I attended high school in a particularly gritty part of the downtown urban area, rather than the suburban areas of the city where I was born.
I hope you caught another insider Philly reference there. (https://www.nhl.com/flyers/fans/gritty)
I have often described that choice – aided by a generous work-study scholarship, and my mother’s willingness to resume work as a night nurse – as the most influential one in my life (other than my decision to ask my wife to marry me).
In fact, a sign of my love for my wife is that I proposed, even though she was not a Philadelphian. I never even considered a Philadelphia version of the Colts history test from Diner. (https://auralcrave.com/en/2020/09/29/the-story-behind-the-diner-quiz/)
But I think I had to travel really far away to appreciate my ties to Philadelphia.
While college in Connecticut was a long drive, it was still an easy train ride home.
But law school in Ann Arbor was a 600-mile, 10-hour drive for my father, in the era before airline deregulation.
Although my law school roommate was kind enough to invite me to his home for Thanksgiving one year, it was not the same as coming home for the holidays.
In law school, I thought about working in Washington, D.C., or New England. I even had call back interviews in both places.
But my summer jobs were all back home in Philadelphia, as was the full-time job I began in 1985 (with the firm where I still work).
As a result, by my last year of law school, I knew that I wanted to come home to my family.
That was a fateful choice. Both of my parents soon passed away, but not until after I had spent some meaningful time with them during their extended illnesses.
Once I was home, I got emotional every time I heard local musicians Hall and Oates’ ode to “Fall in Philadelphia.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lxpjj3Bp5zg)
Professionally, my high school alumni network has proven far more valuable than those of the Ivy League and Big Ten schools I attended. My best client sat opposite me in the lunchroom in our junior year.
Today, I have led tours of our historical area for my son’s Scout Troop and other visitors.
One such tour even led to invitations for our Scouts to play with fire at a national historical monument for several years. (https://patch.com/pennsylvania/lansdale/an--for-the-last-time-present-the-colors-lansdale-boy86be5e39e8)
Another resulted in discovery of a connection between Philadelphia and the small town where my wife had grown up. It is named after a Revolutionary War hero I had never known about, whose grave I happened to see while we visited the historic church cemetery where he is buried. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustavus_Conyngham)
Could such tours be a side hustle for me in retirement?
Until then, I am glad to provide tips on my personal favorite sites to see in the city that I love to anyone who asks.
You see, Philadelphia for me is more than just the place where I live.
It is a part of my identity.
I hope to see you here soon!