Chester Issue 1 â€˘ Fall 2014
A city of many faces, a landscape of opportunity
Table of Contents 2
Chester: Touring the city through the camera lens
8 Babies, Babies, Babies! The HAN Fertility Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center helps women from all over the country have babies. 12 Sing Out: For 20 years, the Chester Children’s Chorus has given kids in the city a chance to sing and learn through music.
Chester Magazine Contributing Editors: Jason Bishop, Devon Fiore, Brittany Kade, Maria Klecko, Khalil Williams Art Director: Nathalie Franzini-Hidalgo Chief Copy Editor: Autumn Heisler Proofreaders: Maria Klecko, Devon Fiore, Khalil Williams Cover Text: Taylor Jones Editorial Advisor: Sam Starnes Graphic Design Advisor: Melanie Franz Printing: Linder Printing Company, Chester Contact: Sam Starnes Widener University One University Place Chester, PA 19013 phone: 610-499-4246 email: email@example.com web: www.widener.edu/chestermagazine
16 Making History, One Monument at a Time: Laran Bronze Inc. has been casting monuments from right here in Chester. 20 Arts & Culture in Chester: Visiting the Deshong Art Museum’s History 24 Reviews of Phatso’s Bakery & Chester Eateries 28 A Chester Native’s Story
About Chester The city of Chester is the portal to the Keystone State, tracing its roots to the days of the earliest European settlers. Throughout the 17th Century, the New Swedes owned the land, known then as Uppland, a name similar to that of present-day Upland borough. In October 1682, English Quaker and future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania founder William Penn landed his ship Welcome at the site of modern-day Front Street after having first landed in New Castle, Delaware, two days earlier. He gave the area the name Chester, after the city of the same name in England. Since then, Chester served as the seat of two counties—Chester County until 1789, and Delaware County until 1851. It is a naval and industrial base, as well as home to many famous people that became special in their own ways—Jameer Nelson, Bill Haley & His Comets, and Bo Ryan, to name a few. As a 4.7 squaremile wonder on the Delaware River, Chester appreciates its past. The city, along with the aid of officials, residents, and visitors looks to its future with great enthusiasm.
On the cover: This photograph looking up the I-95 corridor toward Philadelphia shows just how close Chester is to the big city. Don’t let that fool you though; Chester by itself has plenty to do. From the soccer stadium to the casino and the University, Chester has much to offer.
About the Magazine Chester magazine was created by five Widener University students enrolled in the course Magazine Journalism. Pictured below, from left, are students Jason Bishop, Devon Fiore, Brittany Kade, Maria Klecko, and Khalil Williams standing in front of the William Penn Monument. Marking the site of Penn’s 1682 landing, the monument resembles milestone markers from colonial Pennsylvania, bearing the Penn family coat of arms and a short engraving identifying the day he landed. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Penn Club established the memorial stone on November 8, 1882, the 200th anniversary of the landing. In 1970, former mayor of Chester John H. Nacrelli allowed Philadelphia to use the name Penn’s Landing for its riverfront area. The class was awarded a $1,000 Schmutz Student Engagement Mini Grant to produce a print and online magazine for and about the city of Chester. The grant is distributed annually to support undergraduate student-led projects that focus on Chester and are developed in
collaboration with a Chester community partner to address the city’s needs. John F. Schmutz, Esquire, donor of the grant, serves on the academic affairs committee of Widener’s Board of Trustees and is a retired senior vice president and general counsel for E. I. DuPont Nemours and Company. The class, taught by Sam Starnes, editor of Widener Magazine and marketing writer for the university, worked throughout the spring 2014 semester planning, reporting, writing, editing, and illustrating stories about Chester. All students in the class are communication studies majors. Klecko is also double majoring in English. Over the summer, Autumn Heisler, a senior English/creative writing major, edited the copy for the magazine. Nathalie FranziniHidalgo, a senior communication studies and psychology dual major who studied graphic design with senior lecturer Tim Scepansky, designed the magazine under the guidance of Melanie Franz, a senior graphic designer at Widener.
From Roads to Rivers, Streets to Front Row Seats
Chester is a city filled with history, growth, and interesting people. The students of Widener University had the opportunity to tour the once naval shipbuilding city. Throughout their journey, the students took pictures of some of the things you can see while taking a trip through Chester. This collection roams the streets from historic sites to large industry. Itâ€™s a wide-ranging view of one of Pennsylvaniaâ€™s most exciting cities.
Strong Cities, Strong Communities
The initiation of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) program brought the Obama administration to Chesterâ€™s doors. Among the first cities in the nation chosen for this program in 2012, the program involves an appointed fellow who works within the city to support civic initiatives that are specific projects identified as critical to improving economic opportunity and quality of life.
Touring Chester City through the Camera Lens
Photo credits, counter-clockwise from top right: Bottom Dollar by Khalil Williams; Waterton family by Jason Bishop; C.J. by Devon Fiore.
Grocery Stores Growing in Chester
Fare and Square, a nonprofit grocery store, is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. For a dozen years, residents of the city were without a grocery store and had few options for fresh and healthy food until Philabundance opened the market September 2013. “There is no significant quality of life without proper food and nourishment,” said Arto Woodley, one of Chester’s two Strong Cities, Strong Communities fellows. “The market helps elevate the quality of life. It’s a huge win for this region.” The Bottom Dollar, which broke ground in 2013, opened this summer.
Meet the Waterton Family
In May 2013, the Waterton family had the privilege of moving to Highland Gardens in Chester. Carl and his wife Nimat reside with their three children: Canai, 9; C.J., 4; and Cnia, 2. Highland Gardens is part of a development featuring new, affordable housing in the city. The Chester Housing Authority has developed more than six new housing developments in the past 10 years, creating homes for more than 1,000 residents of Chester.
