Blame it on being stuck indoors with the snowy weather, but I spent much more time than I should have this week trolling through neighborhood Facebook pages. If you’re a Baby Boomer like me and enjoy those fond walks down memory lane and you haven’t yet joined one of these neighborhood Facebook sites geared toward your current or former hood, you don’t know all that you’re missing!
Since I grew up in Southeastern Delco, have a large family of relatives who live throughout the county and went to a high school that drew from almost every Eastern Delco borough and township, I am fascinated by mostly all of these pages and feel a connection to the towns.
So far, these are the pages that I joined: “Growing up in Briarcliffe,” “Growing up in Upper Darby,” “Everything Collingdale,” “Growin’ up in Havertown, PA,” “Glenolden for Everyone,” “Media, Pa- Everyone’s Hometown,” “Growing up in Clifton,” “Neighbors in Ridley Township,” “Neighbors of Leedom Estates,” “I grew up in Media,” “Upper Darby Drexel Hill Community Forum,” “You know you grew up in Darby when,” “Stonehurst Upper Darby Then and Now,” “My Hometown Is Lansdowne PA,” “Fans of Old Chester, Pa.,” “You know you grew up in Media, Pa, if...,” “Growing up in Prospect Park, Pa. 19076,” “Growing up in Norwood, Pa.” and “Growing up in Yeadon, Pa.”
I am sure that I left a few more out, but those interested in the places where they grew up or previously lived can search and will most likely find the group since these hometown pages seem to be all the rage.
In addition to various Facebook alumni groups that I joined and enjoy, these neighborhood Facebook pages provide hours of throwback entertainment. The minute that you decide to briefly scroll through a page or two, it will suddenly be two hours later and something will jolt you into realizing you haven’t budged an inch during all that time glued to the computer, iPad or phone screen. These neighborhood pages hook you in to a time when things were much simpler in your life, and they make you think of fond memories and blasts from the uncomplicated past that you haven’t pondered in years. You’ll likely reconnect with friends and neighbors with whom you’ve lost contact and learn things about the old neighborhood or the current neighborhood that you never knew before.
The administrators of these groups must approve your membership, but in my experience, this happens quickly. As long as you stick to the rules, which are basically having an affiliation to the town by growing up there, living there, going to school or working there now and if you don’t use profanity or leave nasty comments or derogatory remarks, you’re an acceptable member. If you follow these basic rules, you won’t get blocked from the page. Some pages don’t allow politics or advertising of any kind. Others overlook small businesses giving shoutouts to their services. Just take a minute to peruse the handful of rules, and then let your walk down memory lane begin!
These neighborhood Facebook pages are wildly popular, and members get added daily. The “Growin’ up in Havertown, PA” group has over 7,000 members. “Growing up in Briarcliffe” has over 1,000; “Fans of Old Chester,” “You know you grew up in Darby when…” and “Growing up in Lansdowne, Pa.” all have over 2,000; and “Neighbors in Ridley Township,” “You know you grew up in Media, Pa, if...” and “Growing up in Upper Darby” all have well over 3,000.
Joe Hennessey, of Glenolden, is the page administrator for “Everything Collingdale.” He lived in Collingdale for 30 years, and his parents still live there. He works for the Collingdale Highway Dept. and lives now, in his own words, “75 feet over the border.” He decided at about 10 p.m. on New Years Eve 2017 to start the Facebook page as a way for older residents to connect and get information from the borough. In less than 24 hours, the page already had 984 members. Word spread, as we all know it does through social media, and from Monday until Friday, numbers topped 3,000 and keep growing.
On the neighborhood Facebook pages, members post old photos, ask questions that start an avalanche of conversation (Who remembers the ... or What was your favorite …?), discuss school memories, post obituaries to let people know of a favorite townsperson’s death and inquire “Whatever happened to the ...” These sites bring back a slew of memories!
