In a recent study/article by a company called Niche Local, it names West Conshohocken the best suburb to buy a House in America. The company pours through all kinds of data to figure out their ranking and Conshohocken came in at number 8 on the list, following West Conshohocken.
This isn’t news to us, we’ve been saying this for years to anyone who listens. I’m going to share something my dad Jack wrote within the past year about West Conshohocken and more importantly the great people of West Conshohocken.
I see my buddy Michel Tolle shook the beehive when he asked the question, “Should West Conshohocken Even Exist?” Michael is an author and has written an excellent book on the disappearing of Main Streets USA, highlighting Norristown, it’s an eye opening read, “What Killed Downtown Norristown.”
West Conshohocken is the second greatest town in America, his question got me to thinking about why I love West Conshohocken and this is what ran through my mind. West Conshy is a small town and I wanna believe that I know something about small towns. Donna and I have traveled across this country a couple of times. When I say traveled across the country I don’t mean we traveled the super highways and got from here to Frisco in record setting time, nor did we fly anywhere. I mean we drove the back roads, Main Street USA, we didn’t travel with a GPS, no that gadget directs you to the superhighways, the only superhighway we hit was Route 66. We traveled with a Rand McNally Atlas, that thing will keep you off the highway and on the back roads.
Our first venture across America took us just over seven weeks, we traveled into the swamps of Tennessee and Louisiana, got lost on a few of the dirt roads in the back woods where Rand McNally didn’t even list the name of the roads we were on, I’m convinced some of the roads we traveled didn’t have names.
We didn’t eat at many Burger Kings along the way, we enjoyed bellying up to the counter at whatever diner or eatery we stopped at, usually “Mama Smith’s Famous something or other.” We talked to people who didn’t have much but we’re proud people, loved their community, loved their small church at the end of town, appreciated their neighbors, and typically greeted us with a “Where Ya all from?”
Having been to countless small towns in America brings me back to why I love the second greatest town in America. If you ask me about the bridge traffic leading into West Conshy at certain times of the day, my answer is, “well it sucks.” Ask me about the West Conshy hills in the winter-time just after a snowfall, my answer is “well it sucks.” Ask me about sitting in Wawa trying to force my way back into traffic, yea, that too. The way the town has been cut up over the years, and continues to be cut up, same answer. Ask me about the way big money ran the residents of Crawford Avenue out of town for the sake of an office building? Ask me about becoming more and more of a rental town, yea. Blah, blah.
What West Conshohocken has is people, people like no other people in the country, caring people, helpful people, and it’s the people that make West Conshy great, (for the newbies it’s pronounced “Con-She” with an attitude!) When I think of the volunteers that have been doing it for decades, the people of West Conshy start volunteering from the time they are children, until we carry them to their grave. Residents who progressed through the years, making more money as they go, when they can afford to move out and live anywhere, they simple move to a nicer house in the borough of West Conshohocken.
Have you ever walked into the George Clay Firehouse, volunteers of all kinds will greet you there, but mostly the firemen and fire women. At times they talk about each other, and say things about the other firemen, don’t be fooled, they love each other like brothers and sisters, if you’re an outsider and agree with someone saying something about another person, you better be ready to defend yourself, as an outsider you don’t have that right. The George Clay Firehouse ladies Auxiliary have been doing it for more than a century, for the residents of the borough who don’t care to run into a burning building, they chose to support those who will. I believe if I needed help I could knock on any door, on any street in West Conshy, and that resident would be more than willing, and happy to help.
I sat at the crowded intersection where the bridge meets the expressway, and Front Street meets Ford Street. The West Conshohocken Police were on intersection patrol, for those of us who tend to worry about some guy jumping in front of us at the intersection we pull up tight to the guy in front of us and block the intersection. The guy in front of me decided to block the intersection and a West Conshy cop went over to the vehicle and tapped on the guy’s window, the officer said, “Excuse me, you’re not supposed to block the intersection, Thank you.” The cop could have slapped the $#!* out of him, (I would have) but he said “Thank You” and walked away!
The west side cops will observe some late yellow light runners, and perhaps sit at Wawa late at night sipping a cup of Joe, a pretty laid back bunch, but when a call comes pertaining to a resident in distress you better step aside because just like the fireman, the cops and residents can talk about each other, but they always have each other’s back.
The small West Conshy businesses have always been supportive, it’s what you do if your part of the West Conshy make-up. A number of the larger corporations that made West Conshy home in recent years, they too have chosen to support the borough, not because they have too, but because they recognized the pride and tightness of the residents. These corporates have reached out to the police, fireman, Recreation Council and beyond. West Conshy runs a lot of Rec programs, recently a Halloween Parade, in a week or so a Veterans Parade. They block off Ford Street, and parts of Front Street for their residents. I can’t help thinking, when was the last time Upper Merion Township shut down their main street, Route 202, so the residents could enjoy a parade?
So what makes West Conshohocken the second greatest town in America, its people, the residents who have chosen to live, and participate in West Conshohocken. Here’s a fair warning to anyone with something negative to say about West Conshohocken, in the words of the late Gerry McTamney, if you got something bad to say about the West Side, “You better bring a lunch, cause there gonna be whippin’ your ass for quite a while.”
And by the way, why do I refer to West Conshohocken as the second greatest town in America, because as a resident of Conshohocken, I consider Conshohocken to be the number one greatest town in America. If you don’t believe the town you live in is the greatest town in America, you need to move.
Ask any West Conshy resident where the greatest town in America is and they will be certain to disagree with me. The residents of West Conshohocken are like Philadelphia Flyers fans, in Philly the Flyers hockey team only has 20,000 fans, but they are the most faithful fans on the face of the earth, all 20,000 fans show up to each and every home game the Flyers play.
In West Conshohocken, there’s only 1200 residents, try messing with one of them, beware, 1200 of em’ will likely want a piece of you, I know West Conshy, there’re likely to get it, and that’s why I love West Conshohocken.
As for Michael Tolle, I think we can ease up on him, he’s an author and was simply posing a question, if you read his piece, he certainly wasn’t looking to offend anybody, but asking the question for the
hundred’s of small towns across this country who have been dealt the same hand as West Conshy.
Hey, here’s a tip of the cap to the second greatest town in America!
Jack Coll worked for the Conshohocken Recorder Newspaper for nearly three decades and has taken hundreds if not thousands of photographs in and around West Conshohocken, he has also written many articles on the West Side borough. Jack has also given high kudos to West Conshohocken in the many books that he and his son Brian have written over the years.