Friday, March 10, 2006

Morning in Germantown

I took a day off work last week to dance with an Irish troupe for kids at a Quaker Friends elementary school in Germantown.

As its name implies, Germantown is a neighborhood in the greater Philadelphia area founded by German immigrants in the colonial period. Throughout the town - in total disrepair - there are remnants of the lost grandeur of a great people.

There are still some grand stone houses there - all of them in disrepair. They are owned by the Pennsylvania Historical Registry. They are surrounded by wrought-iron fences to keep the locals from defacing them further. But it is a losing battle. Nobody appreciates them - and nobody cares.

The town is almost entirely working-class African-American now. There were just a small percentage of Latinos and Orientals. There are lots of store-front churches - there were also a lot more Islamic storefronts than I remember. West along Germantown Avenue is the town of Mount Airy which also has a nice history but is beginning to run down.

The students at the private Quaker school appeared to reflect the working class status of the neighborhood - except that they were 90% white. This is where whites who cannot afford to live elsewhere send their kids to keep them from the violent, anti-white racist, student bodies of the public schools. It's also where white liberals who like to feel good about themselves living in a "diverse" neighborhood - send their kids - because they want them to learn Quaker values ;-)

Deep in the heart of Germantown I found this - a wall mural obviously intended to inspire African-Americans. Instead made me think about the founders of Germantown.

The quote on the mural lacks attribution - "A nation that does not know their (sic) history, culture, tradition, and language stands naked and defenseless before the world."

As I drove west towards Chestnut Hill on Germantown Avenue, I went through Mount Airy. There I saw this in front of an old cemetary.

I looked at the names on the plaque - of soldiers who died in this obscure battle of the Revolutionary War - Thomas Cox, Archibald Engel, Christian Duy, John Francis, Peter Keyser. Why did they die? How many beautiful children might they have sired - whose ancestors would be with us today. Did they die for this - for what Germantown is today?

What a waste is war.

Remember when the only icon on a church sign was a cross?

Would that the words of that unknown African muralist- "a nation that does not know their (sic) history, culture, tradition, and language" was understood by our ancestors of Germany - who founded Germantown.

Once there was a Christendom - and it was splendid. But it's gone now.


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