A Memorable Place By Barbara Kaplan Bass SPECIAL TO...


September 08, 2002|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

By Barbara Kaplan Bass


Making the news in a Philadelphia park

I enter the park through one of the grand balustrades. I love strolling with my granddaughter in this urban Philadelphia sanctuary, past the wizened women in wheelchairs pushed by their nurses, past students and young lovers on park benches, past the lawyers and secretaries seeking a brief respite in the park.

What a lucky child my 18-month-old granddaughter is to have Rittenhouse Square as her back yard.

We walk past the empty reflecting pool, now filled with children playing within its stone confines. Because today is unusually hot, I spread a blanket under the trees, away from the young people playing guitar and Frisbee. On the cool grass, I talk to my granddaughter and she drinks in the language. I teach her all about takeout food and Star Wars and Anne of Green Gables. Occasionally, someone stops to compliment her. I feel it is my civic duty to share her cuteness with the people of Philadelphia.

From our square of white linen, I notice a TV reporter interviewing people on the park benches. I could really do my civic duty if I got the baby on local television. I send out waves of energy and see the reporter turn her head and look our way. I turn my attention away so she won't know that she is under my spell.

"Hi," she says to me, bending down with her microphone. "Do you mind if we ask you a few questions about the heat?"

I look up, acting surprised. No, we don't mind. No, the heat doesn't bother us here in the shade. There's a nice breeze and we have sunblock on, just in case a stray beam finds its way through the canopy. I hold the baby up so the cameraman can get a good shot of her.

I love this park in the middle of the Center City neighborhood. I love the artists at work in front of the sundial, the strains of "Amazing Grace" emanating from a bagpiper in front of the reflecting pool, and the toddlers who congregate near the statue of "Billy" the goat and rub his gold horns for good luck.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Rittenhouse is one of five squares designed by William Penn. Named for astronomer and clockmaker David Rittenhouse, its current layout dates from a 1913 redesign. The diagonal walkways begin at the corners and meet at an oval plaza in the center, which is ringed by a circular walk. The park in all seasons is filled with music, markets, exhibits and festivals.

At 5 p.m., we return to my granddaughter's apartment and find that we are the top story on the local news. My granddaughter's little face fills the screen, and our day in the park is captured forever on videotape.

Barbara Kaplan Bass lives in Baltimore.

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"Earlier this summer, while visiting the map and tapestry galleries of the Vatican Museum, I was poised to take a photograph of the dome of St. Peter's, which was designed by Michelangelo. But then a guide whispered to me: 'There is only one window from which you can get an unobstructed view.' I followed her advice, and got a better picture of this architectural masterpiece."

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Lynne Richards, Pasadena

"While visiting Juneau, my boyfriend, Steve, and I took a helicopter tour of four glaciers, landing on one of them at a dog-sled camp. We were greeted by at least 100 ex- cited and barking dogs eager to go to work pulling the sleds. Everywhere we looked, we were surrounded by mountains, snow and ice. It was an awesome experience. This was the best way to experience the real Alaska."

Let Us Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

My Best Shot: Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

A Memorable Place: In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that has changed you; the nostalgia a special place evokes; the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150.)

Readers Recommend: Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (Photos are welcome.)

Readers Respond: Send a brief reply to our current question: Where is your favorite place to see fall foliage? Selected answers may appear in a future issue. (Photos are welcome.)

Because of the volume of submissions, photos and manuscripts cannot be acknowledged or returned.

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