By Heila Rogers
Phil and Julie Foster have been pivotal members of the neighborhood for years. After Phil’s passing last December, Julie now owns and lives in the building that houses the Good Neighbors Meeting House, Milan Hair Design, and Connecting With Community’s Club of Arts.
Local Patty Jewett fan and advocate for neighborliness Amy Triandiflou remembers Phil:
“Phil was a champion for Patty Jewett. He was protective of its future and a touchstone of its past. He used to tell my kids that while living on Franklin Street, he could hear the train whistle blow from downtown so he and his friends knew it was heading north. He’d run down to the railroad, which is now the Shooks Run trail, and watch the train pass. My kids can’t believe a train used to run thru the neighborhood. Phil sat on the Board of the PJNA up until a year before his passing. He loved to try new things and wasn’t hesitant to change. Our neighborhood is special because we appreciate its history and weave it into our spirited future. While he and Julie own several properties, I believe he truly felt at home in Patty Jewett.”
Phil’s brother Bob shared about growing up in Patty Jewett — fun stories about mom-and-pop grocery stores scattered throughout the streets and after-school jobs that developed a strong work ethic. Some little-known neighborhood information included that the park on Wood Avenue used to be a water reservoir for irrigating lawns and gardens.
Patty Jewett had families, working and playing, just like now. One kind of play back then however, involved a lot less structured activity. Nowadays kids wear bike helmets and other protective gear when out and about riding, but then kids did something called “rabbiting” — holding on to the bumpers of cars and being pulled, sliding down the icy winter streets.
Bob told of a neighbor in charge of nearby Camp Carson where German and Italian prisoners of war lived for a time. Young Bob got to know some of these men when he visited the camp with his dad’s friend. One Christmas one of the men hand carved a toy submarine for him.
The principal of Steele Elementary was also the softball coach. Bob made the team and they practiced every morning at 7 a.m. which resulted in beating all the other area schools.
Phil and Bob shared a paper route on Wood Avenue. They snagged the coveted route because of a friendship with a neighbor on El Paso who was the editor of the Gazette at the time. If they did a good job and “hit the porch,” and had the paper right at the door then on that route they would receive really good tips, when they went to collect payment in person, face-to-face with each customer at their house.
In a time when families often shared one car, or didn’t have a car, “everybody walked.” So there were small grocery stores located every few streets. These now-residences can still be spotted around the neighborhood.
Thanks to Phil and Julie for their leadership and commitment to others over the years, and especially here in Patty Jewett. A special thank you to Bob, for sharing his PJ stories.
~ May we all be united in our humanness and the commonalities of life.
I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and not value the gift of being here. Instead of the idea of time ticking away, the grains of sand running out, I try to think of time as giving me another grain of sand, another gift. So time passing is an accumulation, rather than a diminishing. — Tori Amos