Coming Down the TRACKS Pennsylvaniaâ€™s SEPTA station provides a convenient transport to all of the major surrounding cities like Philadelphia and Wilmington. The train station gives residents of Chester access to the places they need to go. Mayor John Linder hopes to see this train station become a hub for the city and its surrounding areas.
On The River
The waterfront in Chester has been a focal point for many years, and the city has a tugboat company that operates right on the river. The Naval Yard of Philadelphia is located just a few miles north of Chester. Because the city is located right on the river, it is a center for the shipping thoroughfare that goes in and out of Chester and Philadelphia.
Photo credits: Tugboat by Maria Klecko; train by Jason Bishop; downtown by Maria Klecko; courthouse and Rivertown by Khalil Williams.
D o w n t o w n
C h e s t e r
The 1724 Chester Courthouse holds an important place in Chesterâ€™s history. Situated on Avenue of the States, this vicinity was once the courthouse for the entirety of Chester County until 1790 as well as Delaware County from its 1789 formation until 1851, when the county seat was moved to Media borough. This famous site is one out of five areas in Chester on the National Register of Historic Places. Downtown Chester holds notable locations like Chester City Hall, the House of Representatives 159th Legislative District, and the old colonial courthouse. The downtown area acts as a home for the arts, housing Art on Avenue of the States, a co-operatively run art gallery where local, regional, and guest artists can exhibit and sell their works.
The Rivertown Building, formerly known as the Delaware County Power Plant, rests conveniently on the Chester waterfront. Originally built in 1916, the building was renovated in 2004 and redesigned into rentable office spaces for multiple organizations. Future plans for the waterfront area aim to surround the Rivertown Building with other offices and facilities for the nearby Philadelphia Union Stadium, PPL Park.
The Commodore Barry Bridge stretches across the city of Chester, linking together Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Back in the 1700s, only a small ferry was available to transport residents back and forth, proving to be a daunting task in bad weather. The Commodore Barry Bridge was completed on February 1, 1974, at a cost of $115 million. This price paid off in the end; more than 35,000 vehicles pass over the bridge each day.
Athletics in Chester
Chester is home to some of the nationâ€™s best athletes and leaders in sports. In addition to the cityâ€™s high school basketball team, many famous names have come from the city, including Bo Ryan, a Chester native who is the head coach of Wisconsin collegiate basketball team, New Orleans Pelicans basketball guard Tyreke Evans, and Jameer Nelson, formerly point guard for the Orlando Magic who is now with the Dallas Mavericks (pictured with ball).
Bridge photo by Jason Bishop
Commodore Barry Bridge & Park
PPL Park, home of the Philadelphia Union soccer team, lies on the riverfront of Chester, providing year-round entertainment for soccer, football, rugby, and lacrosse. Formerly home to the Philadelphia Ferry, the stadium, which opened in 2010, is nestled next to the Commodore Barry Bridge.
Home to slot machines, blackjack, and poker, Harrah’s Casino hosts a multitude of options for visitors. Opened in January 2007, Harrah’s Casino is adjacent to the Harrah’s Philadelphia Racetrack where some of the best pacers and trotters in North America are showcased during the racing season. Visit them today, or go to www.harrahsphilly.com to learn about events and other happenings at the casino.
Babies, Babies, Babies!
HAN Fertility Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center Helps Families from Across America By Devon Fiore
El-Roeiy stands with two of his patients and their toddlers.
She was 33 years old and had seven failed pregnancies, one of which was twins. She had tried everything and did not know what else she could do. Another woman had a double mastectomy when she was younger, and at 27 years old, she did not want to pass the genetic makeup for breast cancer on to her children. Neither of these women knew where to turn, but soon they found themselves at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. These women’s stories find their happy endings at the HAN Fertility Center. Women and families come from all over, even as far as Tennessee, to get treatment from Dr. Albert El-Roeiy and his team of specialists. The 33-year-old patient, with the help of El-Roeiy and the HAN Fertility Center, was able to have a child. The 27-year-old patient was also able to have a child who did not have the chromosome in its DNA for breast cancer. These are only two of the many patients who found results with the help of the HAN Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. “I hug all my patients that come in here; you never know when they need it,” El-Roeiy said. The HAN Center has an up-to-date facility, with private exam rooms and the latest 3D and 4D ultrasound technology, as well as consulting rooms. It also has a large lab in the back, with big tanks where sperm samples are stored. Microscopes line the walls, and lab technicians flit around, taking notes and looking into the microscopes intently. Patients, when helped by the skilled doctors at the HAN Center, find that they really cannot thank the staff enough. One patient from Delaware wrote that “there is truly no way that we can fully express our gratitude to everyone in the
office,” and that their years struggling with infertility were made less trying with the support from El-Roeiy’s office. It is because of the success with patients like this that El-Roeiy was named one of the top doctors for women’s health by Main Line Today, a suburban Philadelphia magazine. The doctors at the HAN Center focus on two main types of issues: fertility and hormonal problems and infertility. Both can be extremely frustrating and stressful for someone who wants to have a baby, and El-Roeiy has made it his mission to help them all as much as he can. Sometimes the problems that El-Roeiy sees aren’t solely developmental. Based on the problem that the patient has, the HAN Center can offer different treatment plans, such as surgical treatment to reconstruct her reproductive system to make it work better. In vitro fertilization is one of the bigger procedures done at the HAN Center, and one of the more well-known. For patients such as the 33-year-old woman with multiple failed pregnancies, El-Roeiy and his team look into the chromosomal abnormalities in the embryos. They look at the eggs that they pull from the patients’ ovaries and detect the exact chromosome that was causing the trouble. Women come from all over to seek the assistance of El-Roeiy and his team. Patients are able to express their gratitude to the doctors on the HAN Center’s website so that others in their position can see that there is hope.
