“We Remember” Montgomery County Park…
…and why Pat and I always had a special place in our hearts for it!
During the summer of 1956, I worked as a lifeguard at Llanerch Country club in suburban Philadelphia. In that job like most lifeguards, I worked every weekend but had two week days off each week.
One night, during one of my mid-week holidays, I stopped by a local soda shop – Johnnie’s – to see if any of my gang were there. None of my friends were there, but sitting alone in one of the booths were two young, very attractive girls. One of them, who I knew to speak to, would turn out to be my future wife – Pat. The other girl, who I didn’t know, was her friend from South Philadelphia and former high school class mate Jeannie Durante. I joined them for coke and during our conversation learned that Jeannie was going home the next day and that Pat who was still looking for a summer job had free time. So, I casually asked her if she wanted to go swimming with me at Montgomery County Park the next day. She must have been very bored because to my surprise she said sure.
The next day I picked Pat up shortly after noon with the top down on my 1952 Ford convertible and off we went. No big deal, no romance planned. We were simply two young college kids sharing our free time each other. So we thought. We spent a wonderful afternoon swimming and playing in the lake and around the park. At one point, I even had Pat sitting on my shoulders with her legs tightly around my neck – a kind of adventuresome if not almost risqué thing to do on a first date.
We had a fantastic time that afternoon at Montgomery County Park and on the way home, not wanting the fun to end, I asked Pat what she was doing that evening. She said that she had no plans. So I asked her if she would like to go to Willow Grove – an area amusement park. She to my surprise again said yes. I told her that I would drop off at her house to change while I went home to do the same thing. We would grab a burger on the way and spend the evening at the amusement park.
We did just that and had a ball again that evening. Little did I realize that the trips Montgomery County Park and Willow Grove would be the beginning of a love affair that would last exactly 60 years. Ironically, Pat died on June 11th, 2016 exactly 60 years after our first date on that early June day in 1956.
Johnnies’, Montgomery County Park and Willow Grove Park are all gone but Both Pat and I never forgot the role that they played in our lives. Unfortunately, Pat is also gone, but my love for her is as strong or even stronger than it was that day in 1956 when I discovered her and fell in love.
August 18 , 2016
Based on the joint recollections of Pat & Frank Fleming
Recorded by Frank Fleming and published
In Loving Memory Of
1936 – 2016