ConshyStuff .com Conshohocken Hall of Fame is a site honoring many of the borough’s residents who have successfully contributed to our community in one way or another. Perhaps they contributed in the sporting world, or excelled at youth sports, or Soap Box Derby. Perhaps they were coaches and managers in Little League, or CYO, giving time to our children. Maybe they have served for a lot of years attending meetings for the betterment of our community as part of Borough Council, Planning Commission, Zoning Board or Sewer Authority or perhaps they were involved in organizing major borough events. Perhaps we would like to honor all those who served for many years on the borough’s Tree Commission, or Parkhouse Commission.
Residents and friends of the Fellowship House, Library, Meals on Wheels, Colonial Neighborhood Council churches and community events will all be considered for enshrinement into the ConshyStuff .com, Conshohocken Hall of Fame.
The ConshyStuff .com Hall of Fame will be a continuous work in progress, we’ll continue to track our Hall of Fame candidates, and add to our Hall of Fame induction list on a regular schedule. Please click into our Hall of Fame site to check the latest inductions.
Keep in mind there are four different Conshy Stuff .com Conshohocken Hall of Fame sites,
Sports, Residents, Business, and Hall of Fame Events.
Johnny Pasquarello has served the borough of Conshohocken for nearly four decades with his involvement as a volunteer in the Conshohocken Ambucs, Soap Box Derby, SS Cosmas & Damian Church, and as a member of the Conshohocken Library Board of Directors, and at times serving on the Mayor’s Special Events Committee.
Back in the early 1980’s the Conshohocken Little League had no money, the answer to all their problems was a permanent concession stand and announcers booth to be built behind the major league field at Sutcliffe Park. Johnny was on the front lines of making that dream a reality along with the rest of the Conshohocken Ambucs. Johnny is a Past President of the Conshohocken Chapter of Ambucs and has served on the Board of Directors for many years.
For nearly 35 years Johnny has worked and supported the Conshohocken Soap Box Derby Race held every year in Conshohocken on the Fourth of July. Johnny would put in the long hours of raising and dismantling the snow fence along Fayette Street, Johnny would support and finance the building of cars and would film all the races giving the young racers a thrill watching the race at the annual Soap Box Derby Banquet.
For many, many years Johnny has worked the SS Cosmas and Damien Feast held every year in the fall and worked as a volunteer at the church. Johnny has also been involved over the years with the annual Fellowship House Easter Egg Hunt and the annual Tri-Star Basketball Tournament.
Johnny is a dedicated member of the Conshohocken Library Board of Directors where he has also volunteered his services over the years. There is no challenge that Johnny wouldn’t accept if it is for the good of the community.
Miles Stemple is the pure essence of what makes one proud to be part of Conshohocken. Even after his death more than 90 years ago, area fireman still talk about the man who dedicated his life to the ceaseless endeavors and to the welfare and protection of this community. Life-long firefighters are truly a rare breed in America today, but the borough of Conshohocken has been blessed with men and woman who have given the better part of their lives volunteering and working for the Conshohocken Fire Companies. Allan Worth, John “Chick” McCarter, Sam Januzelli, Frank Carlin, Al McDonald, and Franklin Thomas are just a few that come to mind.
Miles was one of the founding members of the Washington Fire Company back in December 1893, and remained a loyal, active member until his death in 1921 when he died at the age of 72. With little or no funding from the borough it was Miles who went out and purchased a dray wagon and solicited hauling from businesses in town using the proceeds from this business for improvements and expenses of the company.
From the time the fire company was formed in 1873, until his death in 1921, every dollar received by Stemple for the company was accounted for, money raised by Stemple always went to the particular object for which it was intended.
While fighting a fire at the Moose Home on May 30, 1920, at the age of 70, Miles was working the fire on the third floor of the building when the flooring gave way, and he fell upon the joists beneath. An injury to his arm was taken care of but he didn’t mention anything about internal injuries, believing it wasn’t anything serious.
