in the early 1950s?

FG: I don’t think I was involved in that. But, what’s her name, she paid for the new cupola.

WM: Who paid for it?

FG: She was a teacher and lived on Queen Lane. She died a long time ago. A very fussy little lady (note: Jean Benjamin)

WM: There was a story that when it was burning, the fireman wanted to knock it down and somebody said “No! No! That’s our cupola. Be careful with it!” But maybe it had been damaged?

FG: She paid to have it fixed, or have a new one there. Now we need a new roof on Carfax next door, so they’re gonna take care of that. And of course we got new chairs.

WM: What kind of changes to the interior did you see over the years?

FG: Oh well, they fixed the upstairs when J. P. Parello was involved. He got somebody to do the kitchen on the second floor, which is lovely now. And we can handle the refreshments better because we have a nice little kitchen and bathrooms.

WM: I went to the last play “Miss Bennett” and the refreshments were at Carfax. Why was that?

FG: To avoid the virus.

WM: Oh, a bigger space.

FG: It’s only because of the virus. And the refreshments were not as good as they usually are because they had to have them wrapped. And we couldn’t have coffee; we just had to have water.

WM: So what other changes happened over the years, physically? Were the dressing rooms ever changed?

FG: No they’re still the same. The bathrooms have been changed. There are two bathrooms now upstairs, next to the kitchen, and then there’s one over in Carfax.

WM: Where do they store all the set designs and costumes?

FG: Over in Carfax, down underneath where the furniture goes. The costumes go upstairs in the attic at Old Academy.

WM: What were some of your favorite roles?

FG: ‘Little Mary Sunshine” was one. That was fun.

MF: Did you like musical roles?

FG: Yeah.

WM: Do you have any memories of Ruth Emmert?  She was a lively lady who was everywhere.

FG: She was a nice lady.

WM: I have some of her old Victorian clothing that she gave me.  It’s in my attic – I should give it to Old Academy.

FG: Oh yeah.

MF: Was she an actress as well at Old Academy?

FG: She was in a play. She may also have had a walk-on but I don’t think she was ever in a play.  But she was very involved. Her husband was in Mary Sunshine (1965-1966 season) (Note: see the oral history of Ruth Emmert on her memories of Old Academy).

MF:  She was one of your sponsors, you said.

FG: We always had a banquet every year (stopped during Covid) and finally they’re having one this year. It was usually at some restaurant or country club.

WM: How is Old Academy doing in terms of audience and its role in the community?

FG: Well “Shakespeare Palooza!” was written by Judy Van Buskirk and she had that produced.  She did it up in west Pennsylvania and it went very well, but when we did it here, over three weekends – one night we only had five people in the audience and it didn’t go over as well as she wanted. She was kind of embarrassed that she had promoted it and asked Old Academy to do it.

WM: Is most of the audience from East Falls?

FG: It used to be that way, but now they’re taking people (i.e. actors) from all over – New Jersey, Bryn Mawr, Chestnut Hill – very unknown people, these actors.

WM: But how about the audience, it that still mostly local?

FG: I don’t go to all the shows so I don’t really know. I see a lot of friends there when I do go. But I don’t think the audience is all local.

(Tape 2):

WM: Did you work with Robert Prosky (1930 – 2008) at Old Academy?

FG: No, no.  He was before my time.  But I used to organize trips, too, and we went to New York to see him in a political play – “Democracy” – and we had dinner up there. Another actor who was in the same play was John Boy from television, you know?

MF: Richard Thomas?

WM: Very good, Marie.

MF: Well, he was just in To Kill a Mockingbird.

FG: John was on tv in a series every week so I talked to him.

WM: Do you remember anything funny that ever happened during a production, or anything stressful?

FG: Not at Old Academy, no. The only thing I remember funny was when I was in a show with the Gilbert & Sullivan Players.  They used to put their shows on at Plays and Players, which they rented for their shows. I came out on stage – the costumes were long skirts and my skirt hooked on to a nail or something on the back and I came onto the stage and let out this scream! (laughter) …I thought somebody had… I can’t forget that!

WM: Did they have a good supply of costumes at Old Academy?

FG: Yeah, Helga Krauss is the one who really works on costumes – she’s up there all the time and she’s gotten rid of a lot of stuff.  In fact I was going to donate some things but she said they just didn’t have room. It’s too bad they’re upstairs – it’s too bad we don’t have something downstairs because it’s close and creepy.

