Northern Liberties (2)
by Ava Olsen
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.
In partnership with educator Joshua Block, students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy are creating and publishing their Philadelphia Field Notes. Ava Olsen shares her memories of a grassy field before it was built into condominiums.
This used to be my bus stop when I was in middle school. The entire complex used to be a grassy field that was surrounded by an old wooden fence. My friends and I used to sit on the wooden slats and wait for the bus to come.
We stood out there every morning with my father and my big, old dog, Tucker. In the morning, it was a dew-covered lawn that smelled like freshly cut grass. In the afternoon after school, it was a green and sunny field that radiated sunlight out into the streets. Autumn came about, and the grass yellowed, while the trees withered and died. I first learned to throw a football from one of my best guy friends in fourth grade during that time. Winter left boughs of ice on the fence and heaps of snow on the ground. We huddled together in our snow boots and buttoned coats to stay warm. Springtime allowed the two cherry blossom trees to bloom and explode with sweet, pink flowers. The petals sprinkled the ground in piles, and we would throw handfuls of them at each other like cannons of confetti. When summer rolled around, the humidity emanated and hung in the air, while the grass in the field became heavy with water droplets. We played tag within the confines of the fence and our shirts became stained with sweat.
Through it all, we stayed together at that bus stop for five years, every morning and every afternoon. A lot of memories were created there, and it’s a shame that no one knows what that piece of property had to offer before. Now, a condominium complex rests on the place we used to be able to run through, and no one gives it a second thought. The only greenery that remains are the small trees that were planted within the sidewalk and the lush basil shrubs that grow in the warmer weather. The corner of 6th and Poplar is important to me, and it always will be. It’s a big piece of the location where I grew up, and I will always remember the wonderful things that happened there.