Stemple continued on duty and even when he fell to ill health he never missed a fire. Miles died on August 20, 1921, liver trouble set in with complications, caused by a fall at the Moose fire more than a year earlier. His viewing was held at the Firehouse in the second floor parlor.
Although Miles wasn’t killed while fighting the Moose Home fire, complications from the injuries directly led to his death more than year later, making him the only Conshohocken firefighter who lost his life in the line of duty.
Montgomery County Sheriff
John Durante will forever be remembered as the Montgomery County Sheriff who hailed from Conshohocken, and John was a good Sheriff, but filling the position of Sheriff was really such a small part of who he was and what he did for the Conshohocken community.
John was a fireman, served as a Senior Instructor at the Montgomery County Fire Academy, and as instructor for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy. John’s work and actions with the Plymouth Ambulance speak for themselves. The ambulance company fell onto financial hard times and John stepped in as President and CEO of the company not only to restore finances but restore the trust and integrity back into the community.
John’s work in law enforcement could fill a 500 page book, a 1,000 page book if he were telling it!
But with John, he was always out helping someone in need, some organization in need, some church in need. Christmas toys for kids, John was a “giver,” if he heard of someone in need, he handled it. For years John presented a $5,000 check to the Conshohocken Youth Foundation, his funding gave kids a chance to see Phillies games, but would never allow a picture of the donation, “Don’t worry about it, just make sure the kids get the money,” that was John’s reply. The Conshohocken Little League fell on hard times when more than $4,000 went missing in a robbery, John quietly handled it, presenting them with a $5,000 check.
When a high school student living in a shelter needed clothes for school, John didn’t discuss it, he said “go buy the clothes, I got it covered.” When SS Cosmas and Damian Church was in need of repairs and new front steps, John was on the front lines financing the projects, he didn’t do it because he had the money, he did it out of the kindness of his heart, and he had a big heart. When three kids from Conshohocken lost their parents, John set up college fund for all three kids.
If anyone mentioned “Conshohocken” for any reason and John was within ear shot, everyone around him knew it was coming, “Let me tell you something about Conshohocken,” and then John would go on about the borough he lived in, and couldn’t have been prouder of his roots.
When John passed away in February 2010, the Law Enforcement family lost a special guy, the county lost a special Sheriff, but for Conshohocken it was bigger than most people will ever know, unless you knew John, no amount of talking will make anyone understand what the borough lost.
Very few residents could talk as much as John did, but he always backed up every word he said.
No resident could ever fill the shoes John Durante wore, there’s no explaining that, John passed away in 2010 and everyone that knew him, well, they can still hear him talking!
Rev. James Groves was the second Pastor at St. Paul’s Baptist Church located at Third Avenue and Hallowell Street. I mentioned Second Pastor because it’s worth mentioning the big shoes Rev. Groves had to fill. Rev. Marshall W. Lee was the Church’s first Pastor from its founding in 1925, until he passed away in 1977, when Rev. Groves took over.
Rev. Groves came up thru the ranks having attended Conshohocken High School, graduating in 1952, and then working for many years at the former Alan Wood Steel Company and taking on the task as Assistant Pastor at St. Paul’s Church. Rev. Groves served this community like no other, having served on the board of directors for Montgomery Hospital, also serving on the Board of Directors for the Colonial Neighborhood Council, Meals on Wheels, the Conshohocken Fellowship House, Montgomery County Housing Authority, and the Conshohocken Visiting Nurses Association. Rev. Groves also served the community as a member of the Consolidated Chambers of Commerce, The American Red Cross, and an active member of the Conshohocken Sesquicentennial Committee.
From the beginning Rev. James Groves was a man of great integrity and left us too early having suffered from a massive heart attack in 1996 at the age of 63. Rev. Groves will always be at the top of the Hall of Fame list of Conshohocken great residents and servants.