Above: Above: El-Roeiy and a patient expecting twins.
One patient from Tennessee wanted to thank the doctors for helping her have a baby girl. “The compassion and care shown to us by the entire staff cannot be expressed in only words!” said the patient, who went on to express how thankful she was for the wonderful people involved in the entire process. Another patient expressed, “I don’t know how people thank you for giving them the gift of life, family, and love that you have given them.” Frequently these patients will keep the staff updated on the process of their children growing up, sending pictures and continued thanks. El-Roeiy said it is an interesting experience running into the children that he has helped “create.” In many patient testimonials, parents thank the HAN Center for their constant care. The doctors and nurses are not there simply for the “good” times that the patients remember, but they are there to help them through the bad times as well. “Even on our most anxious days,” one patient said, “you managed to reassure us with your warm, kind, and caring approach.” El-Roeiy said that the most rewarding
El-Roeiy and a staff member with the microscopes in the lab.
part of his job is the patients. They are working through an extremely difficult time in their lives, and it can be frustrating every step of the way. “It’s important to love the patients for who they are and to accept them for all that they are,” he said. He said that once he knows the patients, he is able to work out what is best for them. It’s important to take the right steps for individual people and remember that everyone is different. If patients cry, you cry with them, he said. “They are all important, not just one.” Through his 20 years, he has learned to guide his patients to the next step and not push them too far. However, sometimes being blunt is part of the job. It isn’t always what they want to hear, but they don’t want to hear lies. Recently, El-Roeiy was at a gas station, and a man came up to him with his son. The father remembered the doctor because he had helped birth his son who is now 18 years old. Seeing a child that he brought into this world, 18 years later as a happy, healthy, college bound young man, is “an interesting experience, to say the absolute least.”
El-Roeiy and his assistant look at an ultrasound with their patient.
“It’s important to love the patients for who they are.” 10
Crozer-Chester Medical Center at a glance
Located in Upland, a city right next to Chester, Chester Hospital was merged in 1963 with Crozer Hospital to form the medical center the city knows today. The merger resulted in the founding of Crozer-Keystone Health System in 1990. Today the center treats approximately 53,000 patients in the emergency department, admits upwards of 19,000 patients, and delivers around 1,800 babies every year.
Sing Out! Chester Children’s Chorus Showcases Talent of the City’s Youth
By Maria Klecko
On a quiet Monday evening in early spring, two vans pull up the driveway, unloading a pack of eight-year-olds who rush out screaming and chasing their friends. Another group of children is finishing their rehearsal inside Chester Friends Meeting congregation building, and the ones waiting outside have a few minutes to kill. At 5:30 p.m., the groups switch, sending the second batch of the Chester Children’s Chorus members through the double doors of the congregation building.
They enter the main room and sit in pews gathered around a keyboard.
“Who’s got good news for me?” asks Sean Tripline, assistant music director of the chorus. Almost every hand shoots up in the air as the children are eager to share their stories. They talk over each other, revealing parts of their day and anticipated plans. Tripline listens patiently, and everyone responds to the nuggets of news. The children’s chattering continues until Tripline starts playing notes on the keyboard. The third graders refocus their energy on the music, singing harmoniously with one another. “My job is to prepare them for repertoire,” said Tripline, who began his position in December 2013. The repertoire refers to the pieces of music that the chorus members know and are prepared to perform. “They learn music, life lessons, and how to carry themselves professionally.”
Soloist Shanae Willis at a concert in March 2014
“They learn to master the culture of power while also celebrating the culture they’ve grown up in.” Tripline directs the training choir consisting of third graders and the junior choir comprised of fourth graders. He also is in charge of the chorus’s Sing-to-Learn program, an initiative featuring music education classes for children in kindergarten through second grade across the Chester-Upland School District. The students learn musical basics and sing songs about educational topics such as the seasons, biological life cycles, and geometric shapes. The children at rehearsal begin with vocal warm-ups before Tripline passes out sheets of music. They practice such songs as “Rock of Ages.” It’s been less than a year since they’ve joined the Chester Children’s Chorus, but they’ve already begun to sight read music. Tripline conducts the children in different exercises: they sing primarily as a group, volunteers sing a part of a song a cappella, and, at one point, the children are separated into two groups. An hour passes, and they’ve started to get antsy. Toward the end of rehearsal, Tripline asks the children to get into performance mode—they rise and sing a final measure. Before leaving, the third graders stand at attention and bow. Then they rush out of the door. “This age group can be challenging, but it’s rewarding, especially when the children reach a certain benchmark,” said Tripline. “They’re very talented. It’s fun to be a part of that.” The Chester Children’s Chorus has flourished for two decades, offering children in the city a chance to become part of a program that fosters personal growth and achievement, as well as showcasing the talent of Chester’s youth.
Around 6:30 p.m., high-school aged sopranos enter
the room. There’s also a change in conductors. Tripline has left for the day, and John Alston—founder and director of Chester Children’s Chorus—has come to relieve him. Alston directs the festival choir made up of middle school-aged children as well as the concert choir comprised of those in high school.
