More than cheese steaks |

More than cheese steaks

His name is Rick R. I call him my No. 6 son. Rick became a part of our lives in 1957 when we moved to Ambler, Pa. We found that not only was he in Doug’s elementary class but also he lived right around the corner with his brother and father.

Rick’s dad and mom were divorced, and Mr. R. was a very strict parent. With the boys’ mother out of the picture, I became “mom” to Rick early on. Now grown and still living in Ambler with his wife, he is retired. Doug and Rick stay in touch and each St. Patrick’s Day he sends me my favorite candy, coconut cream eggs dusted in cinnamon, and at Christmas he sends us a subscription to the “Philadelphia” magazine.

This glossy publication is no doubt adored by the elite of Philly; especially those politically active high up in the business world, or just plain wealthy. With this in mind, you’d think that a not any of the preceding old lady wouldn’t be interested in this fancy magazine. However, I just love the darned thing. I find the assortment of articles that fill its pages is astonishing. Never in my life have I seen a subject like the one in this most recent issue dissected and made so personal.

The front page shows the head and shoulders picture of a man. He’s also the subject of the front-page titled “The lawyer and the dead girl.” Unfortunately for this middle-aged lawyer, his 30-year-old girl friend was found dead in his bathtub, a real who-done-it story. Each month there are similar stories; not all so dramatic, but interesting like the story about Donovan McNabb, Eagles quarterback and somebody my son, Doug and his friend, Rick detest.

It made interesting reading, as did all of the articles in an earlier issue that listed 286 winners of a contest they held for the “Best of Philly.” This issue I could do without; at least the front page, which shows a pile of fluffy, yeasty donuts, dusted with sugar. If you’ve ever read my column you know my feeling for the lack of good donuts in our area.

Included, but not the only one of the winners who made me want to take the next plane to Philly, were the winners of the cheese-steaks, pizza, and other goodies, all of it bringing back memories. Hey, you can take the girl out of Philly; you can’t take the Philly out of the girl. Really, you’d need to see an addition of this magazine to understand why I enjoy looking at it page by page.

Even the advertising is top notch, and it’s such fun to scrutinize everything. The articles often bring forth references of my life; back then, especially one that mentioned Philadelphia’s former Mayor Dilworth, who oversaw the clean up of the downtown area, which allowed visitors, and also local residents to see America’s Independence Hall in its restored red brick beauty. Back then so years ago, I worked at N.W. Ayer Advertising which was just a few blocks from this hall.

This entire area was terrible with many deteriorated old buildings, warehouses, tenements, etc. that surrounded this important historical monument. Mayor Dilworth got busy and cleaned up the area and added a fabulous mall. However, I smile when I read names of towns in Philadelphia Magazine so familiar to our family — names like Kutztown where they have an annual fair and you can devour funnel cakes or Perkiomen Park, which brings up memories of picnics on a Sunday afternoon.

All through the magazine are references to towns and places I fondly remember, like Collegeville, where we used to go to shop in their “mini-mall.” This mall was actually just a long, narrow building with stalls on both sides and down the middle where people sold their wares. My sons and I would always buy turkey hoagie sandwiches, and down at the very end I’d purchase eggs and creamery butter from the Amish.

But you would love to read the ridiculous critics who review the assorted – and there are hundreds — of the restaurants in the area. Here is a sample of one such review.

“Wrap up dinner by dipping paper-thin chamomile wafers into a bowl of yuzu curd dolloped with lemon foam.” Are you kidding? How about just going to the “Up Dutch Country” where the Amish have restaurants and enjoying some homemade sauerkraut with pork or chicken and freshly made German noodles.

Now I’m hungry.

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.