Rev. Marshall W. Lee was Conshohocken’s most prominent citizen for more than half a century. Rev. Lee perhaps did more for the citizens of Conshohocken and beyond than any other citizen in the history of the borough. Lee’s contributions to the borough of Conshohocken started in the early 1920’s, and continued until his death in January 1977. Born in Plains Virginia, in 1886, he was the son of a former slave Abram and his wife Agnes Lee. Marshall became the Vice Chairman of the Montgomery County Housing Authority serving 34 years. Rev. Lee was also Vice President of the Conshohocken Visiting Nurse Association, served 17 years as treasurer of the Conshohocken Sewer Authority and was a Director of Montgomery County Red Cross Association for many years. Rev. Marshall Lee attended the grand opening of the Marshall Lee Towers, in 1974, a home for the elderly located at Third Avenue and Fayette Street, a home he helped make a reality, a home named in his honor.
Peter E. Moore has been a contributing member of this community since the day he was born. As a member of the Conshohocken Ambucs for more than three decades Peter has worked with the Soap Box Derby Committee including helping to organize a trip for all the Soap Box Derby drivers to visit Akron in both 1989 and 1990. Peter has championed Special Olympics over the years and was a big part of Conshohocken Special Soap Box Derby allowing handicapped children to experience the thrill of going down Fayette Street in a soap box car. Peter belongs to both the Conshohocken and Pennsylvania Chapters of the Ambucs who have distributed tens of thousands of dollars locally throughout the years. Peter has also been active in the St. Marks Church Boy Scout Troop for more than a quarter of a century. As a leader and assistant leader Peter has mentored many of Conshohocken’s young men helping them to a very successful life. He has also served for many years on the Visiting Nurse Board of Directors, who have also distributed tens of thousands of dollars throughout the Conshohocken community over the years. As President of the Conshohocken Fellowship House Peter oversaw the three million dollar renovations and additions to the community center back in the early 2000’s. The Conshohocken community has more than benefited from Peter’s contributions.
Carolyn E. Ferst was a Teacher’s Aide at Conshohocken Elementary School for more than a decade. In her years at the school as an aide, Carolyn touched a lot of children’s lives. But in 1992, thanks in part to her efforts, thousands of residents, and generations of school age children to come will have Carolyn and her husband Vincent, and a solid group of citizens to thank for providing us with a local school to send our children to. In 1992 the Colonial School Board made a decision to close Conshohocken Elementary School due to reduced enrollment at the school, meaning our children would forever be bused to neighboring schools. Vince and Carolyn led the charge, with a group of dedicated residents and were successful in keeping the school open. Carolyn passed away in 1994 from cancer, but thanks to her, and the residents efforts, since 1992 thousands of our children have been able to attend the school located at Third Avenue and Harry Street.
Ray Bowman has served the Conshohocken community as a volunteer for many years at the Plymouth Fire Company as both a fireman, and Special Fire Police. Ray was a fixture on the sidelines of all the Archbishop Kennedy Saints football games helping out Chris Bockrath and the coaching staff in a number of capacities, Ray always had kind words for the players following the game. He also served as Archbishop Kennedy’s Basketball Team Manager for many seasons. Ray has also been a fixture at the Fellowship House, for many years he has worked the scorer’s table during the Albert C. Donofrio Tournament and helping out in other capacities. When Ray is asked for his help for any and all charities and fundraisers, Ray never hesitates.
Ken Chabaud has been a volunteer fireman at the Washington Fire Company for more than half a century. In the mid 1950’s the Washington Fire Company formed a Rescue Squad and Ken served as an officer in the organization for many years. In 1959 Ken was honored for saving the life of a six year old boy. In 1961 Ken was honored by a number of organizations with the Conshohocken Citizenship Award. Ken served a four year stint in the Navy during World War Two traveling the world on a Navy destroyer. Because of his service and knowledge to our country Ken was tapped to head the Conshohocken Civil Defense Organization in Conshohocken in 1961. The Soviet Union had missiles pointed at the United States and in Conshohocken it was Ken Chabaud’s job to provide a plan to Washington ensuring the safety of Conshohocken’s 2600 school children. Had the United States come under attack in the early 1960’s a plan was in place to secure the safety of our children. Ken Chabaud has been one of Conshohocken’s good guys for more than 60 years.
