Thursday, February 21, 2008

My father, John A. Munroe, wrote an essay, "Arden as I Knew It." The essay begins,

"Perhaps it is my earliest memory. I was a very small boy in a stroller and my mother was pushing me up Harvey Road toward Arden. She might have been coming from the B&O Railroad stop on Harvey Road, but I think on this occasion she had much farther to walk--from the trolley car line across the Philadelphia Pike."

When I was twenty years old, I volunteered at Candlelight Theater in Arden. For part of the year I left my job at W.L. Gore in Newark and drove to Arden in time to eat at the theater (after the paying customers) and work back stage. This was a happy time. When I was much younger my father took me to visit my Aunt Katie (Katharine Sophia Tessmann) who lived in Arden. I loved her yard and she was always nice to me.

Wikipedia says of Arden, "Arden was founded in 1900 by sculptor Frank Stephens and architect Will Price, followers of Henry George's Single tax, William Morris’s Arts and crafts principles, and many of Peter Kropotkin's principles of communal living."

My cousin Jim P. Collins Jr. (3rd generation under Martin and Bridgett Munroe) and his wife Elaine lived from 1970 to 1976 in the same house that my Aunt Katie (1890-1970 - sister of Mary Frieda Detling 1887 - 1965 - wife of Michael John Munroe 1879 - 1969) once owned* in Arden. This is also certainly the source of the middle name of their oldest child Mary Arden.

The picture above is a mystery photo given to me by John A. Davis. My great aunt Katie was not the first of my relatives to live in Arden. Her mother, Wilhelmina Maier Dettling, moved to Arden first. My father writes in his essay,

"What brought Grandmother to Arden had nothing to do with the political philosophy, the Single Tax, that had led to Arden’s foundation in 1900. Grandmother had a weak heart and it seemed wise for her to be in a one-story bungalow instead of the two-story house she and her four unmarried children--Mena, Katie, Andy, and Pauline--had on 22nd Street in Wilmington."

Here is another mystery photo also taken in Arden. I wonder if we will ever learn who any of these actors might have been. It looks like a true "Arden party" to me. If anyone reading this blog lived in Arden in the first half of the 20th century I would love to hear from you and on what street you lived.
*owned - actually no one owns land in Arden. You own your house but lease the land for 99 years.

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