For good and for bad, I am still me.

Friday, July 25, 2014

My love affair with Philadelphia began long before I settled on the University of Pennsylvania as my undergraduate home. I was my mother's daughter, already convinced. I believed in that city.

As a student at Penn, I left the campus alone, prowled the streets of West Philadelphia, wrote poems upon my return. As a new graduate I took a job as a marketing coordinator for an architecture firm, where I, in part, researched and wrote history-rich installation placards for projects at Penn's Landing and elsewhere.

But it wasn't until I was selected, in the mid-1980s, by the team at Center City District to write a series of "permanent" installations about Philadelphia's history that I felt fully fledged and entrenched as a Philly girl. Those permanent installations, created with the graphic designer Lynda Cloud Weber, hung block by block, east by west on Walnut Street until they were not visible any longer.

The permanent installations had disappeared permanently.

Yesterday, however, while researching a series of new stories for the Philadelphia Inquirer, I discovered one of the long-lost  panels—came upon it quite unexpectedly. It was as if a story I'd written had been lost and then returned to me. I waited to be alone with the panel. Read it while no one was watching. Shook my head.

I haven't changed much, all these years later. Not in what I write about, nor in how I write it.

For good and for bad, I am still me.


Serena said...

that must have been a lovely surprise. kismet. Also, why had they permanently disappeared and how had this one not vanished too?

Adrienne said...

I love that you love Philly, write of things that bring me "home" ... it's such a treat when there's an Inquirer link here to read! I have a blogging 'friend' - haven't yet managed to connect in real life - who shares her love for the area through photos on her blog. It's a treat - Here's just a taste from yesterday's entry:


Beth Kephart said...

Adrienne, thank you (I always love seeing you here). And gosh, this photographer is just fantastic. I love her work. I'm glad you told me about her. And this weekend I'll have a new link to a Philly story. Today I'm writing a new one (or two). :)

Serena, I don't know why the placards ever disappeared. I was delighted to discover one.

Cynthia Pittmann said...

Beth, I never have identified with a place but it must give you a strong sense of belonging. Your personal history intertwined with a region's history.

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