James “Pop” Denno was quite a guy, quite a father, and took quite a unique interest in Conshohocken. As one of the founding members of the Conshohocken Band Pop served as the president of the organization for a number of years. Pop played several instruments but considered the formation of his Kazoo Band, known as the “Humming Birds” one of his greatest accomplishments The Humming Birds band started with 20 children who played small instruments like kazoos, and other miniature instruments. The band grew to 65 children ranging in ages four to ten, the group went from practicing in Pop’s Third Avenue house to the Fellowship House. The Conshy Humming Birds appeared in a number of parades over the years including the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Pop and his wife Julia had eleven children of their own. Many residents might recall seeing Pop at the Riant Theatre where he served as an usher. Pop was a member of the Federation of Musicians, SS Cosmas and Damian Fraternal Association of which he was founder and President. Pop belonged to several other organizations but his greatest accomplishments would be his time and effort spent with the many children of the Conshohocken community. Pop passed away in 1963 at the age of 73, and the band plays on.
Most of us know Joe Horn of Harry Street as this wonderful volunteer who has given endless hours at the Colonial Neighborhood Council’s food pantry and thrift shop, he does everything but sleep there. Others might know Joe as a volunteer sexton at Calvary Episcopal Church. Joe has spent endless hours over the years cleaning and maintaining Calvary Church located at Fourth Avenue and Fayette Street. As of 2013 Joe is the last living member of the famed Battery “C” 166th Field Artillery who fought all over the world throughout World War Two. For more than three decades Joe has been seen setting up the sound system for all of the VFW Post 1074, Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, he was also a contributing member of the Convet Committee who restored the monument located at Second Avenue and Fayette Street. Rarely has any Conshohocken citizen exhibited this much volunteerism, and rarely has a citizen of this borough shown this much kindness throughout his life.
Some of Conshohocken’s residents will long be remembered for certain contributions to the community, John Ondik will be remembered for a lifetime of contributions to Conshohocken. John was a long time member of the Conshohocken Fellowship House, was a past president, and the fact that John served on the Board of Directors on the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter as Chairman of the Fund Distribution Committee proved very fruitful for the Fellowship House and the residents of Conshohocken. John played a major role in the three million dollar expansion at the Fellowship House in 2002. Talking about major expansions John served on the Conshohocken Free Library Board of Trustee’s where he was one of the members overseeing a million dollar expansion at the library. John gave his time and talents to the Conshohocken Funfest, Golden Bears Football Organization, Conshohocken Merchants Association, and Little League baseball. John was a major player in advancing Conshohocken to where we are today.
Matt Sabia Sr. had served as a member of the Conshohocken Planning Commission for nearly a quarter of a century. In that time Matt helped guide the direction of this borough helping to successfully keep the borough’s progress in a positive direction. Matt has also lent his time and talent to coaching youth sports and over the years has contributed to everything important to this town such as the Conshohocken Library, Fellowship House Community Center, and the Colonial Neighborhood Council. Matt, along with his son Matt Jr., has been a large part of the Wissahickon Ski Club located at 265 Barren Hill Road. The Ski Club has been in operation since the mid 1940’s and Matt Jr. is the current President of the organization. Many of Conshohocken’s residents have enjoyed skiing at the club for more than half a century.
Joni McCormick, a West Sixth Avenue resident has been a committed volunteer for more than 30 years in Conshohocken. The one time President of the Conshohocken Chamber of Commerce and longtime member was a Service Award Winner. During her time with the Chamber Joni was part of raising money and steering a portion of those funds to Conshohocken charitable institutions. Joni was a 35 year member of the Conshohocken Business and Professionals Women’s Club and served as President of the organization for several years. A role that led directly to helping Conshohocken residents was her time on the Board of Directors at the Colonials Neighborhood Council where Joni served for more than 30 years until her health sidelined her. Joni wore many hats during her decades of service, but two events that took her by surprise included winning the Mother of the Year Award at St. Mary’s Church and the Philadelphia YWCA as part of a Quaker Chemical Award.