These young women are less energized than the third
graders that preceded them, but they are more disciplined. Like Tripline, Alston begins rehearsal by asking for good news. Fewer hands go up in the air. They are less eager to share their stories than the eight-year-old members of the chorus. After this brief introduction, the sopranos practice 20 measures of Handel’s Messiah, which according to Alston is a very difficult piece of music. “The children gain profound exposure to some of the greatest music anybody in the world has ever heard,” said Alston, a retired associate professor of music at Swarthmore College for 23 years. “They learn music most people won’t ever sing.” Though the vibe at this rehearsal is more serious, lighthearted moments are sprinkled throughout practice. Alston notices that one of the girls appears sluggish. “I know; I’m tired,” she says. “I stayed up to watch The Great Gatsby.” A brief conversation ensues about the movie and the book, as well as a debate over Leonardo DiCaprio’s good looks. Alston prefers Denzel Washington. “We always tease each other and share stories at practice,” Alston said. “We’re always chatting so the intense material becomes more accessible.” The chorus is preparing to perform the piece at Lang Concert Hall on the Swarthmore College campus. Though the Messiah is challenging, some of the chorus members enjoy it. “I like the Messiah the best,” said Kaya Banton, a 16-year-old Chester resident and a junior at Agora Cyber Charter School. “In rehearsal, John tells us what the song means, and I like understanding that.” Last year the chorus sang Mozart’s Requiem with the Swarthmore choir. “I came to appreciate all of the intricacies of the piece,” said Deondre Jordan, an 18-year-old junior who lives in Chester but attends the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “I love it. I listen to it quite often.” Alston recognizes the importance of teaching the children music that they may not know. “The children are completely fluent in their own culture, but they also need to master the majority culture,” he said.
Growing up in Newark, N.J., a city similar to Chester, Alston became involved in the Newark Boys Chorus, an organization that changed his life for the better. He wanted to provide children in Chester the same opportunity to transform their lives through music. “I had a dream to form a boys’ choir in Chester,” Alston said. Twenty years ago, the chorus began with seven boys from Columbus Elementary. Alston soon noticed that their sisters who waited for them to finish practice and helped out at rehearsals sang with the boys the entire time. He then decided to allow girls to join Chester Children’s Chorus. Every spring, Alston auditions second graders throughout the Chester-Upland School District. Now approximately 133 children are part of the chorus, which is funded by donations from the public. The chorus not only sings classical music but also gospel songs and cover sets from artists like Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, and Stevie Wonder. “I liked the Stevie Wonder set the best,” said Darrin Wood, a 16-year-old Chester resident and sophomore at Episcopal Academy. “I felt like everyone knew what it was. They all got up from their seats.”
Educating Young Minds
Chester Children’s Chorus offers more than just
musical instruction and performance. It also educates students in a variety of academic subjects. The fiveweek, full-day Summer Learning Program provides musical and educational training to the recently selected second-graders who are about to enter third grade and therefore become eligible to join the chorus. They read one-on-one for an hour four days a week with volunteers from Chester, Swarthmore, and Media, Pa. Overall, two-to-three hours of the day are devoted to music in addition to academics and activities such as sports, dance, and studio art. By the end of the session, the children know whether they want to be members of the chorus.
Most decide to join and form a class of about 25 kids, and around five of them will likely progress through concert choir. “One thing I love about the chorus is when the new kids join us in the summer,” Jordan said. “When I was in second grade, I looked up to the older kids. I like seeing that cycle continue.” Existing members of the chorus also participate in the summer program. Middle-school aged children begin studying lab sciences with Swarthmore faculty and students. Other subjects that they and the high school students take include math, literature, and history. During the school year, there’s a math club and History Boys—a group that hones their critical-thinking skills. “Before we performed Requiem, we studied Mozart’s life and music with the History Boys,” Jordan said. The chorus offers classes and facilitates learning throughout the academic year as well. “My greatest hope is that there’s no intellectual gap between students in Chester and students in Swarthmore,” Alston said. “I want them to be regarded as equals.”
Inspiring Happiness and Hope through Music
Throughout the year, there are seven to ten communitywide concerts, with major performances in May and June at the Lang Concert Hall at Swarthmore College. “When I go to the concerts, there are people like me, and there are friends and family who could not be happier,” said Margaret Robinson, a resident of Swarthmore and professor in the creative writing and professional writing programs at Widener University. “Having one singer in the family broadens its horizons. It’s good for everyone. That’s how you change communities.” Arto Woodley—a fellow of Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2), a national initiative created by the Obama administration in 2011 aimed to help distressed cities like Chester—also recognizes that the chorus benefits the city. “Programs like this are very important,” he said. “They serve as a launch pad to children’s later lives.”
Craig Robinson, now an account sales manager at CocaCola Refreshments who still lives in Chester, was part of the chorus for 10 years. Participating in choir helped him find his voice. “My experience in the chorus opened up a love for music that I never knew I had,” he said. “It allowed me to express myself in ways that other programs wouldn’t.” Alston believes that the greatest achievement of the Chester Children’s Chorus is whenever they stand up in front of people and sing. “They’re applauded and celebrated for their own awesomeness,” he said. “People think of Chester as a place filled with murder, drugs, and gambling. But they slowly start to change their minds.” He notes that most of the chorus’s members won’t go on to pursue music professionally. Many are part of the program for intellectual and cultural enrichment. However, this is not the case for everyone. “Being in the chorus has made me realize that I want to study jazz performance in college,” Banton said. Wood is considering studying music in college as well. The children have also experienced personal fulfillment through their involvement in the chorus. “I think we bring joy to everyone,” Wood said. “All of the members love being with each other. It’s like being part of a family; a lot of us have been here for eight or nine years.” Jordan agrees that the chorus has had a positive impact. “Chester Children’s chorus has made me a better person,” he said. “I can’t imagine my life without choir.” As Tripline presides over the newest chorus members in rehearsal, he is amazed by the capabilities they already have. “In Chester, there are a lot of opportunities to fall into the wrong crowd,” he said. “I look at these students in third grade. They have an appreciation for arts and things they wouldn’t experience otherwise. If you believe in our children and desire a better Chester, this a great place to start.” Photos, counterclockwise from top: The Summer Learning Program at Swarthmore College; John Alston, pictured in right corner, directing choir; Darrin Wood, at right, performing with the choir in March; Alston, second from right, with seniors during their final concert in 2013.
