To get to Seaside Heights we took Route 73. To get to Route 73, Dad drove through Glenside on his way to the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge (only a five-cent toll). I always knew it was Glenside because of the fine architecture of a pharmacy that stood at the corner of Easton Rd. and Mt. Carmel Ave. This was my official signal that our vacation was only hours away. Soon we would be hopping up and down in the car as it traversed the uneven payment that sliced through the Pine Barrens.
Twenty-five years later my wife and I would own a home in Glenside within walking distance of that pharmacy. It is no longer a pharmacy, but the stately architecture still proudly stands.
Glenside today is probably best known for the Keswick Theater, which properly rests on Keswick Ave. The Keswick is an ornate building (English Tudor) whose history is well known. A wrecking ball was poised to turn it into a mess of bricks more than once. People who care about history and old theaters protested each time. Now it is host to varied events. First class acts have been to the theater. Dick Gregory has found his way to the Keswick Theater, as well as the Vienna Boys Choir, Joan Baez, rock acts and comedians. Perhaps they stopped at Rizzo's for a pizza after the show, or the nearby coffee shop for the brew of the day, as have many of the patrons.
The Keswick Theater is a centerpiece of Keswick Village, the cluster of shops that form the area. New trees, new street lamps and new bricks (sponsored by those who live here) came to Keswick Village last summer. There is a sense of community, of good will and, of course, a hope that shoppers will find the area inviting. It is a work in progress.
Although Glenside is in the suburbs, it has the intimacy of a city neighborhood where one walks around the block and chats with the neighbors. At the beginning of this century it was largely rural, with attention focused on what is now called the Glenside train station and the nearby Willow Grove Park. Today it is urban in the best sense of the word, one of the reasons we moved here. In Glenside you can walk to the stores in the Keswick area, which is Abington, or cross the railroad tracks past Mt. Carmel Ave, to the stores in Cheltenham.
Our kids have grown up in a community that cares about itself and the people in it. That alone is reason to celebrate Glenside.
Jim Gauger, Feb., 1997