John T. Ryan was a former Council President and served on West Conshohocken Council for 40 years. As a 29 year old borough resident Ryan became a councilman in 1919 and helped steer West Conshohocken through a number of hard times and many good times in the borough’s history. John helped guide West Conshohocken thru probation in the 1920’s, the depression in the 1930’s and the war years in the 1940’s. He was behind the building of West Conshohocken’s High school in 1930, supported the building of the war monument, and from the West Conshohocken side watched as the new concrete bridge was under construction. John participated in many of the town’s civic programs.
Anyone who remains a borough councilman for four decades belongs in the ConshyStuff .com Hall of Fame.
WIBG’S FREE SUMMER ROCK & ROLL MYSTERY CONCERT
AS THE POSTER ADVERTISEMENT QUOTED
“Monday, August 9th, three Solid Hours of Guaranteed Entertainment with
LEON RUSSELL and The Shelter People
Featuring Freddy King in the “First”
FREE LEON RUSSELL CONCERT IN THE PHILADELPHIA AREA.
Keep Listening To WIBG For Clues……….And Guess The Location!”
It was the summer of 1971 the music scene was changing, and Leon Russell was an up and coming star in the business, he was considered the ultimate Rock & Roll session man. Leon worked with Jerry Lee Lewis, Phil Spector and the Rolling Stones. Leon also worked with Delaney and Bonnie, Joe Cocker and played with George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh along with B. B. King, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan.
Leon was riding the popularity of “Jumpin Jack Flash” and would later hit the charts with “Tight Rope,” and “Lady Blue.” The Conshohocken Fellowship House Director Al Donofrio was the man behind the concert, Al felt the young people in Conshohocken needed something outside of sports activities that was being offered by the Fellowship House. When Donofrio was approached by Rick Buckley, the 35 year old owner of WIBG Radio, about a rock & roll show, this kind of fit into something he was looking for.
The location of the concert was kept a secret by WIBG, never revealing the exact location of the concert, but gave out clues to the “A” Field location over the air. The station kept the location a secret because they had 500,000 listeners at the time and didn’t want too many teenagers showing up and overwhelming the borough.
Well that strategy failed as the headline from the “Evening Bulletin” declared “Rock Show by Leon Russell Attracts 30,000 to Stadium in Conshohocken.” It was really more like 20,000 teenagers and young adults from five states. Traffic was tied up, bumper to bumper on Fayette Street from 11th Avenue into West Conshohocken and beyond including all the side streets, and going up from 11th Avenue back to the Ridge, including the Ridge, and onto Germantown Pike including the pike. Cars were parked on residents lawns, double parked on the avenues and police were brought in from surrounding communities.
Al Donofrio was some-what surprised by the event, but members of Borough Council were fully surprised by the event as they knew nothing about it, a little something Donofrio forgot to inform them about. And so the council circus began, they demanded that Al Donofrio be fired, fined $100.00 for breaking the borough ordinance, or even jailed for 30 days.
The members of Borough Council floated the idea of forever banning Rock & Roll concerts in the borough of Conshohocken for all time. (A-la “Foot Loose”) Cooler heads prevailed when young people showed up at the council meeting in defense of Al Donofrio.
We here at Conshystuff.com believe that Donofrio didn’t fail to inform the council that the concert was going to be held, remember, Donofrio was one hundred percent in charge of giving permits for the use of the “A” Field, but perhaps decided not to inform the council! We also believe that Donofrio was a man who was very much in touch with our youth, and the concert was in fact Al Donofrio’s finest moment in the borough of Conshohocken.
In the end the police from Conshohocken and surrounding communities reported little to no disturbances, and actually reported that concert goers, most of them barefooted, behaved very well, although they couldn’t figure out where that funny smell in the air was coming from.
August 9, 1971 was the largest event ever held in Conshohocken, not likely to be out-done anytime soon, Al Donofrio and Leon Russell truly put on a Rock & Roll, Conshohocken Hall of Fame Event!