Laran Bronze: Making History, One Monument at a Time By Jason Bishop
On one table rests two clay legs and a waist. On another, clay arms, torso, head, and an enormous head dress reside.
They belong to an Indian chief.
This particular Indian chief belongs to Laran Bronze Incorporated. The clay sculpture is just one part of the laborious process it takes to turn an artistâ€™s idea into a beautiful bronze monument.
Laran Bronze is one of the worldâ€™s premier foundries for fine art casting and it is located right in the industrial epicenter of Chester. A foundry by definition is a workshop or factory used for casting metal, but in the case of Laran Bronze, it is much, much more. Since opening their doors in 1984, owners Larry Welker, his wife Diane, and brother Randy cast many major pieces, including prominent statues on the National Mall in Washington D.C. They have been making history, one monument at a time.
A Chester Company Since 1984 Larry Welker was working as an artist in 1984 when he had a big idea. “I just knew this area could use a quality foundry,” said Welker. At the time, Randy Welker was working as a successful engineer. It was during this time they realized there wasn’t a large, quality-driven foundry in the area and that maybe there should be. After some pushing from his fellow sculptors and the engineering help of his brother, Larry was able to start Laran Bronze Inc. with Randy. Their mission was simple: put everything they could afford, and some things they couldn’t, into each and every project to create the best works of bronze possible. The brothers wanted to use their own identity in the name without calling it the Welker’s foundry. So they combined both of their first names to come up with the name “Laran”. One of the sculptors, Zenos Frudakis, is credited with being with Laran Bronze from the beginning. Frudakis, a well-known fourth generation sculptor, said, “They started this themselves; they did exactly what they wanted to do.” While Frudakis is modest about his role in the start, he is more open about what he has been doing since then. “I send everyone I know there,” said Frudakis. Since his first project with Laran, he has not used another foundry for a single piece of his work. Another well-known sculptor, Ray Kaskey, has been working with Laran since 1987. Frudakis suggested Laran for Kaskey’s project at the time—a 16-foot fountain called the Gem of the Lakes. “They couldn’t have made any money,” Kaskey said of his first project with Laran. They didn’t stop till the fountain was perfect at a very low price, and now Kaskey has a difficult time using anyone else. Kaskey has since moved to Maryland, but he still travels to Chester in order to work in the foundry. He said that “the level of craftsmanship and their dedication to getting it right” is what keeps him making the drive.
The good Laran Bronze has done for Frudakis and Kaskey has not gone unnoticed. Frudakis and Kaskey have repaid Laran by creating the company’s two most wellknown monuments. Frudakis is responsible for the Air Force Memorial Honor Guard sculpture, and Kaskey is responsible for sculpting the World War II Memorial, both of which are seen by millions of people each year at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Air Force Memorial Honor Guard sculpture is part of the National Air Force Memorial overlooking the Pentagon, Potomac River, and the nation’s capital. The sculpture honors the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, who provides military funeral honors for active duty, retired, and veterans of the U.S. Air Force and perform symbolic activities at special ceremonies. The sculpture itself consists of four eight-foot bronze figures mounted on a ten-by-two-foot long bronze base. The two center figures are flag bearers, one carrying an eight-foot tall United States flag and the other holding an eight-foot tall Air Force flag. The two flanking figures are weapon bearers, weighing in at about 450 pounds each. Frudakis got the commission to sculpt these figures when Frederick Hart, sculptor of the soldiers at the National Vietnam Memorial,
recommended Frudakis to the Air Force Memorial Foundation. Frudakis said working with Laran Bronze helped him to finish the massive sculpture. “I want to spend too much time on everything and that leaves them with little time, but they always solve my problems,” Frudakis said. When Kaskey was commissioned for the World War II memorial there was no choice about who would cast his creation—Laran Bronze was the only foundry he would allow. “I wouldn’t want to entrust the casting to anyone I didn’t have the utmost confidence in,” said Kaskey. Along with their large projects, Laran Bronze has gained notoriety for their small bronze castings as well. A government contract calls for them to ship twenty-eight small bronze pieces to the pentagon every year. What are these pieces? The United States Army General MacArthur Leadership awards. The awards are given away every year to company grade officers who demonstrate the three ideals MacArthur stood for: duty, honor, and country. The actual hardware given with the award that Laran makes are sixinch statues of the general’s head attached to a plaque with the award recipients’ names.
The works by Kaskey and Frudakis represent only a small portion of the mountain of work Laran Bronze has completed in Chester. With what Kaskey calls “a strategic location for artists,” the company is able to commission works from all over the United States. Being close to both New York and Philadelphia gives Laran a better chance at reaching artists, giving them a large group of sculptors to work with. A benefit of running the foundry in Chester is the city’s industrial background and history. Since the beginning, with its strategic location on the Delaware River, Chester has been known for its large industrial sector. This is a huge part of the reason Laran started here. With other large industrial companies in the area it gives the foundry a great pool of resources to pull from. The company does not plan to leave Chester and looks forward to helping bring the city back to the glory it once had by continuing to create monuments. “We are a small group of people that make up a large artistic influence,” Frudakis said. Opposite page: Larry Welker, standing to the right, and Allen Ward of Laran Bronze at the United States Air Force Memorial in Arlington Cemetery. This page: Thousands turned out for the World War II Memorial Dedication week on the Mall in Washington D.C., in which Laran Bronze played a key part in building.
