I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But It’s home to me and I walk alone
I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one and I walk alone
I’m walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line of the edge
And where I walk alone
Read between the lines
What’s fucked up and everything’s all right
Check my vital signs to know I’m still alive
And I walk alone
- Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Sometimes I wonder whether I’m alone in my view of the world. It can be a lonely road. And since I spend 2 to 2 1/2 hours per day on the road, I can’t help but observe what seems to be going on outside the windows of my car. I didn’t quite capture everything I wanted to say in my 30 Blocks of Squalor post from the other day. In order to reach the 30 Blocks of Squalor, I need to travel about 8 miles along Route 3 (West Chester Pike), once known as the William Penn Highway. It cuts through the heart of Delaware County and the towns of Broomall, Havertown and Drexel Hill. I grew up in a similar town in Delaware County called Collingdale and my high school Monsignor Bonner was in Drexel Hill.
These were all blue collar middle class working neighborhoods in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. They were the first suburbs of Philadelphia. The people in these communities were the backbone of the country. They worked in the factories, built the buildings, drove the gasoline trucks, and created communities. When I drive through these towns today, it is clear that something has gone awry. I notice the little things. I wonder if anyone else notices, or if I’m just walking alone.
As I drive on West Chester Pike I pass strip malls, restaurants, and banks with large clocks like the one pictured below. I can honestly say that every clock I pass has the wrong time. Some are off by 10 minutes, others are broken and aren’t even functioning. How hard is it to have a huge clock over a strip mall provide the right time. It’s as if no one gives a shit anymore.
West Chester Pike is dotted with schools and hundreds of retail establishments. Every school has its name over the entrance and most of the retail establishments have neon signs to advertise their names. You would think that the most basic concept of having the signs properly spell the establishment’s name would be the least the owners could do. But, I passed multiple locations like the two pictured below where letters are missing and lights are out on their signs. It’s not as if it is rectified next week. They are left this way for months. No one gives a shit.
As I’ve noted numerous times before about potholes and holes dug by government workers to fix pipes bursting below the thin layer of blacktop, the roadways are filled with environmentally made and man made holes of varying sizes. You would think that some government union employee making $100,000 per year with a golden pension plan could at least put a freaking orange cone in front of the holes. But no, cars either hit these hazards at full speed and destroy their suspension or traffic comes to a grinding halt as cars are stopped and cutting each other off. The government doesn’t give a shit.
When I was a kid we had very little organized sports. There was some, but we didn’t depend on parents to drive us around to our activities. We had a playground, baseball fields and basketball courts right down at the end of our street. When we were 4 or 5 we went to the playground and used the swings, sliding boards, and merry go rounds. From the age of 10 to 22 we played pickup basketball games on the two basketball courts for hours at a time. Full court games, one after another. Those were good times.
It seems like every playground and basketball court I pass on West Chester Pike and even the one in my old neighborhood, the hoops are missing or broken and the swingsets don’t have swings. Rust and decay permeates everything. Local communities don’t give a shit about the kids anymore. The community doesn’t exist.
Is it just me walking along the Boulevard of Broken Dreams? Does anyone else notice the stench of decay? Does anyone else see the disintegration of working class communities? Do you see what I see?