Conshohocken Christmas Dinner
Feeding The World, Starting With Conshohocken
December 25th, 2013
Josh Leone and his wife Erin hosted a free Christmas Dinner held at the Fellowship House in Conshohocken and invited anyone, and everyone who wanted to sit down for a wonderful, warm, relaxing dinner. The dinner wasn’t about feeding the poor and/or needy, although everyone was invited. But it was also for residents who were alone over the holidays and wanted to share dinner and companionship with other neighbors of the community. College students, senior citizens, singles, employees who had traveled to the Conshohocken area but were unable to get home for the holidays all enjoyed a great meal.
Josh, Erin and an army of volunteers stepped in to help load and warm the food, serve and clean-up following the event. Local businesses who donated food and drinks without a lot of fanfare showed the commitment they have to the Conshohocken community. Donations from the local food businesses included Guppy’s Good Times, Izenberg’s Deli, Digicomo Brothers, Starbucks, Southern Cross, Franzone’s, Fingers Wings and Other Things, Cantina Feliz, Adobe Café and the Stone Rose among others. Great support came from local residents as many of them supplied homemade desserts. The event was successful and many happy holiday diners who attended are looking forward to next year. Conshohocken Christmas Dinner is certainly Conshystuff.com Hall of Fame worthy.
July 20, 2005
Blackthorn, Irish Rock Band Plays in Conshohocken
On a hot July night in 2005 the Irish Rock Band “Blackthorn”, took the stage at the Conshohocken “A” Field and entertained the crowd of nearly a thousand residents and visitors for two hours. As the summer concert series in the borough goes this was a blockbuster. The free concert was sponsored by the borough of Conshohocken, thanks in part to Robert Stokley, Councilman in charge of the Parks and Recreation Department and Conshohocken Mayor Robert Frost who strongly supported the event from its inception.
Blackthorn wasted no time getting the crowd on their feet as the adults and children in attendance danced until the moon cast a warm orange summer glow over the “A” Field. Front lawns along Twelfth Avenue were crowded with lawn chairs and coolers. Never has the borough’s summer concerts at Sutcliffe Park and the Mary Wood Park ever drawn this large and this enthusiastic a crowd, it was truly a special night in Conshohocken.
On a cold, windy, rainy Friday morning, January 11, 2002, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America visited Conshohocken. The Presidential motorcade crossing the Matsonford Bridge was quite a sight for many of Conshohocken and West Conshohocken’s residents. The motorcade turned right onto East Elm Street after exiting the bridge, turned right on Harry Street and left on Washington Street where he pulled into Brian O’Neil’s Millennium Corporate Center.
The President was in Conshohocken on business, after meeting with a number of local officials President Bush signed the Brownfield Revitalization Act into law, allowing for government funds to be spent on clean-up sites for future development. Conshohocken Mayor Robert Frost called it a historic event in the borough’s long and storied history. The President’s visit couldn’t have come at a better time in the borough’s history as O’Neill Properties were in the middle of spending millions of dollars helping the borough in its revitalization efforts.
About a thousand or so residents stood in the rain to gain entrance to the event and listen to President Bush speak. Following the event President Bush spent a lot of time behind the scenes talking and laughing with a number of local dignitaries. In the more than 160 years since Conshohocken was incorporated President Bush remains as the only President past or sitting to have visited the borough.
Throughout the years the borough of Conshohocken has managed a fireworks display on the fourth of July much to the delight of our residents. Funding the fireworks event has always been a challenge regardless of who sponsors the event. The Conshohocken Ambucs carried that sponsorship torch for many years raising money for the display held at the Conshohocken “A” Field for years. (Typically the Ambucs raised between seven and twelve thousand dollars for the display) In the year 2000, the borough celebrated their sesquicentennial, (150 years) and the Sesquicentennial Committee agreed to sponsor the fireworks that were held at Sutcliffe Park. The committee agreed to a $20,000 firework display that was held at the park on July 3rd of that year, making it the largest firework display in the borough’s history. That display, noted as the largest, only held up for one year. The following year the Ambucs declined to take over sponsorship, citing they had lost a lot of the organizations contacts for funding. The borough refused sponsorship citing lack of funds.