Chester Spreads Awareness through
R E N O VAT I O N By Khalil Williams In the middle of a warm afternoon, an artist is standing outside the Chester Transportation Station, showing off the latest paintings that he made. A few interested businessmen getting off the train see the work he’s done, and immediately they want to commission him for an even bigger project, one that would further beautify a newfound business center. This is the dream of Chester’s government: attract more arts, culture leaders, and events to the city. Don Newton, a lifelong resident of Chester, has witnessed years of artistic change take place as he grew up in the Lamokin Village section. His children even witnessed the change throughout the city’s landscape, especially during the 1970s and ‘80s. As Newton drives amidst traffic on Avenue of the States in Chester today, he can’t help but think of what had once been the lively center. “Chester was a thriving town,” says Newton as he passes by and looks at the empty buildings that once housed businesses. André Café Acoustique, the small business Newton and a fellow musician own and operate downtown, maintains a passion in art and culture that endures to this day. “Art and culture is a way of changing mindsets,” says Newton. “And it helped change my view of the world and avoid doing bad things.” It’s for this reason that such a passion for the arts drives Newton to be deeply involved with the city’s arts and culture scene. In addition to being an actor, he works with an organization where his love for the city’s art scene comes full force.
Enter Chester Arts Alive. Chester Arts Alive is an organization with the mission to drive cultural change. Born from an initiative set forth by the Chester Housing Authority in the early 2000s, the organization is focused toward the further development of the arts and cultural scene in the city of Chester and utilizes community sessions and other art organizations to further its goal. Newton is the president of Chester Arts Alive, and his own goal is to support Chester arts and help change the overall mindset of the city and contribute to making it a center for culture and economics. “The Arts and Cultural District will strengthen the city’s economy, foster multiple arts and cultural groups, grow our funding sources, and extend our city’s reach with neighboring areas,” said Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) fellow Ricardo Soto-Lopez. SC2 is a nationwide program that aims to breathe new life into several different cities, including Chester. Another art visionary program, the Chester Cultural Corridor, is aiding in the city’s “Vision 2020—A City Beautiful” revitalization project through the addition of urban-friendly spaces, cultural entrepreneurs, and forward-thinking works of art and history. Through the Chester Cultural Corridor, the Deshong Memorial Park and Museum are being given a rebirth. Previously a fine staple of the city’s history, the Deshong Memorial site now stands as a desolate, poorly taken care of park with a museum that has been closed since 1998.
Reviving the ARTS
The Deshong Museum: Then and Now
The museum was created in 1913 to honor Alfred Odenheimer Deshong, a wealthy industrialist and Civil War veteran who had a profound fondness for Chester. He used to bring back a plethora of paintings and Japanese statues that held a special place in the art circles of the time. Today most of the collected artwork resides at Widener University. Despite the state that the park is currently in, it is still regarded by city residents with a degree of fondness and nostalgia. “I remember having grown up and being able to go to the library at that museum,” said Chester’s mayor John Linder. Plenty of the senior residents living across from the park grew tired of being unable to go to the park and relax. They decided on one summer day to hold a picnic at the park. Between the development of the Chester Cultural Corridor and the ability to use the property through permits, there are lots of ways that the park can see a bevy of exciting events such as festivals, exhibitions, and parades take shape. Local officials believe there is plenty of potential to bring Chester back with arts and culture at the forefront of the movement, but according to Newton, “More young people need to get involved and help bring this thing forward.” Photo by Khalil Williams
ABOVE: The Deshong Museum has been closed since 1998. One of the major plans set forth by city government officials is to make Chester the owner of this historic site. There is a likelihood that this plan could come to fruition, especially considering that some of the art that once stood in this museum is now at Widener Universityâ€™s art gallery. BELOW: An aerial shot of the Deshong Museum.
Deshong Museum and Andre CafĂŠ Acoustique photos by Khalil Williams.
The Hasty Pudding, 1883 Gaetano Chierici (1838-1920) Oil on canvas Widener University, Alfred O. Deshong Collection
Located at the corner of 5th and Welsh Streets, André Café Acoustique is host to a number of jazz events and performances. As a member of the audience, you can enjoy a show up close with the performers. André Café Acoustique is co-run by Don Newton, a Chester native and art enthusiast.
Raspberries on a Leaf, 1858 Lilly Martin Spencer (1822-1902) Oil on panel Widener University, Alfred O. Deshong Collection
The Widener University Art Collection and
Paintings such as this piece found at the front of André Café Acoustique are among some of the art works that city officials hope to see from the Chester Cultural Corridor in the coming years.
Gallery includes works by 19th century American and European painters as well as 18th century Asian art from the Alfred O. Deshong collection. The Deshong collection also includes American impressionists Edward Redfield, Robert Spencer, and George L. Noyes. Photographs and memorabilia that once belonged to the Deshong family can also be seen. Selections from the permanent collection are displayed throughout the year. In addition, a series of exhibitions of contemporary art is shown September through May. Visit widener.edu/ artgallery for more information. 23
Take a Out of Success Cuisine Reviews from around Chester
Our writers wanted to get the scoop on the best places to grab a bite in Chester. The following reviews are firsthand accounts of some of the eateries around town. We weren’t able to get to them all, but we hope that our list can help satisfy your dining needs today!
