HomeNewsRecalling the Lawndale of the ‘60s and ‘70s

Recalling the Lawndale of the ‘60s and ‘70s

Charles Wiedenmann has written a blog, Phicklephilly, since 2016, but content ideas became limited at the outset of the coronavirus.

The Lawndale native had an idea.

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“I’ll just start writing stories about my childhood,” he said.

Wiedenmann put these stories on Facebook group pages to a positive response.

“People went wild over these things. People were coming out of the woodwork,” he said.

That led to another idea.

“I should write a book about this and do a Wildwood book after that,” he said.

Wiedenmann’s coming-of-age Lawndale, Stories from my Youth: Growing up in Northeast Philadelphia in the ‘60s and ‘70s, was published on his 60th birthday in 2022. He described it as a “labor of love,” and received multiple 5-star reviews on Amazon.

“I’m glad people in the neighborhood embraced the book,” he said.

Wiedenmann grew up at 312 Magee Ave., a block with lots of kids. “Nobody was wealthy, but we were rich in our experiences,” he wrote in the book.

He and his sisters, Jane, Nancy and Gail, were the children of loving parents Horace and Helen. He attended Lawndale School and Fels Junior High, enjoying neither, then went to Frankford High School, where he had a good experience until his family moved to North Wildwood and he spent his senior year at Wildwood High (class of 1980). Down the Shore, Stories from my summers in Wildwood, NJ in the ‘70s, was published last June.

Horace Wiedenmann, who died in 2016, loved to read and would be pleasantly surprised that his son, who did not like school, became a published author.

Wiedenmann, known to friends as Chaz, worked in banking, finance and advertising. Today, he lives in Rittenhouse Square and has an adult daughter, Kathryn, a musician whose stage name is Kat Seventeen.

Lawndale, which includes a Philadelphia glossary in the back, recalls a time when there were no cell phones, internet or social media. There were few TV channels – 3, 6, 10, 12, 17, 29 and 48 – and no remote controls. Phone numbers were written on matchbooks and included the first two letters of the exchange. The Wiedenmanns’ number was RA8-7275.

Local youths tuned in to KYW News Radio 1060 AM on snow days hoping to hear the following announcement: “All public and parochial schools are closed.” That meant Wiedenmann and other Lawndale-area kids could grab their Flexible Flyer to go sledding at Melrose Country Club.

Modes of transportation were the N bus and bicycles. Wiedenmann loved the freedom his bike gave him. Safety be damned in those days, as no kids wore bike helmets, and nobody used seat belts or sunscreen.

The author recalls loving to trick or treat and every Christmas. Kids played games on the street such as Red Light – Green Light, hide and seek, Mother May I, hockey and wiffle ball.

Off Magee, he became friends with kids who were bused to Lawndale School and loved hanging out “back the tracks,” near a railroad line.

Wiedenmann met his first girlfriend, Clare, a St. Hubert student, on a telephone “loop line.” As he got older, he liked music and art, sang in a band called Renegade and played a Sears Silvertone guitar.

The author has the gift of recall all these years later.

“These are things I remembered, moments in the city,” he said. “I have that vivid memory of detail. Everything burns into me deeply.”

To buy Lawndale, go to amazon.com and type in the author’s name.

Lawndale was like a lot of other Northeast neighborhoods.

“It was a great place to grow up,” Wiedenmann said. “You knew everybody’s name on the street. You felt safer. None of us can ever forget it.”

Wiedenmann is glad to be a product of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“I wouldn’t want to live any other time,” he said. “Just being out in the world, exploring it. I had some magical moments. I wouldn’t give any of that back.” ••

Here’s a link to Wiedenmann’s books on Amazon:


To read Wiedenmann’s blog, go to https://phicklephilly.wordpress.com/.

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