The Conshohocken Mayor’s Special Events Committee led by Mayor Bob Frost stepped up, in an effort to save the fireworks. The committee raised the necessary $20,000 for the fireworks, and the borough contributed $5,000 for games and children’s rides. When the New Jersey Fireworks Company offered a contract for the event, Mayor Frost had one request, the company draws the contract up in the amount of $20,000.01, there-by making the event the largest ever both financially and the addition of at least one more shell than the previous year. Since the 2001 event, no contract has been higher, the borough took over the event the following year, and the amount of $20,000.01 has never been matched making it the largest in borough history. The borough typically spends between $10,000–$13,000 a year on the fireworks celebration.
The Annual Conshohocken Halloween Parade has been around since the 1970’s. The event has come and gone under different sponsorships including the Conshohocken Special Events Committee and the Conshohocken Mayor’s Special Events Committee, the parade might have been sponsored by one or both of our fire departments at one time or another. Since 1993, Conshohocken Mayor Robert Frost reinstated the parade and it has been a hit ever since. Several years ago scary dressed participants marched between the rain drops from the Number Two Fire Company located at Ninth Avenue and Fayette Street down to the Washington Fire Company located on West Elm Street. And in 2010 the parade route was blanketed in snow.
In 2013 the sun was shining, the temperatures were hovering right around comfortable and more than 250 participants showed up for the parade and the Mayor’s Halloween trivia. Never has the Halloween Parade had this many participants throughout the events history.
It was a weeklong celebration in Conshohocken from May 14 to May 20, 1950. The borough of Conshohocken had been incorporated on May 15, 1850, while no records are documented as the borough having celebrated 50 years of incorporation, they did celebrate 75 years in 1925, with a massive parade and other events, but 1950 was a celebration like no other.
Among the many features of the week were the nightly presentations of a historical spectacle called “Echoes of Conshohocken,” a play held for five nights at the Conshohocken “A” Field with an elaborately costumed cast of more than five hundred people. On Sunday May 14, there were two services held at the “A” Field, one was a Catholic Service, and the other an Inter-denominational Centennial Service. May 15 was “Queen’s Day” that included a Fashion Show at the Riant Theatre, a Centennial Fair along Third Avenue, and Fireworks at the “A” Field among other activities. Tuesday May 15, was Civic Day, a carnival for the kiddies located at Fifth Avenue and Harry Street down to Hallowell Street, a Civic Parade with floats, comic units, School Bands, String Bands, and fire apparatus and more fireworks at the “A” Field. Wednesday May 17 was Industry Day. Exhibits and films showing the growth of the area at the Riant Theatre, the fairs and Kiddie Land were held throughout the week. On Wednesday night there was an old time frolic with street dancing and a hoe-down along with fireworks.
Thursday was Centennial Day with a banquet, fairs and fireworks. On Friday May 19, was youth and sports day with events held at the different parks, carnivals and other activities along with the fireworks. Saturday May 20, was Firemen’s Day that included the housing of the new Washington Fire Company ladder truck. The Brothers of the Bush, a beard contest was held at Second Avenue and Fayette Street, a Firemen’s Parade, two different fairs and fireworks.
Members of the Centennial Executive Committee included Harold Cooper Roberts, Robert Landis, Mrs. Warren Fisher, George Jackson, Claudia Ramey, Monroe Long, Elias Blair, Gerald Blessing, Frank Capaldi, Betty Collins, Harold Cunningham, Sam DeMedio, Ralph Falconiero, E. Arnold Forrest, John Kiniry, Mrs. John Kreasky, Edward Oermann, Henry Olszta, Mrs. Francis Palacio, George Rafferty, Mrs. Henry Rollins, Daniel Whiteman and Edmund Williams.
The Centennial celebration back in 1950 was a Hall of Fame bash likely to never be duplicated again in the borough’s history.
