Growing Up Conshy – With Trish Duncan – Chabaud and Dana Jackson (Now Pettine)
by Brian Coll
I recently met with Trish and Dana at the Mary Wood Park, it was pouring this particular evening, so we spent our time catching up on the little porch of the caretakers house at Mary Wood Park. I had a few questions to ask them and then I had to step back and just try to keep up with the conversation. They both agreed with each other so many times and occasionally I couldn’t even remember who was saying what. So I apologize in advance, I can’t credit too much of the conversation to either of them. Trish will occasionally say something and she talks about Dana so you know it’s her…..
Trish and Dana are great people, they are involved in our community and I wanted to start having these Conshohocken Conversations with people. This is a great one about growing up in Conshy in the 70’s and 80’s…..
And one more thing, Trish and Dana have kept in touch all these years. Dana went to PW and ended up marrying a Kennedy guy and Trish went to Kennedy and ended up marrying a guy who went to PW.…
So, I’ve known you both through the years to be really nice people dedicated
to your community. When did you ladies meet?
I honestly don’t remember exactly because I was 3 years old and Dana was 2 when
my parents bought our house on East 5th Ave. It was shortly after we moved there
in November of 1968. Dana’s dad was the caretaker for Mary Wood Park and they
lived in the little house in the park. Her grandparents lived in the rear
residence of the Park House.
What were some of the things you did together around Conshy?
We spent most of our time playing between our houses and the park. Went
swimming at Dana’s aunt’s house on 10th and Maple. We had a lot of sleepovers
between all 3 residences (the Park House included). We went to separate
schools, I went to St. Matthew’s and Archbishop Kennedy. Dana went to public
school so I played sports through CYO at the Fel. We did take dance with LeRoux
School of Dance on Apple Street.
Now, the playground was a little different wasn’t it?
The playground was much different back then. We spent most of our time there
hanging out with a huge group of friends. There used to be these 2 metal pieces
that were like balance beams. One was a little taller than the other. They
were right in the middle of the park. We’d go sledding down the hill from the
rear of the park house and right through the park. I remember being on top of
one of our friends on the sled and when we went through on my head hit the metal
beam and knocked me right off the sled. Thank God I was bundled up or I
What time period was this? I don’t want to ask your ages but it’ll help paint
a picture of Conshohocken at that time period.
It was mainly the 70’s and early 80’s. I graduated high school in 1983
Besides the park, what were some other memories of things you did, any other
friends you hung out with?
We used to go to Grey’s corner store for penny candy and Jack and Jill used to
come around all the time in the summers and he’d let us loop around the park
in the truck. Those were also the days of Charlie Chips delivering the big
metal potato chip cans to your house and the milk man bringing milk in glass
I mentioned Grey’s. There was also Wally’s steak shop on East 6th and
Bocella’s on Fayette. We had a slew of kids who all hung together at the
park. We were nicknamed the “Parkheads” and there were the older crew of
“Parkheads” who were teens in the 70’s. Some of them would come around now
and then to say hi. Those guys had some run-ins with the police back in the
day. Our group wasn’t like that.
Okay, let’s talk about something we’re currently working on, the Hartshaw
Family benefit. What can you tell us about the whole situation. And how can
people help? Tickets still available?
Dennis Hartshaw went to school with me and was one grade older. We worked
together at East West Label after high school so I’ve basically known him
forever. He also was close friends with my husband Marty. He and his wife
Michele were in an accident in April and Dennis was ejected. He broke the left
side of his pelvis and his wrist. He’s got a lower lumbar injury, had a head
injury, and multiple other things. It’s a slow road to recovery and thankfully a
friend who is a nurse with Bayada has helped them tremendously to get some
medical assistance but they have no income right now. Michele had been on
unemployment but it ran out in June. Stephen Price (another classmate) approached me about helping out so we’ve planned a benefit September 14th at the TK Club but we also have some great raffles people can purchase now that will be awarded that night. We have
a 21 speed mountain bike, a night at the new B & B in Conshy, a hot air balloon
ride for 2, a barrel of cheer, an Apple watch, gift certificates from local
restaurants and much more. Also, Bucci Jewelers has donated a beautiful white
gold necklace. Raffles will be available at Coll’s Custom Framing on September
7th at the Fall Fest. Tickets can be purchased from several folks, including
While we’re talking, I’m just going to shut up and try to listen to you, tell us what was it like to grow up in Conshy in the 70’s and early 80’s. I’m a little younger and was from West 8th and Forrest. Each little area had different things that you could do and visit….
It’s funny how you can’t remember a lot about your childhood at times and then memories flood back at other times. I was 3 when my family moved from 416 East Hector St. to East 5th Ave… across from the Mary Wood Park House. That was November of 1968. I remember my mom saying there were 2 little girls close to my and my sister’s ages that lived across the street in a little house in the park. Their dad was the caretaker. We started playing together along with a girl that lived directly next to me in the apartment house. They were Tracey and Dana Jackson and Lisa Seckle.
Our childhood consisted of playing in the park, helping the Jackson’s grandmother in the Park House as she lived in the rear quarters of the house and took care of the main community areas. We also played a lot between our houses. We’d polish up the long staircase banisters in the Park House and slide down from the top. We used to be models for the Conshohocken Art League. I remember they drew us with these huge lollipops in our hands. Back then the Art League used both the cellar and the 3rd floor of the building. I actually took lessons for a while there. The Visiting Nurses had the 1st floor office and there was also a dentist office just off the main meeting room. If you look at the building from the front, it was the section on the left side of the building. We had shows on the stage and I’d play the baby grand piano. Those were fun times.
Conshohocken had one chain grocery store – The Acme (pronounced Ac-a-me). Mom and pop stores were abundant. In my neighborhood we had Gray’s at 6th and Wells and Laura Cherry’s on Spring Mill and 5th. There was McClement’s Pharmacy at 6th and Fayette. Stori’s was 8th and Hallowell. My mom used to take us to Jim’s on 10th to get our lunch meat and we used a butcher on Fayette St. We got our school shoes from Flocco’s and there used to be a 5 & 10 at 1st and Fayette that had a soda bar you could get root beer floats. Pizza shops were Nino’s and Bolero’s. Taprooms on every other corner it seemed, too many to name but Antosh’s was close to us at 7th and Harry. Later the Casmar (now Jasper’s). The 401 Diner was the place to go after school for fries and a coke and then Bocella’s came to town as well. My favorite steak shop was always Wally’s though. Still can’t find one that compares.
We used to hang a lot at the park as pre-teens and teenagers. We’d play box hockey at the summer program and just hang out on the benches under the huge trees. We had the youth center on 2nd Avenue as well. There was a lot to do if you could get a ride to the Ridge…. Bowling, movies, an under 21 disco. Roller skating further out on Ridge and the Drive-In Movies. I loved going to the Kennedy football games on Friday nights at the A-field then we’d all go to Burger King after. I have a ton of great memories of growing up in Conshohocken. Too many to name….
Thanks so much….. I really appreciate hearing the stories and memories. Hopefully our readers did as well and maybe someone else wants to share their Growing Up Conshy story, let us know.