I was standing in a crowd of at least 10,000 people with my closest friends during the early morning of October 30th. Hours earlier, the Phillies won their first World Series in 28 years. Instinctively my friends and I rushed to the intersection of Frankford and Cottman Avenues to join in the jubilant celebration with my fellow denizens of Mayfair. Around 3:30 AM the masses showed no signs of slowing down their ‘Let’s Go Phillies’ chants and non-discriminate high fives to perfect strangers.
On any other day the intersection of Frankford and Cottman Avenues is just like any other cross-streets in the city – ordinary. It features a mix of small businesses and national chain stores, a post office and about a half dozen Irish sports bars.
As I was standing on the southwest corner of Cottman Avenue on this magical day, brushing off a police officer’s plea to go home, that intersection was the most magical place on Earth. I thought to myself, “Why do we do this?” “Why do we come to this intersection, in this neighborhood, to celebrate an extraordinary occasion?”
According to Mayfair historian Dr. Harry Silcox, newly elected President George Washington passed through the area and residents gathered to greet him. Silcox adds in the late 1930’s, the Mayfair Movie Theater was built and became the central entertainment location for the neighborhood. The area around the main intersection of Frankford and Cottman avenues was occupied by banks, appliance stores, large food stores, real-estate offices, stationery stores, record shops and television-repair shops. Everything a shopper needed was nearby. A bustling business and entertainment district, Frankford and Cottman naturally became the place to go for everything a person would need.
The promotional film It Happened In Mayfair highlights the attractiveness of the area and the neighborhood as a whole during the late 1930’s.
Silcox states that citizens gathered there after the announcement of the Allies victory in World War II. Whether it was defeating fascism or sporting foes, Frankford and Cottman provided a central location for the residents of Mayfair and the surround neighborhoods to rejoice in their triumphant jubilance.
We continue to go there now because it’s the only place we’ve ever went. Being a resident of Mayfair, it is not only a tradition but it’s also a part of our heritage. I was there in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2009. In those most perfect of times it becomes the most perfect place to share in a moment that means so much to so many people.
As I’m waiting on yet another season to begin, I yearn for a chance for this penultimate celebration once more before our final victory dance down Broad Street..