The Conshy Stuff Business Hall of Fame goes out to family owned businesses who have contributed endlessly to the welfare of our community. These are businesses that have gone above and beyond taking the standard ad for a program. It continues to amaze us how giving, and how concerned a number of the businesses are about our residents and events. A number of residents are under the impression that hitting up a small business for a donation is “no big deal for the business.” The reality of that statement is this, in March 2011, ConshyStuff had 28 letters requesting donations of money, product, gift cards, and services, all needed within a five week period. It’s not easy being a small business, and the facts of the letters are this, they were all good causes, Little League, CYO, Fire Companies, Churches, Cancer, a number of benefits for sick children, or children born with disabilities and so on. What we as small businesses want to do is help, and we all help in the best way we know how.
Then we have several small businesses that go out and get involved with community events, we have several businesses who continue to give above and beyond a simple donation, we actually have businesses that care about this community, and our residents. These are Hall of FameBusinesses.
We here at Conshy Stuff would like to honor and point out these businesses, and when considering your shopping and dining plans, we hope you consider spending your hard earned money with these Hall of Fame establishments.
Hervey and Newton Walker founded the Walker Brothers in 1912, manufactures of under-floor electric distributions systems. The Walker Brothers purchased 26 acres of river-front property and moved to Conshohocken in 1926. In the mid 1940’s Hervey and Newton founded the Conshohocken Business Association with 62 charter members. Newton took an interest in the Business Association and purchased Leeland, the former home of John Ellwood Lee located at Eighth Avenue and Fayette Street. By 1950 more than 150 local business executives would meet at Leeland for meetings and luncheons.
This began the core of Newton’s plan to build a youth center, raising money for the Conshohocken Community Chest that would be the foundation of the Conshohocken Fellowship House, a name given by Newton. Newton presided over the opening ceremonies of the Fellowship House in 1953, having helped raise the more than $225,000 construction cost.
Just five years later a fire at the Harry Street School forced the borough into a corner, without the funds to rebuild the school. Hervey S. Walker drafted blue prints, and funded much of the rebuilding of the school. Hence the name Hervey S. Walker Elementary School, most people to this day never knew what the “S” stood for, Stricker, it was Harvey Stricker Walker.
By the time the Walker Brothers left town they had constructed the Fellowship House, an elementary school, and many other projects that benefited Conshohocken.
Robin Gupta opened the former Pat’s Bar, located at 2 Maple Street back in 2005, and has been supporting this community ever since. Gupta knew a lot about business, but he also knew that to be successful in Conshohocken contributing to the different charities, and a few of the borough’s organizations would have to be at the top of his list. Guppy’s Good Times became one of the leading institutions in Montgomery County when he started holding benefits for Janie Carbo, Police Benefits, and Philabundance. Robin has brought in celebrity guest bartenders such as Kathy Romano from WMMR 93.3 Radio Station and former Philadelphia Flyer Bobby Clark. Guppy’s Good Times has been very supportive of the 9/11 Monument being constructed at the Washington Fire Company and continues to help fund other Conshohocken chartable events.
The Conshohocken Italian Bakery is a Hall of Fame Business for several reasons, when Domenico Gambone and Frank Manze formed a partnership while working at a Norristown Bakery they discussed a possible location for their new operation. While several adjoining communities looked like a good fit, Conshohocken did not. In the early 1970’s what was known as Urban Redevelopment was peaking in Conshohocken, meaning the borough never looked worse. Dilapidating structures and boarded up buildings was what greeted all commuters who dared to venture into Conshohocken. This old steel town was broken down with few believers that it would ever recover. Gambone and Manze saw the future of Conshohocken, and put enough confidence in our borough leaders to invest their life savings to open a business, enlarge it, and hire locals. When every other business was running from Conshohocken these two hall of fame guys believed.
Since setting up shop in 1973, Conshohocken Bakery not only contributes to every good cause in the borough, but produces and distributes quality bakery goods for wholesalers and retailers. A good portion of Conshohocken’s residents will ask where the rolls are from when they walk into a deli, if the reply is Conshohocken Bakery, they know they are in for a good sandwich. Over the year’s different committees, groups, and organizations have been the recipient of the Conshohocken Bakery’s good will.