Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remembering Mr. Grillo

On Sunday we heard that our neighbor, Mr. Grillo had died. He was 85 and lived with his wife, his sister-in-law, and his daughter since we moved into the block. In July, the sister-in-law suddenly passed and on the day of her funeral, he fell down the stairs while getting ready to go. He had been declining in the last few years and they had found an inoperable malignant tumor near his heart. His sight was bad and he had recent cataract surgery. When he fell, he lost quite a bit of blood and broke his arm and cracked a few ribs. He was taken to Hannaman Hospital in Philadelphia and then sent to a nursing home where he passed.

Mr. Grillo was a very active person until July, despite his declining health. In his retirement years he worked at the local golf club scheduling the people coming in to play, and he was very active in his church. He was always so kind to our family, especially our son. He never forgot his birthday or Christmas and always gave our son a card with a crisp $10 bill in it. Mr. Grillo was quite vocal in his beliefs, but he always had a kind word to say. He was very supportive of my political efforts, even putting up a lawn sign for one of my campaigns even though he was of the opposite party.

My husband helps take care of the Grillo’s property and has mowed the lawn for them for most of the 25 years we have lived on the block. Every time the lawn was finished, Mr. Grillo would come out and give my husband two cold cans of beer. Sometimes, our son would do the lawn and Mr. Grillo would give him two cold cans of Coke.

Today was his funeral and my husband and I went to the viewing early this morning. Mrs. Grillo understood that I had to get back to work but asked that my husband come to the luncheon after the burial knowing that he didn’t work until this evening. Needless to say, she was very tearful, and I hope she will be able to deal with the grief. After losing her sister and her husband in such a short timeframe, it will be hard. They were married for 62 years.

He will be missed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This Weekend

This weekend I helped work on the Selma Mansion, the ancestral home of Andrew Porter. Mr. Porter was many things; Revolutionary War general, surveyor for the state of Pennsylvania, and founder of the Marine Corps. The Selma Mansion, located at 1301 W Airy St, in Norristown, PA is a house built in 1794. For years it has languished, vacant and gathering dust. The Norristown Preservation Society (NPS) was formed to save the property after the owner of the property died back in the 70s when it was in danger of being torn down. Several years have gone by and the organization now finally owns the mansion.

With a new infusion of members on the board, efforts are being made to stabilize the property and clean it up. This weekend’s efforts were centered on making the first floor clean and bright so the people can come and see the potential of the place. The main goal is to house a collection of Civil War artifacts and create a house museum that will highlight Norristown’s history and bring visitors to the area as well as create a place where community groups can meet. On Saturday members of the NPS board and members of the West End Association, of which I am a member of both, went into the house and scrapped loose paint, took down the wallpaper that was hanging from the walls, and cleaned up the mildew that has grow on the walls due to a leak in the basement. We also cleanup the horse carriage house and cleared up the code violations that the municipality has saw fit to charge us with. On Sunday with the help of a crew from Cabrini College, we did more of the same to the four rooms and main hall on the first floor. The place looks fantastic and is well on the way to becoming a useful property.

It was great to see the energy in the place over the weekend, despite the fact that it was cold and rainy. I know the new NPS board members are excited to see that there is so much support from the community to get this house back to where it should be. Now comes the arduous task of raising the money needed for the renovation of the property and the creation of the museum.

Friday, October 16, 2009


This morning I saw a car on the way in that was on its roof. I was in the left hand lane and there were two other cars along the shoulder apparently assisting the overturned car. During my 20 minute ride into work I couldn’t stop thinking about whether I should have stopped and assisted. What could I have done other than call the police? Since there were two other cars there and people obviously helping the situation, I felt okay with leaving the scene. The car was dark and could have been there a while and I was far enough away with no way to turn around since there is “jersey barricade” in the center of the road.

Sometimes I see things like this and drive on past before wondering if I should help. There have been plenty of times that I call right away. Once I saw an old man trip and fall crossing the street. I immediately stopped my car, pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911. I then stayed with him until help arrived. It was no big deal and anyone would have done the same, but his son was effusive when he saw me afterwards. Another time my husband and I were on our way and stopped at the light at a major intersection in our town. As we were sitting there, a car on the cross street crashed into the traffic light pole because the person turning left onto the cross street didn’t watch where he was going. Again I immediately got out of the car and called the police while assessing the situation. So, there are times when I am first on the scene like that that I help right away. I should not feel so guilty all the time.

I hope the person in the turned-over car is okay. However, chances are that he is not given the position of the car and the landscape they are not, but there is always hope. I guess I will read about it in the paper tomorrow and meanwhile I feel sorry for the people going down that road now while I am writing this. They are probably caught in a huge traffic mess.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


My mother called me the other day and prompted me to call my uncle. He is old and feeble and doesn’t have a lot of people calling him, including his own sons. My aunt died about 6 years ago and since that time, he has gotten more and more disabled. He moved out of their house shortly after she died and went to live in a retirement village. He then found that he had prostate cancer and fought that. Since the second round of chemo, he has steadily lost the ability to get around on his own. He is slow, but very determined and I believe he will still driving himself around, although less and less.

I feel a little uncomfortable calling him. I was never very close to him during my growing up; in fact I was rather intimidated by him, and so I don’t really know what to say if I call. It’s like visiting a sick person who is in a coma. Unless you know them really well, what do you talk about? I suppose though, it would a nice thing to do.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The MS 2009 City to Shore Ride

My husband and I participated in the MS150 City to Short bike tour this weekend. It’s a 150 mile bike ride from Cherry Hill, NJ to Ocean City. Generally you do 75 miles one day and then 75 miles back the next. They have many options for you to ride; 25, 50, 75, 100, or the two day 150. As this was our first experience like this, and since we had been seriously riding for less than a year, we opted for the 75 miles (which took us about 5 1/2 hours or riding time) and came back on the bus the next day. We didn’t know how we would feel and whether we could make it back on our bikes. As it turned out, we probably could have done the ride back, except it would have taken a lot of time and I had an event I had to get to on Sunday afternoon. So we took the bus back the following day.

The ride is a fully supported event with volunteers, traffic police, bicycle support (SAG), food and water, photographers, and even massage therapists. The support was amazing. I had a flat tire about 20 miles from the shore finish and within 15 minutes there was a support vehicle that just gave us a new tire and inner tube, fixed it, and sent us on our way. There had to have been about 20 SAG vehicles and the same number of fully dressed motorcycles going up and down the route helping the riders with whatever they needed. Of course there were paramedics and ambulances to help those riders who got injured, and at the end a host of massage therapists to give you a rubdown after the ride. Since my husband and I rode with the second largest team and we had our own massage therapists at the team tent otherwise a massage $15 for 15 minutes.

There were 5 rest stops and each one was organized by the area where it was held and staffed with bike personnel, medical support, DJs spinning records, people cheering you on and handing out fruit, water, Gatorade, energy bars, and of course multiple portal toilets. With that many people working I am sure something had to have gone wrong, but we never saw a thing. The following day, my husband got a flat and even though we weren’t riding back, they changed his tire for him. I was blown away with the organization, the amount of people helping the event, and how friendly everyone was.

The other thing that thoroughly impressed me was the kindness, helpfulness, respectfulness, and courteousness that everyone possessed. Here there were thousands of bikes, some of them very expensive models with computers and GPS units and everyone’s things, and we just knew that nothing would get messed with. People would just put their bikes in the racks and walk away to get their food and left all the stuff there. No one touched anything that didn’t belong to them. I guess coming from a place where you have to watch everything every second of the day, I noticed this. It was very refreshing.

All in all, it was a great experience and one we will do next year.