P h ats o’s Baker y Thirty minutes past 5 a.m. and a never-ending line wraps around the tiny, yellow building. The potted plants still outside from the past spring seem to shiver in the intense, bitter cold. Customers draped in scarves, cloaks, and knitted hats are ready to be satisfied with their daily morning coffee and a sugary bite to eat. Mounds of snow and salt already line the side streets after the past snowstorm. Winter can be incredibly harsh, yet this does not hinder the abundance of customers at Phatso’s Bakery. Serving Chester for more than ten years, Phatso’s Bakery is located at 609 Welsh Street. Rick Wilcox, 54, never thought he would own his own bakery and become a well-known entrepreneur. Phatso’s has become a hot spot for both out-of-towners, locals, and even the Food Network. Phatso’s was featured for the first time on the Food Network in March on the show “Save My Bakery,” hosted by Kerry Vincent.
“I never thought things would take off like this!” said Wilcox. “Chester is not a place that is at the top of everyone’s ‘visit’ list, but once they stop by here, they just keep coming back. It’s nice though—it’s close to the university [Widener] and in the heart of the city. People stop by on their commute to work to grab coffee and a doughnut and are on their way.” After waiting for a short time outside on February 10, I got to the window and the aroma of fried dough overtook all of my senses. One of the seven workers, a middle-aged man, greeted me with a smile and asked me what I would like. “A glazed doughnut!” I said with the biggest smile. Doughnuts are by far one of my favorite foods, and after hearing so many amazing things about the bakery, I was determined to see what the place was all about. The worker returned with a white paper bag. My teeth sunk into the glazed disc of heaven and immediately, I knew I needed more. Wilcox learned his work ethic from eight years at Dunkin Donuts and then at Pepperidge Farms for some time before working for Ann’s Donut Shop. Ann’s was ready for retirement 10 years ago, and Wilcox knew he needed to keep baked goods in the small town somehow. Wanting to keep the simplicity of the process, he made a unique shop where customers wait outside and step up to a window to order. “In the morning, Welsh Street gets so busy,” Wilcox said. “So sometimes we have to turn people away, but first we take down their order and call them when it is ready.” With only seven employees, things become a little hectic, especially in the spring when weddings are in prime season; cake orders are always being made as well. I was privileged enough to take a tour of the city with the mayor of Chester, John Linder, in February. I mentioned my love for Phatso’s and his eyes glazed over. “One of my favorites, Brittany!” he said. We drove by and reminisced about the times that each of us had been there and how the donuts were well worth the wait. Our tour concluded, and I shook the mayor’s hand, thanking him for showing me around. “I’ll see you at Phatso’s, Mayor,” I said jokingly. A huge grin swept his face and he winked saying, “I’ll see you there!”
— Brittany Kade
Rick Wilcox, owner of Phatso’s, with Glenn McCallister of the Widener Small Business Development Center.
Cheryl’s Southern Style Chicken & Catering Since May of 2003, Cheryl’s Southern Style Chicken and Catering has been serving up the best soul food in Chester. In the heart of downtown, just across the street from City Hall, rests Cheryl’s, a friendly restaurant that seats 30. Chef and owner Cheryl Stevens uses passed-down southern family recipes to serve up a variety of home-style southern dishes, soul food sides, and homemade desserts. They are best known for their local award-winning turkey legs and delicious fried chicken platters that come with a choice of sides, ranging from creamy macaroni and cheese to fresh collard greens and cabbage. Cheryl’s location downtown makes it a popular destination come lunchtime during the workweek. As a result of this, many people take advantage of Cheryl’s take-out option to avoid the crowded, yet friendly, atmosphere. While Cheryl’s has not been in town for a long time, they are already a well-known attraction. A large part of the business Cheryl’s receives comes in the form of catering. With options from family dinners to hundred-person gatherings, they can handle any party and enjoy making a special occasion that much more special. Cheryl’s Southern Style Chicken and Catering looks to continue their growth into the future.
28 E Fourth Street; Cherylsss.com
— Jason Bishop
Kyj’s Bakery It may not be the latest, largest, or flashiest, but Kyj’s Bakery in Chester has the competition beat in one important category: history. Since 1954, Kyj’s (pronounced like “keys”) has been offering authentic Ukrainian specialties such as pierogi, babka, chruschiki, and filled loaves. It also sells assorted cookies, muffins, doughnuts, cupcakes, Danishes, cakes, juices, teas, and coffee. Customers particularly go gaga over the pierogi, pound cake, and strawberry shortcake. The bakery designs unique cakes as well— anything from roller skates to a turntable and even one plastered with photos of a woman’s 20 children. All baked goods at Kyj’s are homemade without any preservatives or additives. Busiest in the mornings, customers arrive daily to get coffee and a pastry. Many of these customers are familiar faces. “It’s like Cheers, where everyone knows your name,” said Christina Kyj Pluta, the daughter of original owners Wasyl and Lydia Kyj. Pluta has been actively running the bakery since 1984. Most people that come in have been doing so for years or have family members well versed in Kyj’s history and treats. Employees have also demonstrated their loyalty to the bakery—several have worked there for at least 20 years. With its tasty confections and commitment to customer service, it’d be no surprise if Kyj’s Bakery stuck around for another 60 years. Kyj’s is open on Tuesday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
2702 West 3rd Street; (610) 494-9400 Facebook: Kyj’s Bakery — Maria Klecko 26
Give Me Suga Give Me Suga is a family-owned Jamaican and Southern cuisine restaurant located at 3rd and Hayes Street (near PPL Park). Providing the mind, body, and soul the best nourishment since 2012, this restaurant is home to a friendly staff and a small restaurant environment that gives a special, homey feel that is distinctive and makes people comfortable from the moment they step in. “We strive to greet the customer as an extended member of our family,” said owner Lamont Smith, whose family originally came from Barbados. The food, on the other hand, is another story. The restaurant has a variety of Southern and Jamaican food set to excite the senses. A high pick would be the boneless jerk chicken platter. A mix of boneless jerk chicken breast and rice with the option of two sides (my favorite two are fried plantains and red rice & beans), you will know that you’re enjoying a spicy Jamaican meal when you taste it! The good food and family vibes don’t simply stop at the restaurant, though. If you want to have your food delivered to you, simply give them a ring and they will do delivery to the Chester community. Also, they offer discounts that can further sweeten the deal. They are open to trying out new things that will help them expand their business in the coming years.