WM: Did you ever have any say in which plays they chose – who made those decisions?

FG: No. the Board made those decisions.  They’d get together and decide what to do, but one could make suggestions.

WM: Do you usually like the choices?

FG: I’m not the type –I’m easy, but looking back on Shakespeare Palooza, I don’t think I’d ever do that again.

WM: Tell us a little about that – that was a special production. And what made it special?

FG: Well it was written by a member.

WM: Who was that?

FG: Judy Van Buskirk. And there were 29 people in it. And we couldn’t fit everybody backstage, so they had a tent that they own and they put the tent up and the actors would sit outside in the tent. It was fine, but then it started to get colder and it was too cold to sit under that tent. So we would go and sit in the lobby until it was our turn to go on. But I disagree with some things people do.  For instance, they had three songs in Shakespeare Palooza – three songs.  Now why didn’t they let people who were singing sing all three songs?  They chose different people for each song, which didn’t make any sense. Anyway, that’s the way it turned out.

WM: So let’s go back to living in East Falls all those years. So you came in the 40s – is that right?

FG: 1948.

WM: And what was the neighborhood like then?

FG: Well you could smell the hops from Hohenadel Brewery in those days! (laughter)  It didn’t last too long, only a few years before they closed, but there for several years you could smell the hops.

MF: Well you were on Indian Queen Lane.  It was right up the hill.

WM: Was that going on all the time?

FG: Uh huh. And Mrs. Hohenadel was a member of Redeemer – she sang in the choir.

WM: Really! What was she like?

FG: She was heavy-set and she was very nice.

WM: What stores do you remember in the neighborhood?

FG: That store at the corner of Indian Queen and Conrad – Jean Rowland and her husband Frank. It was a grocery store.

WM: We interviewed Jean years ago.

FG: Oh did you?

WM: Is that where your parents would get groceries?

FG: Uh huh. My mother was very friendly with Jean. They used to go places together – they went to a show I was in over at Germantown Theater Guild.

I don’t know what happened – when we moved to Tilden Street we didn’t keep in touch with them.

WM: Where else would your mom get groceries?

FG: She didn’t drive so I don’t really know where she got them.

MF: Did you have a car?

FG: She didn’t, but my dad did.

WM: What other stores were around?  Was there a butcher? Jewelry store? Florist?

FG: No jewelry store. A pizza shop, I think.

WM: Any clothing stores?

FG: No. Remember the antique store – it’s still closed – right at the corner of Tilden and Vaux?  It’s still empty. It’s been empty for 20 years. It’s a shame.

I bought a ring there.

WM: Was Tilden Market there?

FG: Tilden Market was next door.

WM: And how about Ridge and Midvale – what do you remember down there?

FG: There was a hardware store at Ridge and Midvale. I went to school with their nephew – they lived on lower Indian Queen Lane. Gibby Hertler. Those were the days on Halloween where you didn’t go to somebody’s door and just pick up candy – you had to sing a song, you had to tell a joke, you had to do something for your candy (laughter).

WM: And what else was down there at Ridge and Midvale?  Was there a 5 &10?

FG: Yeah, there was a 5&10, catty corner from the hardware store.

WM: Any restaurants?

FG: I don’t remember any restaurants. You made me think of that 5&10 – we used to go there a lot.

WM: And where would you go to the doctor?

FG: Fiedler.

WM: I’ve heard about Dr. Fiedler. Where was he located?

FG: On Ainslie Street, right below Conrad.

WM: Was it a father and son – one was a pharmacist and one was a doctor?

FG: I just knew the doctor. I didn’t know anything about his family.

WM: And dentist?

FG: I went to one on Henry Avenue – right around the corner (note: Henry and Coulter Street).  I think it began with a “D”

WM: Dr. McDermott?

FG: I knew there was a “D” in it somewhere!

WM: What changes have you noticed in East Falls over all these years?

FG: Well I don’t like the changes that are going on right now! It’s ridiculous – the buildings that they’re building on Midvale Avenue!  When the people move in with all their cars, it’s going to be chaotic.  I don’t know how they got the approval to do that kind of stuff. And Roxborough is the same way. They’re squeezing us in like sardines. And there’s so much space out there – I don’t know why they don’t just start a new town (laughter) like they did at Valley Forge!

WM: Were you active in Community Council?

FG: Not really.

WM: Did you use the library growing up?

I did.

WM: Any memories from there?

FG: No.  Well, I have memories of you from there.

WM: Oh gosh, I hope they’re good. You always came in with a smile and you were just a great enhancement to our concerts every year.

FG: Oh thank you; thank you.  I’m losing my voice and that makes me so sad. You lose so much when you get older, but to lose something that you enjoyed all your life….  I’m in a church now where they sing the hymns. I wouldn’t go to a church unless I could sing, and I know my voice is not the way it used to be – I’m lucky if I can sing. But it’s getting better because I’m using it.

WM: What church is it?

FG: Church of St. Alban at Ridge, right above CVS before you come to Ivy Ridge on the right hand side. It’s in the back so you can’t really see it from the front. But this woman said to me last Sunday “You have a beautiful voice” – say that again!

MF: You sing from a pew, not from the choir?

FG: Right.  And they don’t have many people either.

MF: I don’t think any of them do.

FG: No it’s a shame – I don’t know what’s going to become of us…

WM: Any other memories of East Falls that you want to share?

FG: I lived in San Francisco in a guest house run by a Frenchman. There was a Danish girl. We had breakfast and dinner there, all together in this big dining room.  You met a lot of people from all over the world. We did a lot of traveling on the weekends. And I said to Vibika – the Danish girl who was going back home – “Oh come to Philadelphia before you go home and take the bus – you’ll see everything – a lot of the countryside.  She was so furious with me when she got to Philadelphia – “That bus ride was terrible!”

MF: It was a cross country bus ride – oh my gosh.

FG: The poor girl. So I took her to the zoo and she said “We have a far superior zoo than this one.”

MF: What were you doing in San Francisco?

FG: I went as a Kelly Girl. Remember Kelly Girls? And I got a job with California Pacific Utilities and they kept me on there. And I met some really interesting people – fun people.

MF: How long were you a flight attendant?

FG: Just a year – I don’t do things very long.

WM: Did you enjoy that?

FG: To an extent. I had JFK on my flight once.

MF: As a Senator, I guess.

FG: He was going to Washington D.C. from Boston; yeah, he was probably a Senator. And we didn’t have many people on the flight – I think we had nine people –so he had time to sit with us and chat. So I sat next to him and had a long conversation with him. And I had Fred Astaire’s grandchildren and I think Art Linkletter.  We were going to Kentucky and he was going to the Kentucky Derby. That plane was full. I flew when Eastern Airlines had the Martins and Convairs – twin engine planes.  We served coffee out of every stop! I was based in Boston and we had a flight to Jacksonville, Florida that stopped 17 times!

WM: It sounds torturous.

FG: And I was so conscientious I served coffee out of every stop!

WM: I meant to ask you if you used to go to the Alden Theater.  What was that like?

FG: Oh it was fun having that in the neighborhood.

MF: Did your son John go to school locally here?

FG: He went to Penn Charter for a while.  He went to Mifflin, first of all, until he got beaten up and then I put him in Penn Charter.  He didn’t like it at all.  He was so unhappy.  I didn’t have any grant or anything – we paid for his tuition and it was a sacrifice, you know?

MF: But he made it to graduation?

FG: No he didn’t. I had to put him somewhere else- I put him up in Chestnut Hill – Jenks.

WM: Jenks – that’s a good public school.

FG: And he finished high school at Roxborough.

MF: Same as his mother.

FG: Yeah, and he went to Community College for a while – I think it was only one term. He said he could teach better than they did. He went to Kutztown too but that didn’t last – he didn’t like it there either.

MF: So when was he at Penn Charter?

FG: He was born in 1970, so probably the 80s. And my godson didn’t like it either. The only saving grace that my godson saw in Penn Charter was that he was a terrific football player and they go for sports there. So he was with the in crowd that way.

WM: When you were at Redeemer Lutheran, was there much interaction between the different churches?

FG: Well we always had a parade in East Falls and all the churches would be involved in that.

MF: When was the parade?

FG: 4th of July.

WM: But your picnics were separate.

FG: Yeah. No, we had the picnic in McMichael Park.

WM: Were you involved in the Soup Suppers?

FG: Yeah. Each church would have a week to do the Soup Supper during Lent.  That was a nice way to get people together.

WM: Was that successful?

FG: Yes, they always had a lot of people there.

MF: The pandemic did them in. We were still having them until the pandemic.

WM: Well Freda, thank you.  We loved hearing your memories. We appreciate your doing this.

FG: You’re welcome.