Going back to the Collingdale page, since it’s the newest, here are a few postings with some answers to demonstrate the fun flashbacks. The administrator asks, “What was your favorite deli in Collingdale?” Answers were Mike’s (some said Walt’s, so the answer was age-dependent), Sue’s, Patchens, Collingdale Deli, Dot’s, Johnson’s Market, Pop and Pop’s, Larry’s, LaRosa and the list went on and on (Wow! There were a lot of delis through the years in one borough!).
Other postings that drew dozens of comments were “Who went to Collingdale Pool?” and “Name the best bar” and “Favorite Pizza Place.”
Postings include memories of St. Joe’s, Harris and Collingdale High School, Steven’s Candy Shop, Cumberland Farms, Orlando’s (Spore’s) Bakery, Weiner’s Furniture, favorite sledding hills, carnivals, street fruit hucksters, Charles Chips delivery guys and countless other subjects that are pertinent to residents of this town only.
Here are some reviews left by members who just joined the page. One lady wrote, “This new ‘Everything Collingdlae’ page/group has me a big blubbering baby over here my heart is overfilled with joy reading and commenting all the posts. Such a wonderful town to be raised in and what great people we all shared our lives with… what fond memories.. I love you all so much it hurts!” “Aaahhh, to be young again!” Another man wrote, “Everything Collingdale is 95% of my feed for two days. People obviously couldn’t wait to start telling stories about Collingdale.”
The same fondness for the communities that Baby Boomers grew up in replays in the pages designed for other boroughs and townships of Delco and over its borders (The “Growing Up in Overbrook” page looks popping, too!).
The Yeadon page holds memories of Saturdays at the Yeadon Movie Theater, getting flowers at Foreacre’s, hanging out on Church Lane, summers at the Yeadon Swim Club, Don’s Restaurant, Fern Street Mini Deli and dances at Yeadon Borough Hall, as well as the nearby Hot Shoppes, Chez Vous and Gino’s in Upper Darby.
The Briarcliffe page discusses sweet memories of everything from Skate Odyssey, Penn Fruit, Wynn’s Market, Cedarwood Pharmacy, the mosquito spraying trucks and Jordache jeans to party lines on rotary phones, playing sports in the streets and back alleyways and going to Hawkin’s for penny candy.
The Media pages talk about past institutions and businesses like Media Hospital, Sandy Bank School, Media High School, Rose Tree Hoagie, the Right Hemisphere Record Shop, Ellis Men Shop, Woolworths on State St., Irvin Stern’s costume shop and many more, as well as nearby blasts from the past like the Route 202 Drive-In, the Longhorn Ranch and the Log Cabin Inn.
In addition to finding out about or connecting with former neighbors, classmates and friends, these sites are great places to visit when you think of something from your past, but your memory just won’t pull up the name of it. Whenever the name of a person or place starts to bug you when you can’t remember it, you can just ask, “Does anyone remember the name of that shoemaker that used to be on Main Street or that diner on the pike” and you’ll get your answer pronto.
Mostly though, the pages are addictive because they bring you back to the simpler, less complicated times of your youth or younger years. As I trolled through all of these pages in the last several days, I was happy to read about places, events and people that I haven’t thought of in years, many making me smile and prompting even more memories. The photos posted on these pages are downright priceless. I guess because of having to get them developed in the pre-digital age, photos were way more scarce in the 1950s to 1990s than they are today with the ease of cellphones. Therefore, the pictures on these pages are very appreciated. Even if you don’t know the people in the pictures, they are still fun to look at because you appreciate the nostalgia of their dress and accessories, their hairstyles and the photos’ backgrounds.
If you’re snowed in or housebound this winter and playing around on social media, be sure to join some of the pages that would have meaning for you because you live there now or were a resident there in the past. I only wrote about a few of the pages because of space, but every town’s page is excellent in throwback content.
If you’re like me who grew up in “the wonder years” generation or if you are a longtime Delco resident, you will surely get a kick out of these local pages. The content will carry you back to those carefree days of younger years. Have fun — it’s an entertaining way to beat cabin fever and to treasure the fantastic era in which we grew up before helicopter parenting, lawsuits, $300 sneakers and the digital/internet age descended upon the world.