2704 W. 3rd Street, (610) 833-8148, www.givemesuga.com
— Khalil Williams
Two J’s Sandwich Shop
The food scene in Chester is host to a variety of small food places. Amidst all the inner-city small restaurants and all the fast food places surrounding the area lies one particular corner store with a homey vibe: Two J's Sandwich Shop. It's more like a corner store run by a family, than it is a sandwich shop. Open seven days a week, Two J's staff can be seen fixing up a variety of breakfast foods and entrees, such as Nigerian turkey and roast beef hoagies and Philly-style cheese steaks that make for a very tasty eat especially after a night out. Also, if you have a knack for something sweet, their cookies will satisfy your cravings like nobody's business.
619 Highland Ave.; (610) 494-2255
— Khalil Williams
Maggie Mays Every town has that little pub the locals keep close to their hearts, and Chester is no exception. Located right off of 1-95 on 14th Street, Maggie May’s Campus Pub. Whether you’re in the mood to grab a quick lunch or to sit down with some wings and a beer, Maggie’s is the place to be. They have traditional bar food like fries, burgers, and wings, but they also have some unique choices. Fried macaroni and cheese bites are a favorite as well as the Old Bay cheese fries. The Fat Maggie and Mega Maggie are the perfect choices for the hungriest patrons. They are sandwiches with chicken tenders, French fries, steak, cheese whiz, buffalo sauce, and mozzarella sticks all together in one tasty wrap. Maggie’s has daily food and drink specials as well, such as a burger and a beer for $5.50, or wings and a beer for $8. Drinks go on special every night from 10 p.m.-midnight. When there isn’t a game on, good music is always playing, and on Thursdays, if you are lucky, you might just catch a live band.
951 East 14th Street, Chester PA 19013; (610) 490-0104 Twitter @MaggieMaysCP
— Devon Fiore 27
Perspective: Through Ups and Downs, I See Chester’s Potential By Khalil Williams
n a cold night in February, Mayor John Linder took me and my classmates on a tour of Chester. We started at city hall, went through the downtown area, visited recently constructed houses near Highland Avenue, and toured the Chester Cultural Corridor. In spite of the dreary weather that evening, my wide eyes showed my curiosity as I learned more about my hometown. Mayor Linder told us of the plans that he and his officials have, including making the city open for more developers and businesses. What stuck out to me was that when Mayor Linder could have led his life in other directions, he decided to come back to Chester, become the city’s mayor, and set out to improve the area. After we left City Hall, I considered this: I was born, raised, and educated in Chester. My entire life is based here. It’s because of this that I wanted to volunteer myself to the ongoing revitalization of the city. My life in Chester was normal, at least until I became a high school student. I went to Science and Discovery High School, which was the site of the former Smedley Middle School. In 2011, the school became subject to drastic budget cuts that had furloughed a lot of staff and teachers. It raised some serious concerns about whether students like me were going to go to college. Also, during that time, gun violence was a serious issue that hurt Chester badly. At that point in my life, I realized that there were problems that seriously affected my city. 27
Instead of leaving, I stayed in school, because I wanted to go to Widener University and live with my family. Since this decision, I have encountered a lot of things that I didn’t know about Chester, such as the Riverfront Ramble—an annual event with musical performances and local vendors—and Phatso’s Bakery, a local bakery that was recently featured on the Food Network television show “Save My Bakery.” This opened my eyes to positive aspects going on in the city. I also learned much about the city’s illustrious history and what roles it had in the state of Pennsylvania, as well as the United States. Chester is important to Pennsylvania. It was the first city that William Penn founded when he set foot on the land— then known as Upland—in 1682. Chester even had shipbuilding facilities—the John Roach and Sons Company and Sun Shipbuilding—as well as a Ford plant that built cars up until the 1960s. This particular fact piqued my curiosity about the city as it connected with my enthusiasm for cars. Moreover, the city officials have made a lot of ambitious plans which further strengthen my intent of remaining a resident and helping the place become a city that people want to visit and call home. My personal favorite project is the Chester Cultural Corridor, since it would involve making the Deshong Museum become a usable attraction once again. I would appreciate the possible opportunity to live in the downtown area and walk everywhere to places like the train station, an Internet café, Widener University, or to the Deshong Museum. I feel that Chester has the potential to grow, because there are people who are passionate and interested in seeing the city be better. I have seen it in people like Don Newton, a fellow Chester resident who is an actor and founding member of Chester Arts Alive, as well as Mayor Linder that evening in February. Chester was once a thriving place that had an overabundance of things available for its citizens to take part in. Between the opportunities that this city has to what’s available now, I feel that it can be full of life again.
City of Chester 1 Fourth Street Chester, PA 19013
The Chester Economic Development Authority (CEDA) serves as the administrative agent for the City of Chesterâ€™s economic, housing, and community development programs and activities. The Authority works to promote business growth, attract new investment, and develop Chester as a safe, liveable, sustainable community. Please visit our website at www.ceda.cc or call 610-447-7850 for more information and to find out how we can help you be part of a city of history, growth, and opportunity.
A magazine by students from Widener University about